The union that represents employees at the Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel put on the feed bag in March to publicize efforts to organize employees at another company’s plant nearby. The goal: To build support for forcing a union election at the Mountainaire Farms poultry plant in Lumber Bridge.
About 65 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1208 staffed the kitchen at a restaurant directly across from the Mountainaire Farms entrance, serving baked beans and chicken to workers from 4 a.m. on a Wednesday until 2:30 the following morning. The plan to be on hand when the cock crowed was hatched to catch workers arriving and leaving on all shifts that day.
According to a union press release, the local had secured election card signatures on more than 400 of the plant’s 2,000 workers prior to the event. The National Labor Relations Act requires unions to obtain signatures of 30% of a bargaining unit before calling for an election.
The union alleges that Mountainaire Farms has illegally disciplined employees for union organizing activities, threatened to have employees arrested and threatened termination for union supporters. If true, those actions would violate the National Labor Relations Act.
Note: Employers may challenge election cards, but may not retaliate against workers for seeking union representation.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Fire offender to decouple discrimination, employment action
- The 'multiplier effect': How small wage-and-hour violations cost big
- Employment contracts: Can your workers claim an 'implied' contract?
- How should we handle layoffs without risking discrimination claims?