Union workers at Hormel Foods plant in Austin to vote on 'final' contract offer

The union representing about 1,700 meatpacking workers at the Hormel Foods plant in Austin, Minn., says they’ll vote this week on a contract proposal it’s calling a “final offer” from the company.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 bargaining committee at Hormel is recommending workers reject the offer.

“They refuse to give us good wages and secure pensions after record company profits,” the committee members said in a statement to coworkers, provided by the union. “We believe we can win more if we stick together.”

The union said its members “made huge sacrifices to keep our communities fed” during the height of the pandemic, “and should be compensated as the heroes we are.” UFCW Local 663 members held a march in Austin on Labor Day.

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Voting on the contract offer is set to take place Wednesday and Thursday. The union said it still aims to reach an agreement with the company, after the previous contract expired on Sunday.

In a statement, Hormel Foods said it’s disappointed that a contract agreement hasn’t yet been reached, but “we remain optimistic.”

“Hormel Foods has had strong working relationships with the UFCW for decades, including in Austin. Our representatives will continue to negotiate in good faith,” the company said.

The union did not outline any next steps if the contract offer is voted down this week.

The Hormel plant in Austin was the site of a lengthy strike in 1985-86 that drew national attention.