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June 25, 2007

TEXAS KROGER WORKERS STAND FIRM TO SECURE HEALTH CARE FUNDING

(Houston, Tex.)—This weekend, grocery workers in Houston and Dallas represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions 540, 455, and 408 achieved a solid victory when they overwhelmingly voted to ratify a three-year contract agreement securing affordable, quality health care.

With the support of community and religious leaders, shoppers and UFCW members nationwide, Texas workers held firm in their resolve to improve health care funding, quality, and cost for all Kroger workers.  They achieved their aims in a contract with:

  • adequate health and welfare funding for the length of the contract;
  • wage increases up to as much as $3/hr over the contract;
  • increased vacation, with more flexibility; and
  • improved pension security.

Kroger also provided a letter of commitment which guarantees adequate resources in the health and welfare fund, in addition to which the company promises to add up to $1.4 million if necessary.  The level of funding in the health and welfare fund was one of the primary concerns for workers during contract negotiations.“Workers are pleased with the contract,” said Chad Young, UFCW International Vice President and Region Director.  “We’re certain that the funding will be secure for quality, affordable health care.”
Throughout the negotiations process, UFCW members demonstrated solidarity and strength in bargaining for a fair contract. Coordinated action with supporters and customers was also key to the workers’ success. Community members and grocery workers sent emails of support, attended a rally for Kroger workers, sent emails to Kroger CEO David Dillon, and signed pledge cards supporting Kroger employees.

The coordinated effort in Houston and Dallas is part of a UFCW nationwide bargaining unity program. By supporting each other regionally and nationally, as well as engaging customers and community members in their struggle, grocery workers are improving grocery industry jobs for themselves and their communities. To learn more about the Texas contracts and other bargaining campaigns, go to: www.groceryworkersunited.org.

June 23, 2007

KROGER TEXAS WORKERS HOLD FIRM FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE

(Houston, Tex.) – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 455, 408 and 540 in Houston and Dallas have reached tentative agreements with Kroger that protects affordable health care for workers and their families.

Workers and community supporters made their voices heard that securing reliable health care benefits for hourly wage earners was non-negotiable.   Kroger heard that message loud and clear, especially in the form of customer and community support for Kroger workers.

The tentative agreement provides secure funding levels for health care benefits so that workers and their families can be assured that they will not face unexpected cuts to coverage.  More details will be made available after UFCW members have an opportunity to discuss and vote on the proposals.  The bargaining committees from all three local unions are recommending that members approve the agreement.

Workers will be voting on the proposals during meetings on Saturday and Sunday in both Houston and Dallas.  If approved, the three-year contract will take affect immediately.

For updates on voting times and locations, log on to the local union websites – www.ufcw455.org, www.ufcw408.org and www.ufcw540.org

June 21, 2007

HOUSTON COMMUNITY MEMBERS STAND WITH KROGER WORKERS IN FIGHT FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE


Participants in
 Houston Press Conference today will Rally and Walk the Block to Let Community Members Know About Kroger’s Plans to “Wal-Mart-ize” Health Care

HOUSTON–United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 408 and 455 members working at Kroger stores in the Houston area will join with local community leaders and supporters today in asking Kroger to stop attacking workers’ health care. A press conference will be held at 3:00 p.m., at the Kroger Store, 10306 S. Post Oak Rd., (just outside of the 610 S. Loop) in Houston, and will be followed by a neighborhood walk to let community members know about Kroger’s greed.

Joining Houston Kroger workers at the press conference and rally will be prominent community and religious leaders, including representatives from the Houston Interfaith Workers Justice Center, ACORN, the Coalition for Workers and the Poor, LCLAA, and the Latino Labor Council, as well the President and Secretary Treasurer of the Harris County AFL-CIO, the President of the of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the President of the Houston NAACP Branch, and other supporters and community activists.

This broad coalition of community and religious supporters are standing with Kroger workers for affordable health care. With Kroger’s latest contract offer, workers will be forced to choose between paying the electric bill and taking their children to the doctor.

Meanwhile, Kroger continues to be the most successful company in the industry, with rising profits and growing market share—and throughout contract negotiations the company has refused to share any of that success with the workers who made it possible.

Houston community members don’t believe that people who go to work everyday should have to rely on public assistance for health care coverage, or that Kroger should be allowed to shift their health care costs to local taxpayers like Wal-Mart does. Please join Houston community leaders and workers in saying “no” to Kroger’s attacks on employee health care and the community.

Members throughout the country are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities.   For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at: www.groceryworkersunited.org.

June 20, 2007

IMMIGRATION DEBATE IS ABOUT WORKERS, UFCW LEADER SAYS

Washington, DC—The immigration debate should focus on worker issues, according to United Food and Commercial Workers International President, Joseph T. Hansen.  Hansen joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumpka, and Ed Sullivan, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, at a press conference this afternoon that focused on how the proposed immigration bill could hurt workers in the U.S. and abroad.

The following may be attributed to Joe Hansen:

“At its core, the immigration debate is about workers, because immigration is fueled by jobs. But the Senate Bill relegates all workers—immigrant and native born—to second-class status. The bill’s new and expanded guestworker program opens the door, especially in low-wage sectors, to worker abuse and exploitation. The facts are undeniable. Guestworker programs create an underclass of workers. They create a culture in which people believe that a person’s race, color, or national origin relegates them to a life of low-paying, no-future jobs. And, they provide employers license to deny full workplace rights and protections.”

“American democracy works because it is inclusive. But guestworker programs permanently exclude people who contribute to our economic well being from participating in our democratic process. Approximately 12 million undocumented workers who go to work every day, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities remain on the edge of hope. They need a realistic path to fully participate in our democratic system and to achieve the American Dream.”

“Touchback requirements, unaffordable fines and complicated filing requirements in the current bill will leave too many workers in the shadows—and simply make our already broken system worse. We are a nation that values families. We cannot allow a point-system that would keep families apart or favor one family ahead of others. We must craft real immigration reform that helps turn that hope into reality for all workers, new immigrant and native-born.”

June 15, 2007

HOUSTON GROCERY WORKERS TO TERMINATE KROGER CONTRACT EXTENSION

Washington, DC—Grocery workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 455 gave notice to the Kroger Company today that they will no longer extend their contract with the company.

In Houston, where 12,700 workers are involved in negotiations with Kroger, UFCW members already voted to authorize a strike against the supermarket company last month. Houstonworkers have been joined in solidarity by their brothers and sisters in UFCW Dallas Local 540, who also voted to authorize a strike against the Kroger Company.

UFCW Local 540 is not operating under any contract extension, and Local 408 in Houstonhas already terminated their contract extension with Kroger.

UFCW members working in the grocery industry across the country are involved in negotiations with successful employers like Kroger.   They are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the industry for workers, families, and communities.

For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at www.groceryworkersunited.org.

June 13, 2007

FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS APPLAUD CONGRESSIONAL EFFORT TO FORCE OSHA TO DO ITS JOB

Washington DC—The UFCW applauds Congressional efforts to force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to regulate Diacetyl—a dangerous chemical that has killed at least three workers and injured hundreds of others. Today, U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2693, a bill which would compel OSHA to issue a standard regulating worker exposure to this deadly chemical.

Diacetyl is a chemical used to impart the flavor of butter in popcorn, pastries, frozen foods, and candy. Each day that they report to work, tens of thousands of food processing workers are exposed to Diacetyl—a dangerous chemical that has been connected to a potentially fatal lung disease. There have been dozens of cases of what has become known as “popcorn workers lung,” or bronchiolitis obliterans—a severe, disabling, and often-fatal lung disease experienced by food industry workers across the nation.

Despite compelling evidence that Diacetyl presents a grave danger and significant risk of life threatening illness to employees exposed to the chemical, there are currently no OSHA standards requiring exposures to be controlled.

Last year, The UFCW, together with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, petitioned the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to stop the continued risk of Diacetyl exposure to workers. Forty-two of the nation’s leading occupational safety scientists signed on to an accompanying letter agreeing that there is more than enough evidence for OSHA to regulate this dangerous chemical. Still, OSHA did not act.

“OSHA has been sitting on evidence that there is a direct correlation between Diacetyl and popcorn workers lung for years. By not regulating this dangerous chemical, OSHA has neglected its responsibility to food workers,” said Jackie Nowell, UFCW Safety & Health Director. “The idea that it would take an act of Congress to get OSHA to do its job and protect workers is appalling.”

June 11, 2007

UFCW-Represented Kroger Workers in Dallas Authorize Strike

(Dallas, Tex.)- United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 540 members in Dallas have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a potential strike, and to join the fight with Houston UFCW Locals 455 and 408 members to stop Kroger from jeopardizing affordable health care.  When their contract expires on Sunday, there will be no extension.

“This is Texas-style UFCW solidarity.  Kroger meatcutters in Dallas aren’t going to let Kroger kick around our brothers and sisters in Houston,” said Johnny Rodriguez, UFCW Local 540 President.  “Every Kroger member in Texas deserves respect and fairness from this company.”

Kroger is a profitable, successful company.  But just like in Houston, Kroger is refusing to share that success and agree to a fair contract for its employees.  The company intends to bankrupt the health and welfare fund, forcing its employees and their families to make a tough choice – pay for health coverage, or pay the bills.  It’s the same old dirty trick we’ve seen before.

Every day, the financial news comes out with another rosy report on Kroger – the company is realizing record profits, increasing market share, and growing revenues.  Yet the company seems intent on forcing workers out into the streets and disrupting shoppers’ lives, just to satisfy their own greed.

That’s why UFCW members across Texas are sticking together and fighting back.  They’re offering Kroger a choice: the company can continue to play games and offer empty excuses – or they can get real and settle a fair contract.

Whichever way Kroger wants to play it, UFCW members across the state will be standing together – one union with one voice – united in the demand for a contract that protects affordable health care.

In fact, tens of thousands of workers in cities across the U.S. are at the table with Kroger, attempting to bargain for a fair contract that will benefit Kroger workers, their company and their communities.  Those UFCW members, working at Kroger stores in Oregon, Southern California, Toledo and Seattle, have had enough.  They’re joining Texas workers in demanding Kroger step up to the plate and share the company’s success with the workers who make it possible.

UFCW members have heard all the excuses.  Now, they’re telling Kroger to stop playing games and get serious – for the sake of business, workers and communities.  It’s about time.

UFCW members are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families and communities.  For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, log on to www.groceryworkersunited.com

June 8, 2007

DETROIT WORKERS RATIFY FAIR AGREEMENT WITH KROGER

West Coast, Houston, Dallas, and Toledo Workers Tell Company to End Games at Bargaining Table and Settle a Contract that Shares Kroger’s Success

WASHINGTON, DC– Michigan Kroger workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876 scored a major victory yesterday when they voted to ratify a fair contract with the Kroger Company.

The contract includes immediate wage increases for all members, as well as increases throughout the contract’s term. It also includes job security, improved, affordable health care coverage, and improved pension contributions.

“The contract is especially meaningful for the approximate 700 current members who did not qualify for full health benefits under the last contract, but will under the new agreement,”” said Local 876 President Roger Robinson.

Kroger is a highly successful company, realizing record profits, increasing market share, and growing revenues.

Detroit is not the only location where UFCW members are in negotiations with the Kroger Company. In fact, tens of thousands of workers in cities across the U.S. are at the table with Kroger, attempting to bargain for a fair contract that will benefit Kroger workers, their company and their communities.

Those UFCW members, working at Kroger stores in Houston, Dallas, Oregon, Southern California, Toledo, and Seattle, are demanding that Kroger step up to the plate like it did in Detroit and share the company’s success with the workers who make it possible. To date, though, Kroger has refused to get real at the bargaining table.

The company is up to its old tricks on the West Coast, in Texas, and Ohio, insisting on contracts that would, in effect, force workers and their families to choose between paying the rent and paying for health care. Instead of seeking ways to reward these UFCW members for their hard work, the company is seeking ways to lower living standards.

“We all do the same jobs, and we all work hard,” said Mike Newman, UFCW Local 911 member and Toledo Kroger worker. “We should all be treated equally. It’s only fair.”

UFCW members are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities. For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, visit the website at www.groceryworkersunited.org.

June 8, 2007

UFCW Urges Congress to Redouble Efforts on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release                                                                   June 8, 2007

United Food and Commercial Workers International UnionUrges Congress to Redouble Efforts on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Responsibility to Fix Broken Immigration System Remains Despite Senate Action to Pull Latest Bill

Washington DC—All workers deserve immigration reform that respects the fundamental American values of inclusion and democracy.

Last night’s stumble does not relieve the U.S. Senate of responsibility of continuing on path of reforming our broken immigration system.

Approximately 12 million workers who go to work every day, pay taxes and contribute to their communities remain on the edge of hope without a path to fully participate in our democratic system and to achieve the American dream. This intolerable situation must end.

Meanwhile, too many corporations have played our dysfunctional immigration system for their own gain, leaving workers—both immigrant and native-born—to endure the price of abuse and deteriorating workplace standards.

The government’s reliance on worksite raids as a substitute for immigration policy only exacerbates the failings of our current system, disrupting families, workplaces, local economies, and communities. Employers who recruit, hire and, often times, exploit undocumented workers have faced virtually no penalty.

The UFCW remains committed to working with all members of Congress on achieving meaningful immigration reform that is consistent with fundamental American values and protects all workers. Guestworker provisions, including any expansion of existing programs, inherently undermine the very ideals and values our country was built on, creating an underclass of workers and engendering racial and other discriminatory attitudes toward individuals who are afforded neither full rights on the job nor participation in our society.

The legislation debated by the Senate is far from perfect, but it represents an opportunity to work toward meaningful reform.  The UFCW will continue to work with our 1.3 million members, community partners and lawmakers to make immigration reform a reality.