News and Updates
November 8, 2012
We polled our members and asked if they voted. The results show that UFCW members had great voter turnout, and played a big role in supporting and re-electing President Obama! Here are some member reactions to the big win:
“yes sir, i voted- we as union workers are the big winners tonight!!”
“God bless America.”
“Thank god!! now if we can just get our congress and senate to work for the people and r president …life will be grand!”
“i am very happy again”
“yes, it is time too celebrate and work hard for a stronger America!”
“yea lets move forward”
November 2, 2012
As Walmart Supercenter Holds Grand Re-Opening, Workers and Community Protest Attempts to Silence and Retaliate against Workers
Richmond, California–On the heels of first-ever strikes by Walmart workers across the country, workers at the Walmart Supercenter in Richmond walked off the job this morning as the store held its grand re-opening. Joined by community leaders who have been calling for changes at Walmart, workers are on strike in protest of the attempts to silence and retaliate against workers. At the Richmond store, Walmart workers have been working hard to help the store reach today’s grand re-opening date all while facing illegal intimidation from a store manager, including racist remarks and threats of physical violence.
“We will not be silenced by Walmart for standing up for respect and against harassment, intimidation and retaliation,” said Mario Hammod, a worker at the Richmond Walmart. Hammod is one of thousands of members of the national worker-led Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) that has been calling for changes at the company. “In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, I am taking a stand against Walmart’s illegal bullying tactics and practicing my right to peacefully hold a sit-in. We want to be able to celebrate the store’s re-opening, but we cannot continue to work under these conditions of retaliation.”
In an expression of the building frustration that Walmart has not only ignored workers calls for change in Richmond and across the country, but actually retaliated against workers who do speak out, national leaders from civil rights, immigrant rights and women’s rights communities, religious institutions, unions and community leaders have committed to join striking workers in a wide range of non-violent activities on and leading up to Black Friday, including rallies, flash mobs, direct action and other efforts to inform customers about the illegal actions that Walmart has been taking against its workers.
“We cannot stand by while Walmart retaliates against workers who are standing up for a better future for their families,” said Rev. Phillip Lawson, Co-Founder of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
Rev. Lawson, along with other supporters and community groups across the country, has been calling for change through the Unified Call to Change Walmart. “Racist and threatening comments from Walmart will not be tolerated here in Richmond or anywhere. Walmart should be creating good jobs, not threatening workers and turning its backs on the hard-working people that made this ribbon-cutting possible.”
The group protested outside the Supercenter with signs reading, “Stand Up, Live Better, Stop Retaliation” and “Stop Trying to Silence Us.” This comes just weeks after Walmart workers walked off the job in more than a dozen states, including stores in the East and South Bay. At the same time, workers went on strike at Walmart’s largest distribution center outside of Chicago, IL and were joined by hundreds of clergy and community supporters, some of who were arrested by riot police during the peaceful protest. And earlier this fall, workers in Walmart-controlled warehouses in Southern California went on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs.
Walmart Associates at Richmond have been calling on management to end the retaliations against workers who speak out against harassment and poor working conditions, as well take home pay so low that many Associates are forced to rely on public programs to support their families and understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service. As frontline Walmart workers face such hardships, the company is raking in almost $16 billion a year in profits, executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year. Meanwhile, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – is the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of workers and communities has been building. In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting workers, communities and our economy.
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee. In the company’s warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of dollars of goods, workers are facing rampant wage theft and health and safety violations so extreme that they have led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines. The Department of Labor fined a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondage were cited.
Financial analysts are also joining the call for Walmart to create better checks and balances, transparency and accountability that will protect workers and communities and strengthen the company. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service. A resolution proposed by Associate-shareholders to rein in executive pay received unprecedented support, and major pension funds that voted their shares against Walmart CEO and members of the board this June amounting to a ten-fold increase, and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by the Walton family against the company’s leadership.
These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for growth, particularly in urban markets. Calling the company a “bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city without addressing labor and community relations’ problems. This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped would be its first location in New York. In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the city after facing significant community opposition.
November 2, 2012
Last night, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to over 50,000 UFCW members who called in to listen to him at a telephone town hall meeting. He talked about the importance of this election for working families, and the need to get out and vote for the candidates that support working people in this country.
“This is the clearest choice labor has had in a presidential election in my lifetime,” said Vice President Biden. “Not only is labor at risk, but the whole middle class is at risk.”
“You, workers, are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gate,” he continued. “Organized labor built the middle class… These guys are all out of the same mold – Kasich, Walker, Scott, Ryan, Romney, the National Chamber. They may be decent men personally, but you are on their list…You can’t kid yourselves.”
“Guys, we need you. We need you to vote and make sure every labor household votes for us – and we need you to go out there and make the case,” said Vice President Biden. “You guys vouched for me before. Remember. This is not your father’s Republican party…This is not a hard choice…Don’t compare Barack to the Almighty. Compare him to the alternative. And the alternative, for labor, is bleak, if the other guys get elected.”
Listen to the full remarks here: Joe Biden Telephone Town Hall – November 1, 2012.
And then get out and vote! Tell your friends and family to vote! Want more info on how to vote, and how to vote early? Click here to find out more. Remember, as the Vice President said, “The future depends on you.”
November 1, 2012
Early voting has already begun in many states! Why wait until November 6th when you can vote today? Avoid long lines at the polls and other potential issues, and make sure you make your voice heard in this important election. Click here to use our early voting calendar and find out when, where, and how you can vote early in the next week!
Why is this election so important? Because President Obama is pro-worker, pro-union, and pro-middle class. Mitt Romney has made it his agenda to get rid of labor unions as we know them, and supports right-wing policies that will only make it harder for workers to have a voice on the job. So vote to stand up for your rights.
September 17, 2012
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.
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
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.
|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
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
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.
The 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
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!
August 30, 2012
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.”
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.