AUSTIN EDITION - Hormel workers to vote on deal

Company, union have tentative agreement

By John Weiss

Hormel Foods Corp. and a union representing about 3,000 of its workers in five plants, including Austin's, have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, the union said Friday.

That was great news for Craig Byram, president of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's just a sense of relief that it (the agreement) was reached apparently early and relatively easily," he said.


In Austin, the number of jobs Hormel represents has a huge impact on the community, he said.

"Any time there is risk to those jobs means there's risk to the community," he said.

While United Food and Commercial Workers had voted to authorize a strike in the event no agreement was reached, Byram said the Austin business community was not worried.

"I don't think there was a sense of fear, apprehension," he said. "I think everyone trusted both the company and the union to come to an arrangement that was satisfactory to both sides."

The two sides had disagreed over wages, pensions and health benefits, according to union members.

So the sides went before a federal mediator in St. Paul. Both sides agreed to not talk to the media during negotiations and also said they won't publicly discuss the tentative contract until next week's vote.

In a news release, the union said its bargaining committee and Hormel had reached a tentative contract for plants in Minnesota, Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and Wisconsin. It will cover union workers who are members of locals 9, 22, 6, 1996 and 73A.

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