October, 2010

Giant Eagle Employees and supporters to March on Headquarters

When:  Wednesday Oct. 27th 1:30 p.m.
Where:  March begins at 111 Zeta Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15238

After several months of feeling intimidated and threatened by managers, Giant Eagle employees have had enough.  Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 23, joined by a number of community organizations, will march on the corporate headquarters, to deliver support post cards signed by fellow employees at 36 stores, to say enough is enough.

“”We have the right to talk about our union, with our co-workers, with other Giant Eagle employees, with anyone we want to. This is America and we don’t check our free speech rights at the door when we take a job with Giant Eagle” said Deborah Wieloch, an employee at the Shady Side Market District Store.

Weiloch was arrested in September when she, on her day off work, went to the Waterfront Giant Eagle to talk to employees on break about their contract and other union issues.  UFCW Local 23 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the incident.

Weiloch’s arrest came as part of what employees see as a wave of anti-unionism on the part of Giant Eagle.

“We’ve been told we can’t wear buttons, we’ve been told not to talk about our union, we’ve been threatened with arrest or worse, being fired,” explained Jim D’Alessandro.  “It isn’t right. They are infringing on our right to free speech and violating our nation’s laws that ensure we have a right to organize and be organized. Our contract even gives us the right to talk about our union during work.”

The members of UFCW got tired of harassment from management and started a postcard campaign to tell Giant Eagle they are tired of it.

While corporate Giant Eagle has pressured workers to remain silent and tried to keep their actions out of the press, workers have received tremendous support from allies and the public.

Along with a delegation of several dozen UFCW Local 23 members taking the cards to the corporate headquarters, community groups will be on hand to show support, including ACTION United, NAACP, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network,  Pittsburgh UNITED, and others.   A number of UFCW Local 23 members will be dressed as the Founding Fathers, complete with wigs and costumes, to reinforce the message that free speech rights are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.



America Doesn’t Stand Still. We Move Forward.


UFCW stewards from coast to coast were a critical component of the incredible grassroots movement that united to elect Barack Obama in 2008 and bring a worker-friendly majority in to power in both houses of Congress. We walked countless blocks, registered thousands of first-time voters and brought uncounted new voices into the political process. Record numbers of people in every city and town, men, women, young people and retirees of every background were engaged and committed to shaping our country’s future for the better.
When President Obama took office, he inherited overwhelming challenges: irresponsible leadership for the previous eight years had given our country two wars, an economy in crisis, a broken health care system and record deficits.
Together with the President and Democrats in Congress, we didn’t hesitate to tackle the Bush mess. We pushed for laws to make banks more accountable, ensure women receive equal pay and provide for good jobs to get the American economy moving again. Most importantly, UFCW stewards were leaders in the effort to make affordable health care available to everyone—and we stuck to our ideals: everyone should have access, nobody should be denied because they’re sick and nobody should go bankrupt because they’re sick.
“We have achieved so much in the last two years,” said Local 227 Steward Estella Galarza. “By working together and standing up for change, we’ve made a real difference for the future of this country.”
Without a doubt, this is a tough time for Americans: a struggling economy, a negative political environment and corporate greed sapping our economy and destroying our middle class. The challenges facing us have gotten only larger and tougher and can’t be solved by a 30 second sound bite on cable news. We must find real solutions to make America work again, and we must continue to progress we have made in the last few years.
But since the day President Obama took office, Republicans have tried to block progress at every turn. Every advancement we made was over the howls of their protest as the sought to protect tax cuts and giveaways for the wealthy and massive corporations. Rather than offering a real alternative to the problems we face, Republicans became the “Party of No.”
So this election has become a critical one for UFCW members across the country and, as leaders in the UFCW, for the stewards as well. The choice is simple, do we want to continue progress and continue building a brighter and better future for America? Or do we want reward obstructionism and root for the failure of a government that works for working families?
“In my state, Kentucky, it’s a simple choice between Jack Conway and Rand Paul,” said Garza. “With Conway, we vote to continue to try and make things better in America and Kentucky. With Paul we vote not only to stop all progress, but actually destroy the gains we’ve made.”
This simple choice is playing out across the country and in every state as we approach fall and this critical election season. As stewards, as leaders in the UFCW we have a responsibility to get involved. If we care about building a better America, we need to talk to our neighbors, our family, and our co-workers. We need to knock on doors and make phone calls for the worker-friendly candidates our states who are ready to move our country forward. We’ve come too far to turn back now.


(Souderton, PA.) – Nearly 1,200 workers at the JBS plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, voted today to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776.

“I am delighted that we stood together and made the right choice to form a union,” said Bernard Coneghen, who has worked at the Souderton facility for 27 years. “We had the opportunity to speak with representatives of the UFCW about the benefits of having a voice at work and were able to make an informed choice about forming a union.”

The workers’ victory today was the successful conclusion of a months-long campaign designed to give a voice to the nearly 1,200 JBS workers in Souderton, but also as part of a UFCW-led nationwide effort aimed at raising wages and benefits for all workers in the meatpacking and poultry industries.

“The outcome of this election shows that when workers get a free and fair process, they choose union representation,” said Wendell Young, IV, UFCW International Vice President and President of Local 1776.” The UFCW applauds JBS for taking the high road to allow the workers to have a free and fair process. Having a union makes it better for everyone, workers, the company, and the larger community.”

The Brazilian firm JBS, S.A. acquired the former Moyer Packing Company’s Souderton facility with the purchase of the Smithfield Beef Group in 2008.  JBS, out of respect for its workers, allowed a free and fair process for workers to decide about union representation.

“We achieved our victory because we stood together and that’s what made us strong,” said Melina Martinez, who has worked at the plant for the last six years. “Now that we have a union, we want to get right to work on a contract that protects our rights and improves our working conditions.”

By choosing UFCW Local 1776 today as their bargaining representative, workers at the JBS plant in Souderton will be joining together with 27,000 JBS workers and 250,000 meatpacking and poultry workers across the country who already enjoy the benefits of union representation with the UFCW.

UFCW Local 1776 represents thousands of packinghouse and food processing workers in Pennsylvania at plants such as Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Cargill in Hazelton, BC Natural Chicken in Fredericksburg and Citterio USA in Freeland.


For more information or to arrange interviews with workers, e-mail press@ufcw.org.

UFCW Local 1776 represents 24,000 members who work in southeast, northeast and central Pennsylvania, northeast Maryland and southern New York in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing plants, government services, manufacturing facilities, nursing homes, professional offices and Pennsylvania’s Wine and Spirits Shops.