News and Updates
June 17, 2011
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – (June 17, 2011) – Delighted to join TODAY’s 10th annual “Lend a Hand” campaign with Al Roker, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and Smithfield delivered 120,000 servings of protein to benefit Covenant House of West Virginia and other local charitable agencies at Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, 300 Leon Sullivan Way, at 7:00 a.m.
Covenant House, the final stop on the “Lend a Hand” philanthropic tour, is a multi-faceted, nonprofit organization that offers a variety of assistance services to the Charleston community. In addition to a food pantry that provides nearly 5,000 meals annually, Covenant House services include a day shelter, community housing, housing assistance and community resource education.
“Feeding the Hungry” is a joint program of the UFCW and Smithfield to donate and help deliver 20 million servings of protein over three years to assistance organizations around the country. The partnership is designed to bring much needed assistance to the growing number of people facing hunger and food insecurity in our communities.
“Last year we fed over 6 million people and as we take our nationwide Feeding the Hungry Tour on the road for the second year, the UFCW is committed to ensuring that families across the country have the relief and the opportunities they need to weather the current economic crises,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW international president. “All across the country, UFCW members are on the frontlines of efforts to improve and strengthen their communities, and this partnership reflects their unwavering commitment to protect and advocate for families during tough times.”
“Smithfield is proud to continue the second year of our hunger relief tour. We’re well on our way to feeding 20 million people,” said Dennis Pittman, public affairs director, Smithfield. “We hope to continue increasing awareness and encourage individuals and companies to donate to their local food banks.”
September 30, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC — The Change to Win (CtW) Leadership Council elected Joe Hansen, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President, as its new Chair. Hansen replaces Anna Burger who earlier had announced her retirement from CtW where she served as Chair. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa was elected CtW Secretary-Treasurer.
Change to Win unions, the UFCW, SEIU, the Teamsters and Farm Workers represent millions of private-sector unionized workforces in the U.S. Change to Win members work in the fastest growing industries in the country in service-sector jobs, including transportation, health care, food production and retail, among others.
The following is a statement from Joe Hansen:
“Change to Win is focused on ensuring that workers in the various service sectors have jobs with wages and benefits that can support a family. If these jobs are vital to the American economy, then service sector jobs should come with middle class wages and benefits.
“We know that a stronger labor movement is essential to the rebuilding of America’s middle class and that will be the primary focus of our work at Change to Win.
“”We will continue our strategic work building strength for workers in our core industries.
“We will continue our advocacy on key public policy issues, including labor law, pension, and comprehensive immigration reform, food safety and health care. We are also committed to working with the Administration to ensure that the purchasing power of the federal government exercises wise stewardship of taxpayer money by promoting quality, family-supporting jobs.
“We will continue close coordination with our labor partners at the AFL-CIO on public policy issues. Both labor Federations share unity of purpose to address the crisis facing American workers.
Change to Win and the AFL-CIO will work together to make sure that candidates that support working families win in November.
The Change to Win unions are more inspired than ever to stand up for workers’ rights and make the economy grow again for working families through good jobs in every community.””
James P. Hoffa, General President of the Teamsters stated: “”The United States is the first country where a majority of its citizens joined the middle class. Labor unions created that middle class. No country in the world has ever had a strong middle class without a strong labor movement. And like all social movements, the labor movement was born fighting. Our work is far from over today, and Joe Hansen is the kind of leader we need in our fight to strengthen America’s working families.”
Said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry: “”Joe Hansen’s determination to make sure that 5,000 Smithfield workers had the chance to vote for the union after 16 years is exactly the leadership we need to rededicate Change to Win to lifting wages for millions of private sector workers.””
UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez said: “”I want to congratulate Joe on his new position, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the right person to move the organization forward. I’m sure that he will continue to ensure that Change To Win leads the way in developing new strategies, new programs and new efforts to effectively organize workers in the private sector.””
July 2, 2009
(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.
June 26, 2009
(Tar Heel, NC) – Smithfield Packing Company and the bargaining committee of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1208 reached a tentative agreement on a first contract for the workers at the Tar Heel pork processing facility. The bargaining committee and Smithfield believe the agreement provides a fair and equitable package for the workers and allows Smithfield to remain competitive in the market. Both parties look forward to a union ratification vote on June 30 and July 1, 2009.
April 23, 2009
(Wilson, N.C.)— Seeking dignity, respect, and a union voice on the job, and inspired by workers at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, N.C. plant, workers at Smithfield’s Wilson N.C. plant began a grassroots campaign for UFCW representation in January. On a daily basis, dozens of workers handbilled their co-workers, discussed issues in the break room and parking lot, and signed up the vast majority of employees who wanted union representation. Workers also earned the support of dozens of community and religious leaders, including the NC NAACP.
Although the vast majority of the 550 workers signed cards indicating they wanted to be represented by the UFCW, the company demanded workers hold an election. Before the election could be held, Smithfield reverted back to the anti-worker approach they had used for many years in Tar Heel—threatening, harassing and firing people to intimidate and divide Wilson workers to keep them from coming together for a voice on the job.
The company called the police to harass workers and union organizers who were legally handbilling on public property.
They told off-duty employees that they were not allowed to distribute handbills in the employee parking lot—even though workers do have this right.
They forced workers to attend meetings at work where supervisors spread misinformation about the union.
They fired at least two vocal union supporters during the drive.
Smithfield’s behavior underscores the need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act—legislation which would let workers choose how they join a union—through signing cards, or through an election. The legislation would hold employers accountable when they use dirty, illegal tactics to intimidate workers into voting no. If Employee Free Choice were law, Wilson workers could have chosen freely, without enduring a pressure campaign on the job every day.
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.
November 20, 2008
Meatpacking Workers Win Solid Wage and Benefits Increases in New Agreement with Smithfield/Patrick Cudahy
(Washington, DC) – A new contract covering 1450 Smithfield/Patrick Cudahy workers in Cudahy, Wis., raises living standards for meatpacking workers and their families. The contract negotiated by union members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473 provides solid wage increases, lower worker health care costs with improved health care benefits, and greater pension security.
“This is a good contract,” said production worker and UFCW Local 1473 member Ilma Santiago. “Good wages, good health care, and good pension benefits.”
The new five-year contract provides:
- Wage increase of $1.26, increasing base-wage rates to $12.66 an hour with a top rate of $32.08 an hour
- A $175 lump-sum payment
- Improvements in wellness health care coverage—and a five percent decrease in worker health care costs
- Increases pension and improves retirement security
- A $200 annual tool allowance
- Increases life insurance
- Increases sick allowance pay
- Improves vacation benefits
- Improves funeral and bereavement pay
The Cudahy contract is the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW packing and food processing members across the country.
“It’s good to have a union, especially in these tough economic times—a UFCW contract means security for my family,” said Santiago.
October 30, 2008
Sioux City, Iowa– Nearly a thousand workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1142 voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract with Smithfield Foods at the company’s John Morrell Plant in Sioux City, Iowa. The four- and a half-year agreement delivers wage increases that keep plant workers at the top of the industry standard and maintains affordable health care.
“We’ve been at the bargaining table since last October,” said UFCW Local 1142 President Warren Baker. ”The negotiations were contentious. There’s always give and take, but, in the end, we arrived at a fair settlement.””
The new contract establishes:
–Wage increases including $1.50/hr. base wage increase over the life of the contract for production workers and $1.65/hr. base wage increase for maintenance workers.
–Maintains affordable health care, with no co-premium increases in the first or last half year of the contract. Weekly increases of $1.50 for individual and $3 for family coverage are triggered in years two, three, and four of the contract.
–Maintains pension security
–Increases sick pay
–Improves working conditions
“The contract is really good in terms of the health insurance,” said Gary Petz, who has worked at the plant for 23 years. “Overall, the good wage increases and benefits are a result of everyone sticking together for a contract that provides security for our families.”
September 26, 2008
(Denison, Iowa) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 440 and Farmland are pleased to announce a new four-year contract covering the 1,400 workers at the Denison, Iowa, pork processing facility. The contract was ratified by UFCW Local 440 members during meetings yesterday in Denison.
The new contract includes wage increases that keep Denison workers among the highest paid in the pork industry and provides Farmland with new operating efficiencies. UFCW and Farmland also found solutions that provide quality, affordable health care coverage for workers and their families.
The bargaining process also produced innovative safety and health language that will keep the Denison Farmland plant one of the safest meatpacking plants in the nation.
Farmland is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.
September 24, 2008
(Denison, Iowa) – Farmland Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 440 returned to the bargaining table this week and reached a tentative agreement that addresses the bargaining unit’s concerns about the previous offer and increases Farmland’s production capacity. Both parties look forward to a union ratification vote on September 25, 2008.
Farmland is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.
The UFCW is the voice for meatpacking and food processing workers, with more than 250,000 of the union’s 1.3 million members working in these industries.
For more information, contact Mark Kuemmerlein, Farmland Foods, 816-243-2854 or Jill Cashen, UFCW, 202-728-4797.