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'A courageous stand': Calgary Cargill workers reach unanimous decision to strike

Workers at Calgary's Cargill case-ready plant, located at 10 Freeport Way N.E., voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike if negotiations fail to reach an agreement. (Supplied/Google Maps) Workers at Calgary's Cargill case-ready plant, located at 10 Freeport Way N.E., voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike if negotiations fail to reach an agreement. (Supplied/Google Maps)
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The union that represents workers at a Cargill plant in Calgary says it has "made history" with a vote that could see them walk off the job in the coming weeks.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 (UFCW 401) says workers at Calgary's Case Ready plant have gone without a contract for more than a year and have now voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action.

"(They) have taken a courageous stand voting 100 per cent in favour of strike action if their employer does not return to negotiations with an offer that meets their needs," the union wrote in a news release.

The group says the company's lack of action on the affordability crisis has a lot to do with the current situation at the facility, which sees many of the working families struggling to make ends meet.

"As one of the largest privately-owned companies in the world and an agribusiness giant that posted $177 billion in revenues in 2023, Cargill can certainly afford to do the right thing," said UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse in a statement.

Bargaining meetings are expected to continue through June and Hesse "genuinely hopes" the company will offer a fair deal.

"(We hope) they care about employees who have just sent them a very clear message about their needs," he said.

News of the strike vote comes as job action continues at Cargill's Dunlop facility in Guelph, Ont.

There, members of UFCW Local 175 went on strike on May 27 after delivering a 99 per cent strike mandate to their bargaining committee.

UFCW Local 175 says its members "work in a hot, fast-paced environment that takes a toll."

"Our members at Cargill Dunlop are an integral part of a vital supply chain that helps keep food on the table for people every day," said Kelly Tosato, president of UFCW Local 175.

"The decision to go on strike is never easy but these members aren't satisfied with what the company has brought to the table."

If workers do go on strike in Calgary, Hesse says Albertans should expect to see protesters outside more than 100 grocery stores throughout the province.

"We're all ultimately in the same boat," said Hesse. "Just like consumers, our grocery store members can't afford to shop at the stores where they work. We all need to come together to stop the squeeze posed by this affordability crisis."

In a statement to CTV News on Monday, Cargill says it is negotiating with the union.

"We have yet to reach an agreement and union members voted to authorize a potential labour disruption if one is not reached after future negotiations," it said.

Cargill says the next bargaining sessions will take place on June 20 and 21.

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