After two days of voting, workers at the High River, Alta., Beef processing plant adopted the new employment contract.
In a statement, United Food and Commercial Workers (TUAC) Local 401, representing workers at the plant, said on Saturday that it was a “bittersweet victory.”
The site, which employs around 2,000 people, experienced a COVID-19 outbreak last year that affected more than 900 people and forced Cargill to temporarily close the plant. Three deaths have been linked to the outbreak, including two workers and a family member.
Workers will receive retroactive pay of $ 4,200, a signing bonus of $ 1,000, a 21% wage increase over the term of the contract and improved health benefits. The company has also agreed to provisions aimed at facilitating a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace.
“Our employees at High River are important to Cargill’s work to feed the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” said Jarrod Gillig, president of business operations and supply chain, Cargill North America , in a statement to CTV News.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement that is comprehensive, fair and reflects their commitment to excellence at Cargill and the vital role they play in feeding families across Canada.”
According to UFCW Local 401, the union and workers were ready for a potential strike, erecting tents outside the factory, installing floodlights and propane heaters, leveling nearby fields to serve as parking lots and finalizing a payroll picketing system.
UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse previously told CTV News the deal was “fair” but would support workers on the picket line if they decided to reject the offer.
“Tomorrow, work will begin to enforce and enforce the new provisions of Cargill’s union contract,” Hesse said in a statement on Saturday. “Local 401 congratulates and thanks the members of the Cargill Union and our Cargill Bargaining Committee. “
Hesse added that the past few months have been trying for many factory workers.
MORE WORK TO DO
While the decision was not an easy one and a cause for celebration, UFCW Local 401 says there is still work to be done.
The union says workers at the JBS plant in Brooks, Alta., Have been watching Cargill’s procedures as they prepare to negotiate a new contract next year. Additionally, UFCW Local 401 said it plans to continue pushing for reforms and restructuring of the meat packaging industry.
As meat prices continue to skyrocket at the grocery store, Hesse said more needs to be done to better support workers and ranchers.
“The workers have been ripped off. The breeders have been scammed. And we were all ripped off at the supermarket counter, ”he said. “The government has failed to protect these workers, as well as the ranchers and consumers of Alberta. Change must happen.
With files from Michael Franklin of CTV News Calgary