March 23, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Sauget, IL – Workers at the Holten Meats plant here went on strike Mar. 18 after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s latest contract offer. “76% of the people here have voted to authorize a strike,” said David Cook, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655.
“Folks, we are on strike.” The critical issue, Cook told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was seniority. The union wants language in the contract that would let workers use seniority to apply for open jobs, such as a night-shift worker who wants to move to the day shift, instead of the company hiring new employees. It said management had offered to accept that principle but refused to put it in the contract. “Really, it’s a very simple process, and we have it in almost every contract we have. And that is that when a job becomes available if you’re qualified for that job, you’re allowed to bid on it,” a Local 655 official told KSDW-TV. “All things being equal, the prevailing factor shall be seniority.” The company, which packs and ships frozen beef patties to supermarkets, has said it will try to keep the plant open during the strike. Read more