Smithfield Foods, UFCW Settle; Corporate Campaign Ends

Smithfield LettersCorporate campaigns, by intent, make headlines. Their resolution can be far less dramatic. Such was the case with the United Food and Commercial Workers’ campaign against Smithfield Foods. Since 2006, the UFCW had been waging a full-fledged war against the company. Its picketing, boycotting, leafleting and media event-staging were the culmination of a 15-year effort to organize roughly 5,000 workers at its Tar Heel, N.C. pork processing plant, about an hour and a half’s drive south of Raleigh. The campaign became so intense (or abusive, depending on how one looks at it) that Smithfield last October filed a federal civil racketeering and extortion lawsuit against the union, accusing it of willfully disseminating misleading information designed to destroy the company’s stock price and sales. Now, suddenly, peace has broken out.

 

On Monday, October 27, Smithfield and the UFCW issued a joint statement indicating they had reached an out-of-court settlement. The Read More ➡

Former UFCW Boss in Wisconsin Sentenced for Embezzlement

Michael Rice had served as president of Local 538 of the United Food and Commercial Workers since the late 80s. On Tuesday, November 29, he found out how long he’ll have to serve in another capacity: six months as an inmate in prison, plus an additional three years of supervised release. Rice, a resident of Madison, had embezzled slightly over $30,000 from the local in the form of bogus expense claims filed between September 2000 and April 2004. He pleaded guilty in September and since has made restitution. In sentencing Rice, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb took note of the fact the some of his thefts took place during a bitter and unsuccessful strike in 2003. Local 538 represents a combined roughly 2,200 workers at two meatpacking plants and a dairy plant in southern Wisconsin. (Associated Press, 11/30).

 

Chicago-Area Ex-Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On October Read More ➡

Ex-Meatpackers Local Chief in Wisconsin Charged with Theft

It’s not easy going from hero to goat in one’s own union. But Mike Rice can testify first-hand how quickly it can happen. On September 1, he was charged in U.S. District Court, Madison, Wisconsin, with embezzling more than $30,000 from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 538. For more than a decade he’d headed the local, which represents roughly 2,200 workers at Tyson Foods, Oscar Meyer Foods, and Jones Dairy Farm plants. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, based on evidence obtained from a Labor Department investigation, alleged that from about September 2000 to April 2004, Rice, 57, embezzled UFCW funds by filing expense claims for nonexistent meetings.

 

The news was a bitter pill for rank and file to swallow. He had been president of Local 538 prior to a nearly year-long strike in 2003 against the Tyson plant in Jefferson (located about halfway between Madison and Milwaukee). Read More ➡