(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.