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1000 March for Workers’ Rights, Justice at Smithfield

by Kati Ketz |
September 16, 2007
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Williamsburg, VA – 150 Smithfield workers were joined by 1000 supporters here, Aug. 29 - in what was the largest demonstration in this city’s history - to demand justice for factory workers at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, North Carolina plant. Demonstrators met at a church to rally and hear both clergy and workers testify against Smithfield executives, then took to the streets with signs saying, “Worker’s rights are human rights,” and chanting, “Down with Smithfield, up with justice!”

The march led the protestors right past the Williamsburg Lodge, where Smithfield executives were holding their annual shareholders meeting. There, activists and ten workers from the Tar Heel plant gave Smithfield executives petitions demanding a union and a union contract of their choice. The petition, signed by thousands of workers, put pressure on the executives and by the end of the shareholders meeting they agreed to meet with union representatives to negotiate a contract for Smithfield workers.

Abuse at the Tar Heel plant is rampant. Workers receive little or no safety training, and are forced to work at an unsafe speed of production, causing injuries. Workers are fired from their jobs if they cannot come to work because of job-related injuries and are often denied workers’ compensation. Racism and sexism are also a major problem at the Tar Heel plant, with many workers reporting sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Smithfield has kept workers from unionizing in the past through intimidation, racism and threats of bodily harm.

Justice for Smithfield workers!
Grant Smithfield workers a fair contract now!