Cargill Case Ready Employees Ready to Fight!

UFCW Local 401 and its lawyers prepare to set the stage.

In a recent poll, nearly 320 Cargill Case Ready employees told us to conduct a strike vote and that they were ready and committed to striking. With very little ambiguity, the poll results revealed a near one hundred percent commitment to strike.

Every employee that filled out our recent survey very vocally expressed dissatisfaction with Cargill’s management and their offer. 

For employees who did not have the opportunity to fill out our survey, click here.

This clear message tells UFCW Local 401 and its lawyers what to do.

Under Alberta law, a number of things have to happen before a strike vote or an actual strike:

  • Firstly, the law requires that the government-appointed mediator exit the process before a strike vote can be taken. And Local 401 will indeed be asking the mediator to exit.
  • Secondly, the Union must then apply to the Alberta Labour Relations Board for approval for a strike vote. This can take some time, and a “cooling off” period needs to elapse between the end of mediation and setting this process in motion.
  • Thirdly, once approval is gained, the ALRB will supervise the Union’s strike vote.

Once the mediator has left the process, the Company can take a “lockout vote,” which is their primary economic weapon. They can lock our members out until they agree to the contract the Company wants.

Strikes are held to persuade a Company to agree to the contract that the workers want. A very strong strike vote sometimes convinces an employer to bend. If we want the Company to improve their offer, it’s important that a large number of employees both attend the vote and approve a strike.

After a strong strike vote, we would ask the Company to return to the table to improve their offer. Note that the Union will not call a strike until employees have had an opportunity to vote again on the Company’s final offer. It is technically true that after a strike vote, the law says we can strike with 72 hours’ notice. However, that is a minimum.

If a strike does come, we expect that it will last for some months.

What to expect in the coming months

The Cargill Case Ready Bargaining Committee with President Hesse, Director Ricardo de Menezes and Union Labour Relations Officer Teresa Ludwig.

The hope is that a strong vote will convince the Company to produce a better offer and avoid a strike. Unfortunately, this is a technical process regulated by Alberta law and will take some time. It is important that our members remain strong in resolve and solidarity!

We know that no-one wants to go on strike, but we also know, during the affordability crisis, that employees need a better deal to survive. Cargill can afford it.

Local 401 is assembling a strategy for an effective strike. Soon, we will send out specific information about strike pay and about our members’ legal rights while picketing. 

Our strategy will also include possible pickets of Cargill’s High River plant and all other businesses that form Cargill’s economic web. If necessary, we will picket or protest in front of grocery stores, and also in front of Cargill’s suppliers and business partners.

Cargill itself can ensure that there is no strike. We are confident that they are smart enough to run their business with a guarantee of hours and fair overtime for most of their employees. We are confident they can afford significant retroactive pay and better wage increases. We are confident that they can reward maintenance staff properly. And the Company can and should agree to improved ways of ensuring day-to-day representation for the Union in the workplace.

We call upon Cargill — a multibillion dollar company and global employer — to show leadership. They can demonstrate that they care about their employees without further conflict, and we ask them to do so.

Finally, we’d like to offer a special thanks to the Cargill Case Ready Bargaining Committee. Union professionals are at the bargaining table, but they are joined by the strong and experienced voices of our members’ colleagues.

In solidarity,
Your Union
UFCW Local 401

Meet the Bargaining Committee:

Rajwinder Deol
Production Leader

Gurpreet Gill
Shipping Leader

Kyle Gundy
Maintenance Leader & Electrician

Rosalina Layacan

Glendon Charles Sigurdson