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September 8, 2009

AmeriCold Workers Win Solid Wage and Benefit Increases in First Union Contract

(CRETE, Neb.) – Workers at the Americold plant in Crete, Nebraska, obtained their first-ever union contract. This five-year contract negotiated by union members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 271 provides solid wage and benefit increases.

“This contract gives us wages that protect full-time, families supporting jobs in our community,” said Gene Muff, an Americold worker and a member of UFCW Local 271. “When all workers in the heartland stand together for a voice on the job, we can raise everyone’s wages, benefits and working conditions.”

With this contract, 150 workers at Americold will join the more than 250,000 workers in the poultry and meatpacking industries nationwide who have a union contract with the UFCW.

The new Americold contract includes:

– Average wage increases of $1.44/hr for the first year and an additional 30 cents per hour for the next four years;
– A formal system to resolve workplace issues;
– Time and a half pay for holiday work;
– Night shift premium wages;
– Affordable family health coverage;
– Job advancement opportunities based on seniority;
– Funeral leave and paid vacation benefits.

The Americold contract is the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW packing and food processing members across the country.

For more information, contact Gonzalo Salvador at (202) 466-1591 or press@ufcw.org


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August 10, 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             August 10, 2009




Louisiana Grocery Store Calls Police on Employees for Expressing Interest in Joining the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union


(NEW ORLEANS) – Rouses grocery store in Louisiana is not behaving like a responsible neighborhood business. Instead, the company is clamping down on the first amendment right of workers, obstructing their right to express any interest in joining the UFCW. The grocer went so far as to call the police, insisting on the arrest of workers and other union members attempting to talk about union representation.

“Workers play a big part in the company’s success,” said UFCW Region 5 Director Chad Young.  “And they should share in that success with a voice on the job for paychecks that can support families, affordable, quality health care and job security.” 


Even though Rouses allows numerous groups to engage with workers and customers outside their stores, the company is refusing to allow union members and company workers to distribute information and engage in conversations about the process of forming a union.


“What’s clear is that Rouses wants to pick and choose when it abides by the law,” said Young. “The UFCW is filing unfair labor practice charges against the company on behalf of workers and union members who believe their rights were violated. It’s the workers choice on whether they want a union. Rouses should abide by the law and stop interfering with that right.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail, meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries.




For more information, contact Marc Goumbri, 202-257-8771, or press@ufcw.org


July 31, 2009

Wal-Mart Watch Joins WakeUpWalmart.com to Hold America

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced that Wal-Mart Watch has joined with WakeUpWalMart.com to form one organization to maximize the ability for Walmart workers to win a voice on the job and bring change to the entire retail industry.

“”We find ourselves at a critical moment in our country – working families are struggling to make ends meet, while corporations like Walmart continue to reap record profits,”” said UFCW President Joe Hansen. “”Walmart workers across America are standing up and demanding change, and the UFCW is standing with them to achieve the health care and labor law reforms that will restore and expand the middle class. The UFCW is the labor union for retail workers and we will not let Walmart, as the world’s largest retailer, shirk its responsibility to the 1.4 million employees who work for the company.””

“”As Walmart workers continue to speak out to transform their jobs, we believe they are best served by a single organization dedicated to supporting Walmart workers and holding the retail giant accountable for its actions,”” said SEIU President Andy Stern. “”Walmart has made a lot of promises to working families, and we plan to hold them accountable for making those changes.””

Walmart earns $34,880 in profit every minute, yet only 50 percent of Walmart workers are covered by the company’s health care plan, because Walmart premiums and deductibles are unaffordable. Workers’ schedules — and therefore wages — are shrinking, and when workers stand up and demand changes, they are confronted with special squad of “”attitude”” enforcers straight from company headquarters in Bentonville. If workers persist in standing up, they are shown the door.

“”We are ready for change, and feel that if we stand together, we can change this company for the better from the inside,”” said Cynthia Murray, an associate from Laurel, MD. “”We work too hard to be pushed aside so that company executives can add a few million dollars to their bonuses this year.””

In April, thousands of Walmart’s 1.4 million associates across the country united to launch Walmart Workers for Change, the largest effort ever by Walmart workers to demand a voice on the job. Workers in more than 100 stores in 15 states across the country have already joined together. This historic action led to the decision by Wal-Mart Watch to unite its strength with WakeUpWalMart.com.

Joining with WakeUpWalMart.com will:

• Unite hundreds of thousands of activists both online and in neighborhoods across the country to support Walmart workers with one collective voice.

• Allow President Obama and Members of Congress to unite with a newly strengthened group invested in transforming the world’s largest retailer.

• Create a stronger partner for Walmart Workers for Change, the Walmart workers leading the campaign to create good jobs at Walmart from the inside.

• Strengthen efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which will allow Walmart workers to form unions free from harassment and intimidation; and ensure passage of real and meaningful healthcare reform that holds employers like Walmart accountable.

May 12, 2009

Local 1529 Holds Community Forum Calling on Congress to Pass Employee Free Choice

UFCW Local 1529 members and community leaders met on May 7th in a community forum to discuss how the current economic crisis affects their livelihoods and offer Main Street solutions to hard working Americans. The town hall meeting in West Memphis, Arkansas, was part of a statewide and national mobilization of everyday working Americans who are coming together to bring about change in the workplace through passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Speakers included Leo Chapman, former mayor of West Memphis and first
African American elected to that position, Irvin Calliste, International
Representative for the Steelworkers’ Union and President of the
Memphis AFL-CIO Labor Council, and Billy Myers, International
Representative for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.

At the meeting, Chapman said workers would have more opportunities if it were easier to join a union. “”Look at the people where they’re behind, if
they were unionizing they would be in a better position than they are
today. We want to enjoy the same rights and privileges as anyone else.”

Calliste noted that unions are a core part of our country, saying, “Because of unions, this country thrived. It’s not a coincidence that when union membership declined, the middle class started declining with it. Unions are responsible for the great middle class in this country.”

Billy Myers urged UFCW and community members to mobilize for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field so workers can have more opportunities to get ahead. “I tell the workers it’s illegal [the company anti-union campaigns]. They can’t fire you for union activities. But in the back of my mind, I know it happens. Right now there’s no level playing field, the company has all the power. We must change that.”

Passing Employee Free Choice is crucial to growing the middle class and building an economy that works for everyone.  It will allow workers to have a voice at work and to bargain collectively for higher wages, benefits, and job security.  The bill seeks to level the playing field between workers and their employers because it would give workers–not their employers–the power to choose to join a union either through majority sign-up or through an election.

April 30, 2009


Washington, DC – Walmart workers from across the nation are converging today on Capitol Hill for a National Organizing Meeting to brief Senators about wages, benefits and the Employee Free Choice Act. Nearly 100 Walmart workers from 17 states are participating in the event. As part of their campaign for a union voice on the job, they will urge lawmakers to level the playing field for working people by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

“I made the trip into Washington DC to stand with my fellow Walmart workers and to urge my Senators to pass the Employee Free Choice Act,” said Dominique Sloan a Dallas, Texas, Walmart worker. “We need change in this country. All you have to do is look at how all the money goes to CEOs. But when it comes to workers, it’s always the same, no health care or health care that’s too expensive and low wages. We need to change that.”

The National Organizing Committee is made up of Walmart workers from Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Despite Walmart’s well-documented history of anti-working family activities, workers say they are excited by the election of Barack Obama, excited that the President says it’s not too much to ask Walmart to pay decent wages and provide good health care, and excited that the Employee Free Choice Act can help bring the change that helps workers and makes Walmart live up to its responsibilities.

“I have three boys, and I had to get Florida Kids Care to cover their medical,” says Cheryl Guzman, a Walmart worker from Miami. “It’s either you eat, or you have medical coverage, that’s not right. That’s why I’m part of Walmart Workers for Change.”

Ten workers recently shared their stories in a new video, released earlier this week. Workers from the National Organizing Committee will be available to the press today after a Capitol Hill briefing at 10 a.m., in 328 Russell Senate Office Building.

Walmart Workers for Change is a new campaign made up of thousands of Walmart workers joining together to form a union and negotiate better benefits, higher wages, and more opportunity for a better future. The campaign is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).  The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers nationwide, with nearly one million working in the supermarket industry. Many of UFCW members also work at national retail stores such as Bloomingdales, Macys, H&M, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Saks Fifth Avenue, RiteAid, CVS, and Syms.

April 23, 2009


Washington, DC – Walmart Workers for Change, a new campaign of thousands of Walmart’s 1.3 million associates across the country who are standing up and demanding a voice in the workplace, today released a new video that highlights the sorts of anti-worker tactics they are facing from the world’s largest retailer.

“The associates are afraid,” said Cynthia Murray, a Walmart associate in Laurel, Maryland.  “They’re intimidated, and they are afraid.  My family and other families have paid the price for freedom.  And when you tell me I can’t talk about a union, you’re taking my freedom from me.”

Workers in more than 100 stores in 15 states across the country have joined together and signed union representation cards, citing a lack of respect from the company, as well as poverty-level wages and sub-par benefits as reasons they need a union voice on the job.

Despite Walmart’s long and well-documented history of anti-worker activities, associates say they are emboldened by the election of Barack Obama and the introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress.

The campaign comes at a time when workers find their wages have stagnated, even as Walmart and the Walton family continue to make record profits.  Walmart’s recently released 2009 10K shows the company made $13.4 billion in profits last year.

“Walmart’s slogan is ‘Save Money, Live Better,’” said Vikki Gill, a former Walmart manager in St. Louis, Missouri.  “Walmart is saving money and living better at the associates’ expense.”

In the new video, which can be viewed at http://www.walmartworkersforchange.org/index.php/pages/articles/walmarts_war_on_workers, 10 workers from coast to coast detail the company’s response to their organizing efforts.  Dominique Sloane and Mark Moore, of Dallas, Texas, were told that their store would be closed if workers voted to organize.  In Miami, Florida, Cheryl Guzman was interrogated by a manager about who among her colleagues supported a union. Linda Haluska, of Glendale, Illinois, was called into four mandatory meetings in one week, where she and her colleagues were shown anti-union, anti-Employee Free Choice videos.

“Since we’ve started talking union, the company has been holding meetings, they’ve flown people in,” said Sloan.  “They’ve even mentioned as far as with the union, there’s a possibility that stores may close.”

Walmart Workers for Change is a new campaign made up of thousands of Walmart workers joining together to form a union and negotiate better benefits, higher wages, and more opportunity for a better future.

The campaign is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), America’s neighborhood union.  The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers nationwide, with nearly one million working in the supermarket industry. Many of UFCW members also work at national retail stores such as Bloomingdales, Macys, H&M, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Saks Fifth Avenue, RiteAid, CVS, and Syms.

March 24, 2009


WASHINGTON, DC – UFCW members from across the country visited the halls of Congress today to speak with their elected officials and to urge passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The workers, who have tried to join the UFCW, came to Washington to share their stories about forming a union in the workplace and to urge their elected representatives in Congress to make the passage of Employee Free Choice a priority.

The action comes on the heels of the introduction earlier this month of the legislation in both the Senate and the House.

“I believe that if Congress really cares about fixing the economy and rebuilding the middle class, it should pass the Employee Free Choice Act,” said James Satler, a former Fresh & Easy grocery worker from California. “The economy should work for everyone, not just CEOs.” Satler was fired for attempting to organize a union at his workplace.

Despite having majority support at work, Darlene Bruzio and her co-workers at Giant Eagle in Pennsylvania lost their union election because of employer interference. “When you have more than 80% support for joining a union, like we did at my store, and still lose an election, you know that the system is broken,” Bruzio said. “Members of Congress should stop the corporations that are gaming the system by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.”

While most workers’ stories heard in Congress today highlight the intimidation and harassment workers face when trying to form a union, Armando Martinez, a Hormel Foods worker from Nebraska, shared a positive experience of getting a voice on the job without intimidation. “I know that having a union makes the difference because I have worked in places where employees are threatened when they try to get a voice on the job,” Martinez said. “When I started working at the Hormel Foods plant in Freemont, the UFCW already represented the workers. All I needed to do was sign up to show I wanted to join the union—all without any intimidation or harassment from the company.”

Sixty million workers say they would join a union if they could. With Employee Free Choice, workers, not employers, will decide how to form a union. Workers will have the option of majority sign up in addition to a secret ballot election. The Free Choice legislation will establish meaningful penalties for employers who break the law and harass or fire workers for wanting a union. Finally, Employee Free Choice will ensure that workers gain a first contract through a provision that calls for binding arbitration if workers and management cannot reach an agreement within 120 days.

Photos of today’s event are available. Media inquiries should be directed to press@ufcw.org.

March 10, 2009

UFCW Statement on the Introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act

(Washington, D.C.) – It is time for leadership.  With a faltering economy and millions of hardworking families struggling to make ends meet, only strong leadership can end thirty years of wage stagnation and renew the American Dream for America’s workers.  The Employee Free Choice Act would kick start the engine of America’s middle class.

The introduction of the Free Choice legislation today gives Congress the opportunity to show American workers that they are willing to stand up for real change for working families and shape a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren.

1.3 million UFCW members and their families are counting on their Senators and Congresspersons to show leadership and support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Without the Employee Free Choice Act, workers will continue to fight a one-sided, losing battle to exercise their legal rights at work.  The recent stimulus package was a necessary first step in the right direction.  But if our country is to have a sound and sustainable economy, we must fully renew the opportunity for workers to achieve the American Dream.  Union membership is the engine of a middle-class economy.

UFCW members and working families across the nation are standing firmly in support of this legislation.  We will not let corporate America drown out reasonable debate on this issue with lies and exaggerations about the process by which workers can choose a union.

We will not let Congress forget why corporate America is spending millions of dollars on ads and lobbyists.   Companies like Wal-Mart are profiting from our economic downturn while thousands of Wal-Mart workers try to stay afloat with part-time incomes, unaffordable health care and questionable job security.   Severe income inequality is destroying the American Dream and today we stand united to say it’s time to level the playing field for American workers.

UFCW members will continue to make our voices heard so that every worker can freely choose to join a union to improve their lives, without intimidation, harassment or fear.

December 11, 2008


Tar Heel, N.C. – Workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, North Carolina, chose union representation with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).  Workers voted 2041 to 1879 for a voice on the job.

“When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the job,” said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill. “This is a great victory for the Tar Heel workers. I know they are looking forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with Smithfield to negotiate a contract. The UFCW has constructive union contracts with Smithfield plants around the country. Those union contracts benefit workers, the company and the community. We believe the workers here in Tar Heel can achieve a similar agreement.”

Ronnie Ann Simmons, a veteran of 13 years at the plant said, “We are thrilled. This moment has been a long time coming. We stuck together, and now we have a say on the job.”

Workers at 26 Smithfield-owned facilities around the country already have UFCW representation.

November 20, 2008


Hyrum, Utah – More than 1,100 workers gained union representation with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 yesterday at the JBS/Swift beef plant (known locally as the E. A. Miller plant) in Hyrum, Utah, after voting overwhelmingly for a voice on the job.

“We stood together for a better future for our families,” said Isaias Lopez, a 22-year veteran of the plant. “That was the first step. Now, we can work on a first contract that brings greater opportunity to our workplace.”

The Hyrum plant has been in operation for over seventy years and became part of the JBS family with their acquisition of Swift meatpacking almost two years ago. It had been the only JBS/Swift plant in the United States that did not have union representation.

“This victory means we’ll have a voice at work,” said plant worker Adalberto Soto. We voted ‘UFCW Yes.’ It was an easy decision, and it was the right decision for our families and our future.”

“When we sit down with management to negotiate that first contract,” continued Soto, “We won’t sit down alone. We’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ten thousand brothers and sisters at all the JBS/Swift plants across the country, and with all workers in the packing and processing industry. The more workers who unite in our industry—the   more powerful we are to make better lives for our families.”

Yesterday’s result of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election was a culmination of a worker-led campaign designed to give these men and women a stronger voice on the job and more opportunity for their families.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Hyrum workers,” said Max Aldama, a member of UFCW Local 1149 and an employee at JBS/Swift’s Marshalltown, Iowa plant who assisted workers in organizing their Hyrum plant. “JBS/Swift has always been willing to work honestly and openly with us in Marshalltown, and I know they’ll live up to the high standards they have always set and kept for themselves.”