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Former P-9’er calls for worker equality at Hormel shareholders meeting

For the 27th year, a former P9 worker called for changes to Hormel Foods Corp.’s business practices.

Former Hormel worker Rod Huinker praised Hormel leadership for the company’s continued growth and charitable practices but asked for Hormel to pay workers more and to bring Quality Pork Processors, Inc. back under the Hormel umbrella.

Huinker said he would like to see QPP workers get pensions like Hormel workers do, as QPP often works with the hogs that Hormel eventually uses at its Austin plant. In addition, he called on Hormel President and CEO Jeff Ettinger to address the $94 taken out of his retirement pension each month, about $1,128 a year.

Huinker was one of about 50 employees fired by Hormel during the 1986 strike for protest activities, and though Huinker said his firing was unjustified, he would like the money taken out of his pension to go to charity, as he now works for a shelter in Red Wing.

Ettinger thanked Huinker for attending the meeting but stood by the company’s position to not address Huinker’s situation. The company has previously said addressing Huinker’s claim could set a precedence for others with complaints over the last 25 years.

Another speaker called on Hormel to disclose more information concerning its administrative benefits in security filings and asked Ettinger to justify his salary and benefits. Ettinger said Hormel discloses vast amounts of information every year in its filings. He also told shareholders his pay is determined by a committee and is tied to the company’s overall success. Ettinger, Hormel’s president and CEO, made $9.26 million in 2013, including $4.25 million in incentive pay, as the company’s stock value reached all-time highs.