News and Updates
Packing and Processing
October 15, 2003
OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 11, 2003
Gephardt Health Care Stance Wins Support From
Nation’s Largest Private Sector Union
Davenport, Iowa—Today, the nation’s largest private sector union, and the largest union in Iowa, put the support of its 1.4 million members behind Dick Gephardt for President. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union endorsed the Gephardt campaign based on his plan to protect the employer-based health care system in the U.S.
The UFCW is at the forefront of the fight to protect health care at work for millions of working families. This weekend, UFCW is leading more than 70,000 supermarket employees on strike in Southern California to fight back against employer demands to destroy health benefits for workers and their families. In the meatpacking industry, UFCW members have been on strike since February 28, 2003, at Tyson Foods in Jefferson, Wisconsin, to stop Tyson from slashing health care for the 470 workers. In St. Louis, Missouri, 10,000 retail food workers are on the picket line fighting back against a similar employer demand that would threaten workers’ medical benefits.
“Most Americans get health care at work, and we want to keep it that way because the UFCW believes if you do the work, you’ve earned affordable health care,” said UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Joe Hansen.
“If you have medical benefits at work, the Gephardt plan will make sure you keep them and that they stay affordable,” continued Hansen. “If you work, but don’t get benefits, the Gephardt plan will make sure you do.”
The endorsement was based on UFCW members’ views on working family issues in the context of the 2004 presidential election.
Research, conducted by the Wilson Center for Public Research, shows that UFCW members feel the government should take action to deal with:
· Rapidly rising health care costs (94%)
· 44 million Americans without health insurance (91%)
· Employer demands for cuts in medical benefits (87%)
In addition, 97% of those polled felt that a candidate’s position on protecting health care at work was important—75% said it was crucial—to making a decision about their choice for President in 2004.
These perceptions reflect the views of the cashier moms, a key demographic in next year’s election. UFCW membership mirrors the general workforce population in every category—gender, race, age, and marital status, making UFCW member views a snapshot of those held by millions of working people around the country.
The UFCW represents 1.4 million workers in the supermarket, meatpacking, poultry, food processing, health care, chemical, textile and garment, distillery, and other industries.
October 1, 2003
More than 3,000 workers at Hormel plants in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota approved a new four-year contract in a vote last night. Workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union turned out to vote their approval for the agreement.
The new Hormel contract increases the base wage to $14/hour with raises over the term of the agreement. Workers also secured improvements for their pension, vacation and premium pay for night shifts while maintaining quality health care coverage for workers and their families.
The federal mediation office facilitated the negotiations and aided both parties to reach this agreement.
The new contract covers members of UFCW Local Unions 6, 9, 22, 1996 and 73A. The workers produce such well known products as SPAM luncheon meat and Dinty Moore beef stew.
August 4, 2003
On Sunday, January 5, 2003, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Local 392 is stepping up its pressure on Domino Sugar. Striking workers from the Domino plant in Baltimore, Maryland are forming “”Truth Squads,”” named for their commitment to speak the truth to consumers, workers, and the community about Domino’s attempts to undermine workers’ family health care and retirement security.
Workers will hold a press briefing at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 5th at UFCW Sugar Workers Local 392 at 1425 Woodall Street in Baltimore, MD.
Two Truth Squads of five workers will travel to New York and Florida over the next few weeks to reach out to workers at other American Sugar, parent company to Domino, facilities about the company’s campaign to destroy worker benefits in Baltimore.
August 4, 2003
On Wednesday, January 8, 2003, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 392 member is stepping up its pressure on Domino Sugar by reaching out to sugar workers in Savannah, Georgia. Striking workers from the Domino plant in Baltimore, Maryland have formed “”Truth Squads,”” named for their commitment to speak the truth to consumers, workers, and the community about Domino’s attempts to undermine workers’ family health care and retirement security.
Two Truth Squads of five workers are traveling to New York, Florida and Georgia over the next few weeks to reach out to workers at other American Sugar, parent company to Domino, facilities about the company’s campaign to destroy worker benefits in Baltimore. The Truth Squads are also reaching out to workers at other sugar plants and related industries.
To learn more about the Domino Sugar strike in Baltimore, log on to www.ufcw.org.
August 4, 2003
The future looks much sweeter for the 330 Domino Sugar workers in Baltimore, Md. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 392 members ratified a new three-year contract on Saturday, January 11, 2003, that ends the 35-day strike.
Workers fought back against company demands to alter their retirement plan, take away two paid holidays and increase health insurance costs. The new contract:
Protects the workers’ pension plan by maintaining current benefits and protecting the investments;
Preserves the two paid holidays, Veteran’s Day and New Year’s Eve, that the company pushed to eliminate;
Provides 2% wage increases for all workers; and
Improves the health care plan.
Over the past 35 days, none of the 330 workers crossed the picket line.
“”The Domino Sugar workers stood on the front line against corporate greed and they won,”” said Mark Lauritsen, UFCW International Vice President and Regional Director. “”Their solidarity gives hope to all working families across the country who deserve fair and decent wages and benefits for the hard work they do every day.””
Workers traveled around the country in “”Truth Squads”” to rally support for their strike from sugar workers in New York, Florida and Georgia. The Baltimore community supported workers by honoring their boycott message and by making donations to the hardship fund for workers’ families.
UFCW Local 392 President Alex Hamilton said, “”I want to thank everyone who supported us in this struggle for a fair contract. Without the generous donations of the good people of Baltimore and our UFCW brothers and sisters, our fight would have been more difficult our spirits lower.””
The UFCW is the voice for working America, with 1.4 million members in food industries — from processing to retail. The UFCW represents workers in supermarkets across the country as well as food processing, meat packing, chemical, distillery, garment and health care facilities.
August 4, 2003
Workers at the nation’s largest natural food supermarket chain are building a movement for a voice on the job with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Workers at the store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, filed for Labor Board election to join UFCW Local 400 on January 31, 2003. The election date has not been set.
Workers in Madison, Wisconsin kick-started the national movement by voting for UFCW Local 1444 representation on July 15, 2002. Despite Whole Foods’ stall tactics, the workers continue to bargain with them and are working toward reaching a first contract.
The Madison campaign leaders launched a website, www.wholeworkersunite.org where workers from the 142 Whole Foods stores can connect with each other and learn about taking action for a better workplace.
“”Whole Foods workers across the country saw the Madison workers stand up and realized that they could take action to make their workplace better, too. The movement is growing,”” said xxxxxx
The campaign is building momentum around the country, with Whole Foods workers connecting via the website and email to learn more about organizing for a real voice on the job.
“”Whole Foods promotes itself as a great place to work, yet management fights worker efforts to organize with a vengeance. Workers deserve to have real representation, protection and a say over workplace issues,”” said.
The UFCW represents 1.4 million members at the nation’s major supermarket, food processing and meatpacking companies. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.
August 4, 2003
Workers at the Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson, Wisc., set up picket lines after overwhelmingly rejecting a company offer that would cut wages and risk the loss of medical treatment for workers’ families.
For a company whose motto is:””It’s What Your Family Deserves,”” no working family—and no community—deserves the attack on living standards the giant meat processor has launched against workers at its Jefferson plant.
“”Tyson’s proposal would devastate my family,”” said UFCW Local 538 member, John Hernandez, a 25-year plant employee. “”The company wants to cut our wages and increase the cost of our health care coverage. Our families can’t live on that.””
The Jefferson plant is profitable. The facility is part of Tyson’s prepared foods division which posted a 4.2% profit for first quarter 2003.
The company’s contract offer seeks wholesale cuts in workers pay and benefits including:
A pay cut of 73 cents an hour, on average, as well as a wage freeze for four years.
An increase in health care coverage rates up to $40 a week, as well as higher deductibles and out of pocket expenses which could total $4600 a year for basic family coverage.
A freeze on pension benefits for current workers and elimination of pension benefits for new hires.
A 50% reduction in sick leave.
A two week cut in vacation benefits.
“”Tyson’s proposal comes out of greed, not need,”” says Kevin Williamson, UFCW International Vice President and Region 6 Director. “”The plant has operated 100 years without a strike, and now Tyson is attempting to repay a loyal and experienced workforce by destroying their living standards.””
Contract negotiations have taken place over the last eight months. In January the Company gave the union a 30-day notice saying it would terminate the current extended contract at midnight on February 25.
UFCW Local 538 has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, charging the company with bargaining in bad faith.
Tyson’s Jefferson plant, employing 470 workers, produces pepperoni for Tombstone, DiGiorno, Domino”s and Jack’s pizzas, as well as hams, ring bologna, and hot dogs.
“”This company forced this strike on us,”” said Mike Rice, UFCW Local 538 Business Agent. “”We’re fighting for our families, our futures, and our community. We’re on the picket line today and we’ll be here for however long it takes to reach a fair settlement our members’ families deserve.””
August 4, 2003
Washington, D.C.: Tyson Foods, the Arkansas based meat processor, is using Scott Mayer, operator of QPS Staffing Services of Greenfield, Wisconsin, and an avowed supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to provide “”scabs”” in a pepperoni plant strike in Jefferson, Wisconsin, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced today.
“”Tyson Foods agreement with Scott Mayer and QPS demonstrates clearly that they will use anyone, anywhere, at anytime to scab hardworking American workers standing up for their families,”” said UFCW Local 538 Business Agent Mike Rice.
“”It is supremely ironic that as PETA is attacking Tyson Foods, the company turns around and cuts a deal with a PETA supporter to run scabs into Jefferson, Wisconsin every day in the early morning darkness,”” pointed out Rice. “”To add insult to injury, the scabs are transported on school buses operated by Riteway Bus Services, a company based in Richfield, Wisconsin.””
PETA has recently issued press releases entitled: “”PETA Calls for Prosecution of Tyson Foods and Five Tyson Employees; Formal Complaint, Whistleblower Tell of Deliberate Torture of Birds”” (February 18, 2003) and “”PETA Urges Tyson Foods to Fake It with Meat Products”” (December 24, 2002). See www.peta.org for details.
Scott Mayer, operator of what is claimed to be “”Wisconsin’s largest independent staffing service”” is also an Indy Racing driver, whose biography states that he and his wife are “”active supporters of PETA and the Humane Society.”” See: www.indyracing.com/drivers/driver_bios.php?driver_id=143
UFCW Local 538 members went out on strike at the Tyson Foods pepperoni and other toppings plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin, on February 28, 2003. The plant, formerly known as Doskocil Foods, is one of the largest producers of pepperoni in the United States. Its customers include Pizza Hut, Kraft Foods (DiGiorno, Tombstone and Jack’s pizza brands), and Schwan’s (Tony’s Pizza), one of the largest providers of pizza to schoolchildren in the country.
For more information on the strike visit www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org
August 4, 2003
Food And Commercial Workers Union Goes National With Wisconsin Strike
Pizza Hut is about to get a lot of unwanted customer attention as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has dropped approximately a half-million piece mailing to working families across the United States. The mailing asks that Pizza Hut customers contact the company asking that the giant pizza chain make its pizza “”Tyson- free.”” The mass mailing comes as part of a national campaign to roll back corporate greed in response to Tyson’s effort to rollover striking workers at a highly profitable pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.
The dispute started in late February when Tyson demanded that workers accept a complete elimination of the pension plan for all future workers, unaffordable cost increases for workers’ health insurance and a wage freeze on top of a wage cut. After more than 100 years of operation without a strike, Tyson greed forced workers into the street. The meat conglomerate made no pretense about the lack of economic necessity for its demands–the plant is profitable–but, simply stated that the company’s intent was to lower the standards at the Wisconsin plant to the level of its non-union poultry operations.
Tyson’s recent expansion into pork, beef and processing could face a rough road as workers and communities resist the lowering of living and working standards. Already Jefferson, Wisconsin area merchants and consumers have removed Tyson products from shelves and shopping lists. Now, one of Tyson’s biggest customers, Pizza Hut, could begin to feel the heat from its core consumer base, working parents with younger children. In addition to sending e-letters to corporate headquarters, families are being asked to say “”Tyson-free”” pizza toppings when at Pizza Hut.
The unnecessary conflict slams into an image make-over for Tyson as it tries to move from a supplier to a branded item on consumer’s shopping lists. The company is spending millions in ad dollars to convince American shoppers of Tyson’s premier status in shopping carts and on kitchen tables.
Working families are not fooled by Tyson’s glossy advertisements. Log on to www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org to learn more about the striking Tyson workers and to take action on their behalf.
For other UFCW News on the Tyson Strike see below: