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    UFCW Blog

May 12, 2009

Local 1529 Holds Community Forum Calling on Congress to Pass Employee Free Choice

UFCW Local 1529 members and community leaders met on May 7th in a community forum to discuss how the current economic crisis affects their livelihoods and offer Main Street solutions to hard working Americans. The town hall meeting in West Memphis, Arkansas, was part of a statewide and national mobilization of everyday working Americans who are coming together to bring about change in the workplace through passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Speakers included Leo Chapman, former mayor of West Memphis and first
African American elected to that position, Irvin Calliste, International
Representative for the Steelworkers’ Union and President of the
Memphis AFL-CIO Labor Council, and Billy Myers, International
Representative for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.

At the meeting, Chapman said workers would have more opportunities if it were easier to join a union. “”Look at the people where they’re behind, if
they were unionizing they would be in a better position than they are
today. We want to enjoy the same rights and privileges as anyone else.”

Calliste noted that unions are a core part of our country, saying, “Because of unions, this country thrived. It’s not a coincidence that when union membership declined, the middle class started declining with it. Unions are responsible for the great middle class in this country.”

Billy Myers urged UFCW and community members to mobilize for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field so workers can have more opportunities to get ahead. “I tell the workers it’s illegal [the company anti-union campaigns]. They can’t fire you for union activities. But in the back of my mind, I know it happens. Right now there’s no level playing field, the company has all the power. We must change that.”

Passing Employee Free Choice is crucial to growing the middle class and building an economy that works for everyone.  It will allow workers to have a voice at work and to bargain collectively for higher wages, benefits, and job security.  The bill seeks to level the playing field between workers and their employers because it would give workers–not their employers–the power to choose to join a union either through majority sign-up or through an election.

May 8, 2009

UFCW Statement on DOL Budget

“”The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) applauds the budget proposed by President Barack Obama’s administration for the Department of Labor. This budget – with its focus on enforcement of labor laws, safer workplaces, and helping unemployed Americans – prioritizes the needs of working families across the country. Importantly, the Obama administration has charted a path away from destructive pro-big business policies of the Bush era and towards a future where the needs of working Americans come first.

With this budget, the Department of Labor has returned to its mission of protecting America’s workers rather than serving the needs of corporate lobbyists, and high-dollar donors.

This budget provides for hundreds of new investigators to ensure that Americans are paid for their hard work, increased Occupational Safety and Health Administration funding so that they come home safe every day, and new funding for programs that help the unemployed find new work. We at the UFCW know that this budget is an important step to jump start our economy, and make work pay for every American.”

May 1, 2009

UFCW STATEMENT REGARDING DHS GUIDELINES ON WORKPLACE RAIDS

WASHINGTON – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today released the following statement in response to an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the agency would be making policy changes with regard to workplace immigration raids:

“This announcement marks an important shift in policy that will end the heavy handed, headline-grabbing tactics that were the hallmark of the Bush administration.

“It is clear that the Bush administration used workplace raids as an attempt to cover up its failure to address the broader challenge of addressing the root causes of our broken immigration system. The result was workplace raids that led to clear Constitutional violations, including the detention of U.S. citizens, as well as the devastation and destruction of innocent families and communities.

“The announcement today is an important step in the right direction. It creates a system that will punish bad employers. It will help ensure that businesses that try to game the system, exploit vulnerable workers or attempt to drive down wages and working conditions are held accountable.

“But, as President Obama has said, we cannot address immigration reform in a piecemeal fashion, we must do it comprehensively. Enforcement is only one part of this issue.

“Change to Win and the AFL-CIO recently unveiled an immigration framework that will address all of the interconnecting parts of this complicated issue. We look forward to working closely with Congress and the Obama administration to pass an immigration system that works for America’s workers, and that upholds the values of our nation.

“We are a nation that respects hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Our immigration system must hold true to these principles.”