AUSTIN EDITION - Hormel, union keep mum on contract talks

By Jim Troyer


Talks continued for the second day today in St. Paul between Hormel Foods Corp. and the United Food and Commercial Workers' union.

The two sides are meeting with federal mediator Jeanne Frank of the Federal Mediation Service.

Hormel's public affairs director Julie Craven was in St. Paul this morning. She said both sides had agreed not to disclose information about the talks to the media. The blackout is expected to continue until an agreement is reached or until talks break down.


Unionized workers at food processing plants in five states, including Austin's Local 9, rejected a contract offer from the company earlier this month. Union members have said the key issues are wages, pensions and health benefits.

Jill Cashen, a spokeswoman for the union, could not predict how long the talks will last.

"You never know with negotiations," she said, "Sometimes it goes really fast, and then it might drag on for weeks."

Cashen did say, however, that there is nothing unusual in turning to a federal mediator.

"It's definitely a way to help resolve differences, to help two sides come together."

The contract talks affect nearly 3,000 workers in Hormel plants in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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