SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This story has been updated with comments from Smithfield USA.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 304A announced Friday afternoon a new contract has been approved for workers at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls.
According to the release, the new contract provides nearly 3,000 workers with major pay increases and expanded benefits. “The boost to pay represents a strong investment in these workers who are essential to protecting the food supply chain in South Dakota and across the country,” it continues.
Local UFCW President B.J. Motley also issued a statement in the release, saying “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 frontlines of this pandemic. In the past year, these South Dakota essential workers put their own health at risk every day to keep our food supply secure.”
Motley says the contract sends 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.
During contract negotiations and discussions between UFCW 304A and Smithfield, talks focused on wages for meatpacking workers, health care costs, and break times.
On June 3, members of the UFCW voted to reject a previous contract offered by Smithfield, USA. Following this, the members voted June 7 to authorize a strike as negotiations dragged on.
According to the release, the new contract includes a base pay rate of $18.75, a $520 bonus, the option of a leave of absence of between 1-3 weeks (which many immigrant workers take advantage of to go back to their countries) and keeping a 15-minute break period.
When reached for comment, Smithfield provided the following statement from Keira Lombardo, Chief Administrative Officer: “We are proud that, over the years, our contracts have allowed us to build a team that walks forward together. These adjustments represent a highly competitive wage and benefits package that address our team members’ needs, and demonstrate our gratitude for and appreciation of every member of our Smithfield Family.”