JBS employees ratify contract extension, pay increase
December 16, 2018
Trucks unload cattle at the JBS beef plant in Greeley this year during a busy day. Employees on Sunday ratified a contract extending their current benefits and adding annual pay increases through 2020. (Tribune file photo.)
Hundreds of JBS workers on Sunday ratified a contract extension that will include annual pay raises as early as Monday and continued health coverage in what employees say is a major win for them.
“We’re going to have the same insurance, we’re going to keep everything right. That’s the good part,” said Laura Padilla, a JBS employee of three years. “That’s the good part, and we’re going to get a raise and all the benefits in the contract (that we have) right now.”
The current agreement, which was negotiated in 2015, expires in July. The extension will allow employees to retain their current benefits through July 2021.
Employees cast their ballot in private Sunday at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on 8th Street in Greeley.
JBS employees were represented in union negotiations by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, the largest private-sector union in Colorado with representation in Wyoming, as well, totaling about 23,000 members. Grocery and retail workers and meat packaging and slaughter employees are represented by UFCW.
“Our role is to, essentially, negotiate the best union contracts we can so that people can afford a living wage, get good benefits (and) make sure they have the benefits to take care of them and their family members,” said Nate Bernstein, one of the directors for UFCW Local 7.
The union represents some 3,000 employees at JBS, but not all of them always cast a vote when it comes time to ratify a new contract, Bernstein said.
Employees will get their first pay raise Monday, then will see a second pay raise in July, followed by another in July 2020. The pay increase varies depending on their income bracket, Bernstein said, but will be between 35 cents and $1.40.
Padilla praised her co-workers for ratifying the agreement.
“The people will get better wages,” she said. “Life is a little expensive here in Colorado. This is going to be good for them.”