Troubled waters result in halted vote for Country Natural Beef.
Country Natural Beef has called off an election to settle whether workers at feedlots that handle their cattle want to join a union.
The 85 workers at Beef Northwest Feeders feedlots in Nyssa, Boardman and Quincy, Wash., were scheduled to start voting Friday, but Stacey Davies, a member of the board of the beef cooperative, says the election was canceled because the feedlot had reached a settlement with the United Farmworkers Union.
John Wilson, managing partner of Beef Northwest, acknowledged they have reached a ‘‘tentative agreement settling our labor dispute.
‘‘Our agreement is predicated on a mutually agreed upon process by which Beef Northwest employees will decide if they want union representation,’’ he read from a prepared statement.
Wilson says he can not release any further details.
The Farmworkers Union did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.
The Farmworkers says it signed cards from a majority of the workers saying they wanted the union to represent them in contract talks.
Beef Northwest had disputed the validity of the cards.
Hurt by boycotts organized by the union, Country Natural Beef set up the election to settle the question.
Country Natural Beef is a marketing cooperative that represents more than 90 ranches and 45,000 head of cattle across the West.
The cooperative was a pioneer in the movement to raise beef following sustainable grazing practices, and is certified to be free of hormones and antibiotics.
Among its retail customers are Whole Foods and New Seasons groceries, Burgerville restaurants, and Bon Appetit, a college food service company.