(Corrects the years in sixth paragraph to 1994 and 1997)
Dec 11 (Reuters) - Meat cutters at Smithfield Foods Inc’s SFD.N huge pork plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, voted to accept representation by the United Food and Commercials Workers union.
--Located about 20 miles south of Fayetteville, the Tar Heel facility is the world’s largest pork plant, opened in 1992, and employs about 5,000 workers, of which about 4,600 would be eligible for union representation.
--The vote follows a bitter 14-year dispute between Smithfield and the UFCW due to latter’s efforts to unionize the plant. During that time each party accused the other of unethical practices.
--Smithfield is the largest U.S. hog and pork producer with annual sales of about $11 billion. It produces 31 percent of the U.S. pork and 17 percent of U.S. hogs.
-- Prior to the Tar Heel vote, nearly 51 percent, or 28,800, of Smithfield’s 58,100 employees were represented by unions, according to the company’s annual report.
-- Tar Heel workers in 1994 and 1997 rejected union representation.
-- May 2006 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that Smithfield must allow another union vote at the plant and to not to threaten workers trying to unionize.
--July 2006 - Smithfield Foods calls for an election on union representation at the plant after the UFCW organized marches and demonstrations.
--Oct. 2007 - Smithfield filed a lawsuit against the UFCW accusing the union of waging a negative publicity campaign against the company.
--Oct. 2008 - Smithfield and UFCW settled the lawsuit as both sides agreed to a plan that would allow plant workers to vote if they want union representation. (Reporting by Bob Burgdorfer; editing by Carol Bishopric)