“One team with one purpose” is the motto of the 9,600 employees of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and on Nov. 2 their agency bosses gave each of them an annual notice that they have the right to request union representation if they come under scrutiny.

meatinspectorhat_406x250“This notice fulfills FSIS obligation to annually inform employees of their rights, and the conditions when those rights maybe exercised, under the Federal Service Labor Management Relations Statute (FSMRS),” FSIS says in the annual notice.

FSIS bargaining unit employees have the right ro request representation “from his or her labor organization (union) in conjunction with investigations conducted by FSIS representation.” FSIS employees, who inspect meat, poultry, eggs, and catfish in the United States, can request a union representative for any investigative exam or interview where the employee “reasonably believes the exam may result in disciplinary action.”

An employee can request a union rep before an investigation begins. Once requested, FSIS investigators must suspend questioning and grant the right for representation. Only when the union representative is available can the investigation proceed.

FSIS employees are responsible for enforcement of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Egg Inspection Act, the Poultry Inspection Act, the Humane Slaughter Act, and selected sections of the Agriculture Marketing Act.

Most FSIS staff are assigned to a specific meat or poultry plant to provide continuous inspection services. Under the umbrella of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, their local union units are spread across the country.

Those local units are organized under the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals. In recent years, local union leaders have engaged the public and their members through The Inspector. Com website.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)