Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union for over 33,000 Texas food and retail workers statewide, announced that over 400 Texas poultry workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Waco have voted overwhelmingly to unionize and joined UFCW Local 540, the largest union for food workers in the region. As new members of UFCW Local 540, these Waco Pilgrim’s Pride workers will soon form a bargaining committee to negotiate their first union contract to strengthen pay and benefits, as well as workplace safety protections, which are vital as COVID Delta Variant cases surge across Texas.
UFCW Local 540 President Johnny Rodriguez released the following statement:
Texas poultry workers at this Waco Pilgrim’s Pride plant are sending a powerful message that workers have a stronger voice on the job when they stand together. These workers joined UFCW Local 540 because they are ready to stand up for the better pay, increased benefits, and improved working conditions that come with a strong union contract.
“Essential workers in Texas and across the country in meatpacking plants have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since day one, putting their health at risk to make sure our families can put food on the table during this health crisis.
“Pilgrim’s Pride respected the right of these workers to unionize and stayed neutral throughout this campaign. At a time when giant corporations like Amazon are spending millions of dollars to stop their workers from exercising their right to join a union, Pilgrim’s Pride did the right thing by staying neutral, setting a powerful example for other companies in Texas and nationwide.
“UFCW Local 540 looks forward to working with Pilgrim’s Pride on negotiating the first union contract for these Waco poultry workers as they stand together to strengthen these essential jobs.”
Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers in Waco joining UFCW Local 540 is a major victory that paves the way for even more Texas meatpacking workers to unionize as these brave men and women continue to work on the frontlines of COVID-19. Additional details regarding UFCW Local 540’s organizing efforts at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Waco are below:
- UFCW Local 540’s campaign to unionize Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers in Waco started in May 2021. UFCW organizers met with workers at the plant during shift changes to help them learn about the union difference and passed out English and Spanish language pamphlets about the benefits of joining the UFCW.
- Waco community members played a key role in the campaign, helping pass out the pamphlets during shift changes that answered questions workers had.
- Citizenship clinics were a key part of the campaign, helping introduce the union to the Pilgrim’s Pride employees at the Waco plant, highlighting how the union can support local communities and help workers and their families a better life.
- A bargaining committee of Waco Pilgrim’s Pride workers will now begin to negotiate their first union contract at the plant to further strengthen pay, benefits and working conditions.