• 46°
franklin county times

Pilgrim’s Pride workers vote to join union

Workers at the Russellville Pilgrim’s Pride plant have voted to unionize.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, announced Tuesday that 1,200 poultry workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant voted overwhelmingly to join the RWDSU.

The vote was 706 to 292 in favor of the union. Pilgrim’s Pride is the American division of the Brazilian-owned beef and poultry giant JBS, and is the largest chicken producer in the United States.

The election, held June 7 and 8, marks one of the largest successful union organizing

campaigns in Alabama in the last decade in terms of new members, in one of Alabama’s

largest industries, union officials said.

“Unions may be under attack across the country but working people still desperately need

the security and dignity that comes with a union voice,” said RWDSU President Stuart


“The workers at Pilgrim’s Pride know they deserve better and have proven there is a better way. This resounding vote will be heard by poultry workers throughout

the South as a message of hope,” Appelbaum added.

“The key issues at Pilgrim’s Pride weren’t wages and benefits, they were the right to

redress grievances at work, and the ability to have some input into how the place is run.

They knew the difference it would make to have a union on their side,” said RWDSU

Mid-South Council President John Whitaker.

Randy Handley, an organizing director with RWDSU, said Pilgrim’s Pride employees had reached out to the organization a number of times over the years.

“They just want a voice,” Handley said.

“This wasn’t about wages or benefits, they just wanted a way to redress issues with the employers. They found hope in the union.”

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union represents 100,000 members in the

U.S. and Canada. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.