News and Updates
August 4, 2003
Workers at the Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson, Wisc., set up picket lines after overwhelmingly rejecting a company offer that would cut wages and risk the loss of medical treatment for workers’ families.
For a company whose motto is:””It’s What Your Family Deserves,”” no working family—and no community—deserves the attack on living standards the giant meat processor has launched against workers at its Jefferson plant.
“”Tyson’s proposal would devastate my family,”” said UFCW Local 538 member, John Hernandez, a 25-year plant employee. “”The company wants to cut our wages and increase the cost of our health care coverage. Our families can’t live on that.””
The Jefferson plant is profitable. The facility is part of Tyson’s prepared foods division which posted a 4.2% profit for first quarter 2003.
The company’s contract offer seeks wholesale cuts in workers pay and benefits including:
A pay cut of 73 cents an hour, on average, as well as a wage freeze for four years.
An increase in health care coverage rates up to $40 a week, as well as higher deductibles and out of pocket expenses which could total $4600 a year for basic family coverage.
A freeze on pension benefits for current workers and elimination of pension benefits for new hires.
A 50% reduction in sick leave.
A two week cut in vacation benefits.
“”Tyson’s proposal comes out of greed, not need,”” says Kevin Williamson, UFCW International Vice President and Region 6 Director. “”The plant has operated 100 years without a strike, and now Tyson is attempting to repay a loyal and experienced workforce by destroying their living standards.””
Contract negotiations have taken place over the last eight months. In January the Company gave the union a 30-day notice saying it would terminate the current extended contract at midnight on February 25.
UFCW Local 538 has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, charging the company with bargaining in bad faith.
Tyson’s Jefferson plant, employing 470 workers, produces pepperoni for Tombstone, DiGiorno, Domino”s and Jack’s pizzas, as well as hams, ring bologna, and hot dogs.
“”This company forced this strike on us,”” said Mike Rice, UFCW Local 538 Business Agent. “”We’re fighting for our families, our futures, and our community. We’re on the picket line today and we’ll be here for however long it takes to reach a fair settlement our members’ families deserve.””
August 4, 2003
Washington, D.C.: Tyson Foods, the Arkansas based meat processor, is using Scott Mayer, operator of QPS Staffing Services of Greenfield, Wisconsin, and an avowed supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to provide “”scabs”” in a pepperoni plant strike in Jefferson, Wisconsin, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced today.
“”Tyson Foods agreement with Scott Mayer and QPS demonstrates clearly that they will use anyone, anywhere, at anytime to scab hardworking American workers standing up for their families,”” said UFCW Local 538 Business Agent Mike Rice.
“”It is supremely ironic that as PETA is attacking Tyson Foods, the company turns around and cuts a deal with a PETA supporter to run scabs into Jefferson, Wisconsin every day in the early morning darkness,”” pointed out Rice. “”To add insult to injury, the scabs are transported on school buses operated by Riteway Bus Services, a company based in Richfield, Wisconsin.””
PETA has recently issued press releases entitled: “”PETA Calls for Prosecution of Tyson Foods and Five Tyson Employees; Formal Complaint, Whistleblower Tell of Deliberate Torture of Birds”” (February 18, 2003) and “”PETA Urges Tyson Foods to Fake It with Meat Products”” (December 24, 2002). See www.peta.org for details.
Scott Mayer, operator of what is claimed to be “”Wisconsin’s largest independent staffing service”” is also an Indy Racing driver, whose biography states that he and his wife are “”active supporters of PETA and the Humane Society.”” See: www.indyracing.com/drivers/driver_bios.php?driver_id=143
UFCW Local 538 members went out on strike at the Tyson Foods pepperoni and other toppings plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin, on February 28, 2003. The plant, formerly known as Doskocil Foods, is one of the largest producers of pepperoni in the United States. Its customers include Pizza Hut, Kraft Foods (DiGiorno, Tombstone and Jack’s pizza brands), and Schwan’s (Tony’s Pizza), one of the largest providers of pizza to schoolchildren in the country.
For more information on the strike visit www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org
August 4, 2003
Food And Commercial Workers Union Goes National With Wisconsin Strike
Pizza Hut is about to get a lot of unwanted customer attention as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has dropped approximately a half-million piece mailing to working families across the United States. The mailing asks that Pizza Hut customers contact the company asking that the giant pizza chain make its pizza “”Tyson- free.”” The mass mailing comes as part of a national campaign to roll back corporate greed in response to Tyson’s effort to rollover striking workers at a highly profitable pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.
The dispute started in late February when Tyson demanded that workers accept a complete elimination of the pension plan for all future workers, unaffordable cost increases for workers’ health insurance and a wage freeze on top of a wage cut. After more than 100 years of operation without a strike, Tyson greed forced workers into the street. The meat conglomerate made no pretense about the lack of economic necessity for its demands–the plant is profitable–but, simply stated that the company’s intent was to lower the standards at the Wisconsin plant to the level of its non-union poultry operations.
Tyson’s recent expansion into pork, beef and processing could face a rough road as workers and communities resist the lowering of living and working standards. Already Jefferson, Wisconsin area merchants and consumers have removed Tyson products from shelves and shopping lists. Now, one of Tyson’s biggest customers, Pizza Hut, could begin to feel the heat from its core consumer base, working parents with younger children. In addition to sending e-letters to corporate headquarters, families are being asked to say “”Tyson-free”” pizza toppings when at Pizza Hut.
The unnecessary conflict slams into an image make-over for Tyson as it tries to move from a supplier to a branded item on consumer’s shopping lists. The company is spending millions in ad dollars to convince American shoppers of Tyson’s premier status in shopping carts and on kitchen tables.
Working families are not fooled by Tyson’s glossy advertisements. Log on to www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org to learn more about the striking Tyson workers and to take action on their behalf.
For other UFCW News on the Tyson Strike see below: