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January 28, 2011

UFCW Awards $20,000 in Medical School Scholarships

Washington, DC – The trustees of the Patrick E. Gorman Scholarship fund have selected Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, T.N. as recipients of $10,000 scholarship awards, the United Food and Commercial Workers announced today. Mr. Gorman was the late President of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butchers Workmen of North America, one of the predecessor unions to what is now the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers across North America.

“The Amalgamated Meat Cutters had a long and proud history of fighting for the rights and needs of the working men and women of North America, including the need to provide adequate health care to all Americans. The UFCW now stands as part of that long tradition,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen.

In the spirit of Mr. Gorman’s dedication to further advancing the education of medical students, Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College will award the scholarship money to worthy students who are in financial need.

To learn more about the UFCW’s work in communities throughout North America, visit http://www.ufcw.org/take_action/.

January 17, 2011

Global Labor Coalition Challenges Walmart Bid

(Johannesburg, January 17, 2011)—A global coalition of labor, comprising of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), Geneva-based UNI Global Union and the North American United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) attended Massmart’s shareholders meeting. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has made a bid to acquire the South African retailer.

The unions spoke at the shareholders’ meeting and attended a worker demonstration outside.

Speaking at the event, Tyotyo James first Deputy-President of COSATU said, “Despite the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa remains one of the most inequitable societies in the world. The acquisition of 51% of Massmart by Walmart will cut out even more local ownership of one of the major retail players in the country. Although Walmart has tried to convince the public otherwise, history has shown us that the entry of the world’s largest company would not be good for the consumers, suppliers, or people of South Africa.”

Mduduzi Mbongwe, Deputy General Secretary of SACCAWU, the union which represents Massmart’s workers, said, “Walmart has come into our country and tried to claim that it is union-friendly. But, we know from our friends and colleagues from around the world, and especially in the United States of America—the company’s home country—of Walmart’s relentless attacks on workers and unions.

Our short experience in trying to engage with Walmart thus far has been discouraging. If the company continues on this path without taking the concerns of workers and their union seriously, the outcome can only be industrial strife, which would not be good for workers or investors.”

Alke Boessiger, Head of the Commerce Sector for UNI Global Union said, “I attend here today with the fraternal greetings of 20 million union members who are members of UNI, and we stand in solidarity with SACCAWU and the workers in Massmart at this crucial time. From my vantage point I’ve heard from union leaders in places as diverse as Chile and Japan as they’ve dealt with Walmart’s entry into their countries. The one key lesson I can offer to the people of South Africa is that now, when the company is making their initial bid, is the time for the country and union to set strong standards that protect workers, local suppliers, and community interests.”

Michael Bride, Deputy Organizing Director for Global Strategies of the 1.3 million member strong UFCW International Union of USA and Canada said, “Walmart’s anti-worker and anti-union bias is well known in North America.  From closing a store in Canada after it voted for the union to the dissemination of anti-union propaganda among its U.S. staff, Walmart is widely acknowledged as the most anti-union company in America.

But Walmart is more than that – we must also tell the story of the devastating effect that Walmart’s business model has on communities, small businesses, and companies in the supply chain. I am honored to stand with our South African brothers and sisters and am compelled to tell them the full story of the Walmart effect.”

SACCAWU will challenge the proposed takeover via South African competition law and in the political realm, and will continue to directly educate its union membership about the implications for workers should the takeover proceed.


January 14, 2011

UFCW Joins BlueGreen Alliance

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2011) Citing the need to grow a supply chain that protects public health, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ensures good jobs, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) today announced that the union — whose 1.3 million members work in the retail food, meatpacking and poultry, food processing and manufacturing, and retail industries — would join the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

“”From farm to dinner table, we must have a food supply chain that benefits consumers, improves public health, improves the environment, and creates good jobs at living wages,”” said UFCW International President Joseph T. Hansen. “”The BlueGreen Alliance is leading the way to a green economy, and UFCW is proud to be on board.””

“”We are pleased to welcome the UFCW to the ranks of union members and environmentalists working to build a green economy and create good jobs,”” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “”We cannot build this green economy — one that creates good jobs and protects public health — without creating a stronger, greener food and retail supply chain, and we are excited to get to work with the UFCW to make it happen.””

The 1.3-million member UFCW has long supported strong food safety and nutrition policy and is committed to ensuring that our nation’s food and retail supply chain is safe and sustainable — from the factory to the warehouse to the store — and to holding suppliers accountable for their efforts to green up their supply chain.

“”Supporting the development of a greener supply chain is an important factor in protecting the health and safety of American consumers and the quality of life for workers,”” said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. “”We also have to work together to ensure the jobs created and supported are good, family supporting union jobs. We are pleased that the UFCW has joined this unique partnership in our effort to build a truly green economy.””

“”Creating a sustainable food supply will protect the environment while providing healthy safe food for all Americans,”” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “”With the UFCW joining the BlueGreen Alliance, our on-going effort to green America’s supply chain and create good, clean, and safe jobs is a million members stronger today.””

The BlueGreen Alliance was launched by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club in 2006, and has since expanded to include the Communications Workers of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Service

Employees International Union, National Wildlife Federation, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, United Auto Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers — all dedicated to creating good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.

“”The effort to create good, green jobs reaches every corner of our economy — from investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency to building more efficient vehicles to ensuring a safe, sustainable food supply,”” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard, a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “”The health and safety of workers, our public health and the health of our communities depend on our ability to build a prosperous green economy in the United States.””

“”We can only protect the planet for the next generation if we make our economy cleaner and more sustainable, and a key part of that accomplishment will be greening our food and retail supply chain,”” said Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club and a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “”From the field to the grocery store, from the factory to retail, ensuring that the products we buy are sustainable will protect the environment and create good jobs, plain and simple.””

January 5, 2011


Washington, D.C. – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today applauded President Obama for signing into law a new overhaul of our nation’s food safety system, which was passed by Congress last year. U.S. food safety regulations have been sorely in need of updating and this new law makes significant progress by strengthening oversight and consumer protection.

“As the men and women who put food on our nation’s tables, UFCW members across the country make food safety their top priority every day. The updated regulations will without a doubt help them keep our food even safer. However, while today marks a great step forward, there are important food safety issues not covered by this law that Congress must address, including the impact of line speed and worker protection on the safety of our food supply. By guaranteeing worker rights and safety, and by strengthening whistleblower protections, Congress can make our country’s food even safer,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen.

The UFCW is working to raise awareness in Congress and among consumers about the relationship between line speed and microbiological contamination in food processing plants, and advocating for line speed regulations that will keep workers, and the food they produce, safe. The UFCW also ensures through its union contracts that UFCW-represented food workers are free to speak out if they see something unsafe taking place in their plants, without fear of retaliation or termination.

For more than 100 years, the UFCW has been fighting to improve the working conditions of food workers and the safety of our food, and currently represents more than 250,000 workers in the packing and processing industries. In addition to protecting the rights of food workers, the UFCW is also a founding member of the Safe Food Coalition which consists of consumer groups, groups representing victims of food-borne illnesses, and watchdog groups that are dedicated to reducing the incidence of food-borne illnesses in the United States.