This is a story filled with irony that proves truth is often stranger than fiction. A man named Terry Slaughter was instrumental in a 15-year campaign to unionize a Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in North Carolina, became a union officer then betrayed his fellow union members by stealing thousands of dollars in dues money.
While gaining the confidence of his fellow workers enough to lure them into joining the union, he later betrayed them by using their hard-earned dues money to enrich himself. It was only natural that members trusted him to be an officer in the union when he had led that union to victory in an organizing campaign that took 15 years to accomplish. Union bosses finally won a representation election in 2008 with a narrow margin. It was doubtless a great accomplishment in their eyes. The local is a large one, representing workers in both North and South Carolina. The slaughterhouse is the world’s largest, with nearly 5,000 workers. Slaughter was elected Secretary Treasurer in 2011.
Smithfield Foods union workers can congratulate themselves on being great stewards of their own dues money, as it was the workers themselves who insisted on an audit in 2014 after suspecting both Slaughter and then-president Keith Ludlum were misusing union funds. The local was then put into trusteeship.
It seems like Smithfield workers had reason to be reluctant to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1208. Although North Carolina is a Right to Work state, many members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 1208 were robbed of their hard-earned dues money.
The investigation has been continuing for several years and has terminated in a sentence of 6 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for Terry Slaughter. Slaughter is now responsible for paying $62, 315 restitution to the union in addition to a $100 fine, small change for the deal. The applicable total maximum statutory penalty for this crime is 5 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release and restitution according to the Department of Justice.
As Secretary Treasurer Slaughter had control over union finances, including payroll, check signing authorization, financial statements and all other Local 1208’s expenditures.
Terry Slaughter was charged with a number of violations including mishandling union funds, violating the union’s bylaws and several other charges pursuant to reporting funds, destroying union meeting minutes and related obstructions.
What did Slaughter spend the money on? The audit concluded Slaughter spent it on travel, furniture, recreational vehicles, hunting supplies, a television and sound bar.
The applicable total maximum statutory penalty for this crime is 5 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release and restitution.
For a look at UFCW’s latest LM-2, click here.