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 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 13, 2015
The following letter from International President Marc Perrone appeared in the Washington Post.
Edward Alden’s May 7 op-ed, “Why unions need a new trade strategy,” did not detail the devastating impact that unfair trade deals have on hard-working men and women. Mr. Alden was correct that workers need more than talk. They deserve good wages and benefits, fair and reliable schedules, respect on the job and a secure retirement — none of which would come from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
The bluster Mr. Alden mentioned has been coming from supporters of trade. For 40 years, U.S. trade policies have devastated families and led to lost jobs, stagnant wages and rising levels of income inequality. Mr. Alden seemed to ignore this brutal reality in favor of tweaks to a trade model that is flawed at its core.
The truth is that no elected official truly interested in making the economy better and fairer can support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This trade deal is bad for our workers, families and shared future.
The Washington and Wall Street establishments say this deal will be different. It will not be. So the labor movement, workers and all those who want a fairer and more just America should not be fooled into supporting it.
Marc Perrone, Washington
March 19, 2015
Perrone: President Obama Should Veto NLRB Legislation & Election Rule Should Be Implemented Without Delay
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement after the House voted to block the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule to streamline union elections.
“The NLRB rule to streamline the union election process is long overdue and should be implemented without delay. Today the House voted to allow irresponsible employers to use frivolous litigation and other technicalities to draw out union elections so they can intimidate, harass, and in some cases fire pro-union employees before an actual vote occurs. Make no mistake, this legislation will hurt working and middle class workers, and will deny hard-working men and women the opportunity for good wages, decent benefits, and a better life for themselves and their family.”
“We urge President Obama to carry out his veto threat and for the NLRB to move forward with this important rule that will help improve the lives of countless workers and their families.”
- If the streamlined election rule had been in place, working men and women would have had a fairer, more modern process to exercise their rights in the workplace.
- For example, just last week, workers at Vantage Foods in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania fell narrowly short of the votes needed for union recognition.
- During the 45 days that elapsed between the petition being filed and the election, Vantage officials engaged in a comprehensive intimidation campaign against the workers seeking to join together, including holding mandatory captive-audience meetings and firing union supporters.
- A streamlined election rule would make it easier for workers to exercise their rights, and more difficult for irresponsible employers who are determined to take those rights away.
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.
February 12, 2015
Today Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, federal legislation that would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days.
Twenty jurisdictions nationwide—three states and 17 cities—have adopted paid sick laws. That’s a four-fold increase since the Healthy Families Act was last introduced in March 2013.
However, despite this substantial progress, nearly 43 million workers still don’t have access to paid sick days and more than one-third of U.S. states have never passed a single law recognizing the dual demands of work and family.
The UFCW strongly supports passage of the Healthy Families Act.
February 11, 2015
Click here to watch a video of UFCW Local 1564 members speaking out against right to work in New Mexico.
February 2, 2015
Rasmussen Reports released a national survey showing that only 35% of likely U.S. voters believe “right to work” laws are good for a state’s economy. That’s a ten point decrease from a similar study conducted in December 2012.
UFCW members have been lobbying elected officials for years on the disastrous effects of these unfair and unnecessary laws. There is still more work to be done as “right to work” battles are underway in Wisconsin, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
“Right to work” laws are being pushed by corporate special interests who want to lower wages so that corporations can have even more profits and power.
In the coming weeks, UFCW members will be in state capitals across the nation to ensure that legislators take notice of this survey and oppose “right to work.”
January 21, 2015
Last week, UFCW Local 1564 led a right to work training session for more than 100 New Mexico union members. At the training, members learned how much harm right to work would bring to workers in New Mexico.
For the first time since 1952, New Mexico’s State House is controlled by Republicans. One of the State House’s priorities going into the 2015 legislative session is to dismantle the rights of workers and pass an unfair right to work law.
“I currently work at Albertson’s and have been a UFCW member for over 40 years,” said UFCW Local 1564 member Eddie Burns. “I’m very concerned about the possibility of right to work in New Mexico. This will hurt our ability to stick together and bargain for the fair wages and benefits that we deserve. It just seems like a completely unfair law to both working and middle class families.”
To some UFCW Local 1564 members, right to work was not new to them. Paul Bolton, a meat cutter at Smith’s in Albuquerque, recalled how much worse his job was when he worked in Texas, a right to work state.
“When I worked in Texas I had the same job as I do now in New Mexico only I had less pay, fewer benefits and absolutely no job security,” he said. “The health care was even worse – when I had my child I was forced to pay an enormous amount out of pocket. It was hard to afford. If that happened while I was working here in New Mexico it would not have been so stressful.”
Workers left the training ready to stop right to work by lobbying their legislators at the Capitol in Santa Fe.
“I’m looking forward to lobbying in Santa Fe,” said Maria Ana Griego, a UFCW Local 1564 member who works at Smith’s. “Legislators from New Mexico should help people from New Mexico and they need to hear that from workers like us. Right to work just gives more to outside corporations. It’s workers who need more – not corporations.”
January 2, 2015
2015 brought a pay raise for millions of Americans as minimum wage increases go into effect across the country. Minimum wage workers in 21 states and the District of Columbia will see their pay rise. For the first time ever, a majority of U.S. states will have a minimum wage above the federal minimum.
From supporting a ballot initiative in Arkansas to lobbying for the passage of legislation in Maryland, these wage hikes are happening in large part because of the hard work and dedication of UFCW members.
UFCW members have championed a raise for workers because the current minimum wage has left too many families struggling to make ends meet. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 has seen its spending power fall by nearly one-third since its peak in 1968 – it fails to keep workers and their families out of poverty.
In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $10.10 and they failed to act. In 2015, UFCW members will be pushing the 114th Congress to follow the lead of 29 states and the nation’s capital and raise the minimum wage so that no worker is forced to live in poverty.
October 25, 2014
In the hit series “The West Wing,” a character mistakenly refers to Kentucky as a right-to-work state. In defense of the show’s writers, you can understand their confusion. Kentucky remains the only state in the South not to pass one of these laws, which shows our political independence and common sense. But Republicans in Frankfort, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and a group of out-of-state, big-moneyed special interests are doing everything in their power to change that.
I strongly oppose right-to-work legislation because I love Kentucky and want a bright future for our children and grandchildren. Right to work is a sham. It is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a false slogan” which will “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”
Slogans are catchy. They are designed to get a quick emotional reaction rather than a detailed understanding. That is why I believe some polls show support for these laws. No one opposes the right of Kentuckians to go to work and earn a living. But slogans are also misleading. They do not tell the full story. A majority of Kentuckians also support collective bargaining and higher wages, both of which are under attack as a result of right to work. As people learn more about who is behind right to work and the harm it causes working families, opposition is going to grow substantially.
So who is behind right to work?
Right to work is being pushed and bankrolled by an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, a former member of ALEC who has seen similar battles in his state, called it “nothing more than a corporate-funded and dominated group that operates much like a dating service, only between legislators and special interests.”
Here is how it works. Corporations pay ALEC to wine and dine legislators. In turn, the legislators agree to introduce bills written by ALEC. It’s nothing more than a form of legalized bribery. Who do you honestly think ALEC is looking out for — the people of Kentucky or their corporate contributors? Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has made a career carrying the water of special interests, is also behind right to work. He even went so far as to offer a national right-to-work amendment to civil rights legislation last year.
What does right to work mean for working families? To answer that, there is a brand new study from the University of Illinois and the numbers are disturbing. Right to work reduces wages and salaries by an average of 3.2 percent. It lowers both the share of workers who have health insurance and a pension. It reduces union membership by 9.6 percent. And workers are forced to rely 24 percent more on taxpayer-funded government assistance. In other words, right to work would make Kentucky poorer, sicker, less likely to have retirement security, and more reliant on Uncle Sam. We deserve better.
I am a proud member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227. Every few years, my co-workers and I sit down with the company to negotiate the terms of our employment. There are disagreements, but we have always managed to work out a deal without any help from the government. All we want is a fair wage, decent benefits, and respect on the job. Our employer is making profits and I happen to think a happy, healthy, unionized workforce is a big reason why. Right to work assumes that business and labor are unable to bargain a fair contract without the assistance of a bureaucrat. I think in Kentucky, we do just fine on our own.
When it comes to right to work in Kentucky, “The West Wing” got it wrong. Let’s get it right by electing candidates who oppose this misguided legislation.
Shannon McMurray is a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227.