News and Updates
March 28, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) – This morning, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the White House and Department of Labor hosted a forum with women workers and organizers, discussing their courageous roles in organizing their workplaces.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, were joined by women who are currently working to organize their workplaces, including Ernestine Bassett, a Walmart Associate from Laurel, Maryland.
“We are still fighting to provide adequate working conditions for all women and men on the job, ensure that no person within our borders is exploited for their labor, and uphold collective bargaining as a means to give workers a seat at the tables of power,” said President Obama in a proclamation released at the event.
“At today’s event, the Administration made it very clear that it values the role unions play in building the middle class in this country,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “We thank them for standing with courageous women who are currently trying to improve their lives by organizing their workplaces.”
“Walmart is the largest private employer in this country,” said Patrick O’Neill, UFCW Director of Organizing. “Their practices set the standard for the retail industry. We are pleased that the White House and Department of Labor gave a Walmart associate the chance to testify about the intimidation she and her coworkers face when trying to exercise their legal rights to organize for respect on the job.”
“I am committed, despite significant intimidation from my employer, to winning respect for my fellow associates at Walmart,” said Ernestine Bassett. “We are organizing to ensure safety and a better life for all Walmart associates.”
To watch the event online, visit:
October 29, 2010
When: Wednesday Oct. 27th 1:30 p.m.
Where: March begins at 111 Zeta Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15238
After several months of feeling intimidated and threatened by managers, Giant Eagle employees have had enough. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 23, joined by a number of community organizations, will march on the corporate headquarters, to deliver support post cards signed by fellow employees at 36 stores, to say enough is enough.
“”We have the right to talk about our union, with our co-workers, with other Giant Eagle employees, with anyone we want to. This is America and we don’t check our free speech rights at the door when we take a job with Giant Eagle” said Deborah Wieloch, an employee at the Shady Side Market District Store.
Weiloch was arrested in September when she, on her day off work, went to the Waterfront Giant Eagle to talk to employees on break about their contract and other union issues. UFCW Local 23 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the incident.
Weiloch’s arrest came as part of what employees see as a wave of anti-unionism on the part of Giant Eagle.
“We’ve been told we can’t wear buttons, we’ve been told not to talk about our union, we’ve been threatened with arrest or worse, being fired,” explained Jim D’Alessandro. “It isn’t right. They are infringing on our right to free speech and violating our nation’s laws that ensure we have a right to organize and be organized. Our contract even gives us the right to talk about our union during work.”
The members of UFCW got tired of harassment from management and started a postcard campaign to tell Giant Eagle they are tired of it.
While corporate Giant Eagle has pressured workers to remain silent and tried to keep their actions out of the press, workers have received tremendous support from allies and the public.
Along with a delegation of several dozen UFCW Local 23 members taking the cards to the corporate headquarters, community groups will be on hand to show support, including ACTION United, NAACP, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh UNITED, and others. A number of UFCW Local 23 members will be dressed as the Founding Fathers, complete with wigs and costumes, to reinforce the message that free speech rights are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
October 5, 2010
(Souderton, PA.) – Nearly 1,200 workers at the JBS plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, voted today to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776.
“I am delighted that we stood together and made the right choice to form a union,” said Bernard Coneghen, who has worked at the Souderton facility for 27 years. “We had the opportunity to speak with representatives of the UFCW about the benefits of having a voice at work and were able to make an informed choice about forming a union.”
The workers’ victory today was the successful conclusion of a months-long campaign designed to give a voice to the nearly 1,200 JBS workers in Souderton, but also as part of a UFCW-led nationwide effort aimed at raising wages and benefits for all workers in the meatpacking and poultry industries.
“The outcome of this election shows that when workers get a free and fair process, they choose union representation,” said Wendell Young, IV, UFCW International Vice President and President of Local 1776.” The UFCW applauds JBS for taking the high road to allow the workers to have a free and fair process. Having a union makes it better for everyone, workers, the company, and the larger community.”
The Brazilian firm JBS, S.A. acquired the former Moyer Packing Company’s Souderton facility with the purchase of the Smithfield Beef Group in 2008. JBS, out of respect for its workers, allowed a free and fair process for workers to decide about union representation.
“We achieved our victory because we stood together and that’s what made us strong,” said Melina Martinez, who has worked at the plant for the last six years. “Now that we have a union, we want to get right to work on a contract that protects our rights and improves our working conditions.”
By choosing UFCW Local 1776 today as their bargaining representative, workers at the JBS plant in Souderton will be joining together with 27,000 JBS workers and 250,000 meatpacking and poultry workers across the country who already enjoy the benefits of union representation with the UFCW.
UFCW Local 1776 represents thousands of packinghouse and food processing workers in Pennsylvania at plants such as Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Cargill in Hazelton, BC Natural Chicken in Fredericksburg and Citterio USA in Freeland.
For more information or to arrange interviews with workers, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
UFCW Local 1776 represents 24,000 members who work in southeast, northeast and central Pennsylvania, northeast Maryland and southern New York in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing plants, government services, manufacturing facilities, nursing homes, professional offices and Pennsylvania’s Wine and Spirits Shops.
September 14, 2010
Washington, DC—United Food and Commercial Workers Local Union (UFCW) 220* ratified a new contract, yesterday, ending a three-and-a-half-month strike at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group owned Mott’s Plant in Williamson, New York. The new agreement restores wage levels, maintains affordable health care, and continues the pension plan.
The strike became a national symbol for working people struggling to maintain middle class jobs and strong communities, after Dr Pepper Snapple Group imposed a $1.50 per hour wage decrease and other cuts on the workers. UFCW members, along with community and other allies, engaged in nearly 600 actions, including handbilling shoppers at grocery stores across the country in support of Local 220* members. Driven by blogs and social networks, tens of thousands of people joined the cause of the Mott’s strikers, advocating for good jobs with paychecks that pay the bills.
Local 220* members will be back on the job September 20, eager once again to make applesauce and other great products for American families.
September 17, 2009
STATEMENT BY JOE HANSEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERICAL WORKERS UNION, ON ON UNITE HERE AFL-CIO AFFILIATION
“”The UFCW respects the decision by UNITE HERE to return to the AFL-CIO. The disputes involving UNITE HERE and SEIU have been difficult for all concerned. It is my hope that this decision could establish the kind of distance and calm to bring an end to a dispute that has served as a distraction for too long. I believe a resolution is within grasp of the parties, and I’m hopeful that an expeditious and fair settlement can be reached.
“We will continue to work closely with UNITE HERE and all unions in our efforts to advance the cause of working people.”
September 8, 2009
(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 email@example.com
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August 10, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 10, 2009
ROUSES GROCERY OBSTRUCTS FREE SPEECH, INTERFERES WITH WORKERS’ RIGHT TO UNION INFORMATION
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
July 31, 2009
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
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.