Smithfield plant workers say they’re 'fed up' with treatment

Meatpackers cautiously reopen plants amid coronavirus fears
Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-31 20:04:42-04

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Workers at a Sioux Falls pork processing plant that was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic said the company is no longer working in good faith.

A spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers local union said they are “fed up” with injustices at their facilities after being on the front lines of the coronavirus at the Smithfield plant for nearly two years.

Local union president B.J. Motley said in a Friday release that the company is speeding up lines of production, verbally abusing employees, and neglecting social distancing and sanitary measures.

“In consequence, we are seeing a record number of quits, injuries, grievances and overall unhappiness,” Motley said. “Our workers are tired, and their families are being affected by the heartlessness of the situation.”

Jim Monroe, vice president of corporate affair for Smithfield, said in a statement to the Argus Leader that it’s the first time they have heard those concerns and they disagree with the “portrayal of conditions” at the facility.

The complaints come four months after the union agreed to a contract with Smithfield, which increased base pay, provided a bonus and offered options of one to three weeks of leaves of absence and 15-minute breaks for employees working 8-hour shifts.

At least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted the coronavirus last year and four employees died from the virus in the spring of 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.