Former senator and presidential candidate, John Edwards (D-N.C.) shared and opinion on Smithfield Foods' challenge with unions. The North Carolinian sent a letter to Smithfield President Larry Pope challenging him to protect workers' rights and to step aside as workers try to form a union at the company's Tar Heel, N.C. plant.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union's Justice at Smithfield Campaign released a copy of Edwards' letter. In it, Edwards said: "Protecting the rights to organize in our democracy is important because it allows working men and women to help make decisions that affect their work lives. I hope and expect that you will protect the right of your workers in North Carolina and across the country to form a union and bargain collectively."

Smithfield Packing Co. is preparing a response. A company spokesperson did say, "We (Smithfield) certainly look forward to the opportunity to have an election and let our people choose what they want, which is the same position we've had all along."

The difference is in the details; Smithfield wants the union to conduct a secret-ballot vote, but the union favors a "card-check" system.

Source: UFCW Justice at Smithfield Campaign,