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Mediated settlement reached at Alberta meat plant

Negotiations lasted nearly two years; union claims company dragged feet

The 2,000 employees of the Lakeside packing plant in Brooks, Alberta will be voting on a tentative agreement on July 12.
Reached this week between Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers and XL Lakeside Packers, the agreement will replace one that expired on December 31, 2009. No details have been released to date.

The agreement was reached after marathon negotiations with the help of provincial mediator Andrew Sims. The union claims that XL did not make a "comprehensive" settlement offer until March 28, 2011.

The union can take a strike vote only if the offer is turned down. However, it has been using the threat of a strike as a negotiating tool: members have been asked to wear "I'm on Strike Alert" stickers on their clothing.
The last contract at the plant was achieved in November 2005 after a bitter, four-week strike.

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