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July 22, 2016

Protecting the Safety and Health of Poultry-Processing Workers

close up of workers processing pieces of chicken in a poultry plant

Adapted from DOL Blog

For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.

Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.

No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.

Luckily, there are very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.

Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levels,unsafe equipment, and slippery floors.

Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.

These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the Midwest, Southern, and Southeast states. Their goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.

With UFCW representation, these workers also have better odds because they have a voice on the job,  and can speak up when they see unsafe conditions without fear of retribution. We often work with OSHA to ensure our poultry workers continue to work at safe jobs.

Learn more about their work to protect poultry processing workers.

 

July 20, 2016

Local 1995 Kroger Workers Ratify New Contract

Local 1995 Kroger workers

On July 1, Kroger workers who are members of UFCW Local 1995 ratified a new contract. The contract covers 12,000 Kroger workers in middle and east Tennessee, north Alabama, and south Kentucky.

The new contract includes wage increases and affordable health care, maintains the employee pension fund, and revises tiers for pay, vacation and holidays.

“The Local 1995 Bargaining Committee and staff did a great job in understanding our members’ needs and effectively communicating those to Kroger,” said UFCW Local 1995 President Gregory Stallings. “Therefore, we were able to reach a Memorandum of Agreement with the company and complete the ratification process prior to July 4th.”

July 19, 2016

New York Child Care Grant Benefits RWDSU/UFCW Members

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(l to r) Local 1102 Rep. Mayra Valladares, Elsa Barrera, and Local 1102 Rep. Jeff Guardado.

The RWDSU/UFCW is part of the New York Union Child Care Coalition, a group of unions that developed and promoted the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project to help provide affordable child care for working families in the state. By working with New York State Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino, the RWDSU/UFCW was instrumental in helping to establish the program.

And RWDSU/UFCW members are starting to benefit. Elsa Barrera is a Local 1102 member and a mother of three. On top of her dedication to raising her three children, Elsa also works full-time at Flying Foods – an airplane food service supplier – at JFK airport. Barrera has received a grant from the program, and will be able to send two of her children to a camp program for the summer at nearly no cost. This support will help Elsa make ends meet and help her children receive the care and security they deserve.

“Workers like Elsa are truly deserving of this kind of grant,” said RWDSU/UFCW Deputy Political Director Jessica Garcia. “This program will help many others provide for their families while ensuring their children get quality care.”

Other RWDSU/UFCW members at Macy’s and H&M have also seen their child care costs drastically reduced thanks to the program.

July 15, 2016

Local 400 Members and Customers Come Together to Save Grocery Stores

13619871_1156147594406141_544955539235430165_nIn March, employees at eight Giant stores represented by Local 400 – six in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area and two in Southern Maryland – were told their stores would be put up for sale as part of the merger between Giant’s Netherlands based parent company Ahold and Belgium based grocery store Delhaize. These proposed store sales threatened the better wages, benefits and grocery store experience that the Giant stores provide to the local community.

Which is why Local 400 members who work at Giant, their loyal customers and community leaders banded together to help make people see that selling these stores was a bad idea. Through a series of rallies, public meetings and marches, they sent a clear message that the local community didn’t want these grocery stores and the good jobs they provide to be sold away.

“I’m glad that Giant did the right thing in the end and I’m proud to be a part of a union and a community that would not give up the good jobs and grocery options Giant brings to this area,” said Robyn Wheeler, a Local 400 member who has worked at Giant in Fredericksburg City for 37 years.

In addition to organizing public events that drew attention to the negative aspects of the proposal to sell the local grocery stores, Local 400 members also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and their local elected officials to express concerns about the impact on wages, benefits and competition.

Treesa Shipp, a Local 400 member who works at the Giant in Stafford said, “Because we have a strong union we had a voice in this process and were able to stop our store from being sold. They could not ignore us, the employees who built this company and work hard to make it successful every single day.”

 

July 14, 2016

UFCW Local 1996 Helps Strike Down Anti-Labor Law

geo2A 2013 Georgia law that negatively impacted workers all across the Peach State was tossed out by a Judge this week for contradicting federal labor laws.

Specifically, the legislation allowed union members to cancel their membership at any time, rather than waiting the usual one-year period. This means that corporations were made to be more powerful as they would be able to easily intimidate workers into leaving their union early. By overturning this law, it will be easier for hard-working families in Georgia to negotiate for better working conditions and wages. Ultimately, more people and communities will now be able to enjoy the financial stability and higher standard of living that comes with being a part of a union.

UFCW Local 1996, which helped to lead the lawsuit, celebrated the good news. “They spent precious legislative time and money in 2013 going after the working families that make our state great,” said UFCW Local 1996 President Steve Lomax of the leaders who pushed for the legislation. “Tens of thousands of taxpayer-funded dollars for a long legal fight gained nothing for Georgia citizens.”

July 13, 2016

Holsum Bakery Workers Ratify New RWDSU Contract

RWDSU UFCW Logo

Last week, members of RWDSU Local 835 who work at Holsum Bakery in Fort Wayne, Indiana, overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract. The 78 RWDSU members at the plant work in maintenance and production of breads under the Lewis Bakeries label.

The new agreement provides many improvements in the areas of seniority and overtime, schedules, funeral leave, paid holidays and sick days, job classifications, and maintenance advancement programs. Along with wage increases, the new contract also maintains employee health coverage and pension benefits.

July 13, 2016

Holsum Bakery Workers Ratify New RWDSU/UFCW Contract

RWDSU UFCW Logo

Last week, members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 835 who work at Holsum Bakery in Fort Wayne, Indiana, overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract. The 78 RWDSU/UFCW members at the plant work in maintenance and production of breads under the Lewis Bakeries label.

The new agreement provides many improvements in the areas of seniority and overtime, schedules, funeral leave, paid holidays and sick days, job classifications, and maintenance advancement programs. Along with wage increases, the new contract also maintains employee health coverage and pension benefits.

July 12, 2016

Transdev Workers Ratify First RWDSU Contract

RWDSU-New-Jersey-Drivers-300x209Last week, workers at the Transdev company in Essex County, New Jersey, ratified their first RWDSU contract by an overwhelming margin. The Transdev workers include minibus and van drivers, along with schedulers and reservationists, who transport seniors in Essex County.

The Transdev workers joined the RWDSU last year to address an unaffordable health care program, low wages, and limited time off with benefits. The new contract addresses these issues.

The agreement increases wages of the lowest-earning workers by $1.45 an hour incrementally in an 18 month period. Other workers will see increases between $1 and $1.50 per hour. The employees – who, prior to negotiations, only had 40 hours of paid time off – will now receive up to 128 hours of paid time off.

“The concept of a union was all new to me. I had an opportunity to sit at the bargaining table as an equal with management and discuss the concerns of the drivers. At the end of the negotiations, we made several improvements that could be measured,” said Transdev employee Tawana Smith.

July 12, 2016

Transdev Workers Ratify First RWDSU/UFCW Contract

RWDSU-New-Jersey-Drivers-300x209Last week, workers at the Transdev company in Essex County, New Jersey, ratified their first RWDSU/UFCW contract by an overwhelming margin. The Transdev workers include minibus and van drivers, along with schedulers and reservationists, who transport seniors in Essex County.

The Transdev workers joined the RWDSU/UFCW last year to address an unaffordable health care program, low wages, and limited time off with benefits. The new contract addresses these issues.

The agreement increases wages of the lowest-earning workers by $1.45 an hour incrementally in an 18 month period. Other workers will see increases between $1 and $1.50 per hour. The employees – who, prior to negotiations, only had 40 hours of paid time off – will now receive up to 128 hours of paid time off.

“The concept of a union was all new to me. I had an opportunity to sit at the bargaining table as an equal with management and discuss the concerns of the drivers. At the end of the negotiations, we made several improvements that could be measured,” said Transdev employee Tawana Smith.

July 8, 2016

Chip In To Help a Local 400 Family Devastated by Flooding

Reposted from UFCW Local 400

Violent flooding has devastated thousands of households in West Virginia. Pitch in today to help a Local 400 family who has lost everything.

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Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington Western River Flood Punt Team provides lifejackets to locals near Clendenin, West Virginia, June 24, 2016. The team is assisting the West Virginia State Emergency Operation Center by providing disaster and relief assistance in response to the widespread flooding. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Imagine losing your home, your car – even your loved ones – after a typical summer rain storm quickly turned into a devastating flood. Imagine clinging to your children for hours while you await rescue, watching helplessly as your family home floats away in violent flood waters.

This is the reality facing thousands of families in West Virginia.

At Local 400, at least 18 members and their families have been affected. Thirteen families have had their homes and vehicles completely destroyed, their hometowns nearly washed off the map. Others have lost vehicles, clothing and family heirlooms. Everyone has weeks of clean up yet to come.

Pitch in now to help a family who has lost everything. Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to a family in Local 400 who has had their home devastated by the flood.

20160707-WeatherUndergroundWVFlooding

This is a time to come together as a union family and support our brothers and sisters in need. Many communities will never be the same. At least 22 people have lost their lives as a result of the disaster. Even today, clean up and rescue efforts are still ongoing as subsequent tornadoes and thunderstorms continue to hamper first responders.

The impact of this devastation will be felt for years to come. But right now, you can help our fellow union members get back on their feet. Pitch in to help a Local 400 family today.

Your tax-deductible donation will be processed through the West Virginia AFL-CIO Disaster Relief Fund and given directly to a Local 400 family in need.

Together, we will get through this. We are a union family and we will be there for each other.