News and Updates
Packing and Processing
May 18, 2015
This week, as Memorial Day approaches, we are honoring the memory of those who have fallen defending our country and its freedom. By spotlighting UFCW members who have served in our country’s military or who give their time to help those who have, we hope to continue the legacy of the heroes who have passed on.
Below is the story of Local 227 member Jeff Pleasant:
Jeff Pleasant always looked up to his uncle who was a marine. So, when he turned 16 he signed the papers to join and went to boot camp at 17 years old. Looking back on his 12 years of service to our country, Jeff explains, “The marines taught me to look after one another. Even though we always strived for success, it was important to reach back and pull someone else along too.”
After the marines Jeff had various law enforcement jobs where he had a union, but he never really got involved. Jeff became a member of UFCW 227 in 2006 when he went to work for JBS in Louisville, KY.
One day, frustrated with a co-worker, Jeff brought his complaint to the Chief Union Steward Kevin Diale. Jeff remembers Kevin explaining to him that as union members we look out for each other and if we have a problem we resolve it together. Jeff remembers, “That was the day I made the connection. The values that I learned in the marines were the same values of the labor movement. We’re always looking out for each other.”
After being a member for 4 years, Jeff decided he wanted to become a Steward because of his shared values with our union. He served as a Steward for 3 years before being elected by his fellow union member to become Assistant Chief Steward. A year later he was elected Chief Steward.
During his time as a Steward, Jeff got involved in his local union’s political program and signed hundreds of members up for the Active Ballot Club. He also traveled across the state of Kentucky supporting Wal-mart workers in their courageous fight to stand up for their rights. No matter what Jeff was doing he was always looking out for not just union members, but everyone around him in general.
Around 18 months ago, Jeff became a Union Representative for UFCW 227. Now, he uses the values the marines taught him to make our union strong, “For our union to be stronger we have to band together.”
May 13, 2015
UFCW Alleges Company Fired Workers for Union Activity in Unfair Labor Practice Charges
Heavener, OK: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 is formally filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that two UFCW organizing committee members were illegally fired last week by OK Foods in Heavener, OK.
Local 1000 President Ricky Burris said, “Joshua Deases and Jason Muller were fired illegally last week. These two have been leaders in the organizing campaign at OK Foods to help maintenance workers get a voice at work. Both of them testified on behalf of the union in front of an NLRB Hearing Officer last year and served as official observers in the May 1st, 2014 election. The NLRB set the May 1st election aside because of repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act and now OK Foods is again violating the Act by firing these workers. I strongly condemn these terminations.”
Maintenance worker Jason Muller said, “I’m not discouraged. The more they harass pro-union workers, the harder we will fight. OK Foods won’t intimidate us. OK Foods is persecuting Josh Deases and myself because of our union activities. This company, and specifically the CEO Trent Goins, should be ashamed.”
UFCW Local 1000 represents 11,000 workers across Oklahoma and North Texas including people who work at grocery stores and food production facilities. UFCW Local 1000 is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 250,000 poultry production workers across the United States and Canada.
March 31, 2015
With the help of the AFL-CIO and Union Plus, we’ve compiled a UFCW-made shopping list and some UFCW-made recipes so that you can enjoy whichever Spring holidays you celebrate–whether it be Easter, Passover, or just celebrating the nice weather, while supporting your union brothers and sisters at the same time!
If you’re looking for some sweet treats from the Easter bunny, all of the following candies are made by members of the UFCW family:
- Cadbury Eggs
- Jelly Bellies
- Laffy Taffy
- Necco Wafers
- Mike and Ikes
- Thin Mints
- Tootsie Rolls
For Passover, the following UFCW-made items are just what you need:
- Empire Kosher
Wine and Grape Juice
- Arbor Mist (UFCW)
- C.K. Mondavi (UFW, UFCW)
- Turning Leaf (UFCW)
- Minute Maid Grape Juice (UFCW)
- Welch’s Grape Juice (UFCW)
See more union-made wine and beverages here.
And for the chefs in the family, the following recipes are sure to make any family gathering a special one:
Apricot Glazed Ham via Farmland Foods
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (about 5 pounds) Farmland® Boneless Smoked Ham – Old Fashioned Pit Ham
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Heat oven to 325°F. Place ham and apricot nectar in roasting pan.
- In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spread preserves mixture over surface of ham. Loosely cover and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 140°F., basting ham with pan juices every 20 minutes.
- Slice ham and place on serving platter. Spoon pan juices over ham.
Roasted Leg of Lamb with Rosemary via AllRecipes.com
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 pounds whole leg of lamb
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, rosemary, ground black pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Mix well and apply to the lamb. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
- Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt to taste.
- Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and roast for 55 to 60 more minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) when taken with a meat thermometer. Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
Make it union: Chiapetti Lamb and Fischer Meats Lamb are union-made by UFCW members.
Scalloped Potatoes via CookingChanneltv.com
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups smooth goat cheese
- 1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, finely sliced
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
- Salt and pepper
- In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese with the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the chives. Keep aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices by using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Rinse and keep in cold water.
- In a large skillet, saute the onions with garlic for about 10 minutes in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain and pat dry the potatoes. In an ovenproof dish, nicely layer the potato slices. Cover with some caramelized onions, and 1/4 of the goat cheese mixture. Repeat the layers and finish with the goat cheese mixture. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Pour the rest of the cream mixture over the potatoes and the butter. Cook in the oven for 1 hour until golden brown.
Make it union: Country Fresh, Blue Bonnet, and Horizon dairy products (butter and heavy cream) are union-made by UFCW members.
Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs via AllRecipes.com
- 12 eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 4 slices bacon
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Place eggs in a saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, and cool. To cool more quickly, rinse eggs under cold running water.
- Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Alternatively, wrap bacon in paper towels and cook in the microwave for about 1 minute per slice. Crumble and set aside.
- Peel the hard-cooked eggs, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a small bowl. Mash egg yolks with mayonnaise, crumbled bacon and cheese. Stir in mustard. Fill egg white halves with the yolk mixture and refrigerate until serving.
Make it union: Alta Dena, Horizon Organic, and President’s Choice eggs are union-made by UFCW members.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 6 ounces homemade mini marshmallows, approximately 3 cups
- 1 cup clementine orange segments, approximately 6 clementines
- 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
- 1 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries
- Place the cream and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks are formed.
- Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Add the marshmallows, orange, pineapple, coconut, pecans and cherries and stir to combine. Transfer to a glass serving bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.
Make it union: Domino Sugar, as well as Country Fresh, Blue Bonnet, and Horizon dairy products (heavy cream and sour cream), are union-made by UFCW members.
March 25, 2015
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the merger of Kraft and Heinz:
“We have a profound responsibility to provide our hard-working families the opportunity for a better life. It is why we have a proud history of negotiating union contracts, with both Heinz and Kraft, that provides these incredible men and women better pay, benefits and job security. By working together we have not only met our responsibility to our people, but have proved that companies that choose to be responsible can be profitable and successful. We will continue to work with Heinz and Kraft to ensure they do what is right and responsible and that ‘streamlining’ and ‘cost-cutting’ measures don’t hurt the workers, their families, who have helped make these companies a success.”
The UFCW represents approximately 1342 workers at Heinz locations in Fremont, Ohio; Holland, Michigan; Muscatine, Iowa; and Massillon, Ohio. Approximately 2870 Kraft workers in Coshocton, Ohio; Davenport, Iowa; Dover, Delaware; Jacksonville, Florida; Madison, Wisconsin; and Walton, New York are also UFCW members.
December 4, 2014
UFCW Applauds Kurt Brandt’s Appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kurt Brandt, UFCW’s Assistant to the Director of the Food Processing, Packing, and Manufacturing Division, has been appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI). Kurt will be the only union representative on the advisory committee, making this well-deserved appointment welcome news for workers.
With over 30 years’ experience in the meatpacking industry, Kurt has performed everything from processing to manufacturing, developing both a knack and an appreciation for this tough but important work.
He has also been successful in bargaining contracts with the industry’s largest employers, consistently helping workers win wages and benefits that they can be proud of.
The NACMPI is tasked with advising the Secretary of Agriculture on matters affecting federal and state inspection program activities. As someone who has both worked in the meatpacking industry and fought to make it better, Kurt’s perspective will be an invaluable addition.
November 19, 2014
Rep. Gutierrez Joins Farm Workers behind the Thanksgiving Meal to Hold Holiday Feast in front of White House
Washington, DC—Today, on the cusp of one of America’s most celebrated holidays, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) alongside immigrant farm, food and commercial workers from across the country gathered in front of the White House to remind Americans of the people behind the Thanksgiving meal, and express their support for President Obama taking the most inclusive executive action possible. The event shined a special spotlight on members of United Farm Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers who presented an array of Thanksgiving foods harvested and processed by immigrant workers, including a turkey, potatoes, pumpkin, and other foods commonly found on America’s Thanksgiving tables.
Said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), “The President is going to act boldly, broadly and soon and across the country the bounty and blessings of Thanksgiving will be joyous. The President’s actions will mean that millions of American families will not fear deportation and destruction and so many people contributing to our economy, including those who pick, pack and move the food to our tables, will be able to continue helping us all live better.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving table, farm workers delivered letters from across the country, explaining why administrative relief is so important to their families and communities. Many of the letters included invitations to the President to share a Thanksgiving meal with farm workers in their homes. (View the original letters in Spanish and their English translations). One of the letters written by Jaime Sanchez, a fourth year college student and son of farm workers, appeared as an op-ed in his student paper at the University of Chicago–the President’s former place of work.
“The protracted political debates and the partial solutions offered by House Republicans that ignore the inconvenient truth that America’s food will continue to come to our tables through the toil and exploitation of undocumented farm workers who do the work that no one else is doing. Instead of a seat at our nation’s table, farm workers live in the shadows where they are subjected to inhumane working conditions, rampant sexual harassment, wage theft and the threat of deportation if they dare to stand up for their humanity,” said Arturo Rodriguez, President of United Farm Workers (UFW). “That’s why we are here at the White House today, to share with America that we support the President taking the most inclusive executive action possible. On this holiday of giving thanks, it’s time to give thanks to our Thanksgiving workers by simply extending to them meaningful action that says, ‘If you harvest our food, you’re welcome at the table.’”
Added Esther Lopez, International Vice President and Director of Civil Rights and the Community Action Department at United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, “In the face of cowardly inaction by the House Republican leadership, today we ask President Obama to do what he should have done long ago – use his clearly defined legal authority to provide relief to immigrant workers and their families. We ask the President to put in place a framework that ensures immigrant workers are treated with dignity and respect on the job.”
Their sentiments were bolstered by a chorus of farm and food workers from across the country.
Said Maria G. Lozano Ramirez, a grape harvester from Benson City, WA, “Wine is important to Thanksgiving dinner, but people drink it without thinking about how much work it takes to make that one bottle of wine. How many undocumented farm workers did it take to make it taste so good? We work long hours but without much acknowledgement.”
Pumpkin grower Maria Martha Acevedo Cardenas from Sunnyside, WA recalled the sacrifices behind every Thanksgiving meal, saying, “I’m not asking for pity, but I am asking for what’s fair. Farm workers need immigration reform. They’re able to eat the best produce, while we are unable to afford the same fruits and vegetables we picked. One day, I would like to be able to buy my own Thanksgiving turkey.”
Added her U.S. citizen daughter, Eustalia (Toy) A. Acevedo, who picks apples in Seattle, WA, “When the average American eats that apple pie or a dish with apples on Thanksgiving, they need to realize without farm workers picking their fruits or vegetables there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving meal.”
San Juanita Marquez, a poultry processing plant worker from Lumber Bridge, NC, explained the perils of life as an undocumented worker: “If immigration comes to the plant or my house, I could be separated from my children. My youngest children are American citizens, and because I have no family here, they would be left alone and be sent to foster care if I was deported. It would be too dangerous to take them back to Guerrero where children and the elderly are gunned down in gang violence. I ask Obama to stop the deportations – let us work and let us keep our children safe.”
Maria Arteaga, harvests potatoes in Parma, ID. Several years ago she and her husband were stopped and subsequently deported for “looking suspicious” while on a road trip to Los Angeles. At the time her small children, including her daughter Areli, then 5, had stayed home with a relative while they were away. “Once I was deported, all I could think about was my children. I had to get back to them. I did what any mother would have done. I made the sacrifice and returned to the U.S. illegally.”
Added her daughter, Areli, who often helps with corn harvesting when home from college: “I want people, who don’t believe we need immigration reform to think about something before they bite into their corn on the cob: some people, unlike them, can’t be sitting at the table enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with their family because they can’t travel out of the country to see them or because their family has been deported.”
Said Inocencio Bernal Pedroza, who picks celery in Madera, CA: “Farm workers contribute to the U.S. economy, but many of them are undocumented and are not treated equally or acknowledged for their work. They provide food for American families. Americans should try to have to have their Thanksgiving meal without undocumented farm workers toiling in the fields. There would be no dinner! There’s produce in the supermarkets because farm working hands put it there.”
Alberto Bermejo, who picks peaches in Sanger, CA, said, “If we’re not in the fields picking the peaches, then they won’t be served on Thanksgiving. A little appreciation for what we do would go a long way.”
Juan and Maria Pacheco, achieved American citizenship after years of working at a turkey processing plant in Mifflintown, PA. Today they called for executive action on behalf of their undocumented coworkers. Said Juan, “Families all across the country are going to be eating our turkeys next week, but they don’t know the stories behind their Thanksgiving dinner. My wife and I worked in the Empire Kosher turkey plant for fifteen years before we finally earned American citizenship. We have worked hard to earn our American Dream. This Thanksgiving, President Obama has the chance to give that same opportunity to other hardworking families like ours.”
Additional information on today’s event, including the farm worker letters, bios, social media tools and archived footage is available here.
October 31, 2014
UFCW Applauds OSHA’S Effort to Protect Poultry Workers from Musculoskeletal Disorders, Hazardous Workplace Conditions
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today released the following statement regarding OSHA’s decision to exercise the seldom-used “general duty clause” of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect poultry workers from workplace injuries or death.
“The UFCW applauds OSHA’s decision to use the “general duty clause” to protect poultry workers from dangerous workplace conditions, including exposure to unsafe machinery, risk of falling and musculoskeletal hazards. The UFCW also commends OSHA’s efforts to look into practices that result in the failure to manage the medical treatment of injured poultry workers and maintain an accurate record of those injuries, resulting in an artificial injury and illness rate that is used to benefit the poultry industry at the expense of the safety of its workers. The UFCW believes that the safety awards presented by the National Chicken Council and other industry groups to member poultry companies for outstanding safety performance should be reconsidered since OSHA’s findings show that the poultry industry has the ability to conceal the extent to which poultry workers suffer from work-related injuries and illnesses.
“The UFCW represents workers at poultry plants across the country, and our union has called attention to the many dangers poultry workers face every day, including ergonomic health hazards. While the UFCW has been successful in curbing some of the workplace abuses in this industry, too many poultry workers do not have a collective voice on the job and continue to toil in low-wage jobs that threaten their health and safety.
“All poultry workers deserve better workplace conditions, and the UFCW urges OSHA to establish a National Emphasis Program to protect poultry workers from the health and safety hazards that are specific to this industry.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.
October 9, 2014
Orange, Conn. – On Wednesday, October 8, 175 workers at Aurora Products, a natural food processing company in Orange, Conn. voted to join the 9,000 member strong United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 371 (UFCW Local 371) based in Westport, Conn.
“Our votes were hard fought and won by Aurora workers who are on the line each day and concerned about the livelihoods of their coworkers. I’m happy that we can finally move forward, together,” said Ariceli Martinez, a production line worker who works at the plant.
Workers reached out to UFCW Local 371 wanting to address longstanding issues at the plant without fear of being intimidated or retaliated against.
“We are proud of the hard work and determination workers at the plant have shown throughout the past few months,” said Thomas A. Wilkinson, UFCW Local 371 President. “They reached out to us to make this happen and they saw this effort through Election Day. We have more work to do ahead and are confident that we can help workers win a contract they deserve at Aurora Products.”
Aurora Products, headquartered in Orange, Connecticut is a growing natural and organic processing plant, specializing in dried fruits, nuts, trail mixes, salad toppings, and granolas. Workers will now work with the company to come to an agreement that addresses worker concerns at the plant while helping the company grow.
“We need a chance and a voice,” said Troy Stephenson, a production line worker. “Voting together was just a first step towards making things better for our work environment, for our communities, and for our families.”
UFCW Local 371 is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries.
September 5, 2014
Losing a job can happen to the best of us. The challenge is to maintain your strength, your determination, your resiliency and of course your union values. Karyn Neeley of Rosamond, Calif., and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1036, is making it through a tough time with her head held high and her values intact—with help from a $300 Union Plus Job Loss Grant.
Karyn spent 11 good years in UFCW, working as a meat and seafood manager and even representing her local as a steward and a vice-president. In the time since then, she’s done other work, including in the banking industry. But she’s kept her union card, as well as her Union Plus Credit Card—and that was the key to receiving her Job Loss Grant.
The Union Plus Credit Card program is uniquely designed to meet the needs of hard-working union members and their families with competitive rates, U.S.-based customer service and more.
In addition, it’s the only credit card that offers exclusive assistance programs1 to help UFCW members and their families who are facing hardship. One of those assistance programs is the Job Loss Grants of $300 for those who have carried the card for three months or more and who meet the other eligibility requirements.
“I’ve carried a Union Plus Credit Card for many years,” Karyn says. “I was opening my bill one day and in the statement there was some information about Job Loss Grants. I thought, you know what, let me try it.”
Karyn completed and submitted the application along with the other documentation required to consider her grant request. Her application was approved and soon thereafter she received her $300 check. “It was wonderful getting the Union Plus Job Loss Grant when I needed it,” she says. “I used it to pay some bills.”
These days Karyn is ready to get back into the workforce. She’s considering a number of options, including putting her training as a licensed cosmetologist to work. But if she could find the right opportunity in a supermarket, she’d jump at the chance to be in a UFCW workplace once again.
“After all my years in UFCW I know what a difference having union pay and benefits can make,” she says, “including the opportunity to carry a Union Plus Credit Card.”
Do you carry a Union Plus Credit Card? It features Disability, Job Loss, Strike and Hospital Grants for eligible cardholders1. It also features a competitive rate and all customer service calls answered in the U.S. You can learn more by visiting UFCWcard.com.
At UnionPlus.org you can learn more about these programs, as well as special services that are available to all union members and retirees.
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1Certain restrictions, limitations, and qualifications apply to these grants. Additional information and eligibility criteria can be obtained at UnionPlus.org/Assistance.
Credit approval required. Terms & Conditions apply. Union Plus Credit Cards issued by Capital One, N.A.
August 25, 2014
Cargill workers in Fort Worth, Texas, voted to join UFCW Local 540. There are more than 200 workers at the ground beef processing plant where they produce hamburger patties and sausage. Workers decided to come together for a union voice for several reasons. Workers claim that many of their peers have been unjustly fired. And, they say verbal abuse and disrespect on the job are common. When the company threatened to cut wages, workers went into action to fight back.
With a union voice and a union contract through UFCW Local 540, workers say they are looking forward to dignity and respect on the job, good wages, and affordable benefits.