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National Voter Registration Day

Did you know that in 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register?

We can’t let that happen again – the 2014 election is just too important to working families. This election will determine whether the Senate and countless state and local governments fight to raise the minimum wage and expand workers’ rights or to bust unions, slash budgets, and cut taxes on the rich. We need to make sure that every UFCW household has its voice heard this year.

Can we count on you? Then register today. 

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and our allies at Rock the Vote have created a website with all the information you need to make sure you’re registered.

Forms, key dates, and other voting information are all included.

Make your voice heard. Get registered today.

UFCW and OUR Walmart Help Pass Paid Sick Day Legislation in California

OUR Walmart Paid Sick CaliforniaAfter intense lobbying from UFCW members and members of OUR Walmart, both houses of the California legislature have passed a bill guaranteeing workers up to three paid sick days a year.

The legislation includes part-time and temporary workers, making it one of the strongest in the nation. Home health care workers are exempted. Governor Jerry Brown has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

About 40 percent of California’s workforce is currently not eligible for paid sick days. Across the state, retail workers successfully made the case that no one should be forced to risk their job and their livelihood just because they get sick.

The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid sick leave to workers. Late last year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the FAMILY Act, a bill to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. House Republicans have refused to bring it up for a vote.

In the meantime, UFCW members, OUR Walmart, and their allies will continue to push for action at the state and local levels.

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Executive Order Creating a Pro-Worker Procurement Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive order designed to ensure that the United States only does business with companies that respect workers’ rights.

“The President’s executive order makes clear that the U.S. will not do business with companies that violate our nation’s labor laws. Employers who cheat workers out of wages, fail to provide safe workplaces, and illegally retaliate against those who try to organize a union should never be considered for a government contract. On the other hand, companies that uphold our laws and treat their workers with dignity and respect should be given preference when it comes to federal procurement.

“Today’s announcement builds on years of work by UFCW members and our partner unions to create a system that is fairer for workers and encourages a race to the top when it comes to labor standards. These efforts included a 2013 resolution passed unanimously by delegates to the UFCW convention calling on the creation of a ‘High Road’ procurement process.

“In the last several years, the meat and poultry industries have received over 1 billion dollars from taxpayers. Many workers in these industries work full-time yet are not paid enough to support themselves or their families. They also must endure dangerous workplace conditions and chronic underreporting of injuries by their employers. This executive order sends a message that companies who engage in this type of anti-worker activity must change the way they do business or lose access to their government contracts.

“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary of Labor Perez, and all those involved in crafting this executive order. Today’s announcement is an important first step in ensuring our government is doing everything in its power to protect America’s workers.”

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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.

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Schedules That Work Act

Schedules That WorkWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding introduction of the Schedules That Work Act.

“If you ask a worker in the retail industry what improvements can be made to their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Fair, flexible, and reliable scheduling is a simple way to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect. In a perfect world, employers would view workers as human beings with competing life demands rather than numbers on a balance sheet. But in reality, scheduling is more erratic than ever.

“The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. This includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers advance notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.

“This legislation would ensure all workers have the rights fought for and won by UFCW members for decades. Our contracts have long guaranteed predictable and adequate scheduling. The law of the land should do the same. I urge Congress to pass the Schedules That Work Act as soon as possible.”

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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.

Roll Call: Ban BPA and Other Toxic Chemicals

In 2012, a six-year study was published that examined the occupational history of more than 1,000 women, finding that those who worked in the automotive plastics and in the food packaging industries were five times more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women in the control group. One of the main chemicals used in their workplaces? Bisephenol A, better known as BPA.

Two years earlier, the President’s Cancer Panel, an advisory committee attached to the National Cancer Institute, identified a variety of toxic chemicals, including BPA, that may be causing “grievous harm.”

And yet this chemical is still in products Americans consume every day.

BPA is used to make plastics and resins in thousands of consumer products, including food packaging, despite the fact that it poses serious health risks for consumers, workers and children.

The dangers of BPA have been well demonstrated. Exposure, even at minimal levels, has been linked to numerous health problems, including breast cancer, altered fetal development, infertility and behavioral changes.

The list of items that contain BPA is long, but progress by the Food and Drug Administration to adequately protect consumers has been slow and inadequate. In the wake of strong pressure from lawmakers and the public and changes in industry practices, the FDA has banned BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging. Many private retailers and manufacturers have also banned BPA in food containers for young children. But much more is needed.

In order to fully protect children from exposure to BPA, we must also protect pregnant women and all of the foods they and young children may ingest. BPA is still used in all sorts of other food packaging, exposing not only those who consume those products, but also the factory workers who assemble them, to harmful levels of BPA.

That is why recently we introduced the Ban Poisonous Additives Act, which would remove BPA from food packaging, encourage the development of safe alternatives, and ensure a thorough safety review of all substances currently used in food and beverage containers. The bill also explicitly requires the FDA to examine the effects of BPA on the workers who may be disproportionately exposed to BPA during the manufacturing process.

The BPA Act is supported by numerous public health and cancer advocacy organizations, as well as United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Communication Workers of America, the United Steelworkers and the United Automobile Workers, who represent the workers who handle BPA on a daily basis.

We join with this broad coalition of consumers, workers and families who are calling for action. Banning BPA from food and beverage containers is common sense, and everyone will be safer for it.

Sen. Edward J. Markey is a Democrat from Massachusetts, Rep. Lois Capps is a Democrat from California and Rep. Grace Meng is a Democrat from New York.

UFCW President Hansen Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision in Harris v. Quinn

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn.

“In today’s Harris v. Quinn ruling, the anti-worker Supreme Court sided with those who want to deprive employees of any ability to collectively bargain with their employers. This decision primarily affects home health care workers, but sets a terrible precedent for other Americans seeking a voice on the job.

“This is the Supreme Court’s latest attack on the foundation of our democracy. From weakening the Voting Rights Act to allowing unfettered corporate money in politics, the conservative justices are all too willing to do the bidding of anti-worker special interests. Workers and unions will respond to this latest attack as we always have—by redoubling our efforts to bring a voice on the job and fair wages and working conditions to all Americans.”

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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.

UFCW Member Attends White House Summit on Working Families

Kim MitchellWASHINGTON, D.C.—Kim Mitchell, who works at Macy’s in Washington D.C. and is a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400, today attended the White House Summit on Working Families to bring attention to the union difference in the retail industry.

As a result of the strong union contract between Macy’s and its workers, Mitchell has been able to live comfortably and support her family. Mitchell, who is a single mother, earns $20 an hour and benefits from “predictive scheduling” which helps ensure her hours are both adequate and predictable.

“I am here with a simple message—union jobs are the best jobs,” she said. “My membership in the UFCW has allowed me to achieve my dream of financial security and peace of mind. Our contract is more than a document—it’s my family’s livelihood.”

Also attending the summit were a group of “Walmart Moms” who are speaking out for fair wages and respect on the job. “Millions of workers, especially working women, have stories similar to mine,” said Bene’t Holmes, a Walmart worker and single mother from Chicago. “They are trapped in a cycle of low wage jobs with unpredictable hours that make it so difficult to raise a family. My hope is this event will help elevate the ongoing national conversation about making today’s workplaces better for everyone, including working mothers like me.”

Detailing the widespread problems retail moms face on low-pay and erratic scheduling, national public policy organization Demos released a report earlier this month showing how these conditions keep millions of hard-working women and families near poverty. The report also concluded that if large retailers established a new wage equivalent to $25,000 per year for full time work it would improve the lives of more than 3.2 million female retail workers and lift 900,000 women and their families directly out of poverty or near poverty.

The summit convened businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families. Last Tuesday while at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, President Obama credited the labor movement with building the middle class and said the United States “should do everything we can to strengthen unions in this country.”

“I am glad the President is focusing on these important issues,” Mitchell said. “I am here to tell the White House that the best way to lift up working families is to make sure everyone who wants to join a union is able to do so freely and fairly.”

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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.

 

New York UFCW Members Lobby Their State Legislators

UFCW locals representing workers across New York traveled to the State Capitol in Albany today to lobby on issues important to working families. Members and staff from UFCW Locals 1, 1500, and 2013, along with RWDSU Locals 338 and 1102 were in attendance.

NY Lobby Day 1

A major focus of the lobby day was to push back against efforts to gut the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which took effect in April of 2011. The law requires that employers give workers written notice of wage rates once a year, a provision some Senate Republicans are targeting for repeal. UFCW members made it clear that wage theft is a serious problem and all workers have the right to know if they are being cheated out of money. They called for the Wage Theft Prevention Act to be strengthened, not weakened by repealing the written notice requirement.

Members also discussed the need to raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave legislation. For decades, workers’ wages have stagnated while corporate profits and CEO pay have risen to record heights. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be over $10 an hour today, but instead it sits at only $8.00 in New York. Members demanded that the minimum wage be raised so it is a living wage.

Members lobbied for statewide paid sick leave, building on the momentum of legislation passed in New York City.  They stressed that no worker should be forced to risk their job and their livelihood just because they get sick. Workers without paid sick leave are 1.5 times more likely to go to work sick and contagious than those who have paid sick days. Members said providing paid sick leave would make every workplace more healthy and productive.

Finally, members told their legislators it was long past time to pass the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act, which would include farmworkers under state labor law. This would guarantee that New York’s farmworkers have the right to organize and bargain collectively for the wages and benefits that they deserve. UFCW members understand that all workers must be afforded their fundamental rights.

The lobby day was a great success and members who took part spoke about the importance of meeting directly with their legislators.

“Lobbying is an important way to remind these elected officials who they work for,” said UFCW Local 1500 member John Kubinski, who works at ShopRite in Staten Island. “If we don’t tell them what we want then they cannot properly represent us.”

Local 1500 member Jeff Guardado, who works at Stop & Shop in West Islip, talked about power in numbers. “We’re all fighting for the same cause,” he said. “We stand up for the little people. The little people are many. The powerful are few.”

Local 1500 member Georgette Wilson, who works at Stop & Shop in Hempstead, agreed. “We are here to speak out for those who don’t have the opportunity to have their voice heard.”

Local 1500 member Keith Jefferson, who works at Pathmark in Coney Island, summed up the day. “Too often these elected officials look at papers and they don’t see faces. They need to see faces. I like when my union does this. We fill up the whole bus and all of us come here.”

Members said they will be boarding the bus again next year for the 2015 New York Lobby Day.

UFCW President Hansen Statement on President Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Walmart

Hansen OUR WalmartWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s upcoming visit to a California Walmart to discuss energy efficiency.

“On Friday, President Obama will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and yes, environmental degradation. Despite promising to be a leader on climate, Walmart’s greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise.  According to its own Global Responsibility Report, the company’s emissions grew 2 percent, nearly half a million metric tons, in the last year alone. In addition, Walmart still lags badly behind other large companies when it comes to renewable power, with its projects and purchases deriving only 3 percent of electricity from these sources.

“More than anything, the President’s visit sends a terrible message to workers across America. He is lending credibility to a bad actor when he should be joining the calls for Walmart to change. A federal agency—the National Labor Relations Board—is prosecuting Walmart for retaliating against workers who stand up and speak out. Taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart which pays many of its own workers so little that they must rely on food stamps and Medicaid. And at a time when there is a renewed conversation about addressing income inequality, Walmart’s business model is making the problem worse.

“After the pep rally in California, I invite the President to meet with Walmart workers who can tell him firsthand about their struggles.”

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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.

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Senate Minimum Wage Vote

Raise-the-Wage-AvatarWASHINGTON, D.C.Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement after the Senate failed to advance legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation.

“Today a minority of Senators blocked millions of workers from getting a long overdue raise. It is the latest example of a Congress that is simply unable to meet the basic needs of the American people. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and tying it to inflation is a modest, common sense proposal that would lift millions of American families out of poverty. CEO pay has risen 725 percent over the last 30 years yet the real value of the minimum wage continues to decline. This is simply wrong. States and localities are refusing to sit by, with many raising their own minimum wage to levels higher than the federal rate. But all Americans deserve a living wage, no matter where they happen to live. For those who continue to deny workers a raise, the UFCW will remember in November.”

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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.