Mountaire fires back at union lawsuit over coronavirus working conditions

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Mountaire Farms is firing back, issuing a statement in response to a federal lawsuit over working conditions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic filed by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union.

“The UFCW is ignoring the voice of the very members they are supposed to represent and in a desperate attempt to hold onto their money have embarked on a smear campaign against the company and are using the ULP process to file erroneous charges and false propaganda,” said Cathy Bassett, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Mountaire Farms.

Bassett said Mountaire Farms “is Pro Employee and we believe in our employees right to make an informed decision.”

An interview request with Bassett to further discuss the allegations against Mountaire Farms was not made available to our news department.

The response comes after the UFCW filed charges, alleging the company forced workers represented by the union to attend “captive employee meetings conducted without regard to CDC social distancing guidelines.”

The lawsuit also alleges Mountaire Farms engaged in surveillance of a Facebook group online that the UFCW says was “maintained to promote acts of mutual aid and protection” for workers.

UFCW Local 27 President Jason Chorpenning issued a statement last week, addressing the lawsuit and slamming the company for its alleged practices during the pandemic.

“We have dealt with Mountaire for many years and the company makes no secret that it is ideologically opposed to its employees exercising their union rights as guaranteed under federal law,” Chorpenning said. “Over the past few months, in the midst of an unprecedented and life-threatening pandemic, our members have been subjected to anti-union propaganda from highly paid outside consultants aimed at eliminating union protections for Mountaire employees.”

Chorpenning also mentioned the alleged monitoring on social media, saying “the company has surveilled employees on social media, excluded union stewards and other officials from meetings and otherwise attempted to put a chilling effect on outspoken workers. Despite the company’s resistance, we are committed to serving our members and protecting their ability to exercise their rights under the law.”

This is the third charge filed against Mountaire by the union in the past few months. The union previously filed a complaint in March against the company for denying union officials access to the plant while granting unabated access to other parties.

The union filed another charge against Mountaire in April when the company failed to furnish information requested by the union as required under federal law and for granting special privileges to employees campaigning against the union in the plant.