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    Right to Organize

March 24, 2015

UFCW Members Help Defeat Right-to-Work in New Mexico

NM RTW PostcardThe 2015 New Mexico legislative session ended on Saturday without passage of right-to-work, a major victory for UFCW members and their families. Members of UFCW Local 1564 have been speaking out against the legislation for months. On February 12, nearly 100 members of Local 1564 traveled to the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe to lobby their legislators. UFCW Local 1564 members also delivered hundreds of postcards to their elected officials in opposition to right-to-work. Governor Susana Martinez said she will not call a special session to address right-to-work and it would take a three-fifths vote of each house for the legislature to go into special session, which is highly unlikely.

March 19, 2015

Perrone: President Obama Should Veto NLRB Legislation & Election Rule Should Be Implemented Without Delay

NLRBWASHINGTON, D.C.Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement after the House voted to block the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule to streamline union elections.

“The NLRB rule to streamline the union election process is long overdue and should be implemented without delay. Today the House voted to allow irresponsible employers to use frivolous litigation and other technicalities to draw out union elections so they can intimidate, harass, and in some cases fire pro-union employees before an actual vote occurs. Make no mistake, this legislation will hurt working and middle class workers, and will deny hard-working men and women the opportunity for good wages, decent benefits, and a better life for themselves and their family.”

“We urge President Obama to carry out his veto threat and for the NLRB to move forward with this important rule that will help improve the lives of countless workers and their families.”

Background:

  • If the streamlined election rule had been in place, working men and women would have had a fairer, more modern process to exercise their rights in the workplace.
  • For example, just last week, workers at Vantage Foods in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania fell narrowly short of the votes needed for union recognition.
  • During the 45 days that elapsed between the petition being filed and the election, Vantage officials engaged in a comprehensive intimidation campaign against the workers seeking to join together, including holding mandatory captive-audience meetings and firing union supporters.
  • A streamlined election rule would make it easier for workers to exercise their rights, and more difficult for irresponsible employers who are determined to take those rights away.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

 

February 11, 2015

UFCW Local 1564 Members Speak Out Against RTW in New Mexico

Click here to watch a video of UFCW Local 1564 members speaking out against right to work in New Mexico.

UFCW L1564 Group

December 16, 2014

NLRB Makes the Process to Form a Union Fairer

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took two important actions designed to make the process for forming a union fairer. On December 12, it issued a final rule that modernizes union elections by streamlining Board procedures, increasing transparency and uniformity across regions, eliminating or reducing unnecessary litigation, and allowing petitions to be filed electronically.

On December 11, the NLRB issued a decision that allows workers to use their company e-mail to discuss workplace issues, including union activity. This decision overturned a 2007 ruling by the NLRB that said workers do not have the right to use work email to communicate with each other about pay and workplace conditions. The NLRB argued that the earlier decision failed to protect the right to organize and did not adequately consider the changing patterns of industrial life.

The election rule and the e-mail decision are important steps in the ongoing fight to level the playing field for workers who want to form a union.

October 25, 2014

Louisville Courier-Journal: ‘Right to work’ harms working families

McMurrayIn the hit series “The West Wing,” a character mistakenly refers to Kentucky as a right-to-work state. In defense of the show’s writers, you can understand their confusion. Kentucky remains the only state in the South not to pass one of these laws, which shows our political independence and common sense. But Republicans in Frankfort, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and a group of out-of-state, big-moneyed special interests are doing everything in their power to change that.

I strongly oppose right-to-work legislation because I love Kentucky and want a bright future for our children and grandchildren. Right to work is a sham. It is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a false slogan” which will “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

Slogans are catchy. They are designed to get a quick emotional reaction rather than a detailed understanding. That is why I believe some polls show support for these laws. No one opposes the right of Kentuckians to go to work and earn a living. But slogans are also misleading. They do not tell the full story. A majority of Kentuckians also support collective bargaining and higher wages, both of which are under attack as a result of right to work. As people learn more about who is behind right to work and the harm it causes working families, opposition is going to grow substantially.

So who is behind right to work?

Right to work is being pushed and bankrolled by an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, a former member of ALEC who has seen similar battles in his state, called it “nothing more than a corporate-funded and dominated group that operates much like a dating service, only between legislators and special interests.”

Here is how it works. Corporations pay ALEC to wine and dine legislators. In turn, the legislators agree to introduce bills written by ALEC. It’s nothing more than a form of legalized bribery. Who do you honestly think ALEC is looking out for — the people of Kentucky or their corporate contributors? Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has made a career carrying the water of special interests, is also behind right to work. He even went so far as to offer a national right-to-work amendment to civil rights legislation last year.

What does right to work mean for working families? To answer that, there is a brand new study from the University of Illinois and the numbers are disturbing. Right to work reduces wages and salaries by an average of 3.2 percent. It lowers both the share of workers who have health insurance and a pension. It reduces union membership by 9.6 percent. And workers are forced to rely 24 percent more on taxpayer-funded government assistance. In other words, right to work would make Kentucky poorer, sicker, less likely to have retirement security, and more reliant on Uncle Sam. We deserve better.

I am a proud member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227. Every few years, my co-workers and I sit down with the company to negotiate the terms of our employment. There are disagreements, but we have always managed to work out a deal without any help from the government. All we want is a fair wage, decent benefits, and respect on the job. Our employer is making profits and I happen to think a happy, healthy, unionized workforce is a big reason why. Right to work assumes that business and labor are unable to bargain a fair contract without the assistance of a bureaucrat. I think in Kentucky, we do just fine on our own.

When it comes to right to work in Kentucky, “The West Wing” got it wrong. Let’s get it right by electing candidates who oppose this misguided legislation.

Shannon McMurray is a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227.

October 21, 2014

UFCW Local 227 Members Get Out The Vote in Kentucky

Local 227Members of UFCW Local 227 are knocking on doors, making phone calls, and visiting worksites in an effort to get out the vote in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State is home to one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who introduced national right to work, is facing a fierce challenge from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes. Local 227 members Chuck Duckworth, Chawan Morgan, and Abigail Shake—all employees of Kroger—have been working hard to get Grimes across the finish line.

“McConnell has sucked the life out of Kentucky,” said Morgan. “We need a fresh face, some new ideas, and a different direction.”

“Alison Grimes understands our struggles,” Shake agreed. “She’s not Washington—she’s Kentucky.”

McConnell’s support for right to work and the close battle for control of Kentucky House of Representatives has brought the issue of workers’ rights front and center.

“We’re the only southern state that’s not right to work,” Duckworth said. “I think this election is very important to keep it that way.”

“I have job security, health insurance, annual raises, equal pay and so many other benefits,” Shake added. “Right to work would take that away.”

The Local 227 members all talked about the importance of reaching out to their coworkers. “For me to go to a door and see a single mom raising three kids on her own, working a job and doing everything she can to get by, for me to help educate her about how to make life a little easier, that’s what is important,” Shake said.

Or as Morgan put it: “It’s about solidarity—being united and strong.”

October 15, 2014

UFCW Michigan Members Continue Canvassing Campaign

SteveDawnGent876UFCW members continued an aggressive canvassing operation this past week in Michigan. They are going door to door working to convince every resident they talk to that their vote matters in the November 4th midterm election.

“We need our government to start working for the people. That won’t happen until more people vote and involve themselves,” said Dawn McClanahan, a member of UFCW Local 876. “We’re canvassing and holding conversations with voters to increase turnout and increase the voice of workers at the ballot box.”

For UFCW Local 876 member Steve LeVey, the memory of 2010 has inspired him to get out the vote this year.

“I remember too well what happened in 2010. The everyday people who won the 2008 election stayed home and we got stuck with a Governor and a state legislature that passed right-to-work. We can’t afford another election like 2010.”

Victory for McClanahan, LeVey, and other UFCW members in Michigan would be electing Congressman Mark Schauer as Governor.

“We’re supporting Mark Schauer because he’s the only candidate who’s committed to helping workers,” said LeVey. “His vision for Michigan is all about making life better for the common man and woman.”

Staff from locals across the country and the International Union will be pouring into Michigan and other battleground states this week to help UFCW members get out the vote for candidates who champion workers and their rights.

October 7, 2014

Take Back Michigan

DSC_0005Anita Green, Emily Emmons, and Lori Baker will be spending the closing weeks of the 2014 election canvassing in Kalamazoo, Michigan. All three work at Meijer and are members of UFCW Local 951.

“We’re here to get the word out and spread knowledge,” said Lori Baker. “Most of our reaction on doors has been positive. It’s amazing how many people have thanked us for stopping by. Too many just think about the Presidential and that it isn’t time yet, but it is time. We are canvassing to get more people educated and aware so that more people will vote.”

There is a lot at stake in Michigan this election. Current Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed “right to work” into law in 2012. The chance to elect Mark Schauer as Governor of Michigan, a candidate who cares about making Michigan’s economy work for everyone, has been motivating.

“Right to work has been a major issue with people we’ve talked with. They’re upset about it because it sounded good, but it’s just another tool for management to have even more of an upper hand over workers,” said Emily Emmons. “People we’ve talked to are realizing that right to work has just lead to less job security.”

“We can overturn right to work if enough people come out and vote,” added Lori Baker.

Decisions are made by those who show up. Thanks to Anita, Emily, Lori, and dozens of other UFCW members across Michigan, more people are going to have a say in the 2014 midterm election.

“People want to know that their voice and their vote counts,” said Anita Green. “Talking with them about the election reinforces that. Everyone we talk with sees that we believe in this. We want them to vote because it’s their right and their voice really matters.”

September 23, 2014

National Voter Registration Day

Did you know that in 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register?

We can’t let that happen again – the 2014 election is just too important to working families. This election will determine whether the Senate and countless state and local governments fight to raise the minimum wage and expand workers’ rights or to bust unions, slash budgets, and cut taxes on the rich. We need to make sure that every UFCW household has its voice heard this year.

Can we count on you? Then register today. 

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and our allies at Rock the Vote have created a website with all the information you need to make sure you’re registered.

Forms, key dates, and other voting information are all included.

Make your voice heard. Get registered today.

July 31, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Executive Order Creating a Pro-Worker Procurement Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive order designed to ensure that the United States only does business with companies that respect workers’ rights.

“The President’s executive order makes clear that the U.S. will not do business with companies that violate our nation’s labor laws. Employers who cheat workers out of wages, fail to provide safe workplaces, and illegally retaliate against those who try to organize a union should never be considered for a government contract. On the other hand, companies that uphold our laws and treat their workers with dignity and respect should be given preference when it comes to federal procurement.

“Today’s announcement builds on years of work by UFCW members and our partner unions to create a system that is fairer for workers and encourages a race to the top when it comes to labor standards. These efforts included a 2013 resolution passed unanimously by delegates to the UFCW convention calling on the creation of a ‘High Road’ procurement process.

“In the last several years, the meat and poultry industries have received over 1 billion dollars from taxpayers. Many workers in these industries work full-time yet are not paid enough to support themselves or their families. They also must endure dangerous workplace conditions and chronic underreporting of injuries by their employers. This executive order sends a message that companies who engage in this type of anti-worker activity must change the way they do business or lose access to their government contracts.

“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary of Labor Perez, and all those involved in crafting this executive order. Today’s announcement is an important first step in ensuring our government is doing everything in its power to protect America’s workers.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.