November 14, 2005
Statement of Joe Hansen, UFCW International President
Justices Agree to End the Workplace Rip-off
(Washington, DC) – Meatpacking, poultry and food processing workers finally have the backing and protection of the highest court in the land. Today, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the position long held by workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – that employers must pay workers for time spent obtaining required safety equipment and reporting to their work location in the plant. The UFCW has advocated for decades that all required time is paid time.
For far too long, employers have cheated workers out of their full paycheck by refusing to pay them for the time it takes to pick up their required safety equipment such as chain mail gloves, hair nets, aprons and heavy boots. Meat industry giants like Tyson Foods, which owns IBP, have long insisted that workers paid time does not include as much as thirty to forty minutes per day spent collecting and putting on their gear and walking to their station on the production line.
Today, the Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that workers deserve to be paid for that time. In reality, the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had to rule on such a case speaks volumes about the greed and arrogance of employers in this country. It wasn’t enough to cheat workers out of their wages, the meat packing industry fought for the right to continue its rip-off all the way to the highest court.
The time has finally come for the hundreds of thousands of workers to receive their rightfully due wages when they report for duty in America’s food industry workplaces. Today’s court ruling is a tremendous victory for workers.