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December 12, 2008

Workers at the World’s Largest Meatpacking Plant Choose Union Representation

Tar Heel, N.C. – Workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, North Carolina, chose union representation with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Workers voted 2041 to 1879 for a voice on the job.

“When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the job,” said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill. “This is a great victory for the Tar Heel workers. I know they are looking forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with Smithfield to negotiate a contract. The UFCW has constructive union contracts with Smithfield plants around the country. Those union contracts benefit workers, the company and the community. We believe the workers here in Tar Heel can achieve a similar agreement.”

Ronnie Ann Simmons, a veteran of 13 years at the plant said, “We are thrilled. This moment has been a long time coming. We stuck together, and now we have a say on the job.”

Workers at 26 Smithfield-owned facilities around the country already have UFCW representation.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream.

December 11, 2008

WORKERS AT THE WORLD

Tar Heel, N.C. – Workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, North Carolina, chose union representation with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).  Workers voted 2041 to 1879 for a voice on the job.

“When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the job,” said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill. “This is a great victory for the Tar Heel workers. I know they are looking forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with Smithfield to negotiate a contract. The UFCW has constructive union contracts with Smithfield plants around the country. Those union contracts benefit workers, the company and the community. We believe the workers here in Tar Heel can achieve a similar agreement.”

Ronnie Ann Simmons, a veteran of 13 years at the plant said, “We are thrilled. This moment has been a long time coming. We stuck together, and now we have a say on the job.”

Workers at 26 Smithfield-owned facilities around the country already have UFCW representation.

December 1, 2008

>Unions Recognize World Aids Day

>The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic affects all of us. In the U.S., workers living with the disease have protections on the job. Here are 2 articles on what unions are doing around the world to ensure the spread slows to a stop and worker’s human rights are protected.

UNI – Africa Removing denial and the stigama still attached to those infected with HIV/AIDS are both important parts of the trade union action plan to tackle the disease in Africa. Read more about how unions are supporting members with this disease.

BWI- Asian Pacific Region
HIV/AIDS, a global pandemic has thrown new challenges to the trade unions around the world. Today on the World AIDS day – we remember all the brothers and sisters who have lost their lives and also, those who are afflicted with the deadly virus and are coping with the consequences.

Read more about the efforst the world over to stop this deadly disease: World Aids Campaign.

December 1, 2008

>Unions Recognize World Aids Day

>The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic affects all of us. In the U.S., workers living with the disease have protections on the job. Here are 2 articles on what unions are doing around the world to ensure the spread slows to a stop and worker’s human rights are protected.

UNI – Africa Removing denial and the stigama still attached to those infected with HIV/AIDS are both important parts of the trade union action plan to tackle the disease in Africa. Read more about how unions are supporting members with this disease.

BWI- Asian Pacific Region
HIV/AIDS, a global pandemic has thrown new challenges to the trade unions around the world. Today on the World AIDS day – we remember all the brothers and sisters who have lost their lives and also, those who are afflicted with the deadly virus and are coping with the consequences.

Read more about the efforst the world over to stop this deadly disease: World Aids Campaign.

November 20, 2008

Meatpacking Workers Win Solid Wage and Benefits Increases in New Agreement with Smithfield/Patrick Cudahy

(Washington, DC) – A new contract covering 1450 Smithfield/Patrick Cudahy workers in Cudahy, Wis., raises living standards for meatpacking workers and their families. The contract negotiated by union members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473 provides solid wage increases, lower worker health care costs with improved health care benefits, and greater pension security.

“This is a good contract,” said production worker and UFCW Local 1473 member Ilma Santiago. “Good wages, good health care, and good pension benefits.”

The new five-year contract provides:

  • Wage increase of $1.26, increasing base-wage rates to $12.66  an hour with a top rate of  $32.08 an hour
  • A $175 lump-sum payment
  • Improvements in wellness health care coverage—and a five percent decrease in worker health care costs
  • Increases pension and improves retirement security
  • A $200 annual tool allowance
  • Increases life insurance
  • Increases sick allowance pay
  • Improves vacation benefits
  • Improves funeral and bereavement pay

The Cudahy contract is the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW packing and food processing members across the country.

“It’s good to have a union, especially in these tough economic times—a UFCW contract means security for my family,” said Santiago.

November 20, 2008

HYRUM JBS/SWIFT WORKERS STAND UP FOR VOICE ON THE JOB

Hyrum, Utah – More than 1,100 workers gained union representation with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 yesterday at the JBS/Swift beef plant (known locally as the E. A. Miller plant) in Hyrum, Utah, after voting overwhelmingly for a voice on the job.

“We stood together for a better future for our families,” said Isaias Lopez, a 22-year veteran of the plant. “That was the first step. Now, we can work on a first contract that brings greater opportunity to our workplace.”

The Hyrum plant has been in operation for over seventy years and became part of the JBS family with their acquisition of Swift meatpacking almost two years ago. It had been the only JBS/Swift plant in the United States that did not have union representation.

“This victory means we’ll have a voice at work,” said plant worker Adalberto Soto. We voted ‘UFCW Yes.’ It was an easy decision, and it was the right decision for our families and our future.”

“When we sit down with management to negotiate that first contract,” continued Soto, “We won’t sit down alone. We’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ten thousand brothers and sisters at all the JBS/Swift plants across the country, and with all workers in the packing and processing industry. The more workers who unite in our industry—the   more powerful we are to make better lives for our families.”

Yesterday’s result of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election was a culmination of a worker-led campaign designed to give these men and women a stronger voice on the job and more opportunity for their families.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Hyrum workers,” said Max Aldama, a member of UFCW Local 1149 and an employee at JBS/Swift’s Marshalltown, Iowa plant who assisted workers in organizing their Hyrum plant. “JBS/Swift has always been willing to work honestly and openly with us in Marshalltown, and I know they’ll live up to the high standards they have always set and kept for themselves.”

November 14, 2008

UFCW Local 222 Staff Member Carmen Hacht Receives Health and Safety Award

November 10–Local 222 Recording Secretary Carmen Hacht is the 2007 recipient of the 2008 Tony Mazzocchi Award, an award for excellence in occupational health and safety in the workplace.

Hacht worked at Tyson Foods Inc. meatpacking plant (formerly IBP) in Nebraska for 20 years, playing a role as an active steward from the very beginning of her time there. In the mid-1980s, IBP workers were suffering from high rates of MSDs. Local 222 and the UFCW International’s Safety and Health department filed an OSHA complaint, and IBP receieved one of the highest fines ever for failing to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Settlement of the citations led to a successful ergonomic program, and Carmen became an “”ergonomic monitor,”” a line worker trained in ergonomics. She was responsible for job analysis, audits of workers on light duty jobs, worker advocacy when workers were injured and needed help getting through the medical system, and monitoring workers training and skills.

Carmen’s work at Local 222 now includes overseeing the ergonomics program at the meatpacking plants. She teaches new monitors what their jobs will entail, and has earned the trust and respect of the plant workers. The UFCW is proud of the contributions that Carmen has made over the years to improving working conditions for thousands of workers.

November 13, 2008

Millions of Workers Being Denied Billions in Hard-Earned Wages

WASHINGTON, DC – “”American businesses are bilking millions of working Americans out of billions in wages every year,”” said Michael J. Wilson, International Vice President and Director of Legislative and Political Action at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, who appeared at the Department of Labor early this afternoon to discuss wage theft. Conservative estimates place the sum of illegally withheld wages at $20 billion. Millions of Americans are denied overtime, forced to work off the clock, and unjustly docked pay. American workers reasonably expect that the laws governing wages passed by the United States Congress and state legislatures will be respected by their employers. They expect that they shouldn’t have to go to court to collect the paychecks they’ve earned.

Recent history is filled with examples of systematic circumvention of wage and hour law by some of America’s biggest companies:

• The world’s single largest employer, Wal-Mart, faced nearly sixty lawsuits for violating wage and hour regulations in 2006 alone. Among numerous other breaches of state and federal law, Wal-Mart has docked workers’ pay for eating lunch, forced employees to stay at work off the clock, and denied overtime pay to individuals working full shifts seven days a week.

• Agriprocessors, Inc., one of the largest kosher meatpacking plants in the country, illegally charged more than 2,000 workers for required uniforms and safety gear, and withheld final paychecks from dozens of employees.

• Michael Bianco, Inc., a company with significant military contracts, docked workers 15 minutes worth of pay for being just one minute late, docked workers $20 of pay for being in the restroom for longer than two minutes, and required workers to work two consecutive shifts without overtime pay.

“”We’re not talking about mom-and-pop shops forgetting a nickel here and a dime there; some of the nation’s biggest companies have been systematically denying employees their hard-earned wages,”” said Wilson. “”Workers should reasonably be able expect that they won’t need to go to court to collect the paychecks they’ve earned.””

November 10, 2008

PriceRite Workers and Grocery Workers

Providence, R.I.—On November 7, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), grocery workers and community members gathered at the Providence PriceRite store on 325 Valley St to reach out to shoppers. Workers handed out flyers to customers and talked to them about the need for good union jobs, especially in this troubled economy.

PriceRite is owned by Wakefern–the same company that owns and/or supplies ShopRite stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, where the vast majority of workers have a union. Those ShopRite workers say their union, the UFCW, gives them benefits like good wages, quality, affordable health care, and respect on the job–the kind of benefits that make grocery jobs the good, middle-class jobs that strengthen communities.

PriceRite stores are primarily located in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Workers in these states also began reaching out to customers today. PriceRite workers say they are not being allowed the same freedom to choose a union–without company interference.

“”I’ve seen PriceRite run all over immigrant workers and disrespect them in lots of ways,”” said PriceRite worker Charles Heirsch. “”That’s not good for workers or families here in Providence.””

“”It’s just unfair,”” said Ronnie Cabral, Jr., a PriceRite employee. “We need the union here, too, so we can get better pay and health care, and job security.””

A majority of PriceRite workers are part-time, and are not eligible for health care. When workers can’t get health care, it means more uninsured families in Providence–and taxpayers footing the bills for government health care. PriceRite workers are reaching out to community members to help make their employer understand: in this troubled economy, the last thing Providence needs is dead-end, low-paying jobs that don’t provide health care coverage.

“”We’re not just workers–we’re a part of the community,”” says Heirsch. “”If we can improve jobs at PriceRite, it will help working families and make our middle class stronger. That’s why we need a union at PriceRite.””

November 7, 2008

A New Day for Working Families

Washington — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) endorsed President-elect Barack Obama’s candidacy in February because his run for the White House was based on renewing hope for the middle class—on restoring the American Dream for America’s workers.  UFCW members are energized to seize this opportunity to change America and restore the American Dream for workers and their families.

The UFCW is the largest union of young workers with more than 40 percent of our 1.3 million members under the age of 30.  The UFCW was the first major labor unions to support Barack Obama’s primary campaign because his message of changing hope into reality inspired our young members across the country.

Twenty-two-year-old UFCW Local 1776 member Samantha Miskevich of Limerick, Pennsylvania, pointed out how especially significant the election was for young voters, observing that “[t]his is our time. For me and my peers, this election was our 1960’s moment, our moment to vote for change. I’ve never worked so hard or talked to so many people. This election was about saving the middle class.”

UFCW members, and millions of Americans, have been inspired by President-elect Obama to build a movement to unite our country that will deliver the type of change that is needed – for good jobs, affordable health care, retirement security and worker safety.   Today is a new day for working families.

UFCW members are proud to have played such a vital role in bringing change to Washington, D.C. and setting a course that will improve the lives of their children and grandchildren.  Tuesday’s election was only the beginning of the movement.  UFCW members are ready to keep up the hard work to make President-elect Obama’s change platform a reality.

President-elect Obama understands the needs of working people and is committed to restoring the balance between working America and corporate America.   The U.S. economy needs urgent attention and President-elect Obama understands that we need an economy built on real income for real workers – not on inflated housing markets and unreliable stock prices.  Restoring the middle class is the best way to rebuild our economy and the UFCW is ready to work closely with President-elect Obama to make that dream a reality.

Today is a new day for meatpackers and food processors who work long hours to ensure that the dreams of their sons and daughters for college and a better life become a reality.  It’s a new day for cashiers and clerks in retail and grocery stores who work every day to make sure they don’t have to choose between feeding their families or paying health care bills. Tuesday’s election was about filling dreams of hard working people across this country.