News and Updates
Packing and Processing
August 10, 2016
On July 28, 75 workers at CTI Foods in King of Prussia, Pa., ratified their first union contract. The CTI workers produce food for fast food restaurants and are members of UFCW Local 1776.
“We feel more united now; we have a better bond,” said Shop Steward Kyle Pendleton, who has worked at CTI Foods for 19 years and was instrumental during the organizing and negotiation process. “The company is working with us now and having a contract has made the company better.”
The new three-year contract guarantees health insurance, safety and labor-management meetings, as well as pay increases. For some workers, this will be the first raise they’ve received in years.
“I would like to congratulate the CTI workers on their first UFCW contract,” said UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV. “This is a huge win for them and their families.”
July 22, 2016
Adapted from DOL Blog
For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.
Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.
No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.
Luckily, there are very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.
Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levels,unsafe equipment, and slippery floors.
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.
These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the Midwest, Southern, and Southeast states. Their goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.
With UFCW representation, these workers also have better odds because they have a voice on the job, and can speak up when they see unsafe conditions without fear of retribution. We often work with OSHA to ensure our poultry workers continue to work at safe jobs.
Learn more about their work to protect poultry processing workers.
May 18, 2016
On May 12, nearly 450 workers at the Mission Foods plant in Mountain Top, Pa., voted to join UFCW Local 1776. Mission Foods workers make a full line of Mexican food products, including tortillas, wraps and salsas used in restaurants and sold in supermarkets on several continents.
“This is one of the greatest moments of my life knowing that we are not going to fend for ourselves anymore, but have representation,” said Nadia Vlavonou, a Mission Foods employee.
“I applaud the workers at Mission Foods for making the decision for union representation on the job,” said Wendell Young, IV, president of UFCW Local 1776. “Having a union will help these workers feel safe and secure on the job – something all workers should feel when they show up and work hard every day.”
The workers’ victory was the successful conclusion of a months-long campaign designed to give a voice to the Mission Foods workers in Mountain Top. This campaign is a piece of the bigger picture that aims to raise wages and benefits for all workers in the meatpacking and poultry industries.
“The goal is to better the lives of working people throughout the country. The Mission Foods workers are a great example of what standing together and making a well informed decision can achieve. These workers will inspire others to speak out for better working conditions and respect,” said Young.
“This is a victory for all of us,” said Benito Tapia, a Mission Foods employee.
The Mission Foods workers will join thousands of UFCW Local 1776 packinghouse and food processing workers in Pennsylvania at plants such as Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Cargill in Hazelton, JBS in Souderton and Citterio USA in Freeland.
May 13, 2016
Oxfam reports unionized poultry workers have better workplace protection; non-unionized poultry workers in Pampers
– Yesterday’s Washington Post Wonk Blog post “I had to wear Pampers’: The cruel reality the people who bring you cheap chicken allegedly endure,” highlighted inhuman working conditions within the poultry industry, as documented by a new Oxfam report.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), represents thousands of workers in the poultry industry. UFCWreleased the following statement today in response to the story and subsequent news coverage:
“The indignity with which poultry workers are being treated in America has to stop. Workers need to know they have a right to organize and that organized workers have more opportunities to protect themselves from this type of abuse.
“The headline is salacious, but the heart of the matter is that unionized workers can speak freely about dangerous working conditions without fear of retaliation. This leads to a healthier and more productive work environment and a safer product for consumers.”
From the Oxfam Report No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in the Poultry Industry (page 3):
In the course of hundreds of interviews, only a handful of workers reported that their bathroom needs are respected. These exceptions are primarily in plants that have unions, which offer important protections, inform workers of their rights, and ensure they have a voice on the job. Unionized workers report that they feel comfortable leaving or stopping the line when their requests are denied for too long. Roughly a third of the poultry workforce is unionized, leaving most workers without these crucial protections.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.
May 11, 2016
On May 5, the hard-working men and women at a ConAgra plant in Indianapolis voted to join the UFCW union family and become part of UFCW Local 700.
Nearly 300 workers make Marie Callendar’s pies at the plant, which was formerly owned by another company and purchased by ConAgra about three years ago. Organizers handbilled the plant and learned about the issues most important to this diverse group of workers, including better pay, fair treatment, and respect on the job. UFCW Local 700 represents about 300 workers making Reddi-Wip and margarine at a ConAgra plant less than three miles away from the newly organized facility. At the union plant, workers earn higher wages, have better benefits, and have job security through their union contract.
“We can now join our sister plant with the right to negotiate for a brighter future,” said Kenny Green, a lead organizing committee member. “By forming our union, we’re standing up for better wages and benefits, and most importantly, a voice on the job.”
May 4, 2016
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The workers at the Viscofan plant in Danville, Illinois, deserve safe jobs, they say in a newly launched petition to The Viscofan Group Chairman Jose Domingo de Ampuero y Osma. The workers, who are members of UFCW Local 686, and their families shouldn’t have to worry whether their loved ones will come home in one piece when they return from work each day.
After a successful year, Viscofan has seen positive growth, which is centered on the work done by these members and others in North America. But as company sales and profits increase, the workers say they are being hurt by the plant. The Danville plant had 18 violations of U.S. health and safety law in the last seven years, yet Viscofan has refused union proposals to improve the safety of their workplace.
These Local 686 members are now asking supporters to sign their petition that says the company’s success shouldn’t come at the expense of the health and safety of its workers. The Viscofan plant is an integral part of the Danville community and its workers count on the good, safe, family-supporting jobs it provides. They are asking the company to send its negotiators back to the table with an edict to make the plant safer, the community stronger, and share in the success. Click here to sign the petition.
February 12, 2016
Need a last minute gift for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day? To support your union family, pick up any of the tasty treats that union members make, and shop at union label retail and grocery stores. Below are just a few of the things made by UFCW and other union members that might help you celebrate that special someone!
- Ghirardelli Chocolate
- Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses
- Russell Stover
- See’s Candies
- Eden Roc
- J. Roget
- Jacques Bonet
- Jacques Reynard
- Le Domaine
- Hugo Boss
- Old Spice
- Pierre Cardin
And with your Union Plus discount, you can pick up flowers and chocolates at a great discounted price! Click here for more info.
December 9, 2015
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This past Saturday, UFCW Local 1189, the UFCW Occupational Safety and Health Department and the Greater Minnesota Workers’ Center hosted a workers’ rights training session for unorganized poultry workers in St. Cloud, Minn. The training was focused on giving unorganized workers tools to stand up for a safe workplaces and helping them build common ground with workers of different cultural backgrounds. More than 70 workers from a variety of plants came out for the training, which was simultaneously conducted in English, Spanish and Somali.
“I am really glad I came to this training with the Somali people,” said one Spanish-speaking worker during the comment portion of the training. “I tried to get my friends to come with me but they were too afraid. I am not afraid. I know we can work together to change our workplace and make it better for everyone.”
July 8, 2015
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#084e93″ text=”#ffffff” align=”center” size=”2″ quote=”It was great to see everybody working together in the setting to make our plant safer. During our walk-through, it was good to have a new set of eyes to help spot hazards that might have otherwise been overlooked.” cite=”Darin Rehnelt, representative for UFCW Local 1161″ parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
The UFCW has initiated a new health and safety program for workers in UFCW JBS plants. The program is a new joint effort with JBS to establish a uniform safety program for workers and management throughout the chain. This is the first time JBS and the UFCW have come together to create a program that is specific to keeping workers safe.
The first part of the program focuses on training union reps, workers, staff, and JBS management to learn about identifying the underlying causes of workplace injuries, illness, and fatalities. The second part trains participants on how to correct, control, and prevent those workplace hazards. The ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable system where people in the plant know how to prevent hazards, how to identify them, and how to follow the correct procedures to efficiently correct hazards.
The health and safety program came about when UFCW staff initiated a meeting with JBS corporate safety staff out of concern for the safety and well-being of workers. During the meeting, both sides agreed that there was room for improvement in the health and safety protocols at the plants. A year later, UFCW and JBS finalized a plan to work jointly to address safety issues and develop the new health and safety program.
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”30%” align=”left” size=”2″ quote=”The joint training has been a very positive experience for all parties involved.” cite=”Marvin Spidle, corporate safety manager from the Federal Business Unit at JBS.” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
“The joint training has been a very positive experience for all parties involved. It has provided some different ways of looking at the hazards in the workplace that most people overlook. I am excited to continue with this training in our facilities and providing our employees a safer environment to work in,” said Marvin Spidle, corporate safety manager from the Federal Business Unit at JBS.
The program began in January, and JBS workers at UFCW Locals 540, 1161, 293, and 435 have already gone through the first phase of the training. During the first phase of the program, workers and staff learned how to identify workplace hazards in their plant. Following the classroom training, participants then walked together through their plant to apply their new knowledge and identify any hazards that they learned about in the training. Some common safety hazards that workers are trained to spot include unguarded shafts and belts, slippery floors, narrow aisles, and unlabeled exposed pipes and electrical wires.
“It was great to see everybody working together in the setting to make our plant safer. During our walk-through, it was good to have a new set of eyes to help spot hazards that might have otherwise been overlooked,” said Darin Rehnelt, a representative for UFCW Local 1161.
The trainings last about six hours and are conducted in English and Spanish. Following the JBS plant trainings, the plan is to take the health and safety program to workers in the poultry industry, including those who work in JBS’s Pilgrim’s Pride plants.
If you are interested in having a health and safety training in your local plant contact Kurt Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 19, 2015
When you buy union, you’re supporting the men and women who work hard every day to make and sell these quality goods. You’re also supporting good union jobs, that enable working parents to support their families with good pay and benefits. Unions are also on the forefront of legislative pushes for policies that benefit working families, like parental leave. Together, union families are working to make jobs work for all families.
Knob Creek Whiskey
Old Spice products
Pierre Cardin Cologne
Red Wing Shoes
The Union Boot Pro Boots