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    UFCW Blog

July 31, 2009

Wal-Mart Watch Joins WakeUpWalmart.com to Hold America

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced that Wal-Mart Watch has joined with WakeUpWalMart.com to form one organization to maximize the ability for Walmart workers to win a voice on the job and bring change to the entire retail industry.

“”We find ourselves at a critical moment in our country – working families are struggling to make ends meet, while corporations like Walmart continue to reap record profits,”” said UFCW President Joe Hansen. “”Walmart workers across America are standing up and demanding change, and the UFCW is standing with them to achieve the health care and labor law reforms that will restore and expand the middle class. The UFCW is the labor union for retail workers and we will not let Walmart, as the world’s largest retailer, shirk its responsibility to the 1.4 million employees who work for the company.””

“”As Walmart workers continue to speak out to transform their jobs, we believe they are best served by a single organization dedicated to supporting Walmart workers and holding the retail giant accountable for its actions,”” said SEIU President Andy Stern. “”Walmart has made a lot of promises to working families, and we plan to hold them accountable for making those changes.””

Walmart earns $34,880 in profit every minute, yet only 50 percent of Walmart workers are covered by the company’s health care plan, because Walmart premiums and deductibles are unaffordable. Workers’ schedules — and therefore wages — are shrinking, and when workers stand up and demand changes, they are confronted with special squad of “”attitude”” enforcers straight from company headquarters in Bentonville. If workers persist in standing up, they are shown the door.

“”We are ready for change, and feel that if we stand together, we can change this company for the better from the inside,”” said Cynthia Murray, an associate from Laurel, MD. “”We work too hard to be pushed aside so that company executives can add a few million dollars to their bonuses this year.””

In April, thousands of Walmart’s 1.4 million associates across the country united to launch Walmart Workers for Change, the largest effort ever by Walmart workers to demand a voice on the job. Workers in more than 100 stores in 15 states across the country have already joined together. This historic action led to the decision by Wal-Mart Watch to unite its strength with WakeUpWalMart.com.

Joining with WakeUpWalMart.com will:

• Unite hundreds of thousands of activists both online and in neighborhoods across the country to support Walmart workers with one collective voice.

• Allow President Obama and Members of Congress to unite with a newly strengthened group invested in transforming the world’s largest retailer.

• Create a stronger partner for Walmart Workers for Change, the Walmart workers leading the campaign to create good jobs at Walmart from the inside.

• Strengthen efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which will allow Walmart workers to form unions free from harassment and intimidation; and ensure passage of real and meaningful healthcare reform that holds employers like Walmart accountable.

July 29, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO MEET WITH UFCW MEMBERS ON HEALTH CARE

(BRISTOL, VA) – President Barack Obama will hold health care town hall meeting at the Bristol, Virginia, Kroger grocery store today – Wednesday, July 29 at 4:00 pm. Workers at this store are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 400, and are speaking out for quality, affordable health care for all.

“We’re honored and excited to host President Obama,” said Vera Lewis, a member of the UFCW and a floral designer at the Bristol Kroger. “Like President Obama says, health care reform can’t wait. We need a health care system that covers everyone and brings down costs now.”

UFCW members see the face of the healthcare debate every day across the nation. They work as pharmacists, in health care facilities, and in grocery stores like the Bristol Kroger.  UFCW members see that average families are struggling and we need reform that will ease the burden on working families.

“UFCW members have sacrificed to protect quality health care at the bargaining table,” said UFCW Local 400 President Jim Lowthers. “Reform has got to level the playing field and put an end to irresponsible employers freeloading their health care onto responsible companies and the taxpayer.  Our members are proud to stand with the President and say that now is the time for health care reform.”

UFCW Local 400 represents more than 40,000 workers across Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail, meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries.

 

July 15, 2009

JBS-Swift Workers in Utah Ratify First Union Contract

Hyrum, Utah – Workers at the JBS-Swift plant in Hyrum, Utah, last evening voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first-ever union contract. The more than 1,100 workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 at the JBS-Swift Beef Plant (known locally as the E.A. Miller Plant) will join the more than 10,000 JBS-Swift workers nationwide who belong to the UFCW.

The new three-year contract includes:

  • regular wage increases, with many plant workers receiving a 4.6 percent or greater increase at ratification and a dollar an hour increase over the life of the contract;
  • weekly hour guarantees that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community;
  • affordable family health coverage, with no increase in medical premiums;
  • job advancement opportunities;
  • workers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for their work equipment, tools and work clothes;
  • a formal system to resolve workplace issues;
  • improved vacation benefits;
  • the creation of an educational trust fund, which can be used to promote a range of initiatives, including citizenship workshops;
  • a Joint Worker-Management Safety Committee and improved safety training for workers;
  • improved funeral pay.

“Now that we have a contract, we have a real voice,” said Robert Young, who has worked at the plant for two years and also serves as an ordained minister. “That means better benefits, active stewards, leadership in the plant and a better a way to deal with problems before they become big issues.”

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The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.

July 15, 2009

JBS-SWIFT WORKERS IN UTAH RATIFY FIRST UNION CONTRACT

Hyrum, Utah Workers at the JBS-Swift plant in Hyrum, Utah, last evening voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first-ever union contract. The more than 1,100 workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711 at the JBS-Swift Beef Plant (known locally as the E.A. Miller Plant) will join the more than 10,000 JBS-Swift workers nationwide who belong to the UFCW.

The new three-year contract includes:

  • regular wage increases, with many plant workers receiving a 4.6 percent or greater increase at ratification and a dollar an hour increase over the life of the contract;
  • weekly hour guarantees that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community;
  • affordable family health coverage, with no increase in medical premiums;
  • job advancement opportunities;
  • workers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for their work equipment, tools and work clothes;
  • a formal system to resolve workplace issues;
  • improved vacation benefits;
  • the creation of an educational trust fund, which can be used to promote a range of initiatives, including citizenship workshops;
  • a Joint Worker-Management Safety Committee and improved safety training for workers;
  • improved funeral pay.

“Now that we have a contract, we have a real voice,” said Robert Young, who has worked at the plant for two years and also serves as an ordained minister. “That means better benefits, active stewards, leadership in the plant and a better a way to deal with problems before they become big issues.”

July 2, 2009

WORKERS AT WORLD’S LARGEST PORK PLANT RATIFY FIRST-EVER UNION CONTRACT

(TAR HEEL NC)—Five Thousand workers at the world’s largest pork processing plant have their first-ever union contract, after a majority of workers ratified the agreement over a two-day vote. Members of UFCW Local 1208 will join more than 10,000 other Smithfield workers, and more than 240,000 others who work in the meat packing and food processing industry who have a UFCW union contract.

The new contract includes:

* Wage increases of $1.50/hour over the next four years.

* Continued company-provided affordable family health care coverage.

* Improved paid sick leave and vacation benefits.

* Retirement security through protection of the existing pension plan.

* Continued joint worker/management safety committee, including company funded safety training for workers.

* Guaranteed weekly hours that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community

* A system to resolve workplace issues.

* Three working days of paid funeral leave following the death of immediate family members.

“This contract will completely transform our workplace,” said Orlando Williams.  “This is the biggest four-year wage increase Smithfield workers have ever had and it will make a real difference for our families and in this community. We could never have gotten that increase without a chance to bargain with the company. We will finally have a sense of security on the job because through our union we can make sure we have a safe place to work, and that everyone’s treated fairly.”

UFCW members who work at Smithfield’s other locations all over the country were paying close attention to the negotiations in Tar Heel.  “”I know the difference having a union contract makes, said Jim Olson, a steward at UFCW Local 304A and a 35 year veteran of Smithfield’s John Morrell Plant in Sioux Falls, SD.  “”The more meatpacking workers who join our union, the more power we have to raise wages and benefits—in our own local unions, and for everybody who works in this industry. That’s what being in the UFCW is all about.”

This is the first contract covering the hourly production and maintenance workers at the Tar Heel facility and will take effect July 1, 2009.

 

July 1, 2009

Local 1208 Members Ratify First Contract with Smithfield in Tar Heel, N.C.

Five Thousand workers at the world’s largest pork processing plant have their first-ever union contract, after an overwhelming 84-percent majority of workers ratified the agreement over a two-day vote. Members of UFCW Local 1208 will join more than 10,000 other Smithfield workers, and more than 240,000 others who work in the meat packing and food processing industry who have a UFCW union contract.

Workers at the Tar Heel plant voted for a UFCW voice on the job in December of 2008. They have been at the bargaining table since January.

The new contract includes:

  • Wage increases of $1.50/hour over the next four years.
  • Continued company-provided affordable family health care coverage.
  • Improved paid sick leave and vacation benefits.
  • Retirement security through protection of the existing pension plan.
  • Continued joint worker/management safety committee, including company funded safety training for workers.
  • Guaranteed weekly hours that protect full-time, family supporting jobs in the community
  • A system to resolve workplace issues.
  • 24 hours of paid funeral leave following the death of immediate family members.