August, 2007

MAKING GROCERY JOBS CAREER JOBS

Puget Sound grocery workers overwhelmingly ratify three-year contract
with grocery employers

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)-represented grocery workers in the Puget Sound area improved grocery jobs for workers and communities when they recently ratified a fair contract with their employers. These UFCW members joined members in Southern California, Texas, Toledo, and Detroit, and New England in recently ratifying good contracts with affordable, quality health care, retirement security, and wages that pay the bills.

Puget Sound grocery workers in UFCW Locals 21, 81, and 44 overwhelmingly approved their three-year contract agreement with three national grocery chains: Safeway, Supervalu (Albertsons) and Kroger (Fred Meyer and QFC).

The new three-year contract agreement includes:

An affordable, improved health care plan, with no-cost preventative care, coverage for same-sex couples and reduced waiting period for children’s coverage, wellness incentives for employees, and lower prescription costs;

Wage increases of up to $1.30 an hour over the term of the contract;

Improvements in sick leave and scheduling practices; and

Pension plan secured with no cuts for the life of the contract.

“The terms of this contract—especially the medical benefits, give me the feeling of great relief,” said Eleanor Knight, a UFCW Local 21 member working at Issaquah’s QFC. “My son and I need good health care benefits. This new plan will make a big difference in our lives.”

“From the beginning, we set very clear goals,” said Dave Schmitz, President of UFCW Local 21. “We met those goals—and more—without taking any steps backwards. There are solid wage increases, a groundbreaking health care benefits package that means better care at lower costs for members and progress on sick leave and scheduling practices.”

Community support and UFCW solidarity was instrumental in securing a fair contract. Over the past five months of negotiations, grocery employees received an outpouring of support from grocery store customers, workers, and community members throughout Puget Sound as well as throughout the country. Tens of thousands signed a pledge saying they would stand up for grocery workers, and religious leaders and elected officials showed up at stores to bolster support for workers.

“”The community stood with these workers because it was the right thing to do,” said Steve Williamson, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW Local 21. ”Standing with grocery industry workers who are struggling every day to make ends meet is critical to the future of our middle class.”

The Puget Sound campaign, representing 20,000 grocery workers in Puget Sound, is part of the Grocery Workers United unity bargaining campaign. Grocery Workers United is a national movement of over 400,000 UFCW-represented grocery workers joining with each other and with community members across the country and in Canada to improve jobs in the grocery industry–one contract at a time.

To find out more about Puget Sound and other grocery negotiations, log on to www.groceryworkersunited.org, or www.sharethesuccess.org.

For more information, please contact press@ufcw.org.

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Los trabajadores denuncian conducta abusiva de ICE en la primera reuni

Las redadas de diciembre sometieron millones de miembros de la UFCW  y ciudadanos de Estados Unidos a la detención masiva y otros abusos de sus derechos constitucionales

Omaha, Neb.—Miembros de la Unión de Trabajadores Comerciales y de Alimentos (UFCW por sus siglas en inglés) se juntaron con grupos de la comunidad, lideres de los derechos civiles y activistas inmigrantes para condenar el abuso y la mala conducta por parte de los agentes del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de Estados Unidos (ICE por sus siglas en inglés).  Por todo el país, los oficiales de ICE han utilizado la fuerza física injustificada para la detención ilegal de trabajadores en sus intentos a hacer cumplir con la política migratoria fracasada de los Estados Unidos.

La reunión nacional de hoy fue llevada a cabo para oír los testimonios de los trabajadores, muchos quienes fueron detenidos ilegalmente y contra su voluntad, a quienes se les negó el acceso a teléfonos, abogados y hasta el uso de los baños.

“La demostración excesiva de fuerza—conducta abusiva, y la indiferencia por los derechos y las familias de los trabajadores, suena más como algo de un país o una época lejana,” dijo el presidente de la UFCW Internacional Joe Hansen. “Desafortunadamente, ocurrieron en el centro de Estados Unidos durante nuestros tiempos.  Sucedió a los trabajadores de Estados Unidos—nuestros hermanos y hermanas.  Sucedió a nuestros compañeros americanos—los nativos y los inmigrantes.”

Durante las redadas, las familias, escuelas, y guarderías infantiles no pudieron ser contactadas para hacer planes para el cuidado de los niños de los trabajadores detenidos.  Familias fueron divididas—sin saber dónde o cuándo tendrían la oportunidad de ver sus familiares desaparecidos.

“Nuestra unión se está levantando para hablar sobre los derechos constitucionales de nuestros miembros,” dijo Hansen.  “Ellos fueron detenidos ilegalmente durante estas redadas de ICE.  Hemos vencido por décadas en la lucha por los derechos de los trabajadores y no nos vamos a quedar callados mientras los agentes federales les niegan sus derechos constitucionales de la cuarta enmienda.”

La UFCW organizó la Reunión Nacional Sobre la Mala Conducta de ICE y las Violaciones de los Derechos Constitucionales de la Cuarta Enmienda de hoy para unir las voces por todo el país y para colectar las historias de los trabajadores que sufrieron durante las redadas de ICE, además de planear una trayectoria de acción para responder a estos acontecimientos.

“Cuando traté de ir a la cafetería durante la redada, los agentes de ICE me acusaron de haber intentado a escapar. Me detuvieron en esposas.  Soy un ciudadano de Estados Unidos, nacido en Iowa.  Mis padres viven en Mississippi.  Mi gobierno me trató como un criminal y no hice nada malo.  Sabía que estaban violando nuestros derechos.  Lo que están haciendo en estas redadas es ilegal,” dijo Mike Graves, quien ha vivido en Estados Unidos toda su vida y trabaja en la planta de Swift and Company en Marshalltown, Iowa, y es un miembro de la UFCW Local 1149.

Más de 12,000 empacadores de carne fueron detenidos durante las redadas de ICE el 12 de diciembre del 2006.  Desde entonces, muchos trabajadores en otras industrias han sido arrestados y detenidos contra su voluntad y se les negó contacto con sus familias en otras redadas subsiguientes.  Millones de trabajadores quines son ciudadanos de Estados Unidos y residentes legales fueron afectados por estas redadas.

“Sólo unas pocas órdenes de detención que involucraron sólo una fracción del uno por ciento de los trabajadores detenidos durante las redadas fueron la justificación para la disrupción masiva del trabajo, familias y comunidad, además de la intimidación, miedo, y amenazas dirigidas a los trabajadores,” dijo Hansen.

“Los trabajadores fueron detenidos por agentes armados, acorralados y negados sistemáticamente sus derechos,” dijo Gabriela Flora, una organizadora en la región central del Project Voice of the American Friends Service Committee.  “A los trabajadores se les negó el acceso a teléfonos, baños, y consejo legal. Los ciudadanos y residentes fueron privados de la oportunidad de salir a traer los documentos que confirmaban su estatus legal.  Muchos no podían hacer planes para los niños y ancianos bajo su cuidado porque no podían hacer ningunas llamadas.  La indiferencia hacia los derechos constitucionales de la cuarta enmienda representa el fracaso de una de las responsabilidades principales de nuestro gobierno.”

“Los políticos no pueden tener un doble discurso.  No pueden continuar diciendo que nuestro sistema migratoria está quebrado y necesita ser reparado, y después insistir que se aplique la ley con medidas excesivas e ilegales que creen más problemas para todos—los trabajadores, las compañías, y las comunidades,” dijo Hansen.

La UFCW concluyó la reunión comunitaria nacional de hoy con la organización del “Grupo de Trabajo Nacional Sobre la Mala Conducta de ICE y la Violación de la Cuarta Enmienda Constitucional” designado para desarrollar une respuesta estratégica al incremento de las redadas por parte de ICE y otras acciones similares.  El grupo documentará lo que pasó a los miembros de la unión durante las redadas, revelar el abuso y la mala conducta de ICE y presentar la evidencia al Congreso.  El Grupo de Trabajo planea mostrar que las tácticas de ICE durante las redadas de diciembre del 2006 violaron las propias leyes del gobierno de Estados Unidos.  El Grupo va a coleccionar otros testimonios de otros lugares de trabajo donde ocurrieron redadas, y exigirán que los altos oficiales del gobierno federal se hacen responsables.

“Trabajar no es un crimen.  Los trabajadores no son criminales. Nuestros derechos constitucionales no se dejan en la puerta de la planta,” dijo el presidente Hansen.  “Las historias de los trabajadores que fueron víctimas de las redadas tienen que ser escuchadas.  Su experiencia debe servir como el fundamento de las audiencias del congreso.  Nuestros oficiales electos tienen que hacer algo para proteger nuestros derechos constitucionales de la cuarta enmienda en el lugar de trabajo.”
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Workers Decry Abusive ICE Misconduct

Hold First National Meeting on ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights

December Ice Raids Subjected Thousands of UFCW Members and U.S. citizens to Mass Detention and Other Constitutional Rights Abuses

Omaha, Neb. — Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) today joined with community groups, civil rights leaders and immigrant rights activists to condemn abuse and misconduct by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Across the country, ICE enforcement teams have used unwarranted physical force to illegally detain workers in misguided attempts at enforcing failed U.S. immigration policies.

The national meeting today was held to hear workers’ testimony, many of whom were illegally held against their will, denied access to telephones, attorneys and even bathrooms.

“”The excessive show of force—the abusive conduct, the disregard for individual rights and the lack of concern for working families—it would make you think this incident occurred in a foreign country or in a distant era,”” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen in convening the meeting. “”But, unfortunately, the ICE raids happened in America’s heartland in our times. It happened to America’s workers—to our brothers and sisters. It happened to our fellow Americans, native born and immigrant.””

Workers were denied access to telephones, bathrooms and legal counsel. Citizens and legal residents were denied the opportunity to retrieve documents to establish their legal status. Some were handcuffed and held for hours. Others were shipped out on buses.

During the raids, families, schools and day care centers could not be contacted to make arrangements for the children of detained workers. Families were left divided—not knowing where or when they might see a missing family member again.

“”Our union is standing up and speaking out about our members’ constitutional rights,”” said Hansen. “”They were illegally detained in these ICE raids. We have spent decades winning workers’ rights, and we will not sit idly by as federal agents deny them their 4th Amendment rights.””

The UFCW today sponsored the National Meeting on ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights to bring together voices across the country; to collect the stories of workers who have suffered during ICE raids; and to plot a course of action on how best to respond.

“”When I tried to report to the cafeteria during the raid, ICE agents accused me of trying to run away. They held me in handcuffs. I’m a U.S. Citizen, born in Iowa. My parents live in Mississippi. My government treated me like a criminal and I didn’t do anything wrong. I knew our rights were being violated. What they’re doing in these raids is illegal,”” said Mike Graves, who has lived in the United States his entire life, works at the Marshalltown, Iowa, Swift and Company plant, and is a member of  UFCW Local 1149.

More than 12,000 meatpacking workers were swept up in ICE raids on December 12, 2006. Since then, many workers in other industries have been arrested, detained against their will and denied contact with their families in subsequent raids. Thousands of workers affected by these raids are U.S. citizens and legal residents.

“”The justification, in the Swift raids, for the mass disruption of work, family and community, the bullying, the intimidation, the fear, and the threats directed at the workers, was a handful of warrants involving less than a fraction of one percent of the workers swept up in the ICE action,”” said Hansen.

“”Workers were held by armed agents, herded together and systematically stripped of their rights,”” said Gabriela Flora an organizer in the central region of Project Voice of the American Friends Service Committee. “”They were denied access to bathrooms and legal counsel. Citizens and legal residents were denied the opportunity to retrieve documents to establish their legal status. Many workers were unable to look after children and elderly family members under their care, because they were not allowed to make a phone call. The breakdown of our 4th Amendment rights represents a failure of the first order on the part of our government.””

“”Politicians cannot have it both ways. They cannot continue to say our immigration system is broken and needs fixing, then turn around and insist on excessive and illegal enforcement measures that make the problems worse for everyone—workers, business, and communities,”” said Hansen.

At the conclusion of today’s national community meeting, the UFCW organized the “”National Working Group on ICE Misconduct and Violations of 4th Amendment Rights,”” designed to help develop a national strategic response to the increased number of ICE raids and enforcement actions. The group will document what happened to union members during the raids, expose abuse and misconduct and present the evidence to Congress. The Working Group intends to show that ICE agents’ tactics during raids in December 2006 were in violation of the federal government’s own rules. The Group will collect other testimony from workplace sites where other raids occurred, and will demand that higher-up authorities in the federal government be held accountable.

“”Work is not a crime. Workers are not criminals. We do not leave our constitutional rights at the plant gate,”” said Hansen. “”The stories of workers caught up in these raids must be heard. Their experience should serve as the foundation for congressional hearings. Our political leaders must do something to secure 4th Amendment rights in the workplace.””

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