After an attempt to delay re-opening due to COVID-19, the Cargill meatpacking plant opened on Monday. The reopening comes after the union representing workers at the plan attempted to reach a deal via mediation about delaying the re-opening and then issued a “scathing note” to union members about the re-opening.
The plant had paused operations for two weeks following the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada. According to reports, nearly 1000 employees had tested positive for the virus in the days and weeks leading up to the plant’s shutdown.
Following the closure, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 entered into talks with the plant to stop the re-opening from happening. Negotiations continued until late into the evening before the re-opening was scheduled to occur. The mediation was unsuccessful and the plant moved forward with its plan to restart operations.
The note issued by the union to its members stated, “Let there be no confusion: we have made every attempt to work with Cargill to resolve things and make your workplace safe. Unfortunately, the situation has not been resolved. At this moment, we have been unable to convince any government or legal authority to have the courage to step in and ensure the plant remains closed until safety is assured.”
The letter went on to encourage workers to not work if they did not feel safe at the plant. It has repeatedly been open about its belief that the company has not done enough to protect workers and make the factor safe enough for their return.