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UFCW Local 304A Approves Better Pay and Benefits for Essential Food Workers

Meatpacking workers have risked their lives during the coronavirus pandemic to keep bacon and wienies in our fridges. They deserve rewards for that hard labor.

The workers at the Sioux Falls Smithfield Foods plant, which failed to protect employees from the coronavirus outbreak in April 2020 that infected nearly 1,300 workers and killed four and made Sioux Falls an early coronavirus hotspot, will receive some reward, thanks to union power. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 304A says its members have approved the new contract with the improved provisions for which the union pressed. I don’t know if they’re getting Juneteenth off, but according to UFCW Local 304A’s press release…

…on June 17, 2021, the union announced their members, who work at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, SD, approved a new contract, which includes a base rate of $18.75; a $520 bonus; the option of a leave of absence of between 1-3 weeks, which many immigrant workers take advantage of to go back to their countries; and keeping a 15-minute break period [UFCW Local 304A, press release, 2021.06.18].

Local union president B.J. Motley says the essential workers in his union deserve every penny for keeping our store shelves and bellies full:

Today’s new contract for Smithfield meatpacking workers in Sioux Falls provides the strong pay and benefits that these brave men and women have earned on the frontlines of this pandemic. In the past year, these South Dakota essential workers put their own health at risk every day to keep our food supply secure.

With this new contract, meatpacking workers are sending a powerful message that it is time for every company in the industry to step up and recognize the incredible sacrifices made and danger faced by these frontline workers who helped millions of Americans put food on the table during this health crisis.

As the union for these South Dakota frontline workers, UFCW Local 304A was proud to stand with our union’s members to secure this strong contract with the fair pay, good benefits, and critical safety protections they have earned and deserve. Ensuring these jobs continue to provide the good pay and benefits working families need is the best way for us to honor our country’s essential workers [UFCW Local 304A, 2021.06.18].

Like eating? Thank a union member.

12 Comments

  1. Mark Anderson 2021-06-18

    And people wonder why Republicans hate unions.

  2. lottie 2021-06-18

    Whatever happens make your own mask mandate as needed. Don’t wait for the governor, or the city probably will not get their requested meat orders.

  3. V 2021-06-19

    Most Republicans I know hate any workers organizations EXCEPT for cops and firefighters. They especially despise medical and educational associations.

    UFCW Local 304A worked hard on this contract and I’m impressed. It’s about time and it’s all about strength in numbers. The pandemic exposed a nasty truth about our present day situations and how immigrants and food workers are treated in S.D. in the 21st century. It attracted national attention and then Noem jumped in with both boot covered feet and made the union’s case stronger.

    Congratulations union members! You’re doing a job I am not qualified for and I appreciate your hard work and enjoy your tasty products.

  4. grudznick 2021-06-19

    Motley is a Fool. Unions are bad, they are very bad.

  5. John 2021-06-19

    American unions are as imperfect as are American boards and CEOs.

    The Germans have a better system whereby the union has a seat on the board of directors. Each director works together from differing perspectives to move the company forward. It’s far better having everyone inside the tent . . . as the saying goes.

    When German auto companies began building plants in the US those German companies WANTED union representation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_unions_in_Germany
    https://hbr.org/2017/03/the-real-reason-the-german-labor-market-is-booming

  6. O 2021-06-19

    Make sure “the help” know their place — right, Grudznick?! How dare a workforce believe they should have a say in their working conditions and compensation!?

    Anti-unionism is bad, very bad. We fought a Revolution to get rid of aristocracy; destroying unions and undermining voting rights has the GOP trying to reinstitute aristocracy. “Some are just more equal than others.”

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-06-19

    Flathead Connies dislike labor unions because they get exposed for the poor workers they are.

    A union job is done better, faster, and under budget.

    Three things Republican MAGA’s perform poorly at.

    Name one “built to last thing” in SD that wasn’t constructed by federal, skilled, union workers.

    There aren’t many “built to last” projects to choose from. That’s true.

  8. Jake 2021-06-19

    Nope, grudz is the ‘fool’ here, conned by the likes of Limbaugh and trump. ($$$)

  9. Richard Schriever 2021-06-19

    If the wage at Smithfield were adjusted for inflation from what it was in the 1960’s, the hourly union rate, it would be around $62/hour today. The medical benefits were far superior to what they are today as well. Celebrate all you want – it’s still pitiful.

  10. Richard Schriever 2021-06-19

    John, even better to the German system is the Swedish one, There the employers also have unions and they negotiate for wages and benefits for the ENTIRE industry with all the employee unions at one time. There is also union representation on the industry boards – part of the deal. So the issues there as far as where to work are focused on specific organization cultural features other to wages and benefits.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-06-19

    Well John, those Germans wanted union representation but the Republican Governor’s certainly didn’t. They fight unionization all the way, of course with an aside towards police unions and occasionally firefighters.

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-06-19

    Richard, if you look at the fight against unions throughout the country its hard to see any other result than lower wages. This younger generation must realize that and hopefully they will unionize everywhere and sell their lives more dearly than those of the past 40 years.

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