September, 2010

FOOD WORKERS UNION APPLAUDS SENATE DEMOCRATS FOR INTRODUCING SENSIBLE COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL

WASHINGTON — United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) International President Joe Hansen released the following statement today in response to the introduction of comprehensive immigration reform legislation by Senate Democrats:

“The legislation introduced today by Senators Menendez and Leahy is an important step toward real, meaningful comprehensive immigration reform.

“As we have said, for too long, our nation’s badly broken immigration system has allowed unscrupulous employers to drive down wages and working conditions in industries across the nation, while creating an underground economy where labor laws are shredded and workers are afraid to report safety violations.

“The legislation announced today would chart a new course for our country: A course that protects workers, respects families and reflects our nation’s rich immigrant tradition.

“We applaud these Senators for offering real leadership and sensible solutions to our nation’s challenges, and we stand ready to work with them to ensure that pragmatic immigration reform becomes a reality. The labor movement has already released historic joint principles on immigration. The House has introduced a CIR bill, and now Senate Democrats have acted. It is time to roll up our sleeves and make this happen.

”It is unfortunate that Republicans across the country continue to use the issue of immigration as a tool to divide and to scapegoat. The American people want and deserve more. So rather than fabricating stories about beheadings in Arizona, let’s use this opportunity, and this legislation, to begin a level-headed debate about revamping our immigration system and revitalizing our economy.”

 

UFCW President Joe Hansen New Chair of Change to Win

WASHINGTON, DC The Change to Win (CtW) Leadership Council elected Joe Hansen, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President, as its new Chair. Hansen replaces Anna Burger who earlier had announced her retirement from CtW where she served as Chair.   Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa was elected CtW Secretary-Treasurer.

Change to Win unions, the UFCW, SEIU, the Teamsters and Farm Workers represent millions of private-sector unionized workforces in the U.S. Change to Win members work in the fastest growing industries in the country in service-sector jobs, including transportation, health care, food production and retail, among others.

The following is a statement from Joe Hansen:

“Change to Win is focused on ensuring that workers in the various service sectors have jobs with wages and benefits that can support a family. If these jobs are vital to the American economy, then service sector jobs should come with middle class wages and benefits.

“We know that a stronger labor movement is essential to the rebuilding of America’s middle class and that will be the primary focus of our work at Change to Win.

“”We will continue our strategic work building strength for workers in our core industries.

“We will continue our advocacy on key public policy issues, including labor law, pension, and comprehensive immigration reform, food safety and health care. We are also committed to working with the Administration to ensure that the purchasing power of the federal government exercises wise stewardship of taxpayer money by promoting quality, family-supporting jobs.

“We will continue close coordination with our labor partners at the AFL-CIO on public policy issues. Both labor Federations share unity of purpose to address the crisis facing American workers.

Change to Win and the AFL-CIO will work together to make sure that candidates that support working families win in November.

The Change to Win unions are more inspired than ever to stand up for workers’ rights and make the economy grow again for working families through good jobs in every community.””

James P. Hoffa, General President of the Teamsters stated: “”The United States is the first country where a majority of its citizens joined the middle class. Labor unions created that middle class. No country in the world has ever had a strong middle class without a strong labor movement. And like all social movements, the labor movement was born fighting. Our work is far from over today, and Joe Hansen is the kind of leader we need in our fight to strengthen America’s working families.”

Said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry: “”Joe Hansen’s determination to make sure that 5,000 Smithfield workers had the chance to vote for the union after 16 years is exactly the leadership we need to rededicate Change to Win to lifting wages for millions of private sector workers.””

UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez said: “”I want to congratulate Joe on his new position, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the right person to move the organization forward. I’m sure that he will continue to ensure that Change To Win leads the way in developing new strategies, new programs and new efforts to effectively organize workers in the private sector.””

UFCW RELEASES NEW NATIONAL POLL IN ADVANCE OF SATURDAY

WASHINGTON – As activists, advocates and working families from across the country prepare to rally for good jobs in Washington on October 2, 2010, a new national poll conducted by Lake Research for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) shows that the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of government action that addresses income inequity and that seeks to level the playing field for all American workers.

At a near universal level of agreement, voters strongly believe our economy needs to be defined by jobs with benefits and wages that can support a family. It is exactly this message that families from across the country are coming to Washington on Oct. 2nd to deliver to Congress.

“American voters want our nation’s lawmakers to focus on creating economic policies that support and sustain good, quality jobs,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “They want politicians who will stand up to the fringe elements of our society and to stand for pragmatic solutions to our economic challenges.”

One Nation is about turning our attention to the needs of people,” said Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP. “A strong economy is only strong if it provides good jobs that support families and bring opportunity. We need to get our country moving; we need to get on common ground, we are coming together this Saturday to start this process; we are going to turn out in force this election cycle, and elect leaders who put people first.”

“The UFCW poll shows that a huge majority of Americans agree we must improve job quality, even as we focus on creating new jobs,” said Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).That’s just one of the reasons why on October 2 we’ll be joining thousands of our friends on the National Mall calling for jobs, justice, and, yes, comprehensive immigration reform.”

Over the last 30 years, workers’ wages have remained essentially stagnant, while worker productivity skyrocketed by 75 percent. For three decades, American workers have been producing more, but taking home paychecks that don’t reflect their hard work. Consequently, we see the biggest pay gap in nearly a century.

“The only way to achieve lasting economic recovery and to ensure future prosperity is to address the wage inequity crises that is plaguing our nation’s workers,” added Hansen. “If our elected officials fail to address this issue, our nation can never fully regain its financial footing.”

With so much of the cable television debate focused on the noisy fringes of our society, it seems that the aspirations and needs of the vast majority of hard-working Americans are getting drowned out by the noise and the nonsense of the extreme elements of the political debate.

The reality, as this poll shows, is that the American people want pragmatic government solutions and sensible legislative actions that address job creation and that ensure a foundation for secure and stable communities.

Voters have a clear vision of what kind of economy they want, and while they understand the current economic situation is difficult, they still believe that all jobs should pay a living wage, come with affordable, quality health care, and offer real retirement security.

The poll, taken among 700 randomly selected registered voters nationwide, shows: 

  1. Concern about the economy goes beyond the present; voters are deeply questioning the types of jobs America will have in the future. Eighty-seven percent of voters are very or somewhat concerned that America’s future jobs will be low-wage and low-benefit — including 65 percent who are very concerned.
  2. Eighty-nine percent of voters agree that economic development should result in jobs with good wages and benefits that can support a family.
  3. Eighty-four percent of voters agree that economic recovery means creating jobs with good benefits so people can afford to take care of their families, not low- wage jobs with no benefits.
  4. Eighty-four percent of voters favor requiring that government contracts go to companies that provide good paying jobs and benefits so that their employees don’t end up on welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps.

According to the Lake poll, a majority of voters believe job growth must be good job growth. In a number of polls, Lake Research has found that a key economic frame for Americans is to have good-paying jobs—no matter what the sector.

To make that happen our elected officials must actively engage in the policy decisions that guide economic growth and job creation, and they must correct the current wage gap so that as worker productivity increases, paychecks also increase.

In addition to pushing for economic policies that address income inequality and quality job growth, the UFCW, NCLR and other civil rights organizations will be using the One Nation Working Together rally to push for comprehensive immigration reform as a key component of economic recovery and prosperity.

Study after study has shown that meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform would help bolster the economy and ensure that there is fairness and justice in America’s workplaces.

“Failure to enact immigration reform impedes our economic recovery efforts because under the current system, unscrupulous employers exploit undocumented immigrants to lower wages and working conditions for all workers,” added Murguia. “Reform that requires undocumented immigrants to come forward, pay taxes, and learn English to obtain legal status would strengthen labor standards for all, by eliminating the ability of bottom-feeding employers to rip off workers.”

The UFCW will continue working with leaders like NCLR and NAACP, as well as other labor organizations, to organize and mobilize our members and their families around key issues facing our communities—from job creation to labor law reform to immigration reform.