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Food Plant Closed by Walkout Seeks to Reopen; Union to Demand Contract

March 03, 1987|United Press International

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — A frozen food plant closed by a 19-month Teamster strike will seek to reopen under new ownership and a new name, but union officials said the strike could continue if there is no new contract.

Final agreement has been reached to turn over the former Watsonville Canning & Frozen Food Co. to Norcal Frozen Foods, a consortium of growers, David Gill said.

Gill, who had operated the cannery for owner Mort Cosele, said Saturday that "Norcal will commence hiring employees on a non-discriminitory basis immediately."

"It will hire based on years experience and will not discriminate on the basis of union affiliation or strike participation," he said. "Former workers with seniority will have an advantage in the hiring process."

But Serio Lopez, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 912, which has kept about 1,000 workers on the picket line since September, 1985, predicted the strikers would prevent Norcal from operating until management signs a contract with the union.

Norcal's takeover of the plant was preceded by complex agreements among the new consortium, Watsonville Canning and Wells Fargo Bank.

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