A local United Steelworkers contract negotiating committee and Cargill Inc. representatives will head back to the bargaining table as employees from the company's Hammond facility rejected a tentative contract agreement reached earlier in the month.
Bob Lofton, staff representative for the United Steelworkers District 7, said the union is waiting for the company to provide it with meeting dates as it puts together a counter proposal. He said both parties intend to return to bargaining.
"(We) talked to the company about issues of concern," Lofton said. "We're waiting to hear from them before we get back to the table. I gave the membership directions that everything is status quo until we get back to the table."
Negotiations started in early September in Hammond, Lofton said. The bargaining committee and the company reached a tentative agreement earlier this month on a new deal, but more than 70 percent of members voted against it. Lofton said he couldn't provide specific information about the workers' complaints, but said they likely reflected "economic and non-economic" issues.
Cargill spokeswoman Nicole Reichert said last week negotiations are ongoing, but declined further comment on the state of contract talks.
Union members also empowered the bargaining committee to call a strike following an Oct. 10 strike authorization vote, Lofton said. The three-year collective bargaining agreement between the union and company expired Sept. 30, but he said members are continuing to work under the terms of the old contract.
United Steelworkers Local 7-209 represents about 134 employees at the corn milling facility, which produces modified starch and sweetener products for the food industry.