Hormel employees march for fair pay

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(ABC 6 News) – Labor Day is a national holiday that recognizes the contributions made by laborers to America’s economic success. Many of us celebrate with a day off at home or on a lake, but Hormel workers in Austin took to the streets instead.

Despite the heat, hundreds of Hormel employees gathered at their union office Monday morning, rallying to make sure they are respected, protected and paid fairly by their employer.

“I think especially on Labor Day which was really formed because of workers coming together to try to improve their safety pay and working conditions, that it really makes sense today that our workers at Hormel our marching together in this parade,” said United Foods and Commercial Workers Union Local 663 President, Rena Wong.

The contract between the workers union and Hormel Foods is expiring in a few days. As much as workers want to keep Hormel open, they want to make sure they’re being heard.

“We want support for our families, to have good pay and an opportunity to spend more money in the community,” said Hormel employee, Bernie Brandsmeier.

The union that represents these workers is the UFCW. They represent over a million workers nationwide in the food procession and grocery industry.

“Every day the workers work so hard. These are essential workers. And here in Austin they keep this plant running and they keep this community running,” said Wong.

And these workers are happy to have the union behind them.

“It’s like a family, all together. Here as you can see, we are gathering and now that we are going through those negotiations, we are glad we have all their support,” said German Munoz.

Despite issues between workers and Hormel in the past that led to the strike in 1985, employees like Bernie Brandsmeier say it’s a good place to work.

“I’ve been there for about 37 years. They have been a big part of my family and it’s been a good thing,” said Brandsmeier.

In a Statement to ABC 6 News Hormel said, “Hormel Foods has had strong working relationships with the UFCW for decades, including in Austin. Our representatives will continue to negotiate in good faith, and we remain optimistic that we will reach agreements with the UFCW in the near future.”

The two sides have until September 10 to reach an agreement. Wong says that striking is always a last resort, but they need to make sure the employees are happy.