KANSAS CITY (B)--A wildcat strike at Cargill's Excel beef plant at Fort Morgan, CO, nearly idled the facility and severely restricted the amount of beef it processed, a company spokesman said. Only a small percentage of the plant's employees were on the line through the day, with the bulk walking picket lines in front of the building.

Although production at the 4,000-head-per-day capacity beef plant was severely hampered, the company did not disclose how much it had been set back, said Mark Klein, public affairs officer for the firm.

The walkout occurred after union employees this weekend rejected a six-year contract proposal 917 to 59, Klein said. It was assumed that a rejected contract would bring a strike, but the union had not sanctioned any job action.

The demonstration is peaceful, and Excel officials are inviting some of the picketing employees in to discuss their grievances, he said. Some of the striking employees said the wage package in the contract proposal was not to their liking, but few details are available from the informal talks.

Klein said it was too soon to tell if the employees would return to work on Feb. 27.

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