News and Updates
Packing and Processing
October 23, 2017
Recently, 800 workers at Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City, Iowa, voted to join UFCW Local 222. Seaboard Triumph Foods is a new, state of the art pork slaughter and processing plant, which opened this September. In the near future, the company will add a second shift, which will increase the size of the unit to over 2,000 workers.
Because the UFCW represents other Seaboard plants in Oklahoma and Missouri and has established good labor-management relations, we were able to work out an election agreement with the company, which included card check recognition. Staff from Region 6 and our FPPM Division were able to sign up a majority of the workforce in two and a half days.
“Packing house workers deserve decent wages, benefits, and safe working conditions provided by union representation and a union contract,” said UFCW Local 222 President Dan Risner. “We welcome Seaboard Triumph Foods workers into our UFCW Local 222 family!”
“I would like to recognize UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas for his assistance in helping us organize this plant,” said Tish Ramirez, director of Region 6. “Because of his working relationship with the company, we were able to reach an agreement that led to a voice at work for working men and women at Seaboard Triumph. The efforts of Local 222, Region 6 and the FPPM Division collectively continue to grow and build a stronger UFCW.”
October 16, 2017
On Oct. 11, UFCW International President Marc Perrone sent a letter to the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture explaining why a recent petition by the National Chicken Council to eliminate line speeds at poultry plants poses a dangerous risk to American families.
“This petition, submitted to you in early September, would allow select poultry plants to run their lines with no speed limits, endangering both workers and consumers. Even more troubling is that this petition essentially requests that USDA create this new “no speed limit” rule behind closed doors with no opportunity for notice and comment by the public as the regulatory process requires,” Perrone wrote.
President Perrone’s entire letter can be read below.
Dear Madam Acting Deputy Undersecretary Rottenberg:
With the health and safety of over 250,000 thousand hard-working poultry workers in mind, 70,000 of whom are members of our union family, we write to urge you to reject a petition submitted by the National Chicken Council (NCC) to run food processing lines with no speed limits.
This petition, submitted to you in early September, would allow select poultry plants to run their lines with no speed limits, endangering both workers and consumers. Even more troubling is that this petition essentially requests that USDA create this new “no speed limit” rule behind closed doors with no opportunity for notice and comment by the public as the regulatory process requires.
As you must know, poultry workers hold some of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America. The implications of this rule change are striking, for example:
- Industry statistics show poultry workers are at twice the risk of being injured on the job compared to other workers and suffer illnesses at a rate that is seven times as high.
- A 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office showed that forcing lines to move faster will expose poultry workers to higher rates of injuries and illnesses.
- Increased line speeds will also make it harder for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination that could make consumers sick.
Given the facts noted above, the petition from the NCC clearly poses a dangerous risk to American families.
When the USDA chose not to raise line speed limits for poultry plants in 2014, there was large public interest in the open and transparent process (which we participated in) that ensured all perspectives on this proposed modification were heard – including those of the NCC. A wide array of people and interests, from workers on poultry lines to experts across the country, agreed then as they do now that faster line speeds will make this industry dramatically less safe, both for workers and consumers.
For the sake of keeping hard-working families safe – whether they’re preparing, buying, or eating chicken – the USDA must reject this petition.
Anthony “Marc” Perrone
August 14, 2017
The over 700 Cargill workers at the Hazleton plant are members of UFCW Local 1776 and produce beef products for sale at supermarkets. The center, which will be managed by Marathon Health, will provide convenient access to high quality care and preventative screenings for UFCW Local 1776 members and their families.
“With partnerships like these, Cargill, Marathon Health and Local 1776 are leading the way for meaningful change in the lives of workers,” said UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV. “We are proud to have negotiated this benefit for members who work at Cargill, and look forward to using this program as a model for our members who work in other facilities, as well.”
August 7, 2017
The five-year contract includes a ratification bonus, yearly wage increases, and continued 100 percent employer paid health care over the life of the agreement.
April 17, 2017
On April 11, members of UFCW Local 655 who work at Holten Meat in Sauget, Ill., ratified an industry-leading new contract by an overwhelming margin. The new three-year contract resolves many of the work-life issues that forced Holten Meat employees to make the difficult decision to go on strike on March 18.
“Today is victory for our hard-working members who love their jobs, but love their families more. This union contract will not only make Holten Meat a better place to work in Sauget, it will make Holten Meat a better company,” said UFCW Local 655 President David Cook. “Make no mistake, we want Holten Meat to succeed, and that is why this contract is so important—it recognizes that no company succeeds in the absence of its hard-working employees and members. Best of all, UFCW members at Holten Meat now have a better contract that lets them not only support their families, but advance their careers at work.”
The new contract lets experienced members have more control over their lives and move to the shifts they need to spend more quality time with their families. The contract also allows members to advance their careers, and establishes a new labor and management committee at Holten Meat that will regularly meet to solve problems in the workplace cooperatively.
“We stood together and spoke out because we believe that our lives matter. None of us should have to choose between spending time with our family and doing our job—we should be able to do both,” said Trinetta Kitchen, a seven-year veteran of the production line at Holten Meat. “This contract will not only help ensure we can earn a better life, it recognizes our hard work and will make Holten Meat a better and more successful company.”
March 21, 2017
On March 18, members of UFCW Local 655 who work at Holten Meat in Sauget, Ill., rejected a contract offer that asked them to work harder for less, and made the difficult decision to authorize a strike.
No matter where our members live or the local they are part of, our union family is stronger when we stand together. Our members who work at Holten Meat have made it clear that a work-life balance is not only important, it’s worth fighting for.
“The issue for our members is about quality of life. It’s about having more control over their lives,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook.
UFCW Local 655 has been negotiating with Holten Meat over this contract for more than four months. While many workers are satisfied with the wages and benefits the company offers, they’ve become frustrated with schedules that make them choose between working and spending time with their families.
Why is this an issue worth standing up for? Today, a veteran employee who works on the night shift at Holten Meat is unable to use his or her seniority to transfer into an open day shift position. Instead, Holten Meat will frequently hire new employees to fill the open day shifts, making our most committed and dedicated members work schedules that sacrifice time from family.
Members are also being asked to split their days off, meaning they have to spend part of the weekend at work and away from their families for no extra pay.
As we all know, our hard-working members can relate to what’s happening at Holten Meat. The dedicated members who work simply want the better life they’ve earned, and supporting a family shouldn’t mean that you never get to see them.
“Give these hard-working men and women the contract they have earned and deserve,” Cook said. “It’s that simple.”
December 6, 2016
On Nov. 30, members of UFCW Local 435 who work at the JBS plant in Hyrum, Utah, ratified a new union contract by an overwhelming majority. The new five-year contract includes substantial wage increases, improved bidding (promotion) language, a sustainable health care package, and grade increases.
This contract includes the largest wage increases members in this plant have ever won, and would not have been possible without the recent membership growth, as well as a committee that was willing to fight for a good contract.
“I thought this process would be done in one day,” said Taner Atwood, a JBS worker and member of UFCW Local 435 who was new to the bargaining committee. “I did not know there was so much involved in negotiations. It took longer than expected, but a good contract is worth the wait. The members look forward to working together to grow and build the union.”
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 10, Quaker Oats workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who are members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 110, ratified a new contract.
The new three-year agreement includes a $1,500 signing bonus and yearly wage increases. The contract also calls for improvements to the vacation eligibilities, implements day-at-a-time vacation usage, and includes a vacation bonus for members with over 25 years of service.
The contract also restricts the company from requiring overtime on weekends, and improves the new hire progression rates so that some employees will receive wage increases from $1.91 an hour to $2.46 an hour depending on their time in the progression right away. Improvements were also made to the Short Term Disability Benefits and the Shoe and Clothing Allowances, and to the Perfect Attendance bonus.
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 19, 2,500 workers at the National Beef plant in Dodge City, Kansas, ratified a new contract. The workers are members of UFCW Local 2.
The new five-year contract includes significant wage increases, improved health benefits, and an improved bidding system for jobs. The new contract also establishes a union office inside the plant.
“UFCW Local 2 is working hard to enhance the lives of meatpacking workers in southwest Kansas,” said UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas. “We’re very proud of this contract and the workers we represent.”
November 22, 2016
On Nov. 20, 2,400 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, ratified a new contract. The workers are members of UFCW Local 431.
The new five-year contract includes $2.60 in wage increases for the five-year term of the contract, with $1.10 per hour upon ratification; $.50 per hour wage increases in years two and three; and $.25 per hour wage increase in years four and five. The contract also includes an additional paid holiday, and increases vacation leave to four weeks after ten years of employment.
“This was a team effort between UFCW Local 431, our bargaining committee, our members and UFCW International to help close the wage gap in the pork industry,” said UFCW Local 431 President Jerry Messer. “I would like to thank everyone involved for helping to secure this contract. I am proud of each and every one of our members.”