A union contract at Smithfield Packing: It only took 17 years | News

A union contract at Smithfield Packing: It only took 17 years

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Congratulations to the union and management at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, the world's biggest pork slaughtering and packing plant. After 17 years of pitched company vs. union warfare, the two sides have finally come together on a four-year contract -- which was ratified by the workers today.

From now on, it's Local 1208 of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers).

The union's statement is below the fold.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2009

WORKERS AT WORLDS 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.

* 24 hours 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.

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