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.