08/15/1985 MPR report: Voting to strike

P-9 strikes form a picket line outside Hormel 1985
P-9 strikers form a picket line outside Hormel during the 1985 strike.
Austin Daily Herald Photo

REPORTER MIKE MULCAHY: Earlier in the week, P-9's executive board called Hormel's final contract proposal substantially inferior to agreements already in place at the company's 10 other plants.

In Wednesday night's vote, the rank and file agreed. The final tally was 1,261 against the proposal, compared to only 96 in favor of it. P-9 President Jim Guyette then gave the company 48 hours notice of the union's intent to walk off the job on Friday night.

Before the votes were counted, Guyette speculated about the company's motives in offering the proposal.

GUYETTE: Well, I think the company wants to take a reading on this vote. They want to see how many people that they have been able to intimidate in the last few days and quite frankly, they want to see how intelligent the people are. And how skittish the people are, I think. And, I guess we've done a job on ourselves back in 1978 by voting in an eight-year agreement by which we gave up a number of things. And I would imagine that the company put forth a proposal to try to see if we would bite on another type of agreement.

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MULCAHY: Guyette plans to hold meetings Saturday to inform the rank and file and to plan specific strategies. Guyette and labor consultant Ray Rogers, who runs the corporate campaign, say they'll divide the strike force and travel to 1st Bank offices and other meatpacking plants throughout the state and the region in a beefed up corporate campaign effort.

Meanwhile, businesses in Austin are hurting. Mel Ferris runs Ferris TV. She says her business is off between 35 and 50 percent.

FERRIS: Everybody that relies on business -- the restaurants, the bars, the stores around here, it's general. Shoe stores, clothing stores, its affecting everybody. In a small town, it's a bug plant.

MULCAHY: Ferris thinks the strike may help resolve the dispute and return business to normal. But others aren't so optimistic. Many in Austin right now are saying business will only get worse.