ARCHIVED  April 1, 1997

New union local gears up for Monfort contract talks

GREELEY — Meat-packing workers at Monfort of Colorado Inc.’s Greeley plant will be represented by a new union local formed solely to represent them and production workers at the Longmont Foods main plant in Longmont.

Monfort and Longmont Foods are owned by ConAgra Inc.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 traditionally has represented the meat-packing employees, but it also is responsible for a membership that includes everything from bakery workers to cosmetologists.

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Local 7 has headquarters in Wheat Ridge and had a small office in Greeley at U.S. Highway 85 and Second Avenue.

The new local, Local 990, recently leased 2,400 square feet at United Plaza, 1100 10th St. in downtown Greeley.

“We’re working on expanding our representation and working on organizing the Monfort lamb plant,´ said Jerry Rangel, office manager for the new local.

The union is gearing up for negotiations on the existing contract for the packing-plant workers. It expires this September.

He said the growing union needed to show members that it is working to better represent them.

“We try to make sure people are treated fairly and justly through their work conditions and that they receive fair wages for the jobs they do,” Rangel said.

Barry Siff, senior vice president of human resources at Monfort, said the newly visible union is making a difference.

“Both the leadership on the local side and the company side are developing a better working relationship,” he said. “When I arrived one year ago, labor relations were not making as much progress as they are today.”

Two efforts of the new local include establishing a women’s committee and a system for disseminating information to female packing-plant employees through union stewards, meetings and conventions.

Additionally, it’s hoped that a renewed emphasis on safety will result in a safety steward being placed in the plant on a permanent basis.

Stewards essentially are liaisons between employees and management.

Lorenzo Sanchez, a representative for Local 990, said the union also often deals with issues surrounding seniority.

“It’s probably the heart of the contract,” he said. “Seniority means a lot.”

Whenever there is a conflict, Sanchez said the primary focus is to “get to a conclusion agreeable to everyone and to not violate anyone’s rights.”

Monfort’s Siff said that historically, the number of grievances and cases pending arbitration were very high.

“Now, they are getting solved where they should,” he said. “The new leadership (of the union) and Monfort are taking an enlightened position.”

The Greeley packing plant has almost 2,200 production workers represented by the new local. The Longmont Foods operation has about 1,500.

GREELEY — Meat-packing workers at Monfort of Colorado Inc.’s Greeley plant will be represented by a new union local formed solely to represent them and production workers at the Longmont Foods main plant in Longmont.

Monfort and Longmont Foods are owned by ConAgra Inc.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 traditionally has represented the meat-packing employees, but it also is responsible for a membership that includes everything from bakery workers to cosmetologists.

Local 7 has headquarters in Wheat Ridge and had a small office in Greeley at U.S. Highway 85 and Second Avenue.

The new local, Local 990, recently leased 2,400 square…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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