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Texas Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry Workers Approve First Union Contract with Highest Pay Raise in Plant History, Key Safety Measures to Protect Workers as COVID Continues

November 5, 2021 Updated: November 12, 2021

Union for 33,000 Texas Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 Pandemic Say Waco Contract Supports Good-Paying Texas Jobs Key to Local Economy

WACO, TX — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union for over 33,000 Texas food and retail workers statewide, announced that over 400 Texas poultry workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Waco, Texas, approved their first union contract which includes pay raises up to $4.00 per hour — the largest in plant history, as well as the creation of the first-ever union worker safety committee, stronger overtime protections, and provisions to preserve strong healthcare and retirement benefits. 

As COVID risks continue in McLennan County and across Texas, this new union contract is the culmination of what started in July 2021, when these Waco Pilgrim’s Pride workers unionized and joinedUFCW Local 540, the largest union for food workers in the region and a leading advocate for frontline food worker safety as the pandemic continues.

UFCW Local 540 President Johnny Rodriguez released the following statement:

“With today’s union contract, Texas poultry workers at Waco Pilgrim’s Pride have secured the highest pay raises in plant history and created the first-ever union worker safety committee — sending a powerful message that workers have a stronger voice on the job when they stand together. 

“Helping Texas families put food on the table during the pandemic, these brave frontline workers stepped up for us when we needed them most and have been essential to keeping our communities strong. Just four months after choosing to unionize, these hardworking men and women are achieving results that will help them support their families, build strong careers, and inspire many more Texans to stand up for the good pay and benefits they have earned.

“As the union for these Texas frontline workers, UFCW Local 540 was proud to stand with our union’s members at Pilgrim’s Pride here in Waco to secure this strong contract. Ensuring these jobs continue to be good Texas jobs for working families is the best way to honor essential workers.”

BACKGROUND

UFCW has been a leading voice for Texas essential workers, including Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers at the Waco plant as COVID infections impacted workers at facilities across the region. Protecting and investing in Pilgrim’s Pride workers at the Waco facility was the first priority in the new UFCW Local 540 union contract approved by these employees. 

Key Provision of Pilgrim’s Pride UFCW 3-Year Contract Approved This Week

  • Pay Increases of up to $4.00 per hour as part of their first union contract
  • Healthcare Coverage preserved as part of commitment to employees and families 
  • Retirement Plan security ensured as company maintains this long-term investment 
  • Overtime Pay enhanced to provide higher pay daily instead of requiring employees to meet 40-hour weekly threshold before overtime kicks in
  • Union Worker Safety Committee created to increase engagement between workers and the company as they work together to strengthen workplace protections as the pandemic continues
  • Job Promotion Opportunities expanded with new open bidding process that enables all employees to apply for vacancies and prioritizes seniority and qualifications

In July 2021, Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers in Waco joining UFCW Local 540 was a major victory that is paving the way for even more Texas meatpacking workers to unionize as these brave men and women continue to work on the frontlines of COVID-19. Additional details regarding UFCW Local 540’s organizing efforts earlier this year at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Waco are below:

  • UFCW Local 540’s campaign to unionize Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers in Waco started in May 2021. UFCW organizers met with workers at the plant during shift changes to help them learn about the union difference and passed out English and Spanish language pamphlets about the benefits of joining the UFCW.
  • Waco community members played an important role in the campaign, helping pass out the pamphlets during shift changes that answered questions workers had.
  • Citizenship clinics were a key part of the campaign, helping introduce the union to the Pilgrim’s Pride employees at the Waco plant, highlighting how the union can support local communities and help workers and their families a better life.

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UFCW Local 540 is part of UFCW International, the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org