UFCW and Smithfield workers ratify Contract at Tarheel, NC Plant

Yesterday, in a first for the 5,000 workers at the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the employees or the Smithfield plant ratified a contract with Smithfield Foods granting the better benefits, pay increases and working conditions.

The Press Release from UFCW:

WORKERS AT WORLD'S LARGEST PORK PLANT RATIFY FIRST-EVER UNION CONTRACT

Deal raises Tar Heel workers’ wages and brings up benefits and working conditions to union standards

(TAR HEEL NC)—Five Thousand workers at the world’s largest pork processing plant have their first-ever union contract, after a majority of workers ratified the agreement over a two-day vote. Members of UFCW Local 1208 will join more than 10,000 other Smithfield workers, and more than 240,000 others who work in the meat packing and food processing industry who have a UFCW union contract.

The new contract includes:

* Wage increases of $1.50/hour over the next four years.

* Continued company-provided affordable family health care coverage.

* Improved paid sick leave and vacation benefits.

* Retirement security through protection of the existing pension plan.

* Continued joint worker/management safety committee, including company funded safety training for workers.

* Guaranteed weekly hours that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community

* A system to resolve workplace issues.

* Three working days of paid funeral leave following the death of immediate family members.

“This contract will completely transform our workplace,” said Orlando Williams. “This is the biggest four-year wage increase Smithfield workers have ever had and it will make a real difference for our families and in this community. We could never have gotten that increase without a chance to bargain with the company. We will finally have a sense of security on the job because through our union we can make sure we have a safe place to work, and that everyone’s treated fairly.”

UFCW members who work at Smithfield's other locations all over the country were paying close attention to the negotiations in Tar Heel. "I know the difference having a union contract makes, said Jim Olson, a steward at UFCW Local 304A and a 35 year veteran of Smithfield's John Morrell Plant in Sioux Falls, SD. "The more meatpacking workers who join our union, the more power we have to raise wages and benefits—in our own local unions, and for everybody who works in this industry. That’s what being in the UFCW is all about.”

This is the first contract covering the hourly production and maintenance workers at the Tar Heel facility and will take effect July 1, 2009.

Congratulations to the employee's at Smithfield Foods, Tarheel. It's been a long time coming and now the day is finally here.

Comments

In 2000 a judge ruled that Smithfield was guily of the

following illegal offenses while trying to keep the workers at their plant from organizing beginning in 1997:

o threatened to discharge union supporters and to close the plant if workers chose union representation;
o threatened to call the INS to report immigrant workers if workers chose union representation;
o threatened the use of violence against workers engaged in organizing activities;
o threatened to blacklist workers who supported the union;
harassed, intimidated, and coerced workers who supported the union;
disciplined, suspended, and fired many workers because of their support for the union;
o spied on workers engaged in lawful union activities;
o asked workers to spy on other workers' union activity;
o grilled workers about other workers’ union activities;
o suppressed workers’ right to freely discuss the union in non-work areas on non-work time and to demonstrate support for the union at work by wearing unobtrusive union insignia;
o confiscated lawful union literature being lawfully distributed by workers;
o applied a gag rule against union supporters while giving union opponents free rein;
o applied work rules strictly against union supporters but not against union opponents

As I stated above, it has been a long time coming. It's about time.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Unless you have a personal pork provider that

I don't know about, I would say yes with a caveat. The raise isn't much but it's a start towards treating workers with dignity.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!