Tom Vilsack announces new contract with nation’s largest meatpacking company

Tom Vilsack announces new contract with nation's largest meatpacking company

Split widens between labor, Biden on move to impose contract on railroad workers to avert strike

Updated May 17, 2016

WASHINGTON — On Saturday morning, Tom Vilsack, the head of the Department of Agriculture, announced that his agency was negotiating a new contract with the nation’s biggest meatpacking company, Cargill, to avert a nationwide strike.

Vilsack announced his plan on Twitter.

“I’m proud to report that we have reached a new contract with the nation’s largest meatpacking company, Cargill, as we prepare to avert another labor contract strike on Monday,” he wrote.

Vilsack was referring to a nearly month-long walkout by meatpackers, railroad workers, and other American industry groups over a proposed new labor contract. The talks had become bogged down in contentiousness, with the companies demanding drastic changes from the USDA that had the potential to destabilize a delicate and complicated industry.

The president-elect responded to the news with a simple and eloquent statement.

“I know what it means to be worried about the next day,” he wrote. “I will always make the hard calls, but I recognize that we have a big agenda and that we all must work together.”

President Barack Obama, who has publicly blamed his predecessor’s decision to bail out the auto industry on Obama’s predecessor, said on Friday that he was not sure whether he could have made a different decision.

“I don’t know that I could have done it — I’d have to think about it a lot. But there’s no question I wish that I’d acted differently,” he said in an interview with NBC News.

Obama had previously said that he was concerned that the industry would get a bad deal — one that would harm the livelihoods of many hard-working Americans.

“I was very clear about it. And now I feel a little less sure about it,” he said Friday.

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