July 15, 2009

JBS-Swift Workers in Utah Ratify First Union Contract

Hyrum, Utah – Workers at the JBS-Swift plant in Hyrum, Utah, last evening voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first-ever union contract. The more than 1,100 workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 at the JBS-Swift Beef Plant (known locally as the E.A. Miller Plant) will join the more than 10,000 JBS-Swift workers nationwide who belong to the UFCW.

The new three-year contract includes:

  • regular wage increases, with many plant workers receiving a 4.6 percent or greater increase at ratification and a dollar an hour increase over the life of the contract;
  • weekly hour guarantees that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community;
  • affordable family health coverage, with no increase in medical premiums;
  • job advancement opportunities;
  • workers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for their work equipment, tools and work clothes;
  • a formal system to resolve workplace issues;
  • improved vacation benefits;
  • the creation of an educational trust fund, which can be used to promote a range of initiatives, including citizenship workshops;
  • a Joint Worker-Management Safety Committee and improved safety training for workers;
  • improved funeral pay.

“Now that we have a contract, we have a real voice,” said Robert Young, who has worked at the plant for two years and also serves as an ordained minister. “That means better benefits, active stewards, leadership in the plant and a better a way to deal with problems before they become big issues.”

The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.