• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

March 24, 2009

UFCW WORKERS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY URGE CONGRESS TO PASS EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT

WASHINGTON, DC – UFCW members from across the country visited the halls of Congress today to speak with their elected officials and to urge passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The workers, who have tried to join the UFCW, came to Washington to share their stories about forming a union in the workplace and to urge their elected representatives in Congress to make the passage of Employee Free Choice a priority.

The action comes on the heels of the introduction earlier this month of the legislation in both the Senate and the House.

“I believe that if Congress really cares about fixing the economy and rebuilding the middle class, it should pass the Employee Free Choice Act,” said James Satler, a former Fresh & Easy grocery worker from California. “The economy should work for everyone, not just CEOs.” Satler was fired for attempting to organize a union at his workplace.

Despite having majority support at work, Darlene Bruzio and her co-workers at Giant Eagle in Pennsylvania lost their union election because of employer interference. “When you have more than 80% support for joining a union, like we did at my store, and still lose an election, you know that the system is broken,” Bruzio said. “Members of Congress should stop the corporations that are gaming the system by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.”

While most workers’ stories heard in Congress today highlight the intimidation and harassment workers face when trying to form a union, Armando Martinez, a Hormel Foods worker from Nebraska, shared a positive experience of getting a voice on the job without intimidation. “I know that having a union makes the difference because I have worked in places where employees are threatened when they try to get a voice on the job,” Martinez said. “When I started working at the Hormel Foods plant in Freemont, the UFCW already represented the workers. All I needed to do was sign up to show I wanted to join the union—all without any intimidation or harassment from the company.”

Sixty million workers say they would join a union if they could. With Employee Free Choice, workers, not employers, will decide how to form a union. Workers will have the option of majority sign up in addition to a secret ballot election. The Free Choice legislation will establish meaningful penalties for employers who break the law and harass or fire workers for wanting a union. Finally, Employee Free Choice will ensure that workers gain a first contract through a provision that calls for binding arbitration if workers and management cannot reach an agreement within 120 days.

Photos of today’s event are available. Media inquiries should be directed to press@ufcw.org.

March 13, 2009

Nine Years Later, a Broken System on Display in Texas

TYLER, TX – “”Yesterday, after nearly a decade of legal maneuverings and circumventions of federal law, Wal-Mart was finally forced to the bargaining table in Jacksonville, Texas. More than nine years ago, workers in the meat department in the Jacksonville Wal-Mart voted to be represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 540. What Wal-Mart proceeded to put these workers through was both unlawful and unconscionable.

“”In one of the company’s most audacious displays of hubris, Wal-Mart first ignored the workers, refusing to bargain with them or provide information to their union. Only after the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Wal-Mart did the company try to move the goalposts by claiming that workers in the meat department had lost their right to representation because the skilled meatcutting jobs had been replaced by a prepackaged meat program. Eight years and several legal battles later, Wal-Mart ran out of excuses when the United States Court of Appeals forced the company to bargain with these workers.

“”National and international law protect the right of workers to join a union of their choosing. When the outcome of an election is uncertain for this long in other countries, we call it a coup. When it happens here, it’s just another day on the job for the millions of American workers for whom a voice on the job is being unjustly denied. The story in Jacksonville, while particularly alarming, is far from the only one of its kind.

“”A multi-billion dollar war chest and a team of corporate lobbyists shouldn’t be prerequisites to the free exercise of federally-protected workplace rights. Without legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, workers will continue to fight drawn-out, expensive, and – all too often – losing battles against multi-national corporate empires that see them as a liability to be minimized.

“”If ever there was a case that demonstrated how utterly bankrupt the current system is, the Jacksonville Wal-Mart case is it. It was not enough that a group of people in one of the least worker-friendly states in America had the courage to take on the least worker-friendly company in the world. It was not enough that they had to take their case before the National Labor Relations Board and the United States Court of Appeals. Even after clearing every hurdle Wal-Mart could throw in their path, these workers are still faced with a company across the table that has little legal incentive to deal with them fairly.””

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union represents more than 1.3 million workers in North America, primarily in the retail food, meatpacking, and food processing industries.

Key Events in the Jacksonville, TX, Wal-Mart Case

TIME ELAPSED BETWEEN INITIAL FILING & FIRST DAY OF BARGAINING:

9 years, 2 months, and 12 days

December 28, 1999 – The workers who staff the meat department at the Wal-Mart store in Jacksonville, Texas, file an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

February 16, 2000 – Over the objections of Wal-Mart, the NLRB holds an election. Seventy percent of the meat department workers vote for UFCW Local 540 as their bargaining representative.

August 9, 2000 – The NLRB certifies UFCW Local 540 as the representative of the meat department workers.

August 22, 2000 – The NLRB’s regional office issues a complaint alleging that Wal-Mart unlawfully refused to bargain with UFCW Local 540.

September 2000 – Wal-Mart first makes the claim that workers in the Jacksonville Wal-Mart meat department had lost their right to representation because skilled meatcutting jobs had been replaced by a prepackaged meat program.

June 2003 – An Administrative Law Judge with the NLRB found that Wal-Mart relieved itself of the obligation to bargain a contract with the workers due to the elimination of skilled meat cutting jobs, but that it had unlawfully refused to bargain with the workers over the effects of the prepackaged meat program.

September 2006 – The NLRB largely affirms the findings of the Administrative Law Judge.

March 14, 2008 – The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upholds the NLRB’s decision.

March 12, 2009 – The workers, representatives of UFCW and Wal-Mart sit down at the bargaining table for the first time.

March 11, 2009

>Scholarship Deadline Extended: Now April 15!

>

The UFCW Scholarship program has extended the deadline for 2009!

Your union is about more than your paycheck and benefits. The UFCW is about workers coming together to build better lives for ourselves. It’s about creating opportunity.

Apply by April 15, 2009 for your opportunity to be awarded one of the several scholarships of up to $8,000 that will be awarded to UFCW members and their dependents. Recipients will be notified June 19, 2009.

To find out more, or to apply online, visit UFCW.org/Scholarship.

If you are unable to apply online, you may request an application by writing to:
UFCW International Union, Attn: Scholarship Program, 1775 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
If you need the scholarship rules or application in another language,
please contact us (1-800-551-4010) and we will obtain assistance for you.

March 11, 2009

>Scholarship Deadline Extended: Now April 15!

>

The UFCW Scholarship program has extended the deadline for 2009!

Your union is about more than your paycheck and benefits. The UFCW is about workers coming together to build better lives for ourselves. It’s about creating opportunity.

Apply by April 15, 2009 for your opportunity to be awarded one of the several scholarships of up to $8,000 that will be awarded to UFCW members and their dependents. Recipients will be notified June 19, 2009.

To find out more, or to apply online, visit UFCW.org/Scholarship.

If you are unable to apply online, you may request an application by writing to:
UFCW International Union, Attn: Scholarship Program, 1775 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
If you need the scholarship rules or application in another language,
please contact us (1-800-551-4010) and we will obtain assistance for you.

March 11, 2009

UFCW CALLS ON BRUNO

Company’s refusal to engage in productive negotiations or identify potential buyers raises serious questions about Bruno’s restructuring and its commitment to Alabama communities 


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) released the following statement today following Bruno’s continued unwillingness to fully disclose restructuring plans to its workers:

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and UFCW Local 1657 have repeatedly reached out to Bruno’s Supermarket’s management about working to preserve and protect good jobs in Alabama. We have repeatedly said that we are willing to sit down with any potential buyer to discuss plans to restructure the company. Our number one priority is to have these stores succeed.

“All across the country, we have worked with our employers to navigate the current economic situation. But the way Bruno’s is acting is not only unfair, it goes against the core values of our state.

“We are not going to sign away our future because some New York restructuring firm says that we should. They have refused to engage in constructive discussions. They have refused to identify any potential buyers. They are basically saying trust us, we know what is best for you. But these are the same Wall Street financial wizards who got us into this economic mess.

“After years of mismanagement, Bruno’s advisers are now trying to blame workers for the company’s mistakes. Many of these workers have put in decades of service at Bruno’s. That service should be respected. The contracts these workers negotiated are in line with grocery workers we represent across the country. It allows them to provide for their loved ones and to give their children a better life. Why should Alabama families deserve any less than other grocery workers across the country?

“We suggest that if the financial firm Bruno’s hired to “turnaround” the company doesn’t understand this, they should turnaround and head back to Wall Street because their actions do not reflect Alabama’s Main Street values.

“It is unfortunate that Bruno’s seems to be behaving more like Bear Stearns than a responsible Alabama employer. Whenever they are ready to sit down and have a productive conversation about how we can protect Alabama jobs and communities, and can get Bruno’s stores back on track, we are ready and willing to get it done.

“All we are asking is for them to be forthright, honest and transparent so we can do what is in the best interest of the company and the community.”

March 10, 2009

UFCW Statement on the Introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act

(Washington, D.C.) – It is time for leadership.  With a faltering economy and millions of hardworking families struggling to make ends meet, only strong leadership can end thirty years of wage stagnation and renew the American Dream for America’s workers.  The Employee Free Choice Act would kick start the engine of America’s middle class.

The introduction of the Free Choice legislation today gives Congress the opportunity to show American workers that they are willing to stand up for real change for working families and shape a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren.

1.3 million UFCW members and their families are counting on their Senators and Congresspersons to show leadership and support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Without the Employee Free Choice Act, workers will continue to fight a one-sided, losing battle to exercise their legal rights at work.  The recent stimulus package was a necessary first step in the right direction.  But if our country is to have a sound and sustainable economy, we must fully renew the opportunity for workers to achieve the American Dream.  Union membership is the engine of a middle-class economy.

UFCW members and working families across the nation are standing firmly in support of this legislation.  We will not let corporate America drown out reasonable debate on this issue with lies and exaggerations about the process by which workers can choose a union.

We will not let Congress forget why corporate America is spending millions of dollars on ads and lobbyists.   Companies like Wal-Mart are profiting from our economic downturn while thousands of Wal-Mart workers try to stay afloat with part-time incomes, unaffordable health care and questionable job security.   Severe income inequality is destroying the American Dream and today we stand united to say it’s time to level the playing field for American workers.

UFCW members will continue to make our voices heard so that every worker can freely choose to join a union to improve their lives, without intimidation, harassment or fear.

March 6, 2009

UFCW Calls for Immediate Health Care Reform

Yesterday, the President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Joe Hansen, attended the White House Forum on Health Reform hosted by President Barack Obama. Today, he reiterated the union’s strong commitment to the movement to bring quality, affordable health care to every American:

Every UFCW member has been touched by the health care crisis. They see the devastating effects of our nation’s failure to act on this issue every day in their communities, in their families, and in their workplaces.

I was pleased to be invited to the White House Forum on Health Reform. I was excited to see President Barack Obama take on the mantle of leadership on this critical issue. I was inspired by the broad spectrum of leaders calling for immediate action.

We will do whatever it takes to see quality, affordable health care extended to everyone in this country.  UFCW members demand it and our country needs it now more than ever.  A real solution to America’s healthcare problem is the single best way to put America’s economy back on track.  Reform must be based on shared responsibility, and that includes fair funding for a public health insurance option so that we have real choices in our system.

So we take this moment to urge each and every person to join us in this fight. Visit www.healthcareforamericanow.org today to read our principles, tell your Congressperson or Senator of our national need for urgent health care reform, and to take action in your community.

March 5, 2009

Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen to Promote Affordable, Quality Health Care at White House Forum on Heal

WASHINGTON, DC – At the invitation of President Barack Obama, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Joe Hansen will appear this afternoon at the White House Forum on Health Reform. Hansen has been a consistent voice for quality, affordable health care. Hansen is eager to join the President’s nominees for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle, at the forum and to support President Obama’s efforts to bring affordable, quality health care for all.

For nearly three decades, Hansen has played a key role in the negotiation of contracts covering hundreds of thousands of workers in the retail and food manufacturing industries. An original member of the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, Hansen served as the sole worker representative in that congressionally chartered body. The group facilitated a groundbreaking national dialogue that resulted in a bipartisan consensus on the need for affordable, quality care for all Americans.

At the forum, Hansen will focus on how workers and unions can play an important role in reforming a health care system paralyzed by insurance companies and entrenched special interests, a critical step in the effort to rebuild the American middle class.  Hansen recognizes that America needs a national solution to the health care crisis and this year is the time to act.

The full proceedings of the summit, which begins at 1:00 p.m. EST, can be observed live at www.WhiteHouse.gov.

March 4, 2009

HHS CHOICE SEBELIUS REFLECTS OBAMA COMMITMENT TO QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS

Washington DC–President Obama’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care was reaffirmed today, as he announced his choice of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Gov. Sebelius is well-respected on both sides of the aisle and understands the challenges confronting America’s health care apparatus. During her tenure as Kansas insurance commissioner, she demonstrated both the tenacity and technical expertise needed to overhaul a system paralyzed by insurance companies and special interests. The voters of Kansas have long known Gov. Sebelius as a champion of working families and as a dedicated public servant, and we are eager to join her as she works to realize the dream of a stronger, healthier America.