COLUMBUS JUNCTION, IOWA — An unknown number of Tyson Foods workers at the Columbus Junction, Iowa, plant have signed a union authorization card with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 431, according to a report from Iowa Public Radio (IPR).
UFCW Local 431 represents Iowa workers in a broad range of industries, including meat and poultry processing, rendering, maintenance, machinery, nursing and others.
Escucha a Mi Voz, a non-profit organization that works to empower immigrant workers, said Tyson sent a memo to its employees that indicated signing a union card removed their right to work at the plant, according to IPR’s reporting.
Tyson later clarified the memo’s meaning with MEAT+POULTRY and said it was not intended to be interpreted as a threat to workers’ jobs at the plant.
“What we were clarifying for our team members was that by signing a union authorization card, you could be giving up your right to work directly with plant leadership to address problems and concerns, not that they were giving up their right to continue to work at Tyson Foods,” said Tyson spokesperson Liz Croston. “We respect the right of our team members to choose. In fact, it is included in our worker bill of rights posted in our plant facilities.”
Croston added, “We’re thankful for our team members and believe in helping them thrive both inside and outside the workplace. When we learned about the Farm and Food Workers Relief grant program, we encouraged our team members to apply.”
Tyson said its memos are posted in English, Spanish, French, Creole, Burmese and other languages.
Representatives from Escucha Mi Voz and UFCW Local 431 did not provide a comment at the time of publication.