SMITHFIELD, VA. – Smithfield Packing Co. will negotiate with a workers union this week for the first time since its Tar Heel, N.C. pork plant opened in 1992, according to The Associated Press. Smithfield Packing Co. and union officials confirmed on Feb. 20 that talks will begin Feb. 25.

By a vote of 2,041 (52%) to 1,879 (48%), workers at Smithfield Packing’s Tar Heel, N.C., pork-processing plant voted in favor of union representation with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in early December.

On Oct 27, Smithfield Foods dropped a racketeering and extortion lawsuit against the U.F.C.W. and agreed to let them hold a union election at its facility in Tar Heel. In return, the U.F.C.W. agreed to end a publicity campaign against Smithfield that included calls for product boycotts to support its efforts to hold an election at the slaughterhouse. This agreement was announced in a joint statement by Smithfield and the U.F.C.W. as the company's lawsuit was about to go to trial Oct. 27 in federal court (See "

Smithfield, U.F.C.W. agree to union election" for more details).

Smithfield Packing's parent company, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc., announced last week it plans to cut 1,800 jobs and close six plants in a reorganization initiative. (See: "Smithfield to close six plants, trim 1,800 jobs." )

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