The UCC's General Synod as well as many congregations, pastors, and lay people have been supporting workers at the Smithfield Packing Company in Tar Heel, N. Carolina. Full information is available on JWM's Justice for Smithfield Workers page.
And now there is some good news! In July, 2009, Smithfield Foods, Inc. and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1208 signed a labor contract. The workers at the Smithfield Packing Company now have a union. For more information on the terms of the contract, see the UFCW webpage.
Brief Background on the Struggle
For some years, people in the UCC have been concerned about workers at the Smithfield Packing Company in Tar Heel, North Carolina. This is the world's largest hog processing plant where each day, some 5,500 workers slaughter and cut up over 30,000 hogs. Meatpacking is dirty and dangerous work. But in the Tar Heel plant, Smithfield has made an already difficult work situation much worse. A high risk of injury and mistreatment of injured workers, inflamed racial tensions, and illegal anti-union activities make some workers say: "they're not killing hogs, they're killing people." In 1994 and 1997, workers attempted to vote on whether to form a union in order to address these issues. But both times, the company engaged in widespread and egregious illegal activity to invalidate the vote. The workers need support in their struggle for workplace justice. For additional information about conditions in the plant and the struggle for justice, see "The Pork is Packed with Oppression: Smithfield Packing Company, Tar Heel, NC" [pdf] [html with citations].
Ms. Edith Rasell, Ph.D.