Labor negotiations escalate at South Dakota pork plant

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Meatpacking workers are showing signs of boldness in labor negotiations after experiencing the pandemic’s health threats and economic repercussions. The union at a South Dakota pork processing plant that experienced a virus outbreak last year has overwhelmingly voted to reject a contract offer from Smithfield Foods. It will next move to bring the prospect of a strike to the negotiating table. Workers have pushed for workplace safety during the pandemic. They are now navigating an economy where businesses have boosted wages. Virginia-based Smithfield Foods is downplaying the contract rejection, saying it’s a “routine” part of negotiations.

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