Workers at the Cargill beef plant in High River have started voting on the company's latest contract offer.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 is recommending that its members vote in favor of the new proposal.

This as Mondays lock out and strike deadline approaches.

The Union states the company’s new offer is a dramatic improvement from the offer that union members saw last week and will significantly improve Cargill workers’ lives.

They say if ratified, the offer would be the best food processing contract in Canada and would mean more than $6000 in retroactive pay and bonuses for many of the workers just three weeks before Christmas.

The Union posted significant highlights from the agreement on its website this week:
- $4,200 in retroactive pay for many Cargill union members
- a $1,000 signing bonus
- a $1,000 COVID-19 bonus
- a $5.00 wage increase (21% over the contract) for many employees that is well above industry standards
Improved health benefits (psychology, massage therapy, etc.) for Cargill workers and their families
- and significant contract provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity, and respect in the workplace

"This has been a long and difficult journey for our Cargill members" said UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse. "They have stood strong and demanded justice, and I’m happy to see that our Bargaining Committee finally feels that something fair has been proposed."

"Personally, I have mixed feelings about this," continued Hesse. "Our members may or may not accept the offer. If they don’t, I’ll join them on the picket lines in solidarity and on strike. If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace. I will do as our members ask me to do. I respect all of the emotions that they feel and the suffering that they have experienced."

The vote on the offer continues through Saturday.

More than 2,000 people work at the High River plant, which processes about 35 per cent of Canada's beef production.