Smithfield's Tar Heel plant to unionize
December 12, 2008
by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
TAR HEEL, N.C. — By a vote of 2,041 (52%) to 1,879 (48%), workers at Smithfield Packing’s Tar Heel pork processing plant voted in favor of union representation with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The secret-ballot election was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
"From the beginning, our goal was to give employees the opportunity to vote on this issue in a fair, secret-ballot election," said Tim Schellpeper, president of Smithfield Packing Co. "This has now been accomplished, and we will abide by the results of the election. We respect the decision and look forward to working with the union to negotiate a fair labor contract for our employees."
Smithfield has a history of working together with the U.F.C.W. and other labor unions that represent employees at its U.S. pork processing plants, he added. Employees at 8 of Smithfield’s 13 plants are currently represented by a union. The most recent election ends a long and what was often a bitter battle to unionize the Tar Heel facility.
On Oct 27, Smithfield Foods dropped a racketeering and extortion lawsuit against the U.F.C.W. and agreed to let them hold a union election at its facility in Tar Heel. In return, the U.F.C.W. agreed to end a publicity campaign against Smithfield that included calls for product boycotts to support its efforts to hold an election at the slaughterhouse. This agreement was announced in a joint statement by Smithfield and the U.F.C.W. as the company’s lawsuit was about to go to trial Oct. 27 in federal court.