Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Beef Industry Engages in Card Check Debate

An ongoing dispute between the United Farm Workers’ Union and Beef Northwest’s owners threatens to cripple the local cattle and beef industries in Oregon.  The issue: whether Beef Northwest’s workers want to unionize.  UFW says they do and is insisting card check is the best method of unionization, while Beef Northwest’s owners are advocating for a private ballot.  The effects of the dispute are clear: stores stop purchasing meat from Beef Northwest, the company is forced to lay off workers to off-set costs, and consumers go without a quality product.

The ongoing conflict could pose harm to such promising Oregon brands as Country Natural Beef, which supplies all-natural meat to retailers such as Portland-based New Seasons and Whole Foods, based in Austin, Tex. Whole Foods recently announced it would stop buying meat that comes from the Beef Northwest feedlot.

In a meeting held today, representatives of Gov. Ted Kulongoski encouraged the two sides to continue to work toward a resolution.

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