Members of UFCW Local 304A who work at the Smithfield pork plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., ratified a new contract on June 17, raising pay and expanding benefits. The boost to pay represents a strong investment in these workers, who faced a COVID-19 outbreak early in the pandemic and are essential to protecting the food supply chain in South Dakota and across the country.
During contract negotiations and discussions between UFCW Local 304A and Smithfield, talks focused on wages, health care costs, and break times. Throughout bargaining, the UFCW highlighted how these Smithfield workers risked their health and lives throughout the pandemic, calling on the company to step up for its employees with the strong contract they have earned and deserve.
In early June, UFCW Local 304A members rejected a contract proposal from Smithfield that failed to invest in the good pay, benefits, and protections they need on the job. Following the rejection of the contract, members overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization on June 7. UFCW Local 304A then continued bargaining with Smithfield and successfully secured the strong contract that these brave essential workers deserved. On June 17, members approved a new four-year contract by an overwhelming margin, which includes a base pay rate of $18.75 per hour; a $520 bonus; the option of a leave of absence of one to three weeks; and a guaranteed 15-minute break period.
“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 front lines of this pandemic,” said UFCW Local 304A President B.J. Motley in a press release. “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,” Motely added. “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.”