News and Updates
March 12, 2018
The actions included a human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala on Feb. 28, as well as a press conference on March 1 at the office of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Yvonne Gonzales, a former Walmart who told her story of being denied light duty at work while pregnant.
The actions were preceded with a joint letter from MCAW and UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart. MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, and lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers.
In addition, MCAW launched a petition asking McCarthy, Rees and Meyers to stand with women and denounce Walmart. The petition has generated over 9,800 signatures. You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
February 26, 2018
On Feb. 7, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) and UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López sent a joint letter to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart.
The letter was in response to the three prominent female celebrities’ partnership with Walmart to produce the company’s television commercials that will air during the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4. As part of the effort to highlight Walmart’s track record, MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine.
“While at face value this would seem to represent a positive campaign, we urge to you look at the facts about Walmart’s past actions that reflect on its values. Values that have had a negative impact on countless women and their families, and that send a terrible message as to what behavior is acceptable if we are serious about social equality and justice,” said López in the letter to the three Hollywood filmmakers.
The Variety ad, which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers, and details Walmart’s scrutiny towards some women of color shoppers and mistreatment of some LGBTQ employees.
Starting this week, MCAW will begin a series of on the ground actions in Los Angeles, including human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala Wednesday evening and a press conference on Thursday with a former Walmart worker who was mistreated while pregnant and working at Walmart.
You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
February 5, 2018
On Jan. 30, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to deny the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) petition to eliminate line speed limits at poultry plants.
Thousands of UFCW members who work in poultry plants sent comments to the USDA about the dangers of this petition. The UFCW also sent letters in October and December of 2017 to the USDA that highlighted how risky the NCC petition to eliminate line speeds would be for both workers and consumers.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This decision is a victory for hard-working poultry workers who hold one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America, and the consumers who depend upon them to provide chicken that is safe to eat. However, we remain concerned that poultry companies can request line speed waivers for individual plants.
“In addition to putting poultry workers at greater risk of injury, eliminating line speeds puts consumers at risk by making it more difficult for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination.
“It was unbelievable to see major poultry industry groups ignore these well-known risks and lobby the USDA to eliminate line speeds.”
January 22, 2018
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement on Jan. 19 in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to eliminate line speed limits at pork plants. This latest announcement follows the recent regulatory effort to remove line speed limits for the poultry industry.
The UFCW represents hard-working men and women in pork plants that have already had their line speed limits eliminated as part of a trial program, as well as people who are in plants that run profitably with line speed limits in place. According to a 2013 report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the existing trial program did not result in better food safety.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This desire to increase line speeds is being driven entirely by corporate greed and defies common sense.
“Jobs inside pork plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. We’re only putting workers at greater risk of injury and consumers at greater risk of consuming unsafe meat by asking everyone who labors inside one to work faster.
“For the sake of keeping millions of hard-working families safe, this decision deserves immediate reconsideration.”
January 8, 2018
With Santa’s help, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) launched a series of strike actions at Walmart stores across the country in December to protest the retail giant’s refusal to provide its 1.5 million workers with holiday pay. The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were held in 13 cities, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Cincinnati and Memphis. At each action, Santa and his holiday helpers made all those who love Christmas aware of Walmart’s “no holiday pay” policy.
Walmart eliminated holiday pay in 2016, replacing it with a policy where workers accrue paid time off based on hours worked. Under this policy, a new part-time Walmart worker has to work 33 hours to get just one paid hour off, which could take weeks to accrue given Walmart’s inconsistent scheduling. Holiday pay, for those who work on the holiday, typically includes a premium above and beyond what they are paid hourly. And, in the case of many union retail workers, they are given holiday pay even if they don’t work that day.
“Santa Claus is on strike for one simple reason: It’s time Walmart do the right thing and provide holiday pay for its 1.5 million hard-working men and women – the same holiday pay it used to provide in 2015 before it decided to “Grinch” its workers,” said MCAW Director Randy Parraz. “To be very clear, this initiative is about more than Santa Claus and Christmas, it’s about the values that the holidays represent and which Walmart has chosen to ignore.”
The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were the second phase of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” MCAW’s holiday campaign has included grassroots events at Walmart stores, targeted paid media, including two national TV ads, aggressive social media, and outreach to civic and community leaders, all with the important goal of having Walmart end its policy of refusing to provide holiday pay to its workers.
“Walmart earns millions of dollars from not paying its workers holiday pay – this is wrong and it must stop. The extra pay millions of other American workers earn during the holidays make a difference, and Walmart workers deserve no less,” said Parraz.
January 2, 2018
On Dec. 21, the UFCW called on the National Chicken Council (NCC), the voice of the poultry industry, to set higher industry standards and stop the use of incarcerated and exploited labor by their member companies. In a letter to the NCC, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on the NCC to take the lead in establishing a clear industry standard and give consumers confidence that their chicken is produced without these inhumane practices.
“This is not responsible or moral behavior,” said Perrone in the letter, “and as a leading voice of the poultry industry, it would make a difference if the National Chicken Council condemned these practices publicly and insisted on all of your member companies to do the same by agreeing to a code of conduct that puts an end to this reprehensible behavior.”
While more than 70,000 hard-working members of the UFCW family work in the poultry industry and earn better wages and benefits, the conditions in nonunion plants are far worse. A recent Oxfam report highlighted the struggles faced by nonunion poultry workers, including wearing diapers at work because they are routinely denied bathroom breaks. In addition, the industry has repeated problems with the use of incarcerated labor, underage workers and workers with disabilities being paid less than a minimum wage.
“The fact that some of your member companies have continued to operate in such an irresponsible manner is bringing shame upon the entire poultry industry and devaluing the skilled work of hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women,” said Perrone. “This disgraceful practice also damages the reputation of responsible companies and our members who have good jobs working in poultry plants.”
You can read the entire letter here.
December 11, 2017
On Dec. 7, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding safety and health in the poultry industry. This report confirms that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t consider worker safety when allowing new and dangerous chemicals to be used in poultry plants, and that OSHA can’t or won’t adequately protect poultry workers from injury. The GAO also found a pattern of poultry companies repeatedly denying access to federal safety and health inspectors, leaving workers in at least 15 plants across the South working in potentially dangerous environments.
This report supports findings by Oxfam that poultry workers struggle to get adequate bathroom breaks, even to the point of endangering their health. Other GAO reports in 2005 and 2016 also found significant problems with safety and health in the poultry industry.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“The hard-working people who work in poultry plants have some of the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs in America. This report sadly confirms that many of these skilled professionals who keep our food safe are struggling to keep themselves safe at work. They have earned and deserve better.
“The dangers endured by poultry workers that are highlighted in this report also underscore why a recent request by the National Chicken Council to increase line speeds defies common sense and is being clearly driven by greed. We urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take this report seriously and reject that request so that poultry workers and the food we all consume can be kept safe.”
December 4, 2017
UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on lawmakers to protect U.S. jobs, as well as the safety of our food supply, by opposing Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA) of 2017 (H.R. 4092) in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner on Dec. 4.
The following are excerpts from the op-ed:
The AGA is a direct threat to America’s hard-working families, the incomes they depend on, and the food we all eat. This is not hyperbole. If the AGA becomes law, it will allow 450,000 foreign visa holders to work in agricultural and meat processing jobs that are currently held by hard-working American men and women. The impacts of this bill, particularly upon the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the meat and poultry industry, would be devastating.
This bad bill does more than just hurt American jobs and workers – it also puts our food supply at risk. While we may not see food processing workers do their jobs, the truth is that they are highly trained professionals who perform dangerous and highly skilled work. These professionals serve as a much needed layer of protection for consumers when it comes to food safety because they know to quickly spot meat that is low quality or diseased.
Like any high skilled and vital profession, current salaries reflect the quality and importance of this workforce, with wages as high as $23 per hour. By allowing untrained workers or guestworkers to hold these important jobs for as little as $10.88 per hour, the AGA will effectively drive down wages and destroy hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the process.
At a time when we need to strengthen American jobs and make our food safer, the AGA would also allow guestworkers to stay for up to three years. That isn’t a guestworker – that’s a long-term employee and further shows how this bill is designed to both exploit foreign workers and replace American workers at the same time.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
December 4, 2017
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) released a 30-second TV commercial on Nov. 22 as part of its multi-pronged holiday campaign denouncing Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” The ad ran during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on local NBC affiliate markets in Sacramento, Phoenix, Madison, and Cincinnati.
The ad is part of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight the retail giant’s “war on the holidays,” which included grassroots actions and social media efforts in Indianapolis, California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Delaware, and New York during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Coordinated actions will continue this week at Walmart locations in at least 10 cities across the U.S. to highlight Walmart’s failure to do what every responsible employer does – pay its workers holiday pay.
Up until last year, Walmart workers who worked on a holiday received their regular hourly wage plus additional pay, equal to the average daily wage in the 12 weeks leading up to the holiday. In 2016, Walmart changed its policy and eliminated holiday pay for all workers.
The script of TV ad titled “This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful That You Don’t Work For Walmart” reads as follows:
These are all real Walmart workers
Afraid to speak out publicly or show their faces.
They’re faced with a choice of working with no holiday pay on Thanksgiving
Instead of spending time with their daughter,
Or to see her grandfather,
Or to be with her four-year-old.
Hard-working Walmart workers
With no holiday pay,
And no chance for a better life.
So, this Thanksgiving, give thanks for one thing,
That you don’t work at Walmart.
You can view the ad here.
November 15, 2017
Rocky Mountain High cannabis workers in Durango, Montrose, and Carbondale, Colorado, voted to join UFCW Local 7 by an overwhelming margin on Nov. 6. These locations include two of the company’s grow facilities. The 25 workers wanted a voice in the workplace and the same benefits as their 32 colleagues at four Rocky Mountain High cannabis dispensaries in Denver, who joined UFCW Local 7 in September.
The Rocky Mountain High workers joined UFCW Local 7 because they were concerned about pay increases, health benefits, and a safer workplace. The workers also wanted to reduce high turnover and have a path to a career. Many of the workers also expressed an interest in the UFCW’s Free College Benefit.