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    UFCW Blog

February 25, 2008


(Washington, DC) — Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) released a television commercial today urging support for Barack Obama for President that will begin running in markets across the state of Ohio starting Tuesday.  The UFCW endorsed Obama for President on Valentine’s Day.

The ad is running in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown, and starts Tuesday running through the March 4, 2008, primary.  The ad is posted on youtube.com at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aQs3_2V_Sw and a high resolution version is available upon request.

The text of the :30 ad appears here:

For once:  Can we put American jobs for workers first?  We have a recovery that reaches main street? And we stop spending money in Iraq and start spending it here?  Can we have affordable healthcare for everyone?  For everyone?  For everyone?  Can we really elect a president we can believe in?

Yes we can!    March 4th, your vote, your voice.  Your chance to change America. Barack Obama.  President.

Paid for by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Active Ballot Club, ufcw.org which is responsible for the content of this ad.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

February 25, 2008


WASHINGTON —A new, national commission convened today to examine the policies and practices of enforcement actions by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
The Commission will investigate claims of unconstitutional workplace enforcement actions, including massive round ups and detention of workers, as well as economic disruption stemming from the country’s failed immigration enforcement policies.
“Our broken immigration system does not provide ICE license to break the law and violate the Constitution during enforcement actions,” said Joseph T. Hansen, founding Chairman of the National Commission and United Food & Commercial Workers International Union President.
On December 12, 2006, thousands of innocent workers were detained at meatpacking plants in six states in workplace raids carried out by federal ICE agents. The UFCW represents workers at five of the plants, including Worthington, Minn.; Greeley, Colo.; Cactus, Tex.; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Grand Island, Neb.
In a series of regional hearings, the commission will hear from legal, law enforcement, and immigration experts, among others, to examine the ramifications of ICE enforcement actions. The Commission will look into claims that ICE has engaged in violations of the 4th Amendment. And after thorough investigation, it will produce a public report that highlights its findings and makes recommendations to ensure that workers do not check their constitutional rights at the door when they report to work.
Civilian-driven investigations have played an important role in U.S. history. When African-Americans were arrested, beaten, and killed during the civil rights movement, the tragedies fueled the McCone Commission in 1965 and the National Advisory Commission in 1968. When Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established to investigate these unacceptable civil rights violations. Citizen review panels are often created to help renew a commitment to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, especially when those rights are violated by local police brutality.
In the coming weeks, the Commission will release its schedule of hearings planned through June 2008.
February 14, 2008


Washington — For the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the 2008 Presidential election is about 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 has a powerful presence and a strong organization in key primary states such as Wisconsin, Hawaii, Texas and Ohio.  We are the largest union of young workers with more than forty percent of our members under the age of thirty.  Senator Obama’s message of changing hope into reality has inspired our members, particularly our young members, across the country.

We have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton and her tireless efforts on behalf of working people.  And while both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have a vision to change America, we believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate 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.

Our country requires a change—change that restores America to a place of opportunity and security, where hard work is respected and those who do it are protected.

Our country requires change that brings the security working people require to improve their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Senator Obama understands the needs of working people. As a community organizer, he understands that America must restore the balance between working America and corporate America. He will fight to level the playing field on behalf of workers across our country.  He will fight to regain the rights and protections workers have lost after too many years of the Bush Administration.

UFCW will be mobilizing, organizing and energizing our members, their friends and families to make Senator Obama not just the Democratic nominee, but the next President of the United States.

We are talking about the dreams of meatpackers and food processors working long hours to ensure that the dreams of their sons and daughters for college and a better life become a reality.  We are talking about giving life to the dreams of cashiers and clerks in retail and grocery stores. That is what this election is about. It is about the dreams of hard working people across this country. Men and women who deserve to have their elected officials work as hard as they do.

It is Senator Obama who is best positioned, and who has the best policies, to make these dreams a reality.  Senator Obama is the candidate of the American dream.

February 13, 2008


WASHINGTON — Mike Graves, a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1149, testified today before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law about heavy handed tactics by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who raided the Swift Company packing plant in Marshalltown, Ia., where he works.

“”I’m a U.S. Citizen, born in Iowa,”” Graves said. “”Yet, ICE agents treated me as a criminal. They detained me for eight hours. There was no legitimate reason. There was no probable cause. Our plant – our workplace – was transformed into a prison. We were turned into prisoners because we went to work that day.””

On December 12, 2006, thousands of meatpacking workers-including citizens, legal residents and immigrants in the process of legalization-were swept up in ICE raids at six meat packing plants across the country. The UFCW represents workers at five of the plants including Worthington, Minn.; Greeley, Colo.; Cactus, Tex.; Marshalltown, Ia.; and Grand Island, Neb.

“”What happened to me – and to thousands of other U.S. citizens and legal residents on that December day – was a complete violation of our rights,”” Graves testified. “”It can happen at any workplace – at any time – in this country if we do not do something now to change the way these immigration raids are conducted.””

Unfortunately, Graves’ story was not an isolated incident. Many innocent workers at the plant were detained in handcuffs during the raids. Others were shipped out on buses. Families, schools and daycare centers could not be contacted to make arrangements for the children of detained workers. Families were left divided and scared-not knowing where or when they might see a missing family member again.

In September 2007, the UFCW filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas naming Michael Chertoff of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Julie Myers of ICE as defendants. The suit calls for an injunction against the excessive, illegal and unnecessary worksite raids conducted by ICE agents.

In addition to the lawsuit, the UFCW recently announced the formation of a national commission to examine the policies and practices of enforcement actions by ICE. The commission will gather independent information and analysis through a series of regional public hearings that will explore the execution, implications and ramifications of workplace raids. It will also look into claims that ICE, in the conduct of raids, has engaged in violations of law. The commission is made up of a broad group of leading experts from across the country, including former elected officials, academics and public policy specialists. The first hearing will be held on February, 25, 2008.

“”We have seen federal agents routinely violate the 4th Amendment rights of workers during massive workplace raids across the country,”” said Mark Lauritsen, UFCW International Vice President. “”Until national leaders fix our country’s immigration system, our local communities will be torn apart, and the constitutional rights of citizens and legal residents will be routinely violated. Our country desperately requires a framework for moving forward, humanely and comprehensively, to fix our immigration system.””