By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
UFCW Local 401 has served Cargill Corporation a strike notice as of Nov. 10, 2021. Earlier this month, Cargill workers voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike during a vote. The strike notice comes weeks after UFCW Local 401 Superstore union members voted to strike earlier this fall, ultimately resulting in Loblaws and union members reaching an agreement at the bargaining table.
The official strike document issued to Cargill’s vice-president of Labour Relations reads, “Our members will be commencing a strike there on December 6, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. The High River plant will be the initial location of the strike, but we reserve our constitutional right to engage in picketing, secondary picketing, leafletting, or other chosen activities at other locations, or venues, in furtherance of our cause.”
In compliance with provincial law, several steps must be taken to ensure the process is carried out correctly. After the strike vote is taken, a technically adequate notice must be served in person to the company. UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse’s has spoken out to media since the pandemic began with respect to ongoing worker concerns and allegations against Cargill generating national attention.
In addition to 97 per cent of voters expressing being in favour of striking, a release from UFCW Local 401 revealed, “close to 80 per cent of eligible voting members turned out to vote. Further, data acquired from membership polling reveals that the number of workers committed to long-term and sustained picketing is very significant.”
Secretary Treasurer, Richelle Stewart said in a recent release, “Local 401 fought and was successful in having Cargill’s High River Plant closed(…)The Government of Alberta did nothing to address the unfolding tragedy and was later revealed to be untruthful in its dealings with Cargill workers.”
The statement also indicated that there was still time to reach an agreement before the strike commences, but it is still unclear if a deal can be reached in the coming weeks. “These workers want what all of us want — respect, recognition, a safe workplace, and fair compensation,” said Stewart.
The strike could be accompanied by a variety of other actions, said an official statement released to union members, including boycotts of companies serving Cargill products. The statement said, “A boycott of the beef industry itself is a possibility. Consumers could be asked to avoid the consumption of beef until Cargill workers are treated fairly.”