(DENVER) – Meat packing workers represented by Teamsters Local Union 455 in Denver, Col. overwhelmingly rejected a substandard contract proposal from Cargill Meat Solutions this week by a 98 percent margin.
The contract proposal, which was not endorsed by Teamsters Local 455, not only offered the more than 1,700 workers inadequate wage increases, but drastically slashed health care benefits while increasing the cost. Access to affordable, quality healthcare is critical for those that work in an industry that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports has an injury and illness rate 2.5 times higher than the nation average.
“With this vote our members sent a clear message to the company – it is time to put a serious offer on the table,” said Steve Vairma, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 455 and Director of the Warehouse Division. “Time after time we went to the company with reasonable proposals that addressed the major concerns of our members and time after time it rejected them out of hand.”
Cargill and the union will reopen negotiations that will be overseen by a federal mediator on May 12. Vairma hopes that the addition of the federal mediator to negotiations will encourage Cargill to listen to workers’ concerns.
“Cargill needs to recognize that it can’t expect its workers to subsist on low wages and pay a premium for insufficient health care,” Vairma said. “It is time for Cargill to do the right thing and negotiate a contract that addresses the concerns of this workforce.”