News and Updates
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 6, 2016
UFCW announces 100 organizing wins in roughly 100 days in 2016.
Washington, D.C. –Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest private sector labor union, announced its 100th organizing campaign win of 2016. UFCW’s 100 wins in 100 days reflects the frustration felt by hard-working people across this country. The economic pressure felt by working Americans is higher than ever and more and more of them are looking to unions for relief.
“A national conversation about wealth inequality is occurring in packing houses and on the floors of retail stores all over the country,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “UFCW has 100 examples of how these conversations are moving workers to form a union and take action. Workers are realizing that partnering with an established union can help secure the wages and benefits that put them on a path to a better life.”
Wealth inequality has become a dominant issue in this year’s Presidential primaries. In both parties, large crowds of voters assembled for candidates campaigning on a message of economic populism. Concurrently, UFCW field organizers saw that same enthusiasm cross over into their campaigns. Increased attention to wages and inequality has motivated people to become UFCW members.
- Workers in 26 out of 50 states have already joined UFCW this year.
- Over 50 percent of UFCW locals have had successful organizing drives
- 55 percent of adults under 30 hold a favorable view of unions (Pew).
- In 10 years, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global work force,
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 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.
May 3, 2016
El Super Reports 5th Consecutive Quarter with a Decline in Customer Traffic Since Start of Union Initiated Consumer Boycott
—Negative El Super sales coincide with Formal Settlement Agreement with US Government ordering company to furnish information and bargain in good faith with UFCW —
Los Angeles— Grupo Comercial Chedraui – the parent company of El Super grocery stores in the U.S. – has reported another quarter of disappointing sales growth. The company’s growth performance has been weakened by negative same store sales (SSS) in its El Super grocery store segment as reported over the past year, a period which coincided with the consumer boycott in the U.S. Same store sales at El Super stores in the U.S. declined for the fifth consecutive quarter since El Super workers and their union, UFCW, launched a consumer boycott of the grocery chain in December 2014. The Boycott was targeted at the Company’s unfair labor practices, its failure to negotiate in good faith and its failure to reach a fair agreement with its workers.
The El Super sales decline during the first quarter of 2016 is significant because the company added four new stores in the period just prior to the last 12 months. The four new stores—two opened in the 4th quarter of 2014, and one each in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2014. The first quarter 2016 new store benefit represents the largest new store boost to El Super’s SSS in more than a year. Inclusion of these new stores leads to an expectation that U.S. SSS growth would increase, not decline.
Recently available U.S. government data on labor hours during 2014 and 2015 at 17 El Super stores in California and Arizona, eight of which were subject to active pickets as part of the consumer boycott during 2015 and nine of which were not, reveals an interesting pattern. The data – maintained by El Super in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – shows that El Super cut labor hours at all stores in our sample which were subject to active pickets in 2015, while hours for the non-picketed stores in our sample were relatively flat and showed no consistent pattern. El Super workers have reported some store managers blamed the consumer boycott for poor sales and resulting in the need to make cuts in hours, and further undermines the company’s denials that the boycott has had a negative effect on sales.
El Super Enters into Rare ‘Formal Settlement Agreement’ with U.S. Government to Resolve Charges it Violated Workers’ Rights
The Union has continued to seek to hold the Company accountable for its actions with respect to negotiations through all legal avenues. The reporting of negative sales growth at El Super stores coincides with an April 28, 2016 ‘Formal Settlement Stipulation’ between El Super, UFCW unions that represent El Super workers, and the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. A formal settlement contains a direct order from the National Labor Relations Board itself and is very rare. Consistent with NLRB law and policy the formal settlement can serve as evidence that El Super is a regular violator of labor law and that EL Super has a proclivity to violate the Act.
Under the terms of the Stipulation, El Super has been ordered to ‘cease and desist’ from:
(a) Failing or refusing to bargain in good faith with the UFCW regarding wages, hours and other working conditions of the employees
(b) Failing or refusing to provide UFCW with information that is relevant and necessary to their roles as the unit’s bargaining representative.
(c) Failing to timely furnish the Unions with information that is relevant and necessary to their role as the unit’s bargaining representative.
(d) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their federal labor rights.
In connection with the Stipulation, the U.S. Government ordered El Super to:
(a) Bargain collectively and in good faith with the UFCW.
(b) Provide UFCW Local 770 with a seniority list for unit employees at its Arleta, California store that includes employees’ dates of hire, position titles, rates of pay, and whether they are classified as full-time or part-time.
(c) Provide the UFCW with the a seniority list for all unit employees that includes employees’ full names, last four digits of their social security numbers, hire dates, wage rates, seniority dates, and full-time/part time statuses.
El Super workers have been fighting to win a fair union contract from El Super since September 2013. The information the company was ordered to provide is essential to formulating contract proposals that address UFCW El Super members’ longstanding goals of winning fair pay and more guaranteed hours for full-time workers.
About El Super
El Super is managed by the Paramount, California, based Bodega Latina Corp. El Super’s business model focuses on serving first, second and third-generation U.S. consumers of Mexican descent. Grupo Comercial Chedraui (Chedraui) is Mexico’s third-largest retail chain with over 42,000 employees in 224 stores throughout the country. Through its 84.85% ownership stake, Chedraui controls California-based Bodega Latina Corporation, which does business as the El Super grocery chain. During 2015, El Super opened five new stores – bringing its total to 54 locations. It has 46 stores in California, five stores in Arizona, and three in Nevada.
March 23, 2016
Nearly 150 brothers and sisters at Main & Vine in Gig Harbor, Washington, were granted recognition to be represented by Local 367.
Main & Vine is a new store concept from Kroger that focuses on fresh local produce and high quality prepared foods. The Gig Harbor Main & Vine is the first shop that Kroger has opened under this new brand.
Their contract vote was held on March 17, and passed by an overwhelming majority.
Becoming a part of UFCW Local 367 was exciting to everyone who works at Main & Vine because it meant an instant improvement in both wages and benefits. As Kroger opens more Main & Vine stores throughout the country, this effort by Local 367 will help to reinforce the message that being a part of the UFCW union family really does lead to a better life.
March 15, 2016
Workers at South Coast Safe Access in Santa Ana, California, recently ratified their first contract and joined UFCW Local 324. These 20 workers are the first Orange County cannabis workers to form a union, and are helping set higher standards for the California cannabis industry.
“South Coast Safe Access is a model for what can be achieved when a business owner has a sincere desire to do right by his employees and the community where he does business,” said UFCW Local 324 President Greg Conger.
The workers announced their decision at a press conference attended by Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana). “It’s time for public policy that will allow safe access for medical marijuana patients while protecting our neighborhoods,” said Sanchez. “Let’s protect workers and consumers in an industry that will continue to grow and become a larger part of California’s economy and prosperity.”
“If anybody working in a cannabis dispensary anywhere in the state believes he or she will get a fraction of that without a union, they have to be smoking something a lot stronger than pot,” said Conger, describing the newly union members as a “natural fit” for Local 324’s strong history of improving lives for both retail and healthcare workers.
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.
February 5, 2016
UFCW members provide the leather to make every NFL game ball ever used
CHICAGO – Super Bowl Sunday is an American tradition and the American ideals of hard work, excellent performance and durability under the toughest conditions are exemplified on and off the field. Those same qualities are exemplified by the craftsmanship of the ball used on the field. Manufactured entirely in the United States, these balls are tough to the core and made to precise specifications, starting with the Horween leather crafted by dedicated UFCW 1546 members at the historic Horween Leather Company, Chicago’s last remaining tannery.
The 150 workers at Horween have been UFCW members since the 1960s, marking half a century of good-paying jobs in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The plant itself was founded in 1905 and has been producing top-quality football leather there for the last 60 years.
“I’ll be watching the Super Bowl knowing that we helped craft every football,” said Earl Ferguson, a machine operator and chief steward at the tannery. “Whether it’s Denver or Carolina, my union brothers at the National Football League Players Association will take the field knowing they’ve reached the pinnacle of their career. For us, we can take pride in that when that foot hits the leather that I made, it’s a sign that our union family is best at what we do.”
In addition to making the leather for every NFL football and NBA basketball, workers at Horween make some of the most sought-after leathers for shoes and clothing the world over, including genuine shell cordovan. The expertise and skill required to build this reputation can only happen with the highly-trained workers that value the stability provided by their union contract.
“I’ve been proud to be a union member at Horween for 26 years,” said Ferguson. “We’re a family here. We take care of each other. The union, that’s just another part of that. Having the UFCW at my back means I have good wages and benefits to care for my loved ones. It means I feel a sense of ownership of my own job, which is important because I take pride in what I do.”
For more photos of the long-time tannery employees, check out Horween’s company blog.
We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.
January 29, 2016
Quest Diagnostics workers in San Diego voted to join UFCW Local 135. The workers join a growing movement of phlebotomist and lab technicians who have come together from the Northwest to the Southwest to raise standards in the health care industry. Workers wanted to join a union in order improve their jobs and workplace. Better wages, respect on the job, stable schedules, and vacation and sick days are some of the top priorities for workers. Negotiations for their first contract begins next month.
Quest Diagnostics is a leading diagnostics services provider in oncology and genetics. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and has 45,000 employees. Given the company’s prominence, workers hope that through the growing power of their combined voice, Quest Diagnostics workers will be able to influence and improve standards for workers throughout the industry.
Phlebotomist and lab technicians across the Northwest and Southwest began voting to join the UFCW after a chance encounter with their unionized counterparts in Washington state. With the encouragement and support of their coworkers, these workers are coming together and finding their voice.
Visit LabWorkersUnited.com to learn more.