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September 29, 2008

UNITED INDIANA GROCERY WORKERS ACHIEVE HIGHER LIVING STANDARDS

(Indianapolis, IN) Workers in Indiana’s grocery industry now have better jobs and a stronger voice at the bargaining table, thanks to a new agreement between UFCW Local 700 and the Kroger Company.

The contract covers 1100 Kroger/Sav-On workers in central Indiana, and includes:

  • Early and significant wage increases and bonuses;
  • Major improvements to health and welfare, with employer contribution increases;
  • Increases in paid holidays, vacations, and personal days.

“I am thrilled,” said Jennifer Keating, Local 700 member and Kroger Sav-On employee.  “I’ve only been with the company a little over a year, and with this contract I’m going to get $2.65 in raises in just one year. And I’ve also gained another week’s paid vacation.”

Marcia Sisson, a pharmacy tech at Kroger Sav-On and UFCW 700 member, agreed. “It’s a great deal,” she said of the agreement, which increases her pay $3 over the contract.

“UFCW Local 700 is part of the Grocery Workers United program, which is leading a nationwide effort to make grocery jobs good jobs,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “The UFCW has settled good contracts, the kind that bring good jobs, in cities across the country—including right here in Indianapolis. By uniting workers to bargain better contracts,” he said, “we’re helping grocery workers throughout Indiana turn supermarket jobs into good, middle class jobs—the kind that come with affordable health care, a living wage, and a secure retirement, and that benefit workers and their communities.”

Members are keenly aware of the difference the contract will make to their standard of living. “Gaining this new prescription card will save me hundreds of dollars,” said Miranda Biddle, Local 700 member and Kroger Sav-On employee. “And I gain another $250,000 in coverage and free cleanings, vision and dental improvements, too. I love it!”

“Grocery store workers across Indiana are enjoying better lives because they are uniting to improve wages and benefits in the grocery industry,” said Chorpenning. “And we’re taking that message to every community in Indiana, from Evansville to Fort Wayne.”

September 26, 2008

DENISON FARMLAND WORKERS RATIFY NEW FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT

(Denison, Iowa) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 440 and Farmland are pleased to announce a new four-year contract covering the 1,400 workers at the Denison, Iowa, pork processing facility.  The contract was ratified by UFCW Local 440 members during meetings yesterday in Denison.

The new contract includes wage increases that keep Denison workers among the highest paid in the pork industry and provides Farmland with new operating efficiencies.   UFCW and Farmland also found solutions that provide quality, affordable health care coverage for workers and their families.

The bargaining process also produced innovative safety and health language that will keep the Denison Farmland plant one of the safest meatpacking plants in the nation.

Farmland is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

September 25, 2008

UNITED FOOD AND COMMERICAL WORKERS URGES CONGRESS TO MAKE RETIREMENT SECURITY PART OF FINANCIAL RESCUE PACKAGE

Washington DC — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is calling on Congress to include pension security as part of the financial rescue package expected to pass by day’s end tomorrow.

Current pension law provides that if a pension plan’s rating slips, benefits of retirees must be cut absent increases in funding. It would be grossly unfair to pensioners if their benefits were cut while a troubled financial institution receives bailout assistance.

The fair course to take would be to temporarily suspend the enforcement of the pension law until Congress develops a plan to allow pension portfolios to return to more normal levels.

This would benefit both union and non-union companies.  It is crucial that any actions taken by Congress do not permanently reduce the pension benefits in an attempt to solve the temporary but serious financial crisis.

The retirement security for millions of workers and their families is on the line.  Congress must be mindful of the long-term implications of the rescue package and how it relates to other regulatory laws that impact workers pensions.  Failure to address the immediate adverse impact of the financial meltdown on pension plans would have disastrous consequences for ordinary working Americans who have an expectation of receiving adequate benefits at retirement.

 

September 24, 2008

DENISON FARMLAND WORKERS REACH TENATIVE AGREEMENT

(Denison, Iowa) – Farmland Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 440 returned to the bargaining table this week and reached a tentative agreement that addresses the bargaining unit’s concerns about the previous offer and increases Farmland’s production capacity.  Both parties look forward to a union ratification vote on September 25, 2008.

Farmland is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

The UFCW is the voice for meatpacking and food processing workers, with more than 250,000 of the union’s 1.3 million members working in these industries.

For more information, contact Mark Kuemmerlein, Farmland Foods, 816-243-2854 or Jill Cashen, UFCW, 202-728-4797.

 

September 3, 2008

Restoring the American Dream

Washington DC—Martin Luther King Jr. once described Americans and our American way of life this way: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

That statement is as profound—and instructive—today as it was a half century ago when Dr. King wrote those words from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.

Labor Day traditionally kicks off the final sprint to Election Day. From now until November 4, Americans will engage in a national debate about who to entrust with the awesome responsibility of leading our nation. It is up to every single American to determine the tone and character of that debate. We have a choice. We can conduct this debate on the merits of each candidate, knowing that we are, all of us, tied in a single garment, endeavoring in the serious work of setting the future course for our children and grandchildren. Or we can use this national debate as a platform to breed division, conflict, and racial fears as some extremists are already doing in newspapers and over the airwaves.

We cannot solve the challenges before us unless we truly recognize that we must solve them together. Americans may come from different backgrounds and outlooks—but we share the same hope of achieving the American dream. All of us want to take part, and do our part, in a society that provides a better life for every American.

I believe Senator Barack Obama is the best candidate—the American dream candidate—not only for working people, but for all Americans. He believes in the promise of the American dream because he has lived it. He believes that, in America, if you work hard you ought to share in the success of your labor. In America, you ought to be able to earn wages and benefits that can raise a family.

From ending the war in Iraq to shoring up the economy, from ensuring health care for every American to solving our energy crisis, Barack Obama has thoughtful, well-formulated proposals designed to put America back on track—and make the American dream a real possibility again for working families. That’s why it is so gravely distressing to see the nefarious efforts of those who would turn back the clock in America by fueling racial fears and inciting racial conflicts around Senator Obama’s candidacy.

Americans need serious debate about how best to meet the challenges of our ailing economy. We need real, workable proposals on how to fix our health care system and make college more affordable for our kids. It’s critically important for the U.S. to regain its place as a leader on the world stage. Yet there are those who persist in distracting us with divisive and morally repugnant racial fear mongering.

In this election, working people have an incredible opportunity to turn our country around. We can reject the politics of division and conflict. We can say: “Not this time, not this election.”  Union members know better than most, as Martin Luther King says, “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” We know that an injury to one is an injury to all. And grave injury is caused by those who would demean this election with racial rhetoric.

Let’s focus the debate on the prospects for a better tomorrow in which all workers will have their rights protected and their hard work respected; a tomorrow with affordable health care for all Americans, economic prosperity and national security. If we conduct a responsible national debate, we can elect a new president who will bring about positive economic change—a president who will not put corporate interests above those of working people. We have a clear choice on the November presidential ballot. Barack Obama offers change and hope—he brings a commitment to the cause of working people. With his leadership, we can change America, and restore the American dream.