Smithfield, Union To Start NC Pork Plant Talks

The North Carolina company that owns the world's largest pork processing plant will negotiate with a workers union this week for the first time since the plant opened in 1992.

Smithfield Packing Co. and union officials confirmed Friday that talks will begin Wednesday.

The union works on behalf of the plant's 4,500 workers in Tar Heel, a rural town south of Raleigh. It won the support of a majority of voting workers in December.

The two sides spent 16 years in a heated dispute over union efforts, mostly focused on how workers should be allowed to vote.

Smithfield Packing's parent company, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc., said this week it plans to lay off 1,800 workers and close six factories because of a slump in the meat industry.

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