AUSTIN, Minn. — A union official and 13 other people were arrested Wednesday when about 125 striking meatpackers and their supporters demonstrated outside the Geo. A. Hormel & Co.'s flagship plant.
The protesters tried to block the main gate and were arrested when they ignored an order to move, police Chief Donald Hoffman said.
The plant's main gates were shut briefly, but were reopened by the start of the main shift at 7 a.m., police Capt. Gordon Bjorgo said.
Among those arrested was Lynn Huston, vice president of Local P-9 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
In another development in the 7 1/2-month-old strike against Hormel, a hearing to determine whether the parent union should place Local P-9 in trusteeship and remove its officers was delayed a week, union spokesman Al Zack said.
The union ordered the local on March 13 to end its strike. The local refused, and on March 25 the parent union announced it would hold the hearing. A union spokesman said in a letter to P-9 members Wednesday that the trusteeship hearing will deal only with whether P-9 complied with the international union's directive.
About 1,500 Local P-9 members walked off their jobs at Hormel's Austin plant on Aug. 17 after the company had cut wages 23%. That cut lowered the base wage from $10.69 an hour to $8.25 an hour, but an arbitrator's ruling increased the base to $9.25 an hour shortly before the strike began.
Workers at other Hormel plants accepted a contract with a base wage of $10 an hour, but P-9 twice rejected a federal mediator's proposal including the $10 base wage.