With a second vote, conducted Dec. 16 by the National Labor Relations Board, Mountaire Farms employees at the Selbyville poultry plant voted 356-80 to decertify and remove the United Food and Commercial Workers Union from their workplace.
The action comes almost a year and a half after union lawyers convinced the NLRB to destroy the ballots from the first vote before they had been counted.
“After 44 years of union representation, the Selbyville plant takes a huge step forward today,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms. “Our employees have just been asking for their voices to be heard, and today, they were heard loud and clear.”
The mail-in ballots were counted at the NLRB regional office in Baltimore, and the vote was officially certified on Dec. 23.
In June and July 2020, employees held the first union decertification election on whether to remove union officials from the plant. The vote was requested by Mountaire employee Oscar Cruz Sosa, who received free legal representation from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Cruz Sosa sent a petition signed by many of his co-workers to the NLRB requesting a vote.
The election was held, but the ballots were impounded while the NLRB considered whether its non-statutory “contract bar” policy should invalidate the election.
The contract bar prevents workers from holding a decertification vote, for up to three years, while a union bargaining contract with their employer remains in effect. National Right to Work attorneys urged the board to reverse the bar because it is not found in the text of the National Labor Relations Act.
Ultimately, the board sided with union lawyers, upheld the contract bar, and threw out the ballots cast by workers at the 800-employee facility. The employees were forced to wait for the union contract to expire before beginning a new process for another election.
Selbyville is the only processing plant owned by Mountaire Farms where unions are present. These unions have been part of the plant since it was purchased by Mountaire in 1977.
Mountaire Farms is the fourth-largest poultry producing company in the United States, employing 10,000 workers at facilities in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina.