Workers at Virginia-based Smithfield Foods ratified a four-year agreement March 7. Teamsters Local 822 represents more than 1,000 workers in the plant and 98 percent of members voted to approve the contract.
“The pandemic really illuminated issues within the meat processing industry,” said James Wright, Teamsters Local 822 president and VP 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,” Wright said.
The negotiating committee secured a $2 starting wage increase, a $2 raise the first year of the contract and generous increases each following year. With the current heavy focus on market rate adjustments, the committee also made sure to include provisions requiring the company to present any MRAs 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. 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’s 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 Wright’s guidance, we made it happen. The leverage was on our side and we made the most of it.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
For more information, visit teamster.org.