A message to our Cargill Case Ready members from UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse and Treasurer Richelle Stewart.

By now, you will have heard that Cargill has put a new offer on the table for your consideration. Your powerful strike vote successfully caused them to bend and to look at your needs in a new way.

Is the offer good enough? Undoubtedly there are improvements to the offer. Your Bargaining Committee will be discussing it with you, and will also be sharing their opinions.

Most believe that the decision you have to make is a balancing act. They feel that when you weigh the prospect of a lengthy strike against the value of the offer, it is preferable to accept the offer. In this sense, they “recommend” the offer.

This does not mean that they are saying it’s a great deal or even a good deal. They are asking you to analyze the company’s new offer and to consider the fact that the only alternative to accepting it appears to be going on strike for a long time.

Some worry that the company could withdraw the offer. Some worry about mumbled threats to close the business. Some worry that the losses incurred by a strike would far outweigh anything that might be achieved.

Many congratulations are owed to the Committee, who have a very hard job of facing down their bosses, and articulating your concerns and speaking for you. It is incredibly stressful work. They are under a lot of pressure, and they show courage. They form opinions based on their experience at the bargaining table, and you should consider their opinions carefully.

As the leadership of the Union, our perspective is a pretty straightforward one. In this economy, and affordability crisis, we are not going to conclude that this offer is good enough. Any offer would have to be exceptional to receive that sort of endorsement.

Our job is to step into the shoes of working people, and to worry. We worry very much about you, and care very much for you. You have a difficult decision to make. 

We fully support you. We will ensure that Local 401’s full resources are provided to you if you choose to go on strike.

But Union leadership involves respecting the decisions of Union members themselves. We are proud of our democratic system. We encourage you to consider your vote carefully. Will you strike or will you settle? That is your choice, and in our eyes, the ability to make that choice is sacred. That’s the way our Union works, and that’s the way it must work.

Next week, you will be receiving a lot more information about the company offer. We urge you to consider, debate and talk among yourselves. Listen carefully to the thoughts of your coworkers who are on the Bargaining Committee. These are good people who volunteered to fight for you.

We wish you well in your deliberations, and look forward to continuing to represent you no matter what the circumstance brings. We will not be discussing details of this offer with the media until you have had a full opportunity to consider it.

In solidarity,

Thomas Hesse, President
Richelle Stewart, Secretary Treasurer
UFCW Local 401