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Smithfield Violates Workers' Right to Organize

On December 15, 2000, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge found Smithfield committed multiple labor law violations during Smithfield workers' organizing efforts in 1994 and 1997.

The charges included:

More about Smithfield

Why Smithfield Workers Want a Union 

Eye On the NLRB: NLRB Silent on Violence against Workers Continues

Take Action: Demand Justice for Smithfield Workers
  • Threatening violence, assaulting an employee, and causing the arrest of an employee in retaliation for employees engaging in union activities
  • Interrogating employees regarding their union sentiments
  • Illegally suspending or firing eleven employees as a result of their union activities
  • Engaging in illegal surveillance of employees
  • Verbally assaulting employees and attempting to confiscate their union literature
  • Intimidating, harassing, and coercing employees
  • Threatening to reduce wages and benefits if employees chose union representation
  • Falsely stating that if the union won the election, union officials would report undocumented immigrant workers to the INS
  • Illegally prohibiting employees from wearing union paraphernalia
  • Threatening to close the plant if employees chose union representation
Manipulating Supervisors to do the Dirty Work

Sherri Buffkin, a former manager at the Tar Heel plant, was fired after she told company attorneys she would not lie for them at an NLRB hearing.  Buffkin testified before Congress that the attorneys and her managers ordered her to engage in various activities to prevent workers from supporting the union, including forcing overtime work on those she identified as pro-union, and firing workers for "insubordination" if they refused.1  "Too many days I'd come home from work crying, and my daughter would ask, 'Mommy, who did you have to fire today?'" described Buffkin.

Additional Resources

For an in-depth analysis of how the law has failed the Tar Heel Smithfield workers, see Human Rights Watch's report, Unfair Advantage: Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States Under International Human Rights Standards.



1. Buffkin, Sherri.  Testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, June 20, 2002.