The meat and packaged food group Hormel Foods has agreed a contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) which represents some 4,000 of its employees across five states.

The contract includes provisions for wage increases, health care improvements and a pension plan increase for Hormel employees.

UFCW members in five states, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Georgia, voted to ratify the contract, which establishes wage increases of $1.40 per hour over four years for production workers. Maintenance workers will receive an increase of $1.80 per hour. The new contract also includes improvements in preventive health care, and a 10% rise in pension payments.

"I think this contract allows Hormel workers the chance to have a stable and comfortable living that we deserve. I'm glad that Hormel saw the value in remaining the industry leader in wages and benefits," said Richard Chinander, chief steward at the UFCW's Local 9 in Austin, Minnesota.