Delaware Public Media

Union workers rally against Mountaire Farms in Selbyville

Jun 22, 2020

Support for workers at Mountaire Farms chicken processing plant in Selbyville was heard Monday. 

A caravan led by the local United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) chapter drove by the plant honking their horns ahead of Tuesday’s union election. 

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and State Attorney General Kathy Jennings also participated.

UFCW Local 27 Vice President Nelson Hill said the company has tried to decertify the union over the last several months…

"They allowed these workers to go around on company time and collect these signatures.  The workers thought they were signing a petition for a dollar-increase in a 401k when in fact they were signing a decertification petition.  So, we file a charge with the Labor Board on that," Hill said.

Hill also claims the company had employees purchase equipment for work.  He notes that their contract states the company must supply those for free.

The union and Mountaire have been at odds over the several incidents at the plant.  A COVID-19 outbreak at the plant left one worker dead in March.  Hill says the workers were not paid while the plant was closed for cleaning.

Sen. Chris Coons (D) also criticized the federal Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) for failing to protect the workers.

“The right way to go is to let science and professionals put together an emergency standard that let workers and employers know what to rules are,” Coons said.  “And instead of them doing their job and instead of being in this plant, OHSA is hiding in Washington and refusing to use their power.”

The UFCW has represented Mountaire workers for the last 43 years.   The vote-by-mail election will determine if the UFCW represents the workers for another three years.