April, 2011


Washington, D.C. –  The acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T is good news for workers, consumers and the U.S. economy.  This merger represents an opportunity for the U.S. to expand high speed broadband and buildout, narrow the digital divide and improve the quality of service for consumers.  This merger also gives T-Mobile workers the same protections and bargaining power as the 42,000 unionized workers at AT&T, the only wireless provider that has a unionized workforce.

A strong partnership already exists between the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the German trade union, ver.di, and the two unions formed a joint organization called TU that represents T-Mobile workers on both sides of the Atlantic.  In Germany, Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, fully recognizes workers’ bargaining rights, and ver.di is a full and positive partner.  That has not been the case in the U.S., where T-Mobile workers have been discouraged from forming a union.

Amid the anti-union legislation sweeping through the country, this merger is a positive step in the right direction for workers who want to make their own choice about having a bargaining voice.  The UFCW has no doubt that T-Mobile’s workers will benefit from their association with the CWA and the union’s president, Larry Cohen, and finally have a voice in their workplace.


Today, on Workers’ Memorial Day, the UFCW will join workers in the U.S. and around the world to honor the thousands of workers who have been killed on the job and the millions of workers who have suffered from injuries, sickness or diseases in their places of work.   This year’s memorial day marks the 40th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the right of workers to a safe workplace, as well as the 100th anniversary of one of the worst workplace disasters to take place in our country.


One hundred years ago, on March 25, 1911, a fire spread through the cramped floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.  When the workers—mostly young female immigrants—tried to escape, they encountered locked doors and broken fire escapes.  Rather than be burned alive, the workers began jumping out of windows and fell to their deaths on the street below as bystanders watched in horror.  That terrible tragedy, which took the lives of 146 workers, served as a catalyst for major labor reforms and changed the way we work and live.


A century later, the fight to protect workers continues amid anti-union legislation that is sweeping though the country.  Just three years ago, managers at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Georgia—one of the few non-union plants in the industry—tolerated dirty and dangerous worksite conditions, and 15 workers without a collective voice died in a massive fire and explosion.  Twenty years ago, 25 poultry workers at the Imperial Foods plant in Hamlet, North Carolina, were locked inside by their bosses and died in a horrible fire.  Like the Triangle workers, they had no other voice to demand safety.  Indeed, we just saw the worst mining disaster in 40 years, as the executives at the Massey coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, told their subordinates to put production first before any other job duties. Surviving workers testified to the rampant fear that effectively suppressed complaints in a company that had viciously opposed unions for decades.


The right to a safe workplace was won after decades of struggle by workers and their unions. On Workers’ Memorial Day, we honor and pay tribute to the men and women who died at Imperial Sugar, Imperial Foods, Massey Energy and all the other dangerous workplaces.  In their memory, we renew our commitment to preventing such tragedies by supporting workers who are struggling to protect their basic rights–including safe jobs, workplace fairness, collective bargaining, freedom from discrimination and favoritism.


Food & Commercial Workers Leader to Co-Chair Council of Institutional Investors

Washington, DC – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill has been named by his peers as co-head of the Board of North America’s largest institutional investor trade group, the Council of Institutional Investors (CII). O’Neill was unanimously elected as Co-Chair with Joseph Dear, Chief Investment Officer of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, at the CII semi-annual conference last week.

O’Neill is a leader for greater accountability and transparency from the investment managers of pension plans that are entrusted with the retirements of millions of Americans. He has also is a prominent union trustee himself, safeguarding the retirements of people across North America who have worked in the retail, grocery and food processing industries.

“CII is a place where union pension funds, public fund trustees and corporate plans all find common ground,” said O’Neill. “We all work together to demand accountability from irresponsible corporations and protect the retirements earned by decades of hard work by millions of people.”

CII is a nonprofit association of public, union and corporate employee benefit funds along with foundations and endowments that have combined assets worth more than $3 trillion. CII is a leading voice for good corporate governance and strong shareowner rights.