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    UFCW Blog

July 27, 2007

House Democrats Betray American Consumers

Washington, DC – Despite recent food safety outbreaks, House Democrats betrayed American consumers last night when they added a provision to the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) that effectively weakens food safety standards and increases the risk of food-borne illness in the U.S.

The bill’s provision allow the vast majority of meat and poultry plants to forgo federal inspection in favor of more lax state inspection—which ultimately risks the health and safety of consumers. The provision eliminates a 40-year old protection in the federal meat and poultry inspection acts that ban shipping state-inspected meat to other states, as individual states do not have the full capacity to implement and track recalls of tainted meat and poultry across state lines. Furthermore, the USDA Office of the Inspector General recently reported that plants subjected to state inspection are not as clean and sanitary as federally inspected plants. Last fall, the OIG released an audit of state inspection that included stomach-turning examples of state programs that failed to meet basic sanitation requirements and were not held accountable for protecting public health.

“It’s a sham to pretend that state inspection systems are equal to federal inspection systems,” said Michael J. Wilson, International Vice President and Director of Legislative and Political Action for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “A public discussion of this issue would have prevented this betrayal and protected American consumers.”

This particular provision was added by the House Agriculture Committee without public hearings and was agreed to by some state officials and food processors. Consumer and public health experts who had concerns about the increased risk of food borne illness because of this provision were shut out of the discussion.

Supporters of the state-inspected meat provision justified it as a way to allow smaller plants to compete in the market. This ignores the fact that thousands of small plants currently thrive under federal inspection by complying with higher food safety standards while also making a profit.

The UFCW is a founding member of the Safe Food Coalition, which consists of consumer groups, groups representing victims of food borne illness, and watchdog groups dedicated to reducing the incidence of  food borne illness in the U.S.


July 23, 2007


6 febrero de 2007





Declaración ante la prensa en apoyo a la Employee Free Choice Act


Me llamo José Guardado y laboré por ocho años en la planta empacadora Nebraska Beef, en Omaha, Nebraska. Trabajaba en la sección de piso donde se sacrifica a los animales, a donde nos llegaban hasta 2,500 reses al día.

Vine a este país persiguiendo al sueño americano. Pensé que el en país más poderoso del mundo, los trabajadores podían expresarse libremente. Pensé que la ley protegía a los trabajadores que quieren formar una unión. Me equivoqué. En lugar de ello, me encontré que los patrones pueden violar las leyes, abusar de los trabajadores y acallar sus voces, y nadie hace nada para detenerlos.

Mis compañeros y yo queríamos tener una unión en el trabajo para oponernos a las condiciones de trabajo peligrosas, a la falta de respeto y los tratos abusivos. Todos firmamos tarjetas mostrando nuestro apoyo a la UFCW.

La ley no fue suficiente para detener la campaña que la empresa inició contra nosotros. La empresa aterró a los trabajadores que defendían sus derechos. Amenazaron con despedir a los trabajadores que apoyaran la unión, de llamar a la autoridad migratoria y deportar a las personas de origen latino y amenazaron con cerrar la planta. Prometieron reducir la velocidad de la línea y tratarnos mejor. El día de la votación la Nebraska Beef trajo un montón de trabajadores de otra empresa para que votaran contra la unión.

Los trabajadores tenían temor, nadie quería perder su empleo. La empresa ganó la votación por una diferencia muy pequeña. Volvieron a acelerar la línea y a nadie se le dio lo prometido.

Después, Nebraska Beef comenzó a despedir a cuantos apoyaban la unión. Sabía que estaban vigilando y esperando a que cometiera un error, por lo que puse mucho cuidado, sin embargo, la empresa me despidió. Mi seguro expiró semanas antes que me despidieran por lo que tuve que pagar mil dólares de mi bolsa para consultar el médico y pagar medicamentos. Mientras tanto la empresa restó 20 dólares de cada uno de mis tres últimos cheques de pago por concepto de seguro de salud, un seguro del cual carecía.

Esta empresa me arrebató los medios para ganarme la vida y lastimó a mi familia nada más para evitar que organizáramos una unión. Muchos otros trabajadores fueron despedidos o renunciaron porque tenían temor.

A la fecha, las y los trabajadores de la Nebraska Beef sufren de tratos abusivos e indignos, los mismos que existían antes de iniciar la campaña a favor de una unión. Se sigue amenazando y despidiendo a los trabajadores y no hay forma de tener una votación justa.

Necesitamos esta ley para proteger los derechos de las y los trabajadores. Necesitamos esta ley para ayudar a las y los trabajadores que quieren condiciones de trabajo más seguras y una vida mejor con la representación de la unión.


La UFCW representa 1.4 millones de trabajadoras y trabajadores, 250 mil en las industrias empacadora y productos avícolas. Las y los afiliados a la UFCW también trabajan en el sector de atención a la salud, la industria de la confección, productos químicos, destilerías y ventas al menudeo. 

July 18, 2007


Community-Worker Solidarity, Regional And National Support Win The Fight For Quality, Affordable Health Care And A Living Wage For All Workers

Washington, DC—Last night, over 60,000 grocery workers in Southern California represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) reached a tentative agreement with the country’s largest supermarkets: Kroger, Safeway, and Supervalu.

Details of the contract will be available Monday after workers vote on whether to ratify the agreement on Sunday, July 22.

Southern California UFCW members had the support of community and religious leaders, shoppers, sister unions and UFCW members nationwide throughout the six months of negotiations in their effort to gain improved health care coverage and fair wages.

“This contract goes a long way in maintaining good jobs with health care, wages that pay the bills, and a loyal productive workforce in the grocery industry that is good for workers, communities, and businesses,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen.

Throughout the negotiations process, UFCW members demonstrated solidarity and strength in bargaining for a fair contract. Seven UFCW locals in Southern California all worked together in bargaining and coordinating campaign actions and strategies.

Coordinated action with supporters and customers played a pivotal role in gaining a positive settlement. Union members, community members, religious groups, grocery workers, and supporters knocked on thousands of doors, handed out flyers, sent emails and letters of support, wrote editorials, attended rallies and marches, spoke out in churches, and signed pledge cards supporting UFCW members.

The coordinated effort in Southern California is part of a UFCW nationwide unity bargaining 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 other bargaining campaigns, go to: www.groceryworkersunited.org.

July 11, 2007


Washington, D.C.—The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced, today, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made a return visit to four Swift and Company plants where workers are represented by the UFCW and arrested approximately four individuals apparently on charges of identity theft, as well as questioning several others.

It does not appear that ICE engaged in the same level of intimidation and overkill as they did in its raids last December at six Swift plants. To the extent this is the case, the UFCW supports law enforcement efforts that abide by the law and respect the rights of workers.

Worksite law enforcement around identity and immigration issues is a symptom of a failed immigration system, and is no substitute for comprehensive reform.

Last month, Congress failed to demonstrate the necessary leadership and persistence to fix our broken system. The UFCW will continue to fight for reform that ensures that all working people—immigrant and native-born—are able to improve their lives and realize the American dream.

For the UFCW position on immigration go to www.ufcw.org and click on issues.

July 3, 2007


(Toledo, Ohio)—Grocery workers in Toledo, Ohio, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 911, won a lengthy negotiations battle when they voted yesterday to ratify a three-year contract agreement securing affordable, quality health care and wages that workers can raise a family on.

The Toledo workers stood together through long, tough negotiations with the Kroger Company, and held firm in their resolve to preserve affordable health care and living wages for all Kroger workers.  They were successful, and agreed to a contract including:

  • wage increases over the length of the contract between $1.00 and $1.65 per hour;
  • shorter waiting periods for health care coverage;
  • increased pension contributions for a secure retirement; and
  • increased vacation leave for employees.

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, supporters and grocery workers sent emails of support, held a press conference for Kroger workers, sent emails to Kroger CEO David Dillon, and signed petitions in support of a fair contract.

The coordinated effort in Toledo 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 Toledo contract and other bargaining campaigns, go to: www.groceryworkersunited.org.