Union victory in Penn. mirrors 2008 win for North Carolina food production workers

Mirroring a major victory for North Carolina worker rights in 2008 with the unionization of the Smithfield Tar Heel pork processing plant, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776 has rung in another win for 1,200 workers at a Souderton, Penn. beef packing plant. Thanks to an Oct. 5 vote, 1,200 workers at the plant are now able to unionize, In These Times reports.

Such a victory means food production workers will now be able to argue for better pay, healthcare and other benefits for doing a low-paying, highly dangerous and heavily labor intensive job that literally puts food on the table for hundreds of millions of families each day.

Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers know that the food manufacturing industry is a major employer nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, more than 1.5 million workers were employed in some form of food manufacturing across nearly 30,000 businesses nationwide.

While animal slaughtering and processing employs the largest proportion of workers, fewer and fewer farms manage the majority of livestock in the U.S. Similarly, meat-processing plants tend to be larger and owned by fewer companies. Although there are food manufacturing workers in every State, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas employed about 29 percent of all workers in animal slaughtering and processing.

Food manufacturing has one of the highest incidences of injury and illness among all industries largely due to the physical nature of the work which most often occurs in a noisy environment and requires close contact with dangerous and powerful tools.

Food production tends to be physically challenging and heavily labor intensive, requiring manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination, stamina and strength. Because their jobs involve a lot of standing, occasional heavy lifting and repetitive incidence of cutting, slicing and grinding, production food workers are highly susceptible to hand and arm repetitive-strain injuries.

Due to public health and production worker safety, meat and poultry plants must comply with a wide array of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations and oversights which hope to ensure both worker and consumer safety.

The Charlotte-based workers’ compensation attorneys with Lee & Smith know that a workplace injury can leave a legacy of physical, emotional and financial consequences. If you have been injured, or someone you love has been injured or killed in a North Carolina work-related accident from Gastonia to Winston-Salem, call us at 1-800-887-1965 or
contact our law offices online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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