National Beef's Dodge City workers to vote on union

by Bryan Salvage
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WICHITA, KAN. — National Beef plant workers in Dodge City will vote soon on whether to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board said on Dec. 3, according to The Associated Press. Voting on the measure could take place by late December, although an exact date won't be set until next week, said Daniel Hubbel, N.L.R.B. regional director.

Although Mr. Hubbel wouldn't say how many people signed a petition for a vote on unionization, he did say it met the agency's 30% threshold. If approved, the union would represent about 2,200 mostly production and maintenance workers.

There is momentum inside the plant for unionization, according to Martin Rosas, secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers. He estimated approximately 65% of the workers had signed the union's petition calling for an election.

On Wednesday, National Beef issued an e-mail statement saying employees have the right to vote on whether to unionize and the vote will be "conducted by a neutral federal government agency, the N.L.R.B."

The last time a large slaughterhouse in western Kansas tried to unionize was in 2007 at Tyson Foods Inc.'s Holcomb plant. Workers there rejected the United Steelworkers by nearly a three-to-one margin. Mr. Rosas said the move being made to unionize the National Beef plant is being driven by worker concerns about health and safety, wages and working conditions.

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