News and Updates
Legislation and Politics
March 5, 2018
As renegotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) reach their seventh round, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the importance of reinstating country of origin labeling (COOL) in any final agreement.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Right now, consumers have no way of knowing which country their meat is from and it puts them at risk of purchasing less safe products.
“The return of COOL would ensure families are able to see exactly where their food comes from and bring hard-working farmers, ranchers, meat processing workers, and communities the better life they’ve earned and deserve.
“Reinstating COOL would immediately make NAFTA better for hard-working families across the continent and we urge negotiators to include it in any agreement.”
February 20, 2018
On Feb. 15, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the White House asking Congress for $30 million this year to test the “America’s Harvest Box” proposal in President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget. This proposal would significantly change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps).
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Whether you are Republican or Democrat, pro-union or not, shop at a big grocery store or a small local co-op, ‘America’s Harvest Box’ is one of the worst policy proposals ever made to address hunger and poverty. It will further worsen the economic divide across the country and must be stopped for the sake of the better America we all believe in.
“The harvest box proposal punishes the poor, removes significant sales from local grocery stores, and needlessly puts millions of good grocery store jobs at risk of being eliminated.
“The grocery stores our members work in are often the largest employers in their communities, and provide the wages and benefits necessary for hard-working families to build and live better lives.”
February 5, 2018
On Jan. 30, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to deny the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) petition to eliminate line speed limits at poultry plants.
Thousands of UFCW members who work in poultry plants sent comments to the USDA about the dangers of this petition. The UFCW also sent letters in October and December of 2017 to the USDA that highlighted how risky the NCC petition to eliminate line speeds would be for both workers and consumers.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This decision is a victory for hard-working poultry workers who hold one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America, and the consumers who depend upon them to provide chicken that is safe to eat. However, we remain concerned that poultry companies can request line speed waivers for individual plants.
“In addition to putting poultry workers at greater risk of injury, eliminating line speeds puts consumers at risk by making it more difficult for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination.
“It was unbelievable to see major poultry industry groups ignore these well-known risks and lobby the USDA to eliminate line speeds.”
January 29, 2018
On Jan. 24, UFCW Local 400 and allies called on Virginia legislators to expand Medicaid and increase the state’s minimum wage to $15. Participants at the rally also called on state legislators to provide access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants working in Virginia.
The rally, which took place in Richmond, was organized by Take Action Virginia, an alliance of organizations that includes UFCW Local 400, as well as 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Virginia 512, CASA in Action, LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic, NAKASEC Action Fund, UNITE HERE Local 23, and UNITE HERE Local 25. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Senators Scott Surovell and Rosalyn Dance, and Delegates Jennifer Boysko and Marcus Simon also attended the rally.
“The federal minimum wage has been frozen for nearly 10 years,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “We have a president who has never had to work a day in his life – but somehow thinks $7.25 an hour is too high – and a Republican-controlled Congress that is only interested in giving tax breaks to the wealthiest few. It’s up Virginia lawmakers to do the right thing and boost the wage floor for hard-working men and women, like so many other states and local municipalities have done.”
January 29, 2018
UFCW Local 1000, alongside the Legislative and Political Action Department, hosted a political conference in Oklahoma City on Jan. 24. This is the first time UFCW Local 1000 sponsored such a event in Oklahoma.
Almost a dozen elected members of the Oklahoma Legislature met with Local 1000 members and staff to discuss the issues affecting the working men and women of the UFCW across Oklahoma, including country of origin labeling, paid sick days, cannabis, and health care. The state representatives and senators in attendance included two newly elected members of the legislature, Rep. Jacob Rosencrans and Sen. Alison Ikley-Freeman, who were elected in special elections where UFCW support was key.
January 22, 2018
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement on Jan. 19 in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to eliminate line speed limits at pork plants. This latest announcement follows the recent regulatory effort to remove line speed limits for the poultry industry.
The UFCW represents hard-working men and women in pork plants that have already had their line speed limits eliminated as part of a trial program, as well as people who are in plants that run profitably with line speed limits in place. According to a 2013 report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the existing trial program did not result in better food safety.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This desire to increase line speeds is being driven entirely by corporate greed and defies common sense.
“Jobs inside pork plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. We’re only putting workers at greater risk of injury and consumers at greater risk of consuming unsafe meat by asking everyone who labors inside one to work faster.
“For the sake of keeping millions of hard-working families safe, this decision deserves immediate reconsideration.”
January 9, 2018
On Jan. 8, Working Families United protested the termination of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans currently working and living in America. The UFCW is one of five unions that form the Working Families United immigration campaign, which also includes UNITE HERE, IUPAT, Iron Workers, and Bricklayers. All five unions represent tens of thousands of TPS union workers in hospitality, construction, meat processing and trades.
“Hundreds of thousands of hard-working families who pay taxes and contribute to our communities will now be forced to upend their lives and settle into a dangerous country they no longer know,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “From working in meatpacking and food processing plants to retail shops to other sectors, people with TPS hold key roles in our economy that make America stronger and safer.”
Maria Elena Durazo, general vice president of UNITE HERE, echoed that sentiment. “Today Trump’s DHS is taking nearly 200,000 law-abiding American immigrants and turning them from legal workers into targets for deportation,” Durazo said.
Looking forward, Working Families United member unions are pledging to keep the fight to save TPS up at the congressional level, including with a nearly one million dollar advocacy budget.
“We urge Congress to do what is right and immediately pass a long-term legislative solution that gives every TPS family the stability and security they’ve earned and deserve,” said Kenneth E. Rigmaiden, general president of IUPAT. “As a union family, we are committed to helping people who work hard build better lives – especially when they’ve been forced to flee their home countries due to unimaginable violence. We will amplify those voices and stand steadfast, shoulder to shoulder, until a just solution is reached.”
January 8, 2018
On Jan. 4, UFCW Locals 17A, 75, 880, 1059, along with the ICWUC and RWDSU, released the following statements after endorsing Steve Dettelbach for Ohio Attorney General. Collectively, these local unions represent over 80,000 hard-working Ohioans.
“Steve Dettelbach has continually proven that he is completely committed to putting what’s best for everyday Ohioans above all else,” said Randy Quickel, president of UFCW Local 1059.
“Now, more than ever, we need and deserve leaders like Steve who will stand with and up for hard-working men and women when it matters most,” said Carl Ivka, president of UFCW Local 880.
“Simply put, Steve Dettelbach will be an Attorney General who protects good jobs and better wages across Ohio. We endorse him with enthusiasm and look forward to helping him win this race,” said Kevin Garvey, president of UFCW Local 75.
“Steve Dettelbach isn’t afraid to push back against predatory corporations and secure real progress for hard-working people. We look forward to him standing up for everyday Ohioans as our next Attorney General,” said Sonja Campell, president of UFCW Local 17A.
“Steve Dettelbach knows how to work with the community and law enforcement to help make our communities safer for all,” said ICWUC President Frank Cyphers.
“The time has come for Ohio to have an Attorney General who puts people before politics. Steve has spent his career fighting for justice for working people, no matter who they work for. Steve is not afraid to stand up to business owners who hurt working people – no matter what. We will fight for him to win this election because we know he will fight for us as Attorney General,” said RWDSU Regional Director Rick Marshall.
December 11, 2017
Last week, members from several local unions across the country, including UFCW Locals 99, 431, 876, 1189, 1776 and RWDSU, came to Washington, D.C., to deliver a message to our elected officials: Save Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and keep hard-working families together. This message was highlighted by the delivery of over 60,000 signed petitions to members of Congress.
UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez rallied members on the Hill. with a clear message.“Hard-working people who have lived here for decades and played by the rules should be offered a path to legalization and citizenship,” she said.
TPS families have fled natural disasters, violence, instability, and ethnic, religious, and ideological persecution. They have also raised children here, regularly undergo DHS background checks, paying renewal fees on top of taxes, and are truly making America a better nation even as they work hard to build a better life for their families.
Ending TPS for tens of thousands of hard-working families is a personal issue to our union family – that’s why we recently joined with UNITE HERE, IUPAT, Bricklayers, AFL-CIO and the Ironworkers to form a group called Working Families United to raise our united, collective voice on behalf of TPS holders. We support Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)’s bill (SECURE ACT), and another introduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), H.R. 4253 (115). Together, we’re keeping the pressure on key congressional targets to support these measures.
December 4, 2017
UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on lawmakers to protect U.S. jobs, as well as the safety of our food supply, by opposing Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA) of 2017 (H.R. 4092) in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner on Dec. 4.
The following are excerpts from the op-ed:
The AGA is a direct threat to America’s hard-working families, the incomes they depend on, and the food we all eat. This is not hyperbole. If the AGA becomes law, it will allow 450,000 foreign visa holders to work in agricultural and meat processing jobs that are currently held by hard-working American men and women. The impacts of this bill, particularly upon the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the meat and poultry industry, would be devastating.
This bad bill does more than just hurt American jobs and workers – it also puts our food supply at risk. While we may not see food processing workers do their jobs, the truth is that they are highly trained professionals who perform dangerous and highly skilled work. These professionals serve as a much needed layer of protection for consumers when it comes to food safety because they know to quickly spot meat that is low quality or diseased.
Like any high skilled and vital profession, current salaries reflect the quality and importance of this workforce, with wages as high as $23 per hour. By allowing untrained workers or guestworkers to hold these important jobs for as little as $10.88 per hour, the AGA will effectively drive down wages and destroy hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the process.
At a time when we need to strengthen American jobs and make our food safer, the AGA would also allow guestworkers to stay for up to three years. That isn’t a guestworker – that’s a long-term employee and further shows how this bill is designed to both exploit foreign workers and replace American workers at the same time.
Click here to read the full op-ed.