Petition 81056

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Smithfield Foods, Inc. (81056-C1-R9999)

Add new resolution as follows:
Whereas, Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world, and the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, NC is the largest pork processing facility in the world, employing 5,000 workers and slaughtering more than 32,000 hogs a day; and
Whereas, Human Rights Watch has found that Smithfield has violated internationally recognized human rights standards by using intimidation, threats and violence against workers in Tar Heel, NC for attempting to improve workplace conditions through the formation of a union; and
Whereas, previous union elections at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, NC plant in 1994 and 1997 were marred by widespread violations of the law; and
Whereas, numerous court rulings show that Smithfield has a history of  intimidating, threatening and harassing workers who engage in union organizing activities to improve plant conditions; and
Whereas, Human Rights Watch also reported evidence which shows that Smithfield Packing discourages workers from reporting workplace injuries; and
Whereas, reported injuries rose by 200 percent at the plant from 2003-2006 according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and
Whereas, in a report issued by Research Associates of America many injured Smithfield workers have reported being denied workers compensation benefits for legitimate workplace injuries and/or being terminated after becoming injured on the job; and
Whereas, in 2006 Smithfield was found in violation of federal labor law by the National Labor Relations Board for using a now defunct Company Police force to physically assault contracted sanitation workers, cause the false arrest of a worker, and threaten bodily harm in retaliation for legal activities to protest working conditions; and
Whereas, a majority of Smithfield workers signed and delivered a petition to the company in August of 2007 asking for union representation and for an election process "without the threats, abuses and interference that we have seen in the past”; and
Whereas, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union engaged in six weeks of good faith negotiations with Smithfield at the behest of workers from late August through mid-October of 2007 in an attempt to agree on a free and fair process for a new union election; and
Whereas, throughout negotiations with UFCW, Smithfield interfered in workers’ organizing efforts by showing an anti-union video to new employees, prominently posting a flier that described union organizers as cockroaches, and collaborating with a consulting firm to air advertisements portraying union organizers as intimidating bullies; and
Whereas, the United Methodist Church recognizes and supports the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively; and
Whereas, in 2000 the United Methodist Church adopted resolution #238 which urges all employers to allow their employees to “freely choose whether to unionize or not” and “urges all employers to clearly communicate to their employees that they are neutral on their employees choice, and will deal fairly with any union they select.”
Therefore be it resolved that the United Methodist Church supports justice for workers at Smithfield Packing; and
Be it further resolved that we call on Smithfield to agree to remain completely neutral and not discourage workers from choosing union representation at the Tar Heel, NC plant and resume negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers to formulate a neutrality agreement for another union election at the Tar Heel, NC plant.
Be it further resolved that we urge annual conferences, local congregations, and clergy to actively support Smithfield workers in this struggle for justice.
Be it further resolved that we will communicate this call for justice to:  
1. The United Methodist Church through its board, agencies, conferences and local congregations.
2. Larry Pope, CEO and Joseph Luter, III, Chairman of the Board, Smithfield Foods, Inc, 200 Commerce St, Smithfield, VA 23430