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    UFCW Blog

December 20, 2010


Washington DC – Today, 41 U.S. Senators obstructed the passage of the Dream Act and sent a message to the rest of the world that politics trumps fundamental American principles of fairness, opportunity, and justice. They rejected bipartisan legislation that, had it been passed, would have provided undocumented young women and men who were brought to the U.S. as young children with a pathway to U.S. citizenship if they attend college or perform military service. Every Republican Senator, except Senator Lugar, as well as Democratic Senators Max Baucus, Kay Hagan, Ben Nelson, Mark Pyror, and Jon Tester walked away from their responsibilities to lead.

The unique fabric of American society – hard work, entrepreneurship, loyalty to country, ingenuity and invention – stitched together by generations of immigrants will continue to endure regardless of this disheartening vote. The dreams of young people will not be checked, and the UFCW will continue to fight for a broad and bipartisan coalition to restore the American Dream and pass the Dream Act.

December 16, 2010

Union Declares Victory Over Walmart in Free Speech Battle

MONTREAL, QUEBEC– The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) is declaring victory in an 18-month free speech battle with Walmart that concentrated on the labor rights website www.walmartworkerscanada.ca. In June 2009, the world’s largest retailer filed a motion with the Quebec Superior Court for an injunction against the popular and long-standing website maintained by UFCW Canada citing trade-mark infringement.

On Dec. 15 a confidential settlement was achieved that does not affect the continued existence of www.walmartworkerscanada.ca and its long-established commitment to communicating with Walmart workers in Canada about their rights.

“”This is a huge victory for Walmart workers and their ability to freely communicate on the internet,”” said UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley from the Superior Court house within moments of the settlement win for www.walmartworkerscanada.ca, which will continue to be dedicated to helping Walmart workers to empower themselves and improve their lives through collective bargaining.

“”Despite the best efforts of the world’s largest corporation to dictate the terms of online communication, www.walmartworkerscanada.ca will remain an excellent labor rights resource, and will proudly continue a seven year tradition of serving Walmart Associates as a place where they can learn about their rights, and how to exercise those rights as workers in Canada,”” added Hanley. “”Today’s victory also ensures that www.walmartworkerscanada.ca will remain a safe and familiar place for Walmart workers to freely share their experiences with other Associates across the country without any fear of reprisal.””

UFCW Canada has been leading the campaign to help Walmart Associates exercise their rights as workers in Canada for over a decade.

December 16, 2010

UFCW Statement on the Proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

Washington DC – The recently announced proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement represents a small, but not insignificant, step forward on U.S. global trade agreements.

UFCW and its members would like to recognize Ambassador Ron Kirk and his team for the improvements they negotiated to the Bush agreement of 2007. In particular, the Administration insisted on meaningful changes in the automobile sector that will help American autoworkers and manufacturers achieve a more level playing field. Also, academics estimate that the Korean agreement will create over 20,000 jobs in the U.S meat export producing sectors that employ hundreds of thousands of UFCW members.

All U.S. global trade agreements should seek primarily to assure that the U.S. remains a leader on fair global trade, to restore manufacturing, and to get American workers back on the job. This proposed agreement makes improvements on each of those fronts. Looking ahead, we must work for a fairer global trade structure that benefits workers as much as business.

December 11, 2010

Stewards: Keeping Our Food Supply Safe


Food workers across the country are on the front lines of food safety. The work we do every day determines whether or not the country’s food supply will be safe. That is a responsibility we take seriously as UFCW stewards. The fact is, union plants are safer plants, and safer plants produce safer food. Having a voice on the job, and having stewards in the workplace, assures that we produce only the safest food.
Our union contract means we can speak out if we see something going wrong or jeopardizing food quality, without having to fear negative consequences – so only the highest quality food leaves our plants. It also means we can slow down the breakneck pace of production, and ensure proper staffing – factors that reduce on-the-job injuries and even further improve food safety. Workers who don’t have a union sadly do not have those same assurances.
“I see it as our duty to speak up if we see something going wrong in the plant. If we don’t make food safety our number one priority, everyone suffers. Bad food puts our families, and everyone’s families at risk. It also put our jobs on the line. If the public turns against our industry, it’s our jobs that get destroyed,” said Joel Elder, a UFCW Local 38 steward who has worked at ConAgra for 22 years.
It’s our responsibility as stewards to make sure that our coworkers feel comfortable enough at work to come forward and speak up if they see something unsafe going on. We must, above all, see to it that all of our brothers and sisters in the industry understand the high stakes of food safety and take seriously their active role in ensuring the quality of food we produce.
As stewards, as leaders, our responsibilities don’t end at the plant gates. The UFCW is leading our industry in pushing for food safety legislation at the federal level and at home in our states. We have to be active in that process so our lawmakers know we stand behind stronger food safety laws. Because we know that union plants produce safer food, we should also be involved in organizing more workplaces throughout our industry. The more food workers that come together in our union, the more power we can build at the bargaining table and the more leverage we will have to push for stronger food safety legislation. That will make food safer for all Americans. That’s something we can make happen by getting involved in organizing with our union.
“I’m proud to be part of a union that takes leadership in our industry, a union that looks out not only for those of us in the plant, but for everyone in our communities by making sure our food is safe,” said Elder. “One of the best ways I know to keep working to make our food even safer is to reach out to our colleagues in non-union plants and show them everything they have to gain by joining together with us in the UFCW.”
To learn more about how our union is working to ensure worker safety and food safety, visit www.FairnessForFoodWorkers.org.