In this file:
· Smithfield workers vote on possibility of a strike
· Smithfield meatpackers in South Dakota reject local contract by 99 percent, press for strike action
Smithfield workers vote on possibility of a strike
by Jacob Newton, KELOLAND TV (SD)
Jun 7, 2021 / 06:09 PM CDT
UPDATED at 7:52 p.m.:
The UFCW Local 304A Union Membership voted Monday night to authorize a strike if necessary by an overwhelming majority. 98% of the vote authorized a strike if necessary.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Negotiations between Smithfield and the meat-packing workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers union has ground to a halt at the Sioux Falls pork plant. Workers on Thursday voted to reject the contract offered by the company, and the prospect of a strike now looms.
In response to a request for comment, Smithfield External Affairs Director Andy Curliss sent this statement, issued last week and attributed to Chief Administrative Officer Keira Lombardo.
“This is an expected and routine result at this stage of an ongoing negotiation. Prior to this, both parties have been proactively planning for and scheduling additional meetings. We look forward to continued discussions as we work to produce safe, affordable and high quality food products, sustainably.
To be clear, the company’s offer to the UFCW at Sioux Falls is in full alignment with agreements already in place with the UFCW at other locations.
We again urge caution in regard to inaccurate statements by and on behalf of some union representatives, for they are a disservice to each of our employees, who have taken great pride throughout the pandemic in protecting the food supply. For instance, the union claims the company is trying to eliminate a 15-minute break. We are not. The proposal would, in fact, ensure there is a second 15-minute break for those employees who work a full, 8-hour day.
Our extensive health and safety measures, and engagement with medical experts, remains ongoing. We have continued to see results from these comprehensive protocols over a sustained period – including no reported cases of the coronavirus among our employees in Sioux Falls at this time. “
Statement attributed to Smithfield Chief Admin Officer Keira Lombardo
Curliss would not provide more info on the rejected contract, saying in response to our request:
Smithfield meatpackers in South Dakota reject local contract by 99 percent, press for strike action
Tom Hall, World Socialist Web Site (WSWS)
Jun 6, 2021
The WSWS is the online publication of the world Trotskyist movement, the International Committee of the Fourth International, and its affiliated sections in the Socialist Equality Parties around the world.
Meatpacking workers at a Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota rejected a proposed contract by a 99 percent margin on June 3, setting up a potential strike at a facility that provides five percent of the country’s pork production. A strike vote is being conducted by the United Food and Commercial Workers union on Monday.
The contract rejection is a further demonstration of the enormous pent-up anger and opposition among workers after a year of social murder by the world’s governments and major corporations over the course of the pandemic. In country after country, miners, health care workers, teachers and educators, autoworkers and other key sections of the working class are conducting strikes and protests.
Increasingly, corporate demands for more sacrifice, which have been supported by the trade unions, are being met with militant refusal by workers. On Sunday, Volvo Truck workers in southwestern Virginia voted down a second contract proposal by an overwhelming 90 percent, and in April, miners at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama rejected an agreement by 1,006 to 45. The deals had been backed by the United Auto Workers and United Mine Workers of America unions, respectively.
The meatpacking industry was already among the most unsafe in the United States before the pandemic, with one of the highest rates of industrial accidents, primarily repetitive motion injuries. Notoriously, it has also been among the worst hit by the coronavirus...