On October 19, 1000 an overwhelming majority of workers at the JBS slaughterhouse and production facility in Plainwell, Mich., voted to join UFCW Local 951. Workers said they wanted a union voice on the job in order to address unjust terminations, unsafe working conditions, and an unfair compensation system where new employees were earning more than workers with more than 15 years of service to the company.
“This win feels great,” said Troy Schlotterback, a JBS employee and a part of the organizing committee. “I come from a union family and I have worked in a union plant in the past. I have seen, first hand, what a union can do for the middle class.”
“I am surprised and happy by the win,” said Li Lin Thang, who has worked for JBS for three years. The bad working conditions and discrimination will finally be gone, I feel free now.”
JBS is the world’s largest processor of fresh beef and pork, with more than US$30 billion in annual sales as of 2010. JBS acquired this Packerland plant in 2008. During the workers’ campaign, JBS allowed a free and fair process for workers to decide whether they wanted union representation. The campaign was similar to previous JBS campaigns in Hyrum, Utah and Souderton, Penn.
Workers at the West Michigan plant will join with 28,000 other JBS workers who already enjoy the benefits of UFCW union representation on the job.