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Front Loaded Wage Gains, Extra Vacation, Job Creation Just a Few Contract Highlights
(SMITHFIELD, Virginia) – Workers at Smithfield Foods overwhelmingly ratified a four-year agreement Monday evening. Teamsters Local 822 represents more than 1,000 workers in the plant. Members voted 98% to approve the contract.
“The pandemic really illuminated issues within the meat processing industry” said James Wright, President of Teamsters Local 822 and Vice President At Large-elect. “We knew taking on the largest pork producer in the world would be challenging, but the members of the negotiating committee worked hard to get this historic contract.”
The newly ratified contract covers more than 1,000 workers, many of whom are first-generation citizens and have limited exposure to unions. The contract is valued at more than $28.5 million over the life of the agreement. “When the Teamsters Union makes this big of a difference for a group like the workers at Smithfield, we’re laying a foundation for the next generation of strong union members” said Wright.
The negotiating committee secured a two-dollar starting wage increase, a two-dollar raise the first year of the contract and generous increases each following year. With heavy the current heavy focus on market rate adjustments (MRA)the committee also made sure to include provisions requiring the company to present any MRA’s to the union for review and approval to ensure fair and equitable application. The negotiating committee also secured an extra week of vacation for senior employees. Importantly, the contract requires management to move 75 jobs from a non-union facility into the bargaining unit facility.
“Workers are recognizing their power across the country and pushing for better pay and better benefits. Now it was our turn,” said Valerie Nichols, a member of the negotiating committee. “We knew what we had to get to make this contract work and with President Wright’s guidance we made it happen. The leverage was on our side and we made the most of it.”
This contract proves that workers can stand up to the meat-processing industry’s substandard wages and conditions and win. By securing this contract, Smithfield workers are showing America the union difference.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.