Local 617 votes 'No' on Pinnacle Foods contract, back to bargaining

Union workers at Pinnacle Foods voted down a new contract proposal Sunday afternoon.

UFCW Local 617 President Darin Boatman says it's back to the bargaining table this week. He says the company previously threatened to take away the pensions and up the healthcare costs for all 431 of his union workers. Union members overwhelmingly agreed in a vote to strike before they'd let that happen.

Pinnacle Foods and its union members began the bargaining process back in September. The company had reached a tentative agreement with the union on Jan. 18. Boatman said a pension plan was included in the contract, but at a lower rate. He also said the healthcare premiums would have increased significantly if members agreed to the plan.

Boatman said more than two-thirds of the members in attendance Sunday voted no on the new proposal. The group plans to continue negotiating as long as the company will. A strike would be a last resort.

The company produces canned foods including chili, Vienna sausages and Armour brands.