February 2, 2009
(Washington, DC) – Two new contracts—one covering 1800 Smithfield/Farmland Foods workers in Crete, Neb., and the other covering 250 Smithfield/Armour Eckrich workers in Mason City, Iowa—raise living standards for meatpacking workers and their families. The contracts negotiated by members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 271 and 6 provide solid wage increases, lower worker health care costs with improved health care benefits, and retirement security.
More than 10,000 workers at twelve UFCW local unions that are bargaining (or have recently settled) new contracts with Smithfield have been taking unified worksite actions over the past eight months. This unified bargaining approach is sending a strong message to Smithfield that UFCW members are willing to stick together for contracts that raise working conditions and living standards for meatpacking workers across the industry. One of the goals of the program was to show UFCW members at each plant that no one stood alone. Unity bargaining is producing the best contracts in the pork industry and changing the lives of workers.
“We just settled a contract that secures middle class wages and benefits for our families and we did it by working together with our UFCW brothers and sisters in Nebraska and across the country, said Bob Hampton,” chief steward at Local 6 in Mason City. “Smithfield workers are sticking together to make Smithfield jobs quality, middle class jobs you can raise a family on.”
In Mason City, the new four-year contract:
–Increases wages by $1.40 over the four year term of the contract.
–Maintains affordable health insurance and adds improved well child care and a variety of improvements in health care benefits.
–Improves vacation pay.
–Improves sick pay.
In Crete, the new four-year contract:
–Increases wages by at least $1.50 over the four year term of the contract.
–Improves health care coverage with controlled costs to workers.
–Improves working conditions.
These contracts are the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW packing and food processing members across the country. The UFCW represents 250,000 workers in this industry. Smithfield workers at the company’s largest pork processing plant recently voted to join the UFCW after a 15-year campaign.