September 25, 2007

UFCW Reviving the American Dream for Meatpacking Workers

New Hormel Chain Agreement Raises the Bar for Meat Industry Contracts

(Washington, DC) – A new contract covering 4,000 Hormel workers in five locations secures big wage increases, health care improvements and greater pension security for meatpacking workers and their families. The contract sets a new standard for wages and benefits in the meat industry-one that will allow packing and processing workers to truly live the American Dream.

Five UFCW local unions took unified worksite actions over the past six months – actions that sent a strong message to Hormel that UFCW members are willing to fight and stick together for a contract that would secure wages and benefits that can support a family.

“We haven’t had a contract like this one since the late 1970s.  Wages, health care, and pensions are all increased,” said Mike Marty, a member of UFCW Local 22 in Fremont, Neb.   “We achieved it by working together, engaging our membership across the country and building good old fashioned union solidarity,” Marty said.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) members in five locations – Austin, Minn.; Algona, Iowa; Fremont, Neb.; Beloit, Wis.; and Atlanta, Ga. voted to ratify a new four-year contract that includes:

–considerable wage increases including  $1.40/hr base wage increase over four years for production workers and $1.80/hr base wage increase for maintenance workers. The increases bring the average wage for production workers to $15.75 an hour-the top of the industry.

–significant improvements in preventive health care, well baby and well child care, hospice care, home health care, vision care, mental health and substance abuse care, and cancer screening as well as big improvements in dental care. These improvements were achieved with no increase in deductible, and only a minimal increase in co-premiums.

–improved retirement security including increased “pension multipliers” which will mean a greater than 10 % increase in pension checks.

The Hormel contract is the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW members across the country.  Supermarket workers have engaged in unity bargaining and coordinated worksite actions over the past nine months – resulting in groundbreaking contracts with major national supermarket chains on both the East and West Coasts, Texas, and the Midwest.