Smithfield Workers Finally Unionize

by Chris Sturr | December 14, 2008

Workers at the largest meat processing plant in the United States, Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, N.C., finally voted to unionize, after years and years of ugly struggle with the company. We covered the Smithfield campaign most recently in our 2006 annual labor issue (though the article isn’t posted online). Here is what the New York Times had to say:

After 15 Years, North Carolina Plant Unionizes

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE | December 12, 2008

After an expensive and emotional 15-year organizing battle, workers at the world’s largest hog-killing plant, the Smithfield Packing slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C., have voted to unionize.

The United Food and Commercial Workers, which had lost unionization elections at the 5,000-worker plant in 1994 and 1997, announced late Thursday that it had finally won. The victory was significant in a region known for hostility toward organized labor.

The vote was one of the biggest private-sector union successes in years, and officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers said it was the largest in that union’s history.

The union won by 2,041 votes to 1,879 after two years of turmoil at the plant. As a result of a federal crackdown on illegal immigrants, more than 1,500 Hispanic workers have left the plant. Its work force is now 60 percent black, up from around 20 percent two years ago.

Read the rest of the article.

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