No "Meating" Of The Minds: Tyson Workers Reject Unionization

Workers at company's largest slaughterhouse vote down union by 3-to-1 margin.

HOLCOMB, Kan. (AP) - Workers at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse rejected by a nearly 3-to-1 margin an effort to unionize, the second failed union drive at the meatpacking plant.

Daniel Hubbel, assistant to the regional director at the National Labor Relations Board, said Friday that 575 workers at the in Holcomb plant voted Thursday to unionize under the United Steelworkers, and 1,610 voted against the proposal. Eleven ballots were challenged, but those will not be investigated since they would not affect the outcome.

The union would have represented 2,466 workers had the drive succeeded.

Tyson Foods Inc. is the world's largest meat processor, with about 107,000 employees at 300 facilities around the world. The Holcomb plant, one of company's largest facilities, employs 3,100 workers.

''Just as they did seven years ago, our team members have voted overwhelmingly to remain union free. We're pleased they've chosen to continue to put their trust in the company rather than an outside, third party,'' Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in a written statement.

''We will continue to manage our plant with an open door policy and will remain focused on providing a positive, safe and successful work environment.''

Workers at the plant in Holcomb already enjoy the best wage and benefit package of any Tyson beef facility, including those represented by unions, Mickelson said.

The union did not immediately return calls Friday for comment on the election outcome.

Union leaders seized on the plant's injury rate as a rallying cry for their unionization efforts. Workers hoped bringing in the Steelworkers would help slow the production line to ease repetitive strain and other injuries _ citing Occupational Safety and Health Administration logs showing an average of at least one worker a day is hurt on the job. They also wanted better health insurance and retirement benefits.

Tyson contended the number of injuries at Holcomb seems high because the company encourages workers to report all injuries and it's one of Tyson's biggest plants. It said the rate of serious injuries is low, as seen by its lost time rate.

About 33,190 workers in 37 Tyson facilities worldwide are represented by unions, according to the company's most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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