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leader professor the registration are associate Institute, Pea eke r wiil'h I SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - John Morrell & Co., the huge packing plant that is Sioux Falls' largest employer, faces major changes in coming months to compete with more modern modern facilities. Three John Morrell plants will close this fall, costing some Sioux Falls Morrell workers their jobs. The union contract for all Morrell plants says any worker who loses his Job when a plant closes must be given a job at another Morrell plant as long as there is one employee there with less seniority. On Nov. 8, Morrell plants will close at El Paso, Texas; Fort Smith, Ark., and Estherville, Iowa, which is only 100 miles from Sioux Falls. The 350 workers at Estherville's beef packing plant will be among those looking for work, and they might come after some of the jobs held by the 3,000 Morrell workers in Sioux Falls. No one knows how many Iowans may want to transfer to Sioux Falls, but Estherville's union president. Bob Tuttle, says "a real big portion" of his members are hoping to find jobs here. Others might be absorbed into the continuing pork operation at Estherville. Officials of the Sioux Falls Morrell union won't discuss the local Impact of the plant closings. Neither will they talk about the economics economics of high union wages that are hurting John MorreU's ability to compete with modern, non-union non-union non-union packing houses. Nobody says John Morrell & Co. is ready to close its Sioux Falls plant, the company's largest single operation. operation. But almost anybody in the beef industry industry who will talk agrees that something must change at Morrell. wrestles hoT costs The Industry is In revolution with old packers like Morrell closing beef plants and looking to cut costs wherever wherever possible while newer, non-union non-union non-union packers are assuming control of the market. Morrell officials say they can't compete with non-union non-union non-union plants that pay far less for labor. Two years ago, the company had eight beef plants. In two months, they will have just three left, plus the pork operation at Estherville, Estherville, Iowa. The Sioux Falls plant remains open relying on the same expensive union labor the company says it can't afford elsewhere and using a building with sections up to 75 years old. "We are at a competitive disadvantage disadvantage at each of our plants, and we have to strengthen our labor situation situation for the better any way we can...," said Morrell Senior Vice President M. Lee Bishop. "But the company has not found reason to give notice for the Sioux Falls plant." That is about as close as the company company will come to commenting on the future of John MorreU's Sioux Falls plant. "Packers like Morrell are in the worst position they could be in," said John Helmeth, a staff member of the U.S. House Small Business Committee, Committee, who has studied the packing industry industry for two years along with Rep. Neal Smith, D-Iowa. D-Iowa. D-Iowa. "They keep closing plants to save money, and the newer packers keep opening new plants and make more," Helmeth said. "Now they have to make up their minds. Do they make a major investment in the plants or get cheaper labor agreements or do they call it quits?" Labor negotiations should begin next spring for Sioux Falls Morrell workers. Bishop agreed the company has three options accepting the standard cost-of-living cost-of-living cost-of-living cost-of-living cost-of-living increases it says it can't afford, agreeing with the union to make major changes in the contract, or failing to agree with the union and seeing who can sit out a strike. Industry watchmen say Morrell wouldn't have been forced to close so many plants if the beef industry wasn't being dominated by non-union non-union non-union companies like Iowa Beef Processors based in Dakota City, Neb. IBP accounts accounts for 25 percent of the nation's beef slaughter. Morrell reports that, counting benefits, benefits, its base wage is $18.27 an hour. IBP, which has fought unions to sometimes violent results, pays a base rate of $8.20 an hour with fewer benefits. Add to that the fact that Americans are eating less beef down to 105 pounds a person from 129 pounds five years ago and there are fewer cattle cattle being raised for market. Money to modernize the old plants demands 20 percent interest. Iowa beef reportedly had enough capital to build its last plant for more than (70 million without borrowing. The Sioux Falls Morrell plant will have some strengths in upcoming labor negotiations. Productivity has increased over the last 18 months, it has diversified into processed meats, and it ships and sells locally. In addition, addition, the pork kill remains healthy. GOLD & SILVER INVESTMENTS I Sailing Krugarrandt Silver Bart, Coins jBuylng Cold Rlngt Sterling Silver, ColniQ A&A COINS-STAMPS COINS-STAMPS COINS-STAMPS Wardway Plata : 131-1424 131-1424 131-1424 1

Clipped from
  1. Iowa City Press-Citizen,
  2. 14 Sep 1981, Mon,
  3. Page 11

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