News and Updates
May 15, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C.Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement decrying a federal judges decision striking down a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule updating and streamlining union election procedures.
This wrongheaded decision is based solely on technical grounds related to the NLRBs internal procedures and not the merits of the rule, which remain sound. The rule seeks only to protect workers right to a fair and timely election. I call on the NLRB to take the steps necessary to remove this procedural roadblock and restore the rule as soon as possible.
May 4, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C.Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement calling on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member Terence Flynn to resign.
For months, Republicans have accused the NLRB of being politicized. It turns out they were right. But its been members of their own party playing politics. The latest Inspector Generals report detailing more leaks by Member Flynn during his time as counsel to the Board is deeply disturbing. Most egregious is the report that he may have leaked information to a top Mitt Romney advisor in hopes of getting appointed to the Board himself. Member Flynn has compromised his ability to be a fair and neutral arbiter. He should resign immediately and Congress should finally conduct a full investigation.
April 18, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, today released the following statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved a final rule to modernize the union election process.
“”This NLRB rule is a modest but important first step toward ensuring a level playing field for workers in the union election process. Preventing unnecessary delays and frivolous litigation means less time for employers to intimidate, harass, and in some cases fire pro-union employees. Every worker has the right to decide whether he or she wants a union, free of interference.
“Now it is time for the Senate to confirm President Obama’s nominees to the NLRB. Leaving the Board short of a quorum in 2012 is unacceptable.”
March 28, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC—Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement in response to the Inspector General’s report showing that National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member Terence Flynn engaged repeatedly in improper conduct when he was chief counsel to Member Brian Hayes.
“These are serious allegations and I urge the appropriate Congressional Committees to launch a full investigation. The NLRB must carry out its important mission of ensuring union elections are conducted freely and fairly. Regrettably, this independent agency has consistently come under political attack from Members of Congress and candidates for President who want to make it harder for workers to organize. The fact that this effort was reportedly being orchestrated by a high-profile employee of the Board is completely unacceptable. NLRB members and staff should serve as referees, striving for the fairest possible outcome and ensuring rules are followed and enforced. This Inspector General’s report suggests Member Flynn used his prior position to choose sides, bolstering big business at the expense of workers and their fundamental rights. Congress should get to the bottom of this and hold all wrongdoers fully accountable.”
January 4, 2012
“We applaud President Obama’s recent decision to fill vacant posts at the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau and. These agencies play an important role in safeguarding the rights of workers and their families.
The President’s appointees are each eminently qualified, and have long deserved an up-or-down vote. The U.S. Constitution makes it possible for the President of the United States to break through political obstructionism to ensure that our laws are enforced. These appointments are a victory for working families over partisan gridlock in Washington. We thank President Obama for his leadership in standing up for workers and curtailing the excesses of Wall Street.””
December 1, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, today released the following statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took a step toward approving a final rule to modernize the union election process and House Republicans passed legislation to block that rule.
“”The NLRBs proposed rule to streamline the vote for union representation would be a modest but important first step toward fixing a broken process that favors CEOs over workers. Justice delayed is justice denied, and that is too often the case for workers that file a union election petition. Many employers delay, delay, and delay some more through frivolous litigation and other procedural tactics. They use this time to intimidate, harass, and in some cases fire pro-union employees. The result is an unfair election or no election at all. This proposed rule would ensure that when a majority of workers want to have a voice on the job, they will be able to do so, free of interference.
“”With the rule not even finalized, House Republicans have continued their assault on workers by passing legislation to block it. It is the latest act by a party more committed to denying the rights of workers to stick together than fixing the economy and creating jobs. Like the rest of the extreme anti-worker measures passed by the House, we expect this one will be given a quick death in the Senate.
“Union contracts offer the best opportunity for stable, middle-class jobs. The NLRB is charged with protecting the right of every American to bargain for a better life. This proposed rule would do just that. It should be adopted.””
November 7, 2011
(Dodge City, Kan.) – A majority of the 2,500 workers at National Beef’s Dodge City, Kansas beef slaughter and processing facility voted to join UFCW District Local 2, in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, on Thursday and Friday, November 3 and 4, 2011.
The workers’ campaign began when several National Beef workers contacted the UFCW seeking a union voice on the job. At that time, National Beef and the UFCW agreed on a fair and balanced process that allowed employees to vote on whether or not they wanted union representation. UFCW represents the workers at a neighboring Cargill beef slaughter and processing plant in Dodge City.
“Helping to organize my co-workers into a union was a life changing journey,” said Rebecca McGary, a worker in the fabrication department at National Beef.
“We know that workers at Cargill, just down the street from National Beef, have had a contract with Local 2 for many years – and that means they have always had a say in their wages, benefits and working conditions,” said Ramon Prieto who works on the kill floor at National Beef and who took a leading role in organizing his co-workers. “That’s why I voted to join the UFCW, so that we all will have a chance to negotiate benefits and salaries, job security, and a better life for our families.”
The National Beef workers are the latest in a series of meatpacking workers to join the UFCW at locations across the country. On October 19, approximately 1,000 workers at a JBS beef kill facility in Plainwell, Michigan joined UFCW Local 951. On October 25, 125 workers at a Farmland Foods facility in Carroll, Iowa joined UFCW Local 440. And in late September, 300 workers at Nebraska Prime in Hastings, Nebraska joined UFCW Local 293.
July 19, 2011
Statement by UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill on Proposed NLRB Rule to Modernize Union Election Process
Washington, D.C. – The following remarks were delivered by UFCW Executive Vice President and Organizing Director Pat O’Neill, who testified at the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) public meeting on July 19, 2011 regarding the NLRB’s proposed rule changes to the union election process:
“American workers are struggling to make ends meet during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Workers in the grocery, retail, meatpacking and food processing industries are no exception. Union contracts offer the best opportunity for stable, middle class jobs. While the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the fundamental right to join a union and achieve the benefits of collective bargaining, the NLRB’s current rules are seriously outdated, needlessly complex, and foster frivolous litigation. The current process creates barriers to workers exercising their fundamental right to form a union. It’s time to return the process to its original intent – which is to give workers a clear path to making the choice when they want collective bargaining.
“We view the proposed election rule changes as a modest but important first step toward modernizing and streamlining an outmoded process that encourages unnecessary, time-consuming and wasteful litigation.
“The proposal to defer resolution of most voter eligibility issues until after the election, including all bargaining unit disputes affecting less than 20 percent of the unit, would make the current process more efficient and worker-friendly. Just ask the employees of Home Market Foods in Norwood, Mass., who sought representation by UFCW Local 1445. Workers petitioned for an election in a unit of all production, maintenance, shipping, receiving and housekeeping employees, including 11 quality assurance (Q.A.) technicians but excluding nine Q.A. technologists, who the technicians consider to be their supervisors. However, the company argued that none of the Q.A. workers should be in the unit – or if they were included, that the technologists were not supervisors and should vote in the election. By disputing the Q.A. workers’ status, the company delayed the election until 79 days after the petition was filed. And during this delay, management used the time to further threaten workers with job loss and plant closure if they won in the election. The workers lost the election 104-114. If the Q.A. employees’ eligibility to vote had been deferred until after the election, the election would have taken place before the employer’s scare tactics had their intended effect. In that case, the workers would have won the election by a big enough margin that their votes would not have affected the outcome.
“This is exactly why the proposed changes are needed. Workers go to work to earn a living, not to get engaged in a protracted lawyer-driven tug of war with their employer. When workers want to organize a union, they want to do it immediately.
“The proposed rule changes will not interfere with employers’ free speech rights. Workers know their employers’ views on unionization. And if workers are unclear about their employers’ position, it doesn’t take long for them to find out. Nor will this rule change lead to “ambush” elections, as claimed by employer-funded lawyers. Almost all union election campaigns are well underway and well known to employers long before an election petition is filed. In virtually all instances, employers have ample time to communicate with their workers.
“This fact is supported by a recent study by Professors Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell and Dorian Warren of Columbia, both of whom will address this panel later today. Their research shows that “Thirty-one percent of serious [unfair labor practice] violations occurred 30 days before the petition was filed and 47 percent of all serious allegations occurred before the petition was filed.” The data support their conclusion that employer “opposition starts long before the filing of the petition.” UFCW organizers have long known and experienced this first-hand many times.
“The UFCW is optimistic that the proposed rule changes will begin to restore the NLRB election process back to what it was intended to do – give workers a clear process to organizing a union. We are, however, concerned about the possible elimination of the blocking charge policy. Strong employer opposition to union organizing campaigns is the rule rather than the exception. Workers and their unions, when faced with serious employer unfair labor practices during the critical period, may need temporary postponement of the election to try to counter the employer’s illegal conduct. The blocking charge policy is needed to help attempt to prevent that from happening.
“The UFCW will make a more detailed response to the Board’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the written comments it plans to file. Again, thank you for this opportunity to speak in support of the proposed rule.”
April 13, 2005
Washington DC- The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) filed a “”Unfair Labor Practice Charge”” against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charge against Wal-Mart is in response to the serious allegations that former Wal-Mart Board member and Vice Chairman Thomas M. Coughlin, the #2 person at the company, operated an illegal anti-union slush fund as part of a company program to monitor and suppress the democratic right of workers to organize.
In a letter to the NLRB, the UFCW states that “”the charge complains that Wal-Mart, acting through officers, employees and agents, including those at the highest levels of management, systematically denied workers their democratic right to exercise a choice for union representation. Wal-Mart’s actions seemingly involved the criminal misappropriation of company funds to create an illegal anti-union slush fund.””
It also calls on the Board to “”use the NLRB’s subpoena power to obtain all relevant information from Wal-Mart, particularly the documents that are in possession of Wal-Mart according to former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Thomas Coughlin and which, according to Coughlin, substantiate the alleged scheme.””
“”The point of the UFCW filing this charge with the NLRB is simple,”” said UFCW Executive Vice President Bill McDonough. “”The UFCW and the American people deserve to know what Wal-Mart knows about this ‘union project’ and when they knew it.””
In previous filings with the NLRB, Wal-Mart, Inc. has been found guilty of illegally spying, bribing with promotions, firing and intimidating workers. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the latest revelations, if true, mean that Wal-Mart’s anti-worker, anti-union program “”would represent a criminal offense under the federal Taft-Hartly Act,””-a federal felony to pay employees to persuade coworkers to abandon support for union representation. The Journal also reported that Coughlin “”is expected to use the ‘union project’ as part of his defense to the charges about mismanagement of funds.””
January 6, 2005
Sisters of Mercy medical facilities throughout the United States will be the target of handbilling by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) in response to the unfair anti-nurse position the Sisters of Mercy have taken in St. Louis, Region 5 Director Al Vincent, Jr. announced today.
Handbilling has begun at nine Sisters of Mercy facilities in eight cities in four states, and will progressively be expanded to more than 200 medical facilities owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy.
Registered nurses at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, members of UFCW Local 655, have been on strike since December 15, 2004. At issue are the hospital’s demands to silence nurses’ collective voices about vital patient care issues such as adequate staffing and safe patient assignments.
Recently, St. John’s Mercy Hospital in Washington, Mo., took retribution against a nurse who worked there and at the Medical Center in St. Louis simply because she refused to cross the nurses’ picket line. Charges have been filed against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board for the illegal retaliation against the Washington nurse. The Washington hospital is 50 miles from St. Louis.
“St. John’s and all the Sisters of Mercy health care facilities have a reputation of providing high quality care for patients. Now, we’ve been forced onto the picket line for standing up for those exact principles,” said Colleen Schmitz, RN, a long-time St. John’s nurse and negotiating committee member.
Beginning on January 3, 2005, Sisters of Mercy facilities targeted for handbilling are:
• In Missouri: Springfield, and Joplin;
• In Oklahoma: Ardmore and two medical facilities in Oklahoma City;
• In Arkansas: Fort Smith and Hot Springs;
• In Kansas: Fort Scott and Independence.
On January 3, 2005, UFCW Local 655 notified the Federal Mediation Service (FMCS) that it intends to begin picketing in Washington on January 13. The union’s handbilling will launch organizing efforts at each of the facilities and detail the anti-nurse agenda the Sisters of Mercy are showing in St. Louis.
“The hospital wants to silence the nurses’ fundamental right to a voice at work — gained under and guaranteed by federal law. This effort to silence its dedicated and professional nurse staff would undermine professional standards. And diminishing professional standards can only lead to compromised patient care,” said UFCW Region 5 Director Al Vincent.
St. John’s registered nurses are members of the Professional Division of UFCW Local 655. Throughout the United States, the UFCW’s Professional Division represents more than 100,000 health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes, medical centers, doctor’s offices and health care systems. UFCW Local 655 is the largest union in the State of Missouri.