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    Packing and Processing

May 20, 2019

A Strong, First Contract for Florida Beef Workers

Members of UFCW Local 1625 who work at Florida Beef in Zolfo Springs, Fla., recently ratified a first contract that improves wages and benefits. The successful negotiations of their first contract comes less than a year after the workers joined UFCW Local 1625 in July 2018.

The three-year contract provides the 58 slaughterhouse workers with guaranteed raises starting with ratification, eligibility to participate in the company’s health insurance plan, as well as six paid holidays and paid vacation. In addition, the company has agreed to make contributions to the 401(k) retirement plans for employees. The company will also provide work boots, gloves and knives at no cost to workers. This is the first slaughterhouse organized by UFCW Local 1625 and the first time these workers have had wage and benefit improvements.

April 1, 2019

Big Wins for Local 222 Empirical Foods Workers in New Contract

On March 29, about 300 members of UFCW Local 222 at Empirical Foods, Inc. (formerly BPI) in South Sioux City, Neb., ratified a new contract with big wins for workers there.

Thanks to the strength and courage of our members at Local 222, they were able to achieve a new four-year contract that ensures the hard-working women and men at Empirical Foods receive the pay increases they’ve earned and can take time off (up to 52 weeks) when they need to take care of a sick or injured service member. The new contract also provides workers up to 90 days to return to work with renewed work authorizations without loss of seniority, a significant improvement from the previous contract.

“This is an unbelievable contract. I never thought we could accomplish all these changes,” said Kimberly Orellana, who served as a member of the bargaining committee. “My coworkers are very happy with the wages and various improvements.”

February 11, 2019

Local 75 Helps Pass Good Food Purchasing Policy

UFCW Local 75 played an instrumental role in supporting the Cincinnati School Board’s passage of the Good Food Purchasing Program on Jan. 28. The program will leverage millions of public procurement dollars back into Cincinnati’s regional economy, while encouraging school food suppliers to provide healthier food that is ethically produced, locally sourced and environmentally friendly. The policy also protects workers’ rights to organize a union free from intimidation and helps ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their products.

UFCW Local 75 was part of a community-based coalition that included other unions, faith groups, and environmental and animal welfare organizations, which advocated for the program for over two years.  UFCW Local 75 also obtained the endorsement of the Good Food Purchasing Program from the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, and then secured pledges of support from school board candidates.

“We commend the Cincinnati Board of Education for passing the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which includes fair labor standards,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey. “The board took a strong step towards providing strong incentives for food companies receiving taxpayer dollars to pay their workers a living wage, provide strong protections against workplace hazards, and otherwise move towards adopting more sustainable food production practices in a manner that bolsters Cincinnati’s local economy.”

“This is a win for hard-working people, students, farmer-owned cooperatives and those companies that pay livable wages and provide dignity and respect on the job,” added Garvey.

“Many of the 1,000 or so people that work in surrounding plants have children attending Cincinnati public schools,” said Paige Stephens, who is a union representative at UFCW Local 75. “If more of the food contractors are incentivized to agree to labor peace agreements and collective bargaining, this will lower poverty rates and our students will experience more stability at home.”

January 28, 2019

A Better Contract for UFCW 770 Overhill Farms Members

On Jan. 20, members of UFCW Local 770 who work at Overhill Farms in Vernon, California, ratified a new contract that raises wages and improves benefits. This ratification comes after 18 months of contract negotiations, three strike votes, and various actions demanding respect, dignity, and a voice on the job.

Effective from September 2018 to September 2021, the new contract benefits around 400 employees in the bargaining unit. It includes wage increases of up to $2.00 per hour during the contract term, according to seniority (a base salary greater than the minimum wage will rule). The employees will also receive retroactive back pay to Sept. 1, 2018, and a sizeable bonus paid within 30 days of ratification.

Regarding health insurance, the company will establish a fund to reimburse deductibles to employees who are currently enrolled in the company’s health care plan – up to $900 per year for employees with single coverage and up to $1,200 per year for employees with dependent coverage. Grandfathered employees (including covered family members) will receive reimbursements of some copays (up to a total of $50,000). The contract also guarantees no annual increase to weekly medical premiums for the life of the contract.

UFCW 770 members won a guarantee that the company cannot unilaterally change the health care plan, as it had done in the past. Overhill Farms committed to paying up to a 12 percent increase per year and maintaining the same health benefits. If the increase exceeds that amount, then the union can offer another, more cost-effective plan, which the company must accept or pay the entire increase itself.

During contract negotiations, the bargaining committee and rank-and-file members stood strong fighting for better living wages, affordable health benefits, seniority protections, a safe workplace, and dignity and respect. Community, labor, and faith leaders joined the workers in solidarity at all the mobilizations in front of the company’s main plant.

Overhill Farms employees are mostly immigrant workers who produce frozen food items such as plated meals, soups, pastas, sauces and other specialties. Overhill Farms is owned by CPF, a Thailand based conglomerate.

January 22, 2019

Meatpacking Workers in Detroit Join Local 876

Meatpacking workers at the Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit joined UFCW Local 876 on Dec. 28. The approximately 85 workers were concerned about the company’s unfair promotion process, pay issues, little advancement for female workers, as well as verbal harassment by management and favoritism.

Wolverine Packing Co. is a family-owned business that produces a range of portioned and processed meats including ground beef and steaks.

June 25, 2018

A Better Contract for Food Workers in New Jersey

UFCW Local 152 members who work at Case’s Pork Roll in Trenton, New Jersey, ratified a new contract that includes better pay and benefits by an overwhelming margin on June 5.

The four-year contract includes wage increases for every year of the agreement, a continuation of no health care benefit cost-sharing by members, and pension contributions by the company to maintain the current benefit level.

Case’s Pork Roll is a family-owned business best known for their flavorful pork roll found in Local 152 union stores, including ShopRite’s private label brands.

June 25, 2018

UFCW Condemns ICE Raids in Ohio

The UFCW denounced last week’s ICE raids at Fresh Mark plants in the Ohio towns of Canton, Massillon and Salem, and called on the Trump Administration and Congress to work together and fix our broken immigration system.

Perrone’s statement reads as follows:

“Tearing hard-working men and women apart from their children, families, and communities is wrong. The people who do these incredibly difficult jobs have the right to due process, and to be treated with respect and fairness. Today’s actions will only drive this nation further apart, while also spreading unmistakable pain among neighbors, friends, coworkers, and loved ones.

“Our top priority is to provide whatever assistance and counsel we can to any of our impacted members and their families. The broken policies that led to these and other workplace raids must be addressed immediately. They are creating a climate of fear where workers across this country are too afraid to stand up for their rights, report wage theft, dangerous work conditions, and other workplace issues.

“We urge President Trump and members of Congress to work together to fix our broken immigration system, and to keep the demands of due process and family unity at the forefront. As a nation of immigrants, we must and can do better than this.”

May 29, 2018

Pilgrim’s Pride Workers in South Carolina Join Our Union Family

Pictured left to right: Chris Doubilet from Pilgrim’s Pride in Athens, Georgia, and Demetrius Stewart and Kawan Scarborough from Pilgrim’s Pride in Sumter, South Carolina.

Over 800 Pilgrim’s Pride workers in Sumter, South Carolina, voted to join UFCW Local 1996 on May 2 by an overwhelming margin. The workers, who process poultry, were concerned about treatment by management, insufficient wages and unsafe working conditions, including the denial of bathroom breaks. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is a Brazilian-owned, multi-national food company and the largest chicken producer in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Member-to-member organizing made a significant difference in this campaign. UFCW members who work at Pilgrim’s Pride plants in Georgia and Florida met with the workers at the Sumter plant and helped them understand the benefits of standing together for dignity in the workplace.

“We are proud of the unity the employees at the Pilgrim’s Pride Sumter plant demonstrated during the organizing campaign and are honored to have them join our UFCW family,” said UFCW Local 1996 President Steve Lomax. “We now embark on a journey of continued improvement, through having a union contract, that will better the lives of the employees and working families in Sumter. We look forward to doing what the UFCW does best—improving the lives of working families.”

February 5, 2018

UFCW Applauds Decision to Reject Push to End Poultry Line Speed Limits

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 Responds to USDA Decision to Eliminate Line Speed Limits at Pork Plants

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.”