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Smithfield Packing, union agree on NC contract

TAR HEEL, N.C. -- Smithfield Packing Co. and a union that worked for years to organize a huge North Carolina slaughterhouse say they have agreed on their first contract for the plant. Smithfield spokesman Dennis Pittman confirmed the agreement Friday, but said he couldn't provide details until the workers were informed. A union ratification vote is scheduled June 30 and July 1. The company began negotiating on the contract in February with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1208. About 5,000 workers are eligible to vote on the contract. The two sides spent 16 years in a heated dispute over union efforts. The union won the support of a majority of voting workers in December. Smithfield Packing is a wholly owned subsidiary of Smithfield, Va.-based Smithfield Foods Inc. (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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There's so many people here

There's so many people here in NC that have worked for "Chump Change" all of their lives due to not unionizing their jobs, well let's just say they promote the destruction of unions. For those of you that defy unions and fly for example, next time you want to fly somewhere remember that your pilot/co-pilots are union members. Why do you think that is???? If you really believe in non-unions in this case, next time drive to your destination. There are plenty of professionals out there that you use there services with a smile, and guess what, they are union members. Keep your Chump Change jobs and keep complaining about the economy and how hard it is to make ends meet. Do you think union wages total to thousands of dollars per year per union worker? If you would look at your health care cost per pay check "out of pocket fees" as opposed to a cheaper fee negotiated into your pay by a union, you may think again.


I was a union truck driver for a steel company in wilmington. That was the bigest waste of time and my hard earned money. . You can know this i will never be a union member again. I tryed to get out of the union due to my wifes illness so i would have more money. i was told once your in your in. this violatid my rights acording to a suprem court ruling.. I now drive for a company that is non union and the pay is better treatment is better and working cond is better. and a hell of a lot better benefits. so think twice before you unionize it could backfire on you.

Union dues

Gosh! I wish that I too had a truckload of that "I am da union manz an you Wal-mart shoppers are destroyin' Amercia" rhetoric for you, but I'm fresh out. (Plus, it's more like "You Wal-mart shoppers are wrecking our cushy arrangement.") Anyway, I did want to explain the situation with your union dues. First, you can resign your union membership at any time, with no notice. The issue of dues, however, isn't the same. When you join the union, you normally sign and agree to pay dues for the life of the current labor contract, or for some other length of time specified in the agreement. At the end of that period, your employer can (and will) stop the deduction of union dues, but YOU have to tell them to do so. If they do not receive written notice from you, the dues will continue to be deducted as they assume you are still a union member. You expect the union to fess up? HA!

there side of the story

I would like to hear there side of the story Mr Cantrell...some how i think it will differ from your side..:) I am the third generation of union iron workers...I wouldn't have it any other way...yes i do agree there are people we employee that i wouldn't give the time of day and we do carry them through out there careers...but over all like i said the majority of us a very very good at what we this time we are picketing a job being done "non union " and it is a joke to watch them work...if any of you think that non union can do better then union you are kidding your selves...unions mean in construction that you do one particular job and that is it...for generation after generation ..year in and year out....we are very very good at what we do when you specialize in one thing like that...I'm an iron worker..not a carpenter not a plumber not a labor not an electrician...but you talk steel...welding...structual erection...reinforcement rods...floor decking name it...our crews will beat out any ...and i mean any non union outfit that does the same work....only because we do it ..and only it for all our lives...non union construction one day you are hanging steel and the next you are sweeping floors...point being..the job gets done faster and more cost saving...not to mention safer...the job we are picketing now is a four story building ..very simple construction...they are there three weeks already and looks like they just started the other day...I'm certain they will be way behind schedule and we "union guys" will have to take it over and bail them out as we have been done many times for all the people who say they would rather buy products over seas because they are cheaper ..and these company's go over seas for cheaper labor(which buy the way is done only because of greed)...all you are doing is destroying the country you live in and not supporting it...remember wal-mart makes most of there products in labor cost of less then 50 cents an can we even compete with such a i said...keep saving your money and buy products over seas and we will be a country with NO JOBS...and I"m sure I will come on this site and hear you morons saying..."its because of the unions" more thing for all you union bashers...the fact is that "unions are only 13 percent of the work force in this country...tell me again how much unions are the fault of all the know back in the day the south didn't want to give up there slaves...i wonder why that was you think it was because they were cheap labor off the backs of hard working people..the way i look at it doesn't seem the south has changed there way of thinking...:)

...and your health benefits....

...came right off the salary your employer COULD have been paying you. When our "dreamers" voted for the union, they learned quickly how that new health insurance was paid for: Their annual bonus was cut in half. That cost some of them $4000. Let's review: No such thing as a free lunch

attention union bashers

All of you who want to bash unions and union workers should visit the NC Dept of Labor web site and search for "at will doctrine" and read over this. Pay special attention to the section about hiring and firing "at will" that employers in NC have the right to do.....unless protected by a union contract! I'm proud to be a member of a union and support the Employee Free Choice Act.


Are you ACTUALLY defending a law that says an employer can't fire someone at will if they want? Having a job is a LUXURY not a right. No where in our constitution does it say the right to have a job. As an employer I want and need to be able to fire people at will due to economic conditions and other factors. If my employees ever tried to unionize i'd simply shut down..and then they would ALL be out of work. So yes...I am anti-unions. Any good business person is. And yes, I am anti paying too much for employees, anti excessive unearned benefits and anti half rate work. I am for good customer service, paying a fair wage and deciding to do these things on my own and NOT because the government or some union tells me I have to.

Looks like they would have

Looks like they would have learned from the auto industry. Guess they figure when they fail, they will get bailed out, too. I won't be buying anything from Smithfield anymore.

So then, like Pol Pot, Mao, and Adolph Hitler.... are opposed to open, free elections?

BTW, this post was SUPPOSED to be directed... "Proud to be Union" and his support for the "Employee No Choice Act."

Common, you're the one

Common, you're the one opposed to "open, free" elections. I've read your posts - your idea of an "open, free" election is if only educated, landowning people vote. And you actually said that rich people's votes should count more than a poor person's. This is a quote from your post: "while you lobby to get the law changed so that only property owners can vote on issues that impact property taxes, here are a two more changes I'd like to see incorporated for voting in general: 1. One man, one vote. An extra vote in federal elections for every $10k in income taxes you pay. 2. A civics test given at the time of voting, similar to a final exam we had to pass in the Sixth Grade." Is this scenario you proposed what you consider an "open, free" election? Sounds like just another way for wealthy white males to opress the poor, by denying them a voice in their government. Or by "open, free" election, did you just mean an election where you and like-minded people get to dictate policy to the rest of the country?

I don't see it

I don't see where common said only white males may vote. The point is if you are contributing nothing but making more children for society to pay for, you should not get to chose how much of my paycheck is taken away in taxes to support your life. The lazy vote in the candidate that promises to give the most "free" stuff. You should be old enough to know that nothing is free, everything has a price.


...because after all, only "wealthy white males" could pass a sixth grade civics test, right? (You are obviously a racist and chauvinist.) But let's set aside your impotent attempt to link my musing (that unfortunately will never come to pass) to an actual bill that is before Congress right now. Card check denies an employee the right to vote in private regarding his choice on union representation. He or she is given a card, and when that signed card is not turned back in, people know that he didn't want the union. That exposes the employee to pressure to join the union....often, join the union OR ELSE. Voting privately protects the employee. No one, union or management, knows how he voted. He is free to make his choice without fear of retribution from either side. Thanks God we live in a Right-to-Work state, however, because even if the union gets in you can, like many of our employees did, tell them to drop dead and not pay a penny in union dues.

Hey Mr. No commonsense....

When you tell the union to "drop dead" and not pay a penny in union dues, you become a SCAB who enjoys all the benefits of a union for free. So if you want to be a free-loader go ahead. I'm sure the union will somehow survive without you and your knowledge and leadership. Buy American and Buy Union!!!! SCAB!!!!

Benefits? HAHAHAHA!!!!

What part of "..they lost half their annual bonus to pay for their new healthcare package" confuses you? And two years later, their annual deductible is skyrocketing to $2300. So exactly WHAT benefits did they receive....the right to see a portion of their earnings go to support some guy named Tony or Big Louie up in New Jersey? The right to see their union dues given to support politicians who are slightly left of Mao? I think I see the problem, and I obviously left out another group that loves unions (beyond the lazy and incompetent): The terminally dense. So call them scabs...but they're a heck of a lot smarter than you.

oh good, a union

Since the union looks out for the workers, if I work somwhere union I can start showing up drunk, be unproductive and file a grievance because somebody did the job you were supposed to be doing? Sounds like unions protect the lazy.


So i guess now we can expect to pay $20 a pound for meat so the unions can have their workers work 4 hour days and get 2 hours breaks making $80 an hour at the slaughterhouse! Perhaps this industry will be like the auto industry in a few years and we can bail them out too!

You really know nothing

You really know nothing about unions do you? In a union, the workers do the same jobs you an I do. They work hard and get paid. The difference? They pay dues ( fees ) to their union annually and in return they get support in the event of loosing a job, or for anything else they need. It pays when you do your research MAJ. Unions aren't so got my family what it needed, when we needed it...and that was a job so that my family could raise us kids.

I hear the violin

UNIONS are what have destroyed the auto industry in this country. Demanding unfair wages and benefits from companies that cannot afford them. I would ship jobs overseas so fast your head would spin. Why should any company pay $20 an hour when you can get it down fast at $10. Tell me that.

You left out a few details

Unions also protect incompetence and laziness, and encourage uniform mediocrity. The members do not HAVE to work hard at all - they don't even have to show up if they don't want to! Fact: On the busiest, most well-planned-out day of the year, our employees can simply fail to show up because they're passed out drunk, and they not only get away with it, They GET PAID FOR IT! They get four "excused with pay" days a year. Fact: You can be the best employee in the history of the company, doing everything from curing lepers to multiplying loaves and fishes, and you will get paid according to the union negotiated pay scale. That means that the bum standing next to you and doing half the work you do may make more than you do. Fact: There's no such thing as a free lunch. Every "benefit" the union got for you was paid for from some company benefit you lost. Our company's union contract got the workers a great healthcare plan.....paid for by making the dental plan absolutely worthless and cutting the annual bonus by fifty-percent. Show me an individual who is pro-union and I'll show you a Socialist who thinks he has a right to other people's money or a dim-bulb who is too dense to realize that a union is nothing more than a company that makes its money from YOUR labors.


Commensense I guess you do not remember the sweat shops that made workers work for low pay..many hours and child labor...for your information ..not that you will understand it...unions were formed to stop big business from abuse to the workers of this country..If it were not for unions there would be no benefits no medical insurance many many sweat shops with kids working instead of adults to care for family's...look up the history and see why "unions" were formed...most of them were because rich business owners taking advantage of the workers...and they got rich off our backs...I do agree there is bad in everything...i understand that some union members are carried by the better workers but over all most union employees are hard working people that want a decent wage...I understand North Carolina is mostly a "non union state"...but if you ask me its only because business owners want to keep all the money for themselves even though they made it off the backs of its hard working keep on mentioning the auto industries and how it failed because of high wages and lazy union are so wrong its not even funny...fact is that the cost of a car is only 10 percent guess is you own a business and are not interested in paying a decent wage and benefits to your employees...stop all the union bashing...they are a big part of America and its growth...even your president with his stimulus packages all over the country encourages them to use union people...but my guess is you don't approve of our president either...

That was then...

This is NOW. I'm sure you are aware that there are child labor laws? Why, there are even laws on the books protecting the workers! I don't know if you haven't been aware of these new laws, but they are really great! Unfortunately, workers in these non-union companies have to actually work because many of them will be fired if they don't show up or don't want to work. And if they want to get a raise, they often will have to actually do a good job at whatever it is they are hired to do. Unions = high prices and low efficiency. Say goodbye to more American jobs. How very sad. You want to talk about sweatshops, check out the countries these jobs are moving to because they are too expensive to keep here...

How right you are!

I don't like Socialists whether they're carrying a union card or residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After all, you can put Robin Hood in an $800 Armani suit and he's still just a well-dressed thief. Thanks for that lesson in ancient history. You didn't come full circle, however, and bring up the fact that after the sweatshops and dangerous mines were gone, unions set about the task of looting the kingdom and killing the golden goose via greed that knew no bounds. Why no mention of destroying the American steel industry in the Seventies and Eighties? Why no mention of the many, MANY indictments of union bosses and organized crime figures who were in partnership to steal from the employers AND the union members. Red Steagall said it best when discussing ranch hands in "Ride for the Brand:" "If you're not happy, head on down the road and find a horse that your saddle fits." In other words, if you're not happy with your job, there's no anchor chained to your rear. Feel free to leave. Your replacement will be here within a week.


In the business I am in, I have to visit union shops all the time, Mainly in Ohio and Mass. Many people mistakenly think that high wages are the main problem that destroys companies, but it's only a SMALL contributor. The big problems with unions is that in the 50's after working conditions and wages were taken care of (which did need some kind of regulation) the unions set of justifying their existence. I have been to union shops where if a worker at his/her workstation were to spill a drink on the floor they could not grab a broom and clean it up without a grievance filed against them. If an engineer needed to measured a work piece he or her has to wait for the right employee to measure it ... or get a grievance filed against them. See, companies are getting strangled by this kind of non-sense that destroys productivity and are not able to make a profit anymore. Most companies do not mind paying a good wage if productivity and quality are still their employees main focus. In fact, most companies would rather pay a higher wage to keep good employees. So, yes in NC, a company can fire a worker at anytime, but it is cost effect to keep a good employee, only the bad employees are the ones with something to worry about. Because the bottom line is .. a company has to make a profit, and nobody should have the right to keep them from being able to make a profit just because some employee thinks they are somehow owed a job! And by the way, there are federal laws in place now against discrimination and unsafe work conditions that take care of the way it was way back when. If a group of employees want to form a union, I think they should. If they have a skill set that is profitable to the company they should get together to bargain with that company, but as soon as you get involved with a big union, your best interest are not in their hearts, no matter what they said before you signed that card.

unions killing business

The unions are the reason why the film industry has left Wilmington and why we as taxpayers are trying to lure them back with incentive money. Think unions, think lost economy, just look at Michigan. Ghost town.


Thanks Common


as a business owner...I would have shut the closed the plant and told them all to take a HIKE!


Nice to see unions working in North Carolina

And the jobs

Go where? To the places that are non union. Next the union will call a strike and the workers will be on the line. They will receive no pay, but the union leaders still get theirs. Remember you still have to pay your dues even If you are not working.