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February 28, 2007

STATEMENT BY UFCW INTERNATIONAL UNION PRESIDENT JOE HANSEN ON A&P

Washington — The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) represents 54,000 A&P employees nationwide and nearly 29,000 Pathmark workers.

UFCW-represented employees at both companies have helped these two vital regional chains maintain strong market share, serve customers and communities.

The UFCW will continue to represent our members at both companies and enforce all union contract provisions while any possible transactions take place.

Should Pathmark decide to sell the company to A&P, the UFCW anticipates that all contracts would remain in effect.

February 28, 2007

STATEMENT BY UFCW INTERNATIONAL UNION PRESIDENT JOE HANSEN ON A&P

Washington — The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) represents 54,000 A&P employees nationwide and nearly 29,000 Pathmark workers.

UFCW-represented employees at both companies have helped these two vital regional chains maintain strong market share, serve customers and communities.

The UFCW will continue to represent our members at both companies and enforce all union contract provisions while any possible transactions take place.

Should Pathmark decide to sell the company to A&P, the UFCW anticipates that all contracts would remain in effect.

February 21, 2007

Federal Judge Orders Labor Department to Answer for Eight-Year Delay in Requiring Employers to Pay for Safety Equipment

A United States Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Labor (DOL) to respond in 30 days to a suit requesting the court to order OSHA to implement a long-delayed standard that would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the AFL-CIO sued the DOL January 3 over an eight-year delay in implementing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The lawsuit asserts that the Bush Administration’s failure to act is putting workers in danger.  By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule.  The labor groups noted that workers in some of America’s most dangerous industries, such as meatpacking, poultry and construction, and low-wage and immigrant workers who suffer high injury rates, are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of OSHA’s failure to finish the PPE rule.

The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.  The new rule would not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codifies OSHA’s longstanding policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.

In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and  requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.  The lawsuit seeking to end this eight-year delay, called it “egregious.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asked the court to issue an order directing the Secretary of Labor to complete the PPE rule within 60 days of the court’s order.

February 7, 2007

Statement on Wal-Mart

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) supports universal, affordable and quality health care coverage. The UFCW believes that we need to build a broad-based coalition to bring about health care reform. And we applaud everyone, management and labor, that calls for universal care.

It’s not appropriate to take the stage with a company that refuses to remedy its mistreatment of workers, among other irresponsible practices. Wal-Mart is actually decreasing health care coverage to employees and facing the largest gender discrimination case in the history of this country.

The UFCW has a history of working with responsible employers—employers who step up and provide good wages and benefits to employees even in difficult, competitive times.

Wal-Mart is the largest corporation that provides the least health care to employees. But suddenly the company has become a proponent of health care for everyone—apparently, though, as long as Wal-Mart doesn’t have to deal with the health care needs of its own employees.

Wal-Mart is changing its public posture, but it also needs to change its actual corporate practices. And that practice begins with taking responsibility for its own employees.

We do need to reform and restructure the current employer-based health system to achieve universal coverage, but until we have such reform, Wal-Mart needs to take responsibility for providing affordable health care to employees.

American workers need universal health care. The way out of our country’s health care crisis is national reform that brings about affordable, quality universal care.

In addition to our continuing advocacy for universal care, the UFCW will continue our fight for good health care benefits for workers at the bargaining table. And we will continue our fight on behalf of Wal-Mart workers so that they have affordable health care benefits and wages.

We will not settle for empty expediency.

February 6, 2007

Jose Guardado, Meatpacking Worker and Union Activist

My name is Jose Guardado and I worked at the Nebraska Beef meatpacking plant in Omaha, Nebraska for 8 years. I worked on the kill floor where we faced more than 2500 steers each day.

I came to this country to follow the American dream. I thought that in the most powerful country in the world, workers were free to express themselves. I thought the laws protected workers who wanted to form a union. I was wrong. Instead, I found that when employers break every law, abuse workers and silence our voices, no one does anything to stop them.

My co-workers and I wanted a union at work to fight back against the dangerous working conditions, the lack of respect, and abusive treatment. We all signed cards showing our support for the UFCW.

The law wasn’t enough to stop Nebraska Beef from campaigning against us. The company terrified workers from standing up for their rights. They threatened to fire union supporters, threatened to call immigration and deport the Latinos and threatened to close the plant. They promised to slow down the line and treat everyone better. On the day of the elections, Nebraska Beef brought in a bunch of workers from another company plant to vote against the union.

Workers were scared. No one wanted to lose their job. The company won the vote by a small number. The line was sped back up and no one was given what was promised to them.

Then, Nebraska Beef began firing union supporters. I knew they were watching and waiting for me to make a mistake, so I was very careful. But the company fired me. My insurance was terminated weeks before they fired me and I had to pay $1,000 out of my own pocket for doctor’s visits and medicine. Meanwhile, they still took $20 out of the last three paychecks for health insurance that I didn’t have.

This company took away my livelihood and hurt my family just to keep us from organizing a union. Many other workers were fired or quit because they were so afraid.

Now, workers at Nebraska Beef still suffer the abuse and indignity that existed before the union campaign. Workers are still being threatened and fired. And, there is no way to ever have a fair election there.

We need this law to protect workers’ rights. We need this law to help workers who want to have safer working conditions and a better life with union representation.

February 6, 2007

EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT TO CLEAR PATH FOR WORKPLACE FAIRNESS

(Washington, DC) — For most Americans, the suggestion of an election sounds like the most reasonable, fair decision-making process around. But in America’s workplaces, union elections turn into a process for terminations, intimidation, fear and abuse at the hands of employers. Union elections turn into extremely undemocratic processes for thousands of workers.

Jose Guardado is one of them. Speaking out in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, Mr, Guardado recounted his experience attempting to organize a union at Nebraska Beef meatpacking plant in Omaha, Nebraska.

“”I came to this country to follow the American dream. I thought that in the most powerful country in the world, workers were free to express themselves,”” said Jose Guardado, a meatpacking worker and union activist. “”I thought the laws protected workers who wanted to form a union. I was wrong. Instead, I found that when employers break every law, abuse workers and silence our voices, no one does anything to stop them.””

Guardado was a leader in an organizing drive at the Nebraska Beef meatpacking plant where more than 900 workers signed cards to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). As the workers’ campaign gained strength, the company began a vicious anti-union campaign. The company harassed union supporters, threatened to close the plant, threatened to call immigration and terrified union supporters who stood up for a voice on the job. The company’s illegal anti-union campaign narrowly defeated the worker organizing effort but resulted in numerous NLRB charges. Jose, like several other workers, felt like a marked man in the plant due to his leadership role in the organizing drive. The company eventually fired him.

Today, Mr. Guardado is a member of UFCW Local 271 and works at XL Four Star Beef in Omaha. He continues his fight for justice and a voice on the job for workers at Nebraska Beef.

“”Workers at Nebraska Beef still suffer the abuse and indignity that existed before the union campaign. Workers are still being threatened and fired. And, there is no way to ever have a fair election there. We need this law to protect workers’ rights. We need this law to ensure that workers everywhere have a chance to make the American dream a reality for their families,”” said Guardado.

February 2, 2007

La UFCW busca amparo federal contra ataques contra trabajadores en empacadoras de carne

Washington, D.C. – La UFCW está buscando un amparo inmediato en los tribunales federales a nombre de los trabajadores de la compañía Swift & Company, en Texas, Colorado, Iowa y Minesota.

Los trabajadores fueron sujetos de una redada masiva que incluyo detenciones por parte de los agentes migratorios (ICE por sus siglas en inglés).

“Esencialmente, los agentes allanaron las plantas, algunos con equipo antimotines, en un esfuerzo diseñado para aterrorizar a la fuerza laboral,” dijo Mark Lauritsen, Director del Departamento de Procesamiento y Manufactura de Alimentos de la UFCW.

La UFCW representa a trabajadores en las plantas de Swift & Company así como en las otras plantas empacadoras importantes por todo el país.

“Este tipo de acción es innecesaria,” dijo Lauritsen. “Está diseñada para castigar a los trabajadores por su trabajo duro de cada día que contribuye al éxito de sus compañías y sus comunidades. Ellos son víctimas inocentes de un sistema migratorio que ha sido secuestrado por las corporaciones con el propósito de importar una fuerza laboral explotable.”

Por muchos años, la UFCW ha hecho llamados por una reforma migratoria comprehensiva—una reforma que proporcione un proceso migratorio ordenado que proteja los derechos de los trabajadores, asegure buenos salarios y beneficios para todos los trabajadores y reconozca las contribuciones de los inmigrantes en nuestra sociedad.

“Estamos aconsejando a los trabajadores detenidos a que ejerzan su derecho a un abogado y que permanezcan callados hasta hablar con un representante legal. Las acciones del ICE del día de hoy, son una afrenta a la decencia.”

La UFCW representa a 1.3 millones de trabajadores, incluyendo 250,000 en la industria de empacadoras de carnes y procesamiento de alimentos.

Para mayores informes contacte a Andrea Nill al (202)-466-1591 o Luis Espinosa al 202-368-7154 o a press@ufcw.org

February 2, 2007

Agentes migratorios aterrorizan a trabajadores inmigrantes debido al fracaso de la pol

Para su difusión inmediata

Agentes migratorios aterrorizan a trabajadores inmigrantes debido al fracaso de la política migratoria

Washington, D.C.— Miembros de la UFCW que trabajan en las plantas empacadoras de Swift & Company están reportando que agentes de inmigración (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) entraron a las plantas con armas automáticas acorralando, segregando y aterrorizando a los trabajadores.  Las puertas de las plantas fueron aseguradas por los agentes.

“El uso de la fuerza por parte de los agentes del ICE es escandaloso,” dijo Mark Lauritsen, director de la División de Procesamiento, Empacado y Manufactura de Alimentos de la UFCW.  “Creemos que son victimas de violaciones masivas de derechos civiles. De hecho, el ICE está criminalizando a estas personas simplemente por trabajar.” 

Los niños de los trabajadores quedaron traumatizados esperando a sus padres en la escuela.  En algunos casos, sus padres han sido transportados a centros de detención en ciudades distantes sin la oportunidad de hacer llamadas para realizar las coordinaciones necesarias para el cuidado de sus niños.  Los trabajadores en la planta de Swift en Grand Island, Nebraska, han sido transportados a Camp Dodge, Iowa, a seis horas de sus familias sin garantía de transporte de regreso. 

Los trabajadores en la planta de Greeley, Colorado reportaron disparos.  A los abogados de la UFCW, que han estado esperando para representar a los trabajadores, se les negó el acceso a los trabajadores detenidos. 

“Los trabajadores aprehendidos en esta redada son víctimas de un sistema migratorio fracasado. Es hora que el gobierno federal deje de tratar injustamente a los trabajadores y reforme de manera comprensiva nuestro sistema migratorio,” dijo Lauritsen. “El último congreso inútil no estableció una reforma migratoria antes de su receso como lo había prometido.  Como consecuencia de esto, niños se han quedado huérfanos, sin estabilidad familiar, sin saber que va pasar con su navidad o su futuro.  Redadas en los lugares de trabajo con agentes armados no son la solución a la llamada nacional para la reforma migratoria.  Los Estados Unidos merece inmediatamente una política de inmigración que es humana, sistemática y comprensiva.”

Los locales de la UFCW están trabajando sin descansar para contactar a las familias y proteger a los niños menores de los trabajadores detenidos.  Los locales están estableciendo un sistema para ayudar a las familias, contactar familiares de los niños, y formar fondos de ayuda para proveer regalos de navidad y cualquier otra ayuda que los niños necesitarán al largo plazo.

La UFCW representa aproximadamente 10,000 trabajadores en cinco plantas de Swift & Company. 

February 2, 2007

La AFL-CIO y la UFCW interponen demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo de los EEUU

 por su retraso de ocho años en la finalización de una regla que requiere a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo de seguridad

Washington, D.C.—Hoy, la AFL-CIO y la Unión de Trabajadores Comerciales y de Alimentos (UFCW) interpusieron una demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo por no finalizar una regla que establece un estándar requiriendo a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo personal de seguridad (PPE)—un estándar que ha estado en desarrollo por casi ocho años. Esta regla de la Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (OSHA, por sus siglas en inglés) requeriría los empleadores pagar el costo de ropa protectiva, caretas, guantes y otro equipo usado por aproximadamente 20 millones de trabajadores para protegerles contra los peligros de trabajo.

La demanda afirma que la inacción de la administración del Presidente Bush pone a los trabajadores en peligro. OSHA ha estimado que 400,000 trabajadores han resultado heridos y 50 han muerto por causa de la inexistencia de esta regla. Los grupos laborales dicen que los trabajadores de las industrias más peligrosas de los EEUU—como la de empacadora de carne, avícola y construcción—junto con los trabajadores inmigrantes y los que ganan un salario bajo sufren una alta tasa de heridas. Estos pueden ser forzados por sus empleadores a comprar su propio equipo de seguridad por la falta de la finalización de la regla de PPE por parte de OSHA.

La regla fue anunciada por la primera vez en 1997 y propuesta en 1999 por OSHA después de un fallo de la Comisión de Revisión de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional que determinó que el estándar de PPE en existencia no podía ser interpretado para requerir a empleadores que paguen el costo del equipo de seguridad. La nueva regla no impondría nuevas obligaciones a los empleadores con respecto al suministro de equipo de seguridad; sino, simplemente codificaría la política de siempre de OSHA, que los empleadores, no los empleados, tiene la responsabilidad de comprarlo.

En 1999, OSHA prometió que la regla de PPE iba ser finalizada en julio 2000. Pero, no cumplió con esa fecha de limite, ni tampoco con cada fecha de limite que se han impuestos a si mismos desde ese tiempo. La agencia todavía no ha tomado acción después de varias solicitudes por parte de la bancada Hispana del Congreso, ni tampoco después que la AFL-CIO y la UFCW les presentó una petición en 2003. La demanda de hoy busca la finalización de este retraso de ocho años, calificándolo “”atrozmente reprensible.””

“”No hay nada que prevenga que OSHA finalice esta regla de PPE para proteger la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores excepto la falta de voluntad. Esta demanda esta pidiendo la intervención de la corte para decirle a la agencia que ya basta,”” declaró Joe Hansen, presidente de la UFCW.

“”La falta de implementación de una regla tan básica por parte de la administración Bush demuestra como ellos han abandonado a los trabajadores de este país,”” dijo el presidente de la AFL-CIO, John Sweeney. “”Demasiados trabajadores han resultado heridos o muertos. El Departamento de Trabajo del Presidente Bush debe dejar de proteger los intereses de las corporaciones al costo de la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores.””

La demanda fue puesta en la Corte Federal de Apelaciones de los EEUU en el Circuito del Distrito de Columbia. Pide que la corte ordene al Secretario de Trabajo que termine la regla de PPE dentro de 60 días de su orden.

February 2, 2007

UFCW APPLAUDS FDIC DECISION TO EXTEND ILC MORATORIUM


(
Washington, D.C.)—The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) enthusiastically supports the recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) decision to give Congress another year to consider whether to prohibit companies such as Wal-Mart stores from acquiring their own banks.

The UFCW applauds the FDIC’s unanimous vote to delay and possibly stop Wal-Mart’s entry into the banking industry.

UFCW International Vice President and Director of the UFCW Legislative and Political Action Department Michael J. Wilson said, “Local community banks and other financial institutions are critical to economic vitality and diversity. In recent years, Wal-Mart has destroyed local businesses and dismantled local economies.  If Wal-Mart can get a bank and push local banks out of business, its economic control in these communities will be almost complete.”

The UFCW is part of the Sound Banking Coalition, which has fought Wal-Mart’s industrial loan company (ILC) application because of its interference with the historical and necessary separation between banking and commerce.   A Wal-Mart-owned bank would place a dangerous concentration of capital in the hands of one single company. While the fight to stop Wal-Mart from acquiring its own bank will continue, the moratorium puts a significant roadblock in the company’s plan to monopolize the American consumer.  It also helps ensure, at least for now, that federal and state lawmakers will have the added time necessary to pass legislation that will prevent Wal-Mart from further jeopardizing the nation’s economy.

The UFCW supports and commends the FDIC’s decision for fulfilling its obligation to protect working people’s financial security.

The Sound Banking Coalition is made up of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the National Grocers Association (N.G.A), the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), and the UFCW.