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Nebraska Meatpacking Workers Approve Historic Union Contract with First Paid Sick Leave at Wholestone Farms

October 29, 2021 Updated: November 1, 2021

Union for 7,300 Nebraska Frontline Workers Calls Contract Major Investment in Good Nebraska Jobs by Providing First-Ever Paid Sick Leave for Wholestone Workers and Strengthening Pay, Healthcare, and Safety as COVID Continues

FREMONT, NE — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union for over 7,300 Nebraska frontline workers, announced that Wholestone Farms pork workers in Fremont voted to approve a historic new three-year union contract with the first-ever paid sick leave provided by the company, as well as provisions to strengthen pay, healthcare coverage, and retirement benefits. The Fremont plant is one of the region’s largest processing facilities and this contract sets a powerful precedent for other Nebraska workers in the industry.

UFCW Local 293, the union for these pork plant workers, called the contract a strong recognition of the service by the men and women who have stepped up to protect the food supply chain in Nebraska and nationwide during the pandemic.

UFCW Local 293 President Eric Reeder released the following statement

“Today’s historic union contract for Wholestone Farms workers includes the first-ever paid sick leave provided by the company, as well as increases to pay, healthcare coverage, and retirement benefits. With this new contract, Nebraska meatpacking workers are sending a powerful message that every company in the industry must step up and recognize the incredible sacrifices made and danger faced by these frontline workers who helped millions of Americans put food on the table during this health crisis.

“As the union for these Nebraska frontline workers, UFCW Local 293 was proud to stand with our union’s members at Wholestone Farms to secure this robust contract that they have earned and deserve. Ensuring these jobs continue to be good Nebraska jobs for working families across our state is the best way for us to thank our essential workers.”

Nebraska Wholestone Farms Worker Claudia Payes: “Helping feed Nebraska families during the pandemic is something that made me proud to go to work throughout this crisis. With this new paid sick leave in our contract, my co-workers and I will never have to worry about choosing between our health and a paycheck. I’m thankful our union has always had our back and helped us achieve this strong contract that will keep me safe and help me continue to provide for my three kids. Every worker in Nebraska deserves to have a good-paying union job and I am hopeful that this contract will inspire even more workers to stand up for the good pay and benefits they deserve.”

BACKGROUND

UFCW has been a leading voice for Nebraska essential workers, including Wholestone Farms pork workers at the Fremont plant, which experienced multiple COVID-19 outbreaks which resulted in at least 170 COVID worker infections at the facility. Thanks to UFCW and Wholestone Farms working together to strengthen protections for workers, more than 280 employees were able to safely quarantine and return to work healthy. Improved workplace safeguards have helped to protect workers and significantly reduce additional cases since then.

Key Provision of Wholestone Farms UFCW Three-Year Contract Approved Today Include:

  • First-Ever Paid Sick Leave provided by the company in historic win for workers
  • Pay Increases of $2.85 per hour in recognition of extraordinary service in pandemic
  • Healthcare Coverage strengthened as part of commitment to employees and families 
  • Retirement Plan strengthened by increased contribution from company 
  • Worksite Resources with visits from union stewards to help with any safety questions
  • Higher Night Shift Pay for workers who take on evening shifts to support production
  • Overtime Pay enhanced to recognize employees working beyond scheduled shifts

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UFCW is the union for over, 7,300 Nebraska frontline workers and is part of UFCW International, America’s largest food and retail union and represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries that serve communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org