Smithfield Employees To Vote On Union Contract Thursday
Smithfield union employees will vote whether to accept a contract from the company tomorrow.
The Sioux Falls pork plant was the site of one of the largest COVID outbreaks in the country over a year ago.
The union is dissatisfied with the company’s current contract offer, which establishes an $18 dollar an hour wage and cuts a break period.
The union is pushing for $19 an hour and hoping to avoid changes to employees’ health plans.
BJ Motley is president of the union. He says members are disappointed.
“How they praised that we were essential workers, they’re heroes by coming to work daily during this pandemic,” Motley says. “We feel that the workers deserve to be rewarded for that. We feel that now that the pandemic is going down that they don’t show an appreciation for all that time workers were coming in and out of work on a daily basis.”
Motley says Smithfield also wants to remove one fifteen-minute break in the afternoon, which is one of three breaks employees get, including a similar one in the morning and a 30-minute lunch break. There are more than 3,000 employees at Smithfield. Motley says about 82 percent are union members.
A contract extension deadline expires on June 7th. Motley says if members don’t agree to the contract it could be time for a work stoppage or a walkout.
Keira Lombardo is the chief administrative officer with Smithfield. In a statement to SDPB, Lombardo says the union is inaccurate. Lombardo says it’s unfortunate the union is resorting to such tactics during an active and ongoing contract negotiation.
The company says additional meetings are scheduled for next week should the offer not be accepted.