Mountaire Selbyville

Employees at Mountaire Farms' Selbyville processing plant are being asked to vote on whether to retain the United Food Commercial Workers union to represent them.

Mountaire Farms on June 29 issued a statement applauding a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that will allow an election to proceed, giving employees at the company’s Selbyville processing plant the chance to vote on whether they want to continue to be represented by the United Food Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

Employees had already started receiving the mail-in ballots, and they have until July 14 to fill them out and mail them, Mountaire representatives noted. The NLRB had initially suspended the election but agreed this week to allow the election to proceed. The NLRB will impound the ballots until larger issues are ruled on, according to a decision handed down this week by the NLRB.

“Earlier this year, an employee in Selbyville filed a petition asking the NRLB to decertify the union. The petition was entirely employee-driven and reflects the desire of employees to be given a choice regarding union representation,” Mountaire representatives stated. “That was immediately challenged by the union, who has tried to fight this election every step of the way. The union fought the in-person election, which was then changed to a mail-in ballot, which will be allowed to proceed.”

“We’re hopeful that our employees will have their voices heard and their votes counted,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms. “Every employee should have a say in whether they want the union to continue to represent them.”

The Selbyville plant is the only facility owned by Mountaire that operates with the UFCW union, which was a part of the plant when Mountaire bought the facility in the 1970s.

Company officials have responded via the NLRB to what they called “baseless charges by the union of unfair labor practices.”

“The safety of our employees has and will continue to be our top priority,” Plylar said. “We have implemented multiple new safety processes and added protective equipment throughout our facilities. In addition, we announced a temporary pay increase for all hourly workers across the company to help our employees through a difficult period. However, when it was suggested to the union that they consider suspending dues during this time, they declined.”

Since the start of COVID-19, the company began temperature checking at every facility and requires all employees to wear face masks. Employees with bump caps also wear a protective plastic shield. Plexiglass dividers have been installed throughout the production line, as well as in the cafeterias, to help employees practice social distancing. Tents and picnic tables have been set up outside the plant to allow employees to enjoy breaks outside and away from each other. Mountaire, in partnership with Beebe Healthcare, also provided employer-sponsored testing of all employees in their Millsboro and Selbyville plants recently.

In addition to all the physical changes, all employees who are sick have been encouraged to stay home, they noted. Mountaire Farms introduced a special sick-pay program that paid hourly workers five days of sick leave, and relaxed the attendance policy so no employee should worry they will lose their job if they’re sick.

“Thousands of Mountaire employees have taken advantage of this special program. In addition, Mountaire provided employees with a special hourly pay increase for the months of April, May and June to thank workers who are coming to work during these stressful times.”

“As a critical part of our nation’s food supply, our employees have been working hard to produce the food that feeds our communities,” Plylar said. “I’m proud of the work they have accomplished and to be a part of this great team.”