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September 17, 2012

Things Could be Looking up for Labor after Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin’s Act 10

Big news for labor came out of Wisconsin on Friday, when a judge struck down Scott Walker’s controversial anti-collective bargaining law. Although the governor has said he is sure his state will successfully appeal the judge’s decision about Act 10, we certainly are not.  If anything, this news could be just the fuel people need to keep up the fight for labor rights, and do what’s right, especially when this decision comes so near to the November Presidential election.
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In a Washington Post article about the ruling, a few possible outcomes of this news are detailed, most of which bode well for the state’s- and the nation’s- labor movement:

Firstly, the decision, although perhaps only temporary, is a big motivator for all those involved in this year’s earlier anti-walker protests.  After investing countless resources into the movement to stop his anti-worker legislation from passing, and recall the governor, it was disheartening to lose the battle.  Working families see that our efforts were not in vain.

Another point made in the article suggests that now, political polarization and opinion on the issue is not going to fade away, and will only be rejuvenated.  Because of the Friday decision, Democrats and Republicans are less likely to compromise on their beliefs regarding right-to-work legislation, essentially giving the labor movement a second wind. Collective bargaining is now back in the spotlight, front and center.  The debate is not over.

This is good news folks.  Even if the judge’s ruling doesn’t stand up, we know that the fight will not be over.

September 10, 2012

What Will Romney do for…Energy?

Big oil companies already benefit from generous tax cuts, so why does Mitt Romney’s plan stand to give them even more benefits? After taking into account all of the tax breaks for the top five oil companies, Romney’s plan would potentially benefit them by $4 billion a year.

Here’s why these companies do NOT need more tax cuts, and why Romney’s energy plan is not good for America:

  • According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Big Oil earned a combined $137 billion in 2011, or $261,000 per minute.
  • Big Oil advocates claim that they need the existing tax breaks to create jobs and increase oil production. But even with these tax breaks, some of these companies have produced less oil and laid off thousands of workers over the past six years. In fact, an analysis by the House Natural Resources Committee Democrats found that “ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP combined to reduce their U.S. workforces by 17,500 jobs between 2005 and 2010.”
  • Big Oil and gas companies, their lobbying arm the American Petroleum Institute, and various oil-funded nonprofits have already spent more than $20 million on paid advertising to oppose President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Big Oil tax breaks, and generate public support for oil drilling off protected coasts and other oil issues too.
  • His plan, following the lead of the Ryan budget, would force huge cuts to critical programs including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Gov. Romney is apparently willing to increase the deficit to continue tax breaks for Big Oil companies and cut their taxes even further.
     

Padding Big Oil's pockets
credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund

The continuation of tax subsidies for Big Oil reflects the industry’s longstanding political influence.

America needs to pay close attention to the specific plans Romney has in mind for our country if he were to win the 2012 election. The facts show that President Obama’s actions while in office, as well as his plans for the future, are what’s best for young Americans, working families, and the middle class.

September 7, 2012

Massachusetts Co-ops Stick Together and Join Local 1459

Adam Grandin works in the kitchen of the Green Fields Market in Greenfield, Mass., as part of a food co-op with stores in two towns in Western Massachusetts. Over a period of time, Grandin and many of the workers at his store, and the other Franklin Community Co-op – Mc-Clusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls – had grown increasingly frustrated with a workplace that had moved further and further from a cooperative vision.

Health care was unaffordable and the lack of respect by management for employees’ hard work made the work environment increasingly unfriendly.

 Fed up and deciding to do something about the unfair working conditions at the co-op, Grandin and his coworkers formed an organizing committee and reached out to UFCW Local 1459. Once approximately two-thirds of the 75 workers at the Franklin Community Co-op demonstrated their interest in unionizing, Grandin and the others moved forward in the process. 

“Some people had a false idea that the union was coming in to take over,” said Grandin. “It wasn’t the union coming in to take over, it was workers coming together for change.”

While the co-op board backed the workers, organized opposition forced another vote.  Other union workers, members of Local 1459, Jobs with Justice, and the local Occupy movement united with co-op members to show their support for the organizing workers. And it paid off.

On August 15th, the co-op board recognized the workers’ new union, Local 1459, and they will soon begin
bargaining for a new contract.

“I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to the co-op,” said Grandin.

The efforts of workers fighting for better jobs, as well as the Locals of UFCW and other organizations in our communities can together make progress our country’s working people.  Fair treatment and good jobs should be a right, and when we stick together, they are a reality.

September 1, 2012

Send a Labor Thank You Card This Holiday!

Labor Day is a time in September to enjoy a lazy day off, right? Well, sure, but we tend to forget sometimes that labor day is actually about…labor!

To help recognize the working people that help keep America strong, the AFL-CIO has launched a new digital application.

http://www.aflcio.org/apps/thanks/images/sharethanks.pngThe new app, found at aflcio.org/thankyou, allows users to send innovative thank you cards through facebook and email, to friends and other people whose work we rely on.  The app also features videos from a variety of people, including actor Martin Sheen, giving thanks and recognizing the hard work of people whom we rely on every day.

Want to thank someone yourself? Visit the site to send an e-card to bus drivers, baristas, firefighters, construction workers, teachers and others whose work helps others every day. Together we can reclaim Labor Day!

August 31, 2012

Eat Union-Friendly This Labor Day!

Labor Day normally brings to mind visions of barbeques, the beginning of fall, and a nice, relaxing day off from work.  Why not make this year’s annual BBQ labor-friendly by choosing union-made snacks? After all, this holiday IS about supporting labor, and the millions of workers who make our lives better in big and small ways every day!

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To see a list of union-made foods and snacks, check out our website! For even more ideas about how to have a union-friendly Labor Day celebration, check out the UFCW snack union Facebook page here.

August 30, 2012

UFCW STATEMENT REGARDING THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION’S ANTI-WORKER PLATFORM

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union:

“The Republican Party’s anti-worker platform at their convention in Tampa, Fla., this week further highlights the GOP’s disconnect from the realities of everyday Americans. Instead of offering any serious solutions for creating jobs with benefits and wages that can support a family and addressing the growing gap between the rich and the poor, convention speakers like Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Nikki Haley have resorted to pitting workers against workers by lashing out at labor unions.

“America’s workers are the cornerstone of our country’s middle class, and making it easier for hard working men and women to stick together through a union would put more company profits in the hands of working people and strengthen America’s middle class. While Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, claim to care about the middle class, they have challenged the very idea of the right of workers to stick together and bargain for basic rights—including fair pay, health care and retirement benefits.

“The best way for workers to have a say about their working conditions is by sticking together as a union, and the UFCW will continue to fight any action by Romney, Ryan and followers like Christie, Walker and Haley who favor the wealthy one percent over America’s workers and the poor.”

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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. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

August 28, 2012

Fighting Fire with Food and Support

In July of 2009, a terrible fire broke out at the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant in Milwaukee, WI. The massive Smithfield plant was completely consumed by the fire, threatening lives, costing millions of dollars in damage, and displacing over 1,400 workers, leaving them without work.

The devastating fire at the Patrick Cudahy plant prompted UFCW Local 1473 to immediately reach out across the labor community.  The Patrick Cudahy Worker Relief Fund was formed, and generous donations were made.  Local 1473 members then worked with the the Milwaukee County Labor Council and the Hunger Task Force to establish a food bank specifically for the Patrick Cudahy workers.  The Hunger Task Force, which, prior to the fire had relied on the Patrick Cudahy plant to supply many of the products in their food bank, was now helping to feed the displaced workers.

With the support of the Hunger Task force and other organizations, members were able to stick together and move toward recovering from the fire. Three years later, members are back at the plant to continue their work and support for organizations like the Hunger Task Force that play such an important role in their communities.

Last week, members from UFCW Local 1473 again joined partners Smithfield, Patrick Cudahy, and Pick ‘n Save in the latest event for the Feeding the Hungry campaign. The 40,000 pound donation went to the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, WI. Some of the members of Local 1473 still work at the nearby Patrick Cudahy meat processing plant, continuing to help produce products such as hams and bacon, which were part of the donation to the Hunger Task Force. This latest Feeding the Hungry donation exhibited the special and continued relationship members share with the Hunger Task Force.

Local 1473’s story is a powerful reminder that even in times of disaster, when people stick together, there is always hope.

The UFCW is committed to ensuring that families across the country have the relief and the opportunities they need to weather the current economic crises. As the foodworkers’ union, with members working in grocery stores, packing plants, and food processing plants, UFCW members and locals have long been involved in programs to help the hungry and provide for those in need. One of the most successful, and certainly the largest, of these programs is the joint UFCW/Smithfield Feeding the Hungry (FTH) Program – a three-year, multi-city, coast to coast effort to donate and deliver more than 20 million servings of protein to food banks through Feeding America’s network.

All across the country UFCW members are on the frontlines of efforts to improve and strengthen their communities, and this partnership reflects their unwavering commitment to protect and advocate for families during tough times. This partnership is about bringing together organizations with the resources, the relationships and the know-how to ensure that vulnerable communities across the country have access to well-supplied food banks. Our goal is simple: Get good, nutritious food to as many families, in as many communities, as possible.

August 24, 2012

Union-Made Back to School Supplies

To make sure your child’s back-to-school supplies are union-made, check out this great resource from the Union Label and Services Trades Department!

The flyer also notes that the luckiest kids in the nation are getting an education provided by union teachers, principals, and custodial/support staff.  We couldn’t agree more.

August 14, 2012

Local 1208 Serves as Role Model in Community

UFCW Local 1208 has been very busy this year! So far in 2012, Local 1208 has seen both tremendous progress in both the Smithfield Plant they represent, and in their local community of Tar Heel, North Carolina. This progress is due to the actions, member related and community outreach events, and the key role Local 1208 has taken in transforming the working environment for those living in Tarheel and its surrounding counties. Below, see a few of the things Local 1208 has been up to!

Defferred Action Event- St. Pauls, NC 
This event was coordinated by a group of local students. The forum included a PowerPoint presentation given by immigration lawyers, which discussed President Obama’s newest immigration reform.  The floor was opened for questions about the new reform, immigration, and deportation.  Many UFCW members attended, and Local 1208 had the chance to share its support of both immigrants and immigrant reform. Local 1208 is also currently working with attorneys across North Carolina to coordinate labs that will assist people with the application process as new reforms roll out.  Way to make everyone feel welcome!

Community Health Fairs- Fayetteville and Red Springs, NC
Local 1208 this year continued their tradition of participating in Community Health Fairs, which offer free information and services from local health care organization and the communities they serve. Local 1208 offered a range of information about work place safety, health laws (OSHA Q/A), and workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace.

Monthly Obama Sticker Contest- Tar Heel, NC
Each month, Local 1208 rewards it members for showing support for Obama by holding an Obama sticker contest.  The contest involves picking a car at random from the Smithfield Packing Plant (which they represent) parking lot that boasts a “UFCW for Obama” bumper sticker. Not only does each monthly winner receive a VISA gift card, but they also earn the right to have their picture proudly publicized throughout the plant during the corresponding weekly action, encouraging others to participate.  

Head over to the Local 1208 facebook page to see what else the Local is doing!
 

August 10, 2012

UFCW Members Show their True Colors with Generous Donations to Haiti

In 2010, UFCW local unions from around the country pledged generous funds for Haiti to aid in the healing of the destruction and suffering that tool place and still continues today due to the devastating earthquake. 
The UFCW Charity Foundation will distribute more than $450,000 to help bring food, water, and technology to the local children and families in Haiti.
Reviving Haitiis a partner in supporting a water project for the town of Chardonette, Haiti. The town is home to 8,000 people who currently use an unfiltered spring as their water source. The project will create a new water system that will pump and filter water to a series of reservoirs so the local families can have access to clean water.  Eventually the water system will be extended and used to send clean water to other neighboring towns as well. 
 
Other projects that funds are supporting include: 
·        Hope for Haiti – UFCW Local 888 is overseeing the project that will build computer labs and a library at the St. Francois de Sales Primary and Secondary School in Riviere Froide, Carrefour. 
·        High Hopes for Haiti – The Mortel Family Foundation is supporting a project to build computer labs and a libraryat the John Stine College in St. Marc, Haiti.
·         God to Haiti – UFCW Local 1625 member Jean Myril is leading a project to provide hot meals for the children and families in Bitho, Leogane.