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Poultry workers' union prevails in decertification vote dispute

Tony Gorman
Delaware Public Media
Union officials and supporters rallied at the Selbyville plant ahead of last year's vote

A union representing hundreds of poultry workers in Delaware has staved off an effort to oust it. 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Wednesday in favor of the union representing about 800 Mountaire employees in a dispute over the timing of a vote. 

With the backing of a national right-to-work organization, a Selbyville Mountaire employee filed a petition to decertify the union last year. A mail vote happened last summer, but the results were held pending a decision on their validity.

Normally, employees can’t challenge a union contract during its first three years.  But a regional NLRB official decided last year that did not apply to the Mountaire case, after finding a clause in the union contract unlawful. But this week the NLRB disagreed with his assessment—and threw out last year’s vote. 

Nelson Hill of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 27 says the union is relieved. 

“It’s a victory for the workers,” Hill said. 

In a statement, Mountaire denounced the ruling, calling it a “sad day for employee rights and free elections.”

“We are disappointed for our employees who courageously stood up to the union and fought for their rights,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “This decision is only a delay of what we believe will be inevitable: a real vote that will show our employees’ true feelings regarding union representation.”

A new decertification vote could happen as early as December. But Hill says the union isn’t worried.

“We’re going to continue to do our job representing the folks, our members there at the plant in Selbyville,” he said. “We know that the will of the people is to have a union.”

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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