Winnipeg Maple Leaf Workers OK New Contract

Deal includes 3 percent wage increases and a promise from the food company of a $40-million investment that will create another 550 jobs.

WINNIPEG — Unionized employees at the Maple Leaf Foods plant in Winnipeg have ratified a new four-year contract that will give them annual wage increases of 3 percent.
 
The deal also includes a promise from the company of a $40-million investment that will create another 550 jobs.
 
Robert Ziegler, president of Local 832 United Food and Commercial Workers, says Maple Leaf Foods has agreed to a major expansion of its ham boning operation at the plant.
 
It's an operation that once was intended to move to the Warman Road plant before employees there refused to reopen their contract.
 
Maple Leaf spokesman Norm Sabapathy says the expansion project for the plant still must be approved by the company's board of directors.
 
Sabapathy says ham boning operations now done at Brandon will be moved to to the Winnipeg site, where the company also will increase overall production of finished ham products.
 
Sabapathy said there will be no job losses at Brandon, which is expected to see its total workforce climb from 1,300 to 2,000 over the next two years.
 
Ziegler says Maple Leaf told him that the plant will have to be enlarged to accommodate the new ham boning operation, adding he understands drawings are being prepared and construction likely will start early in 2008.
 
As for the Warman Road plant, Ziegler said the facility could be in jeopardy.
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