News and Updates
February 1, 2012
Just days before billions of people will be tuning in to watch Indianapolis host the Superbowl, the Indiana GOP is putting the wrong kind of spotlight on the Hoosier state. Governor Mitch Daniels will sign “right-to-work” into law today, making Indiana the first state since Oklahoma to adopt this destructive law.
As you know, “right-to-work” is not about rights or work. It is, as President Hansen said in the Huffington Post, “the ultimate transfer of wealth from the 99 percent to the 1 percent.”
You can guarantee that special interest groups, big corporations, and anti-worker zealots will try to use their victory in Indiana as leverage to pass “right-to-work” in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Maine, New Hampshire, and in more and more states around the country.
Not on our watch! Click here to join our rapid response program so that together, we can fight back against anti-worker attacks. You can also sign up by using your cell phone to text the letters UFCW to 698329.
January 10, 2012
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published in 1906, sparking a public outcry around safety issues in the meatpacking industry. That’s how long the industry has been infamous for its hazardous working conditions.
The good news is, according to new reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workplace safety in the meatpacking industry is steadily improving, with injury and illness rates for full-time workers on the decline.
The bad news is, in comparison to other industrial and manufacturing sectors, meatpacking and poultry processing are still among the most dangerous. Food manufacturing workers are twice as likely to experience injuries and illnesses than industrial and manufacturing workers as a whole. The meatpacking industry also ranks high for severe injury and illness cases – meaning those that cause workers to miss days at work or those that necessitate restricted work activities or even job transfers. Nationally, the poultry industry has the fifth-highest rate of worker illness across all industries.
Though progress has been made on worker safety in the meatpacking and poultry industries, we must understand what the numbers really mean, and make sure we are addressing issues that really make a difference in improving safety and health in these industries.
Some in the meat industry, like the trade association (read: lobbying outfit) American Meat Institute, are quick to highlight improvement using data that does not reflect the most dangerous jobs in the industry. That’s a slippery slope – and one that risks obscuring the truth on safety for the sake of profit-margin. The truth is, there is some doubt about the accuracy of the BLS numbers themselves. Studies conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conclude that both BLS and OSHA miss from 20 percent to as much as 50 percent of the nation’s workplace injuries. A number of factors can cause this kind of under-reporting: workers sometimes don’t report injuries because of fears surrounding their immigration status and retaliation by their employers; employers are motivated to under-count injuries in order to win safety awards, and managers are incentivized by low-injury bonuses; and finally, some employers have instituted programs requiring workers who report injuries or accidents to undergo drug testing – adding additional risk to reporting.
For all these reasons, we must not let a modest increase in overall workplace safety lull us into a false sense of security when it comes to the meatpacking and poultry processing industries. We must continue to strive for better and safer workplaces for all meatpacking and poultry processing workers – and for collective bargaining agreements as well as stronger regulations that make it safe for all workers to report hazards and injuries.
January 6, 2012
On January 4, they held meetings with their legislators to reiterate that RTW is wrong for Hoosier families. Amy Hale, a member of UFCW Local 700 who works at Kroger in Fishers, IN, was one of the participants., “I believe in the middle class and I’m fighting for workers’ rights and to keep my head above water,” she said. Without my union I wouldn’t be where I am today. If this legislation passes, incomes would drop significantly. Our standard of living would go down. We can’t let that happen.”
While Indiana Republicans control every lever of state government, the process requires a working quorum, which House Democrats have denied them to this point. “We refuse to let the most controversial public policy bill of the decade be railroaded through with the public being denied their fair and adequate input,” said House Democratic Leader and UFCW-ally Patrick Bauer.
In the meantime, workers from UFCW and several other labor unions continue to voice their concerns to legislators about the negative effects RTW will have on the quality of life for Hoosier working families.
November 8, 2011
“The repeal of Senate Bill 5 is bigger than just one law or one state. It sends a message to all those who would try to balance the budget on the backs of our workers: you do so at your own peril. It shows that the right to bargain collectively for a better life is fundamental—not some perk that can be stripped away on a whim. The votes cast today in Columbus and Cleveland and everywhere in between will have aftershocks in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Washington D.C.
“America’s working families want a good job that pays a fair wage, decent affordable health care, access to a quality education for their kids, and a little money left in the bank so they can retire with dignity. They also understand that the economic mess we find ourselves in today was caused by Wall Street, not Main Street. They know the guilty parties are speculators and predatory lenders, not teachers and first responders. Extreme politicians like Governor Kasich are waging war on the middle class.
“Today’s vote shows that we are fighting back. And better yet, we are winning. I am proud of the UFCW and its members for their great work in Ohio. We understand that an attack on one worker—whether public or private sector, union or non-union—is an attack on all workers. We are proud to be part of diverse coalition of activists, including the entire labor movement, who dedicated countless hours to the fight for workers’ rights in Ohio.
“Tonight we know that America’s middle class will no longer sit idly by. The silent majority is silent no more. Every elected official that would do us harm should take notice.”
November 7, 2011
Wow. What an amazing eight months. From gathering signatures to helping fill out absentee applications to registering new voters, I have had the experience of a lifetime I will never forget, and I will be forever grateful. I made a difference by helping to give voters a voice. I came to them and put a face on the issue. Now, no matter what the outcome, they have been able to use their voices to speak up for good jobs. To speak up for Ohio workers.
I registered my grandson, his best friends and a young lady in high school just waiting for the opportunity to be able to vote. The future of Ohio will be okay in the hands of these young people. Registered another eighteen year old young woman who was balancing an infant on her hip while taking care of her handicapped mother in a poverty stricken neighborhood. Went away with the thought she was going to improve her corner of the world, starting with her signature.
I was in Circleville the last day of voter registration and talked to a seventy year old first time voter who had a date with her son to go to the polls. My high school government teacher came to a drive thru petition signing and never had to leave his car. I’ve had conversations with people from 18 to 98, some I will never forget. So many stories.
The new friends I’ve met, again – wow. My partner in this venture has literally picked me up, dusted me off and inspired me to go on. We can just look at each other and burst out laughing. We are starting to finish each others sentences, a little scary. And lastly I am inspired by my union leadership and will be FOREVER grateful that I can be involved in this effort to help working families across Ohio.
I made a difference.
Juanita Smith is a UFCW member and works as a meatcutter in Chillicothe, Ohio.
November 3, 2011
A festive atmosphere reigned in Oakland’s Civic Center Plaza late Wednesday afternoon as workers from the United Food and Commercial Workers union carried tray after steaming tray of burgers, beans and rice in for a mass feast.
The union was one of many under the Alameda Labor Council umbrella that staged the giant foodfest for thousands of Occupy Oakland demonstrators, who called for a citywide “general strike” Wednesday to protest economic conditions. The line wound around the corner.
For more of this story from the LA Times, click here.
October 28, 2011
Statement of Joe Chorpenning, President, Local 700 United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) On Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues
The Republican -backed recommendation in support of so-called right-to-work (r-t-w) legislation is a direct assault on Hoosier working families. The Republican proposal will lower wages, cost good jobs, reduce economic growth, and lead to higher taxes with fewer services.
The Republican majority on the study committee chose to ignore the overwhelming empirical evidence that r-t-w will drain billions of dollars from the Indiana economy with lost wages, eliminated health care and pension benefits, and more workplace deaths and injuries. At the same time, public services will face an increased burden of more families in poverty and a smaller tax base.
There was no empirical evidence presented to the study committee that r-t-w will result in a net increase in jobs. None! Not a single fact was presented or a single instance of an identified company declining to locate in Indiana because of the lack of a r-t-w law. In fact, Indiana already outperforms most r-t-w states in key measures such the unemployment rate and national rankings of states for business location.
R-t-w is an unwarranted government intrusion in the private sector. It restricts the ability of private parties—private sector workers and private sector companies—to negotiate mutually beneficial contracts. State government interference will not improve the collective bargaining process.
There is an economic crisis in our country. Poverty-rates and economic inequality are at record levels. Unemployment, loss of health and pension benefits, and home foreclosures threaten the middle class. From Montana to Mississippi, r-t-w states lead the nation with the highest poverty rates. Indiana should not go done the low wage path to increased poverty.
We need an honest economic plan with an emphasis on education, training and community development. Hoosiers are ready to move forward. The Republicans on the study committee are taking us backward.
(UFCW Local 700 represents 13,000 members working in neighborhood grocery stores and food processing plants across Indiana.)
October 20, 2011
The following is a statement from UFCW International President Joe Hansen:
I am proud to announce that the UFCW is endorsing President Obama’s reelection campaign because our members understand how much is at stake in this election. President Obama has stood up for the jobless, the uninsured, the middle class taxpayer, Medicare recipients, working women, and accountability from Wall Street. UFCW members are ready to mobilize for the president and to elect more leaders who will stand with him in Congress and statehouses across the country.
Cashiers and grocery workers are ready to stand up to elect leaders who will ensure good jobs stay in their communities and that their children can achieve their dream for a better life. Meatpackers and food processors are ready to stand up to elect leaders who will keep fighting to hold Wall Street gamblers accountable to the home owners and retirees who have invested in their future and deserve security and honesty from financial institutions.
Working families are struggling during this recession – a recession created by Bush-era tax breaks, lack of financial regulation and unnecessary military escalation. Turning our economy around is going to take a tremendous effort – an effort that must be led by a president who speaks for the 99 percent of Americans who clock into work every morning, instead of those who simply watch stock tickers all day.
UFCW members are energized because corporate-backed politicians at the federal and state level have launched an all-out assault on working people. President Obama is fighting back.
UFCW members have never stopped fighting back in statehouses and in their communities. They are ready to win the fight for the White House in 2012. The UFCW will be mobilizing, organizing and energizing our members, their friends and families to keep President Obama in the White House and to elect a Congress that works hard for hard working Americans. Ours is an enthusiastic choice to stand with President Obama as he fights against political opposition that seeks to enrich a select few at the expense of millions of regular Americans.
October 19, 2011
UFCW Local 75 Members Join Teamsters, Public Employees, and Faith Leaders in Toledo and Cincinnati to Rally for Good Jobs
On October 11, nearly 800 UFCW Local 75 members turned out for a joint rally with Teamsters Joint Council 26. Then, on October 12 in Toledo, almost 300 Local 75 members turned out, joining members of Teamsters Local 20.
Local 75 members took the time to come out for these rallies because they know how important it is to fight for good jobs in their neighborhoods – and that includes fighting to defeat Issue 2, Ohio’s harmful anti-worker law. Both rallies featured local firefighters and faith leaders, and Local 75 was proud to be joined by Teamsters International President James P. Hoffa.
“Good jobs grow our communities. Good jobs allow parents to put dinner on the table, make a home, and to send their kids to college,” said UFCW Local 75 President Lennie Wyatt. “Politicians shouldn’t tell us that good jobs are destroying our neighborhoods; good jobs are what make safe, vibrant communities for all of us.” To see more photos from the rallies, visit Local 75 on Facebook.
October 19, 2011
“The protest that began as Occupy Wall Street has now bloomed into a mass movement spanning more than 300 cities nationwide. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest corporate greed and demand good jobs now.
“The movement is spreading like wildfire, with Americans standing up for economic justice across the nation. This is a movement started by ordinary Americans, fed-up with the growing inequality in this country – people who simply want good jobs and a shot at the American Dream. The UFCW shares that vision for America.
“The people “occupying” cities across the country are workers, students, and the unemployed. They are our friends and relatives, our neighbors and co-workers. They are fighting for the same things we are: good jobs, fairness, and an end to corporate greed and attacks on workers. And it’s part of a larger movement, one that started earlier this year as workers fought back against corporate greed and right-wing politicians in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and across the nation.
“In Wisconsin, hundreds of thousands of workers and outraged community members stormed the capitol in Madison after anti-worker politicians rammed through legislation attacking the rights of workers. In Ohio, over a million signatures were gathered to repeal Ohio’s SB 5. Corporate America has launched an unprecedented attack on our jobs and our rights, but the other 99% aren’t just rolling over.
“So exactly what do we – the 99% – have to be so angry about? To begin with: worker productivity has been rising over the past decade, but wages have remained stagnant while the cost of health care has skyrocketed, leaving the average American struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us has gotten even wider.
“What we have seen over the past few weeks is more and more ordinary Americans standing up and demanding their share of the success that’s being hoarded by the wealthiest 1% of the country. UFCW has been encouraging its members and local unions to join Occupy actions in their communities. We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these brave Americans as they fight to make America a better, more just nation.”
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.