October, 2007

AMERICA

Washington, D.C. – Last night, the House of Representatives gave America ’s uninsured children a second chance at a healthy future by passing a new version of a children’s health care bill, but failed to get the majority of votes necessary to overturn another presidential veto.  The new bill will cover 10 million children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and tighten eligibility in response to concerns about the previous bill. While imperfect, this new bill is a good start to addressing our country’s health care crisis, and another presidential veto will further punish the millions of children of working parents who are without coverage.

For too long, America’s workers and their children have paid the price for a broken health care system.  While workers struggle to survive on stagnant wages, more and more employers are adding to that burden by shifting the growing cost of health care coverage to workers—forcing them to pay high out-of-pocket premiums, deductibles and co-payments.  These faulty health care plans are proving to be too expensive for working men and women to afford, and in 10 million cases, many workers and  their children have nowhere to go for their basic health care needs.

This new bill is a responsible approach to ensuring that children have access to quality health care, and another veto will signal the president’s indifference to the majority of Americans who equate access to health care with the pursuit of the American Dream, our country’s destiny, and each family’s well-being and future.  The UFCW will continue to fight for health care reform so that American workers and their children are able to live healthy and productive lives and realize the American Dream.

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HARDWORKING STUDENTS

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate failed to muster the 60 votes necessary to protect the dreams of hardworking students. The DREAM Act would have allowed children of immigrants who have grown up in the United States the opportunity to apply for citizenship if they graduate from high school and complete two years of college or military service.   Despite the support of 52 senators, the failure to advance the DREAM Act punishes hardworking students.  It is a sad day when America sends the message to young people that their talents and service are unwanted.

Each year, tens of thousands of high performing children of immigrants who were raised in the United States—including honor role students, star athletes, and aspiring teachers, doctors, lawyers and U.S. soldiers—graduate from high school.  Despite their academic achievements, they are effectively barred from contributing fully to our communities.

America cannot afford to turn its back on an educated class of promising students who have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and a strong desire to be upstanding members of our society.  Our current immigration policy has real human costs, and the UFCW will continue to fight for immigration reform that ensures that America’s workers and their children are able to improve their lives and realize the American Dream.

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LEADING KOSHER MEATPACKING PLANT DELAYS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

Cedar Rapids, Iowa– The United States’ leading kosher meatpacking company will appear in federal court today challenging a class action lawsuit filed against the company on behalf of its workers.

The lawsuit alleges that Agriprocessors, a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa,
has not compensated workers for the time they spend preparing for work at the beginning of the day and cleaning up at the end of it. Such compensation has recently been upheld by the Supreme Court.  Agriprocessors is trying to limit worker participation in its attempt to avoid its obligations under Iowa state law which provides that all employees are automatically plaintiffs in the lawsuit unless they sign a form indicating otherwise.  Agriprocessors is arguing that only federal law applies, which requires employees to sign a form requesting participation in the class action suit.

Working conditions and food safety at the AgriProcessors slaughterhouse have been under scrutiny in the past year.  In May of this year, over 200 workers stood up for their rights and walked out of the plant in protest of the company’s misconduct.

Agriprocessors, one of the nation’s largest kosher meat producers, runs a beef, lamb and poultry processing plant in Postville, Iowa. Agriprocessors produces products under the following brand names: Aaron’s Best, Aaron’s Choice, European Glatt, Iowa Best Beef, Nevel, Shor Harbor , Rubashkin’s, Supreme Kosher, and David’s.

“Essentially the company is trying to undercut the voices of hundreds of workers by delaying the lawsuit and trying to limit their right to recover unpaid wages through overwhelming them with more paperwork and red tape,” says Attorney Brian McCafferty.  McCafferty will be representing the workers today in Cedar Rapids, Iowa federal court.

For more information go to www.eyeonagriprocessors.com.

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