Score One for the Smithfield Workers of Sioux Falls
After suffering one of the worst workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 in the country last year, pork processors in South Dakota have secured a major labor victory.
We cover a lot of important worker struggles on this show, but it’s important to cover worker victories as well — and workers in South Dakota just landed a huge victory! After suffering one of the worst COVID workplace outbreaks in the country last year, leading to four deaths and over 1,000 infections, workers at the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls refused to back down on demands for better pay and for a 15-minute break during the second half of their shifts.
When negotiations with Smithfield stalled, UFCW Local 304A members voted overwhelmingly (98%) to authorize a strike, and the company backed down. On this extended mini-cast, we welcome back beloved friend of the show and president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Kooper Caraway, to discuss this important victory and what lessons the labor movement should take away from it.
Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InTheseTimes.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.