UFCW Local 401 says its members who work at Cargill’s High River beef processing plant have voted 71 per cent in favour of the most recent agreement offered by Cargill, averting a strike or lockout that was set to begin December 6.

The latest offer from Cargill included retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract, and improved health benefits for employees.

Employees voted from December 2 to December 4.

In a statement, Jarrod Gillig, business operations and supply chain president for Cargill’s North American protein business, says, “Our employees in High River are important to Cargill’s work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. We are pleased to have reached an agreement that is comprehensive, fair, and reflective of their commitment to excellence at Cargill and the critical role they play in feeding families across Canada. As an organization that leads with our value to put people first, we truly believe this ratification is in the best interests of our employees and we are eager to move forward to build a stronger future – together.”

In a notice to members, the union says, “The contract is the best of its kind and presented unprecedented gains in this time of economic and political uncertainty and during the biggest health crisis the world has ever seen.”

The High River plant can process 4,500 cattle per day, accounting for around 36 per cent of Canada’s processing capacity.

Union reps add that the 2,500 employees at the JBS Plant at Brooks, Alta., are watching the Cargill precedent carefully as they head into bargaining for their new contract in the new year.

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