Local 556 Merged into Local 839

April 5, 2005: In March, the International Union unilaterally merged Local 556 into Local 839 in Pasco, Washington. The merger came after Tyson Foods won a disputed decertification election against Local 556.

The NLRB is investigating numerous unfair labor practice charges including the company’s threat to close the plant if workers voted to remain Teamsters.
Local 556 leaders opened merger talks to discuss what steps Local 839 would take to win the fight for union representation at Tyson and to win contract fights at Smith Frozen Foods and Lamb Weston (ConAgra).

Local 556 wanted a membership vote and representation on the Local 839 executive board, steps that would protect members if Local 556 employers tried to deny bargaining rights to the merged local.

The IBT short-circuited these talks and ordered a merger with no vote or leadership continuity. Smith management has now announced they do not recognize Local 839 as the bargaining agent for the 500 Teamsters employed there.

Readers of Convoy are aware of the role the IBT played in undermining the fight against union-busting at Tyson, where management promoted its decertification campaign by circulating documents written by IBT Vice President Fred Gegare attacking Local 556 leaders.

With the forced merger, the IBT has once again put politics ahead of members’ interests.

It’s time for the IBT to give politics a rest and back up Teamster members who are fighting for contracts at Smith and Lamb Weston.

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