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July 28, 2011

H&M Workers at Six New York Stores Say Union Yes with UFCW

QUEENS, NY – Two hundred forty New York City-area H&M workers at six stores have formed a new union at their workplace with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 888. These workers join more than 1,200 other New York H&M workers that stood together and formed a union as part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Council of the UFCW.

 

“I love my job and I’ve worked there a long time,” said Natasha King, a four-year Sales Associate at the H&M in Staten Island, New York, “but there was room for change.”

 

H&M recognized the workers’ choice for a real voice on the job after an overwhelming majority of workers at the stores signed cards to show their desire for UFCW representation.

 

“This shows, once again, that when the process is fair and free that retail workers want to and will choose to form a union,” said Tom Plumb, Director of the Retail Stores Division of the UFCW International Union. “Together, retail workers across the country are making retail jobs into good long-term retail careers in union stores like H&M.”

 

“Retail workers, especially part-time workers like me, need a union for fair treatment, fair pay, affordable health care and equality in the workplace,” said King. “We’ll stand together and protect each other as a team, as a union.”

 

The six newly unionized stores are located in Queens, Brooklyn, West Nyack, White Plains, Yonkers and Staten Island, New York. They join the union for retail workers, the UFCW, and are part of a group of workers at major retailers across the country including Macy’s, Syms, RiteAid and more. The UFCW is working across America to build a movement of retail workers that raises standards and ensures that America’s fastest-growing profession is also the source of millions of good jobs.

 

July 28, 2011

H&M Workers at Six New York Stores Say Union Yes with UFCW

QUEENS, NY – Two hundred forty New York City-area H&M workers at six stores have formed a new union at their workplace with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 888. These workers join more than 1,200 other New York H&M workers that stood together and formed a union as part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Council of the UFCW.

 

“I love my job and I’ve worked there a long time,” said Natasha King, a four-year Sales Associate at the H&M in Staten Island, New York, “but there was room for change.”

 

H&M recognized the workers’ choice for a real voice on the job after an overwhelming majority of workers at the stores signed cards to show their desire for UFCW representation.

 

“This shows, once again, that when the process is fair and free that retail workers want to and will choose to form a union,” said Tom Plumb, Director of the Retail Stores Division of the UFCW International Union. “Together, retail workers across the country are making retail jobs into good long-term retail careers in union stores like H&M.”

 

“Retail workers, especially part-time workers like me, need a union for fair treatment, fair pay, affordable health care and equality in the workplace,” said King. “We’ll stand together and protect each other as a team, as a union.”

 

The six newly unionized stores are located in Queens, Brooklyn, West Nyack, White Plains, Yonkers and Staten Island, New York. They join the union for retail workers, the UFCW, and are part of a group of workers at major retailers across the country including Macy’s, Syms, RiteAid and more. The UFCW is working across America to build a movement of retail workers that raises standards and ensures that America’s fastest-growing profession is also the source of millions of good jobs.

 

July 27, 2011

Cargill Workers in Dodge City Say New Union Contract is Already Making a Difference in Their Lives

Cargill workers and UFCW Local 2 Members Carmen Lopez, Julian Estrada, Irene Salinas, and Clemente Torres

Cargill workers and members of UFCW Local 2 in Dodge City, Kansas have begun working under their newly ratified contract. Workers were able to negotiate some creative new policies that are already making a real difference in their family lives – and in their paychecks.

Wage increases total $1.60 per hour over the next four years, including an immediate 55 cents per hour raise. Workers also negotiated job upgrades for more than 300 workers. For those workers, the contract means an additional and immediate raise of anywhere from 55 cents to $1.20 per hour. The new contract has four ways workers can earn overtime. In addition to earning time and a half after 40 hours per week, overtime is also paid after 8 hours a day, and after six consecutive work days. If there’s a holiday during the week, Saturdays are counted as overtime. A new leave of absence policy guarantees workers’ jobs if they need to leave for an extended period of time because of a family emergency like a child’s or parent’s illness. Workers can take up to a year and a half off and return to the job (or similar job) and rate of pay they were earning beforehand.

The contract maintains affordable family health benefits, and for about a third of the workers, depending on the type of plan, premiums went down between $8 and $12 per week.  But, now in the case of a serious illness where someone might miss several days of work at a time, that worker is eligible for sick benefits of up to $300 per week without any extra cost—a real safety net for single parents, or for families struggling to get by in this economy.

“It is only because we are united in our union that we were able to negotiate these pay and benefit improvements,” says Clemente Torres a member of UFCW Local 2.

“Our new contract gives peace of mind,” says Carmen Lopez, another UFCW Local 2 member and Cargill worker. “Dodge City is a small place, and with the economy the way it is, people are lucky to have a union job here. Once you get it, you really want to keep it. Because of the union contract, I know if I get very sick, my family can still get by, and the job will be there. Sometimes in your life, you have an emergency where you have to focus on something else – maybe your parents’ health or you have some kind of other emergency. With this contract, God forbid, if an emergency happens, you don’t have to pick between your job and your family. I can focus on my family and take the time I need, knowing I can count on my job being there when I’m ready.”

July 20, 2011

Joint Statement by AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka and UFCW Pres. Joseph Hansen on White House Walmart Event

We are honored that President Obama asked us to serve on his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, charged primarily with rebuilding America’s middle class by creating good jobs. America’s working families urgently need leadership that will get Americans back to good jobs, paying taxes, spending in their communities and saving for retirement. The jobs crisis facing our nation threatens our long-term economic security, the strength and cohesion of our families and communities and our ability to compete successfully in the global economy.Today’s White House event, which highlights Walmart’s expansion in urban areas, undercuts the message of the need for good jobs that can rebuild our middle class.When Walmart opens in a community, it regularly displaces existing jobs with poverty-level jobs. Tens of thousands of Walmart associates qualify for and utilize food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. In this time of budgetary stress, Walmart’s business model is subsidized on the backs of American taxpayers.There is no economic justification for our nation’s largest private employer to pay wages so low that any of its employees qualify for public assistance. And there is no justification for highlighting a private employer with a business model based on suppressing wages for its 1.4 million hourly workers.We call on the Administration to remain focused on the importance of a strong middle class and protecting and creating good jobs on the scale that is needed. We ask the Administration to stand with communities that have called on Walmart to strengthen the communities it enters rather than drive standards and wages down.

July 20, 2011

A STATEMENT FROM JOE HANSEN, UFCW INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT CHALLENGING WHITE HOUSE:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The following statement was issued today by Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), in advance of an event in the White House in which First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes retailers who are willing to expand their business into under served areas.   Walmart is among the attendees.

“The First Lady’s commitment to addressing childhood obesity in the U.S. is laudable and the UFCW commends her for her enthusiasm for such a worthy endeavor. But with income disparity between the rich and the poor at more extreme levels than during the Great Depression, Walmart must be held accountable for its track record of lower standards for millions of retail workers.

“Walmart is more responsible than any other private employer in our country for creating poverty-level jobs that leave workers unable to purchase healthy food or provide a good life for their families.

“I met Walmart Associate Girshreila Green last month who told me that she got her job at the inner-city Crenshaw Walmart in Los Angeles through the welfare-to-work program. And after three years of work and an excellent employment record at what she calls the ‘ghetto Walmart,’ Girshreila still has a welfare card in her pocket, right along with her Walmart I.D. and Walmart discount card.

“There is no economic justification that our nation’s largest private employer should pay wages so low that any of its employees qualify for public assistance.  But the fact that tens of thousands of Walmart associates qualify and utilize food stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid is reason enough that the White House should join with our union and tell Walmart – enough is enough.

“Our national economic crisis is made worse by companies like Walmart suppressing wages for its 1.4 million hourly workers who live and work in communities across the country.

“Walmart claims it wants to open stores in urban markets like Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other major cities.  Workers, community leaders and consumers in each of those cities have called on Walmart to commit to providing good jobs that pay wages high enough to improve the lives of workers in those cities. The fact is, when Walmart opens in a community, it replaces what were good jobs with poverty-level ones.  Walmart continues to drive the cycle of poverty by lowering wage rates and preventing associates from lifting themselves out of economic insecurity.

“Millions of grocery workers serve communities of every income level and hold good jobs with fair wages, affordable health care, and a voice on the job.  The White House should laud employers who are fueling economic recovery by creating good jobs where workers can afford to take care of their families and buy the healthy food their children deserve.”

-30-

Videos of Girshreila Green speaking out about her experience as a Walmart associate can be found at: http://vimeo.com/26640913 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTEuBHSvfFg

Making Change at Walmart seeks to promote the American values of equality, dignity and respect in the workplace. The campaign is making change by working directly with Walmart Associates to claim the respect on the job they deserve, holding Walmart corporate managers accountable to hourly employees and the public for their practices and joining with community leaders in major cities across America to make sure that any new jobs offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.

July 19, 2011

Statement by UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill on Proposed NLRB Rule to Modernize Union Election Process

Washington, D.C. –  The following remarks were delivered by UFCW Executive Vice President and Organizing Director Pat O’Neill, who testified at the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) public meeting on July 19, 2011 regarding the NLRB’s proposed rule changes to the union election process:

“American workers are struggling to make ends meet during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Workers in the grocery, retail, meatpacking and food processing industries are no exception.  Union contracts offer the best opportunity for stable, middle class jobs. While the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the fundamental right to join a union and achieve the benefits of collective bargaining, the NLRB’s current rules are seriously outdated, needlessly complex, and foster frivolous litigation.  The current process creates barriers to workers exercising their fundamental right to form a union. It’s time to return the process to its original intent – which is to give workers a clear path to making the choice when they want collective bargaining.

“We view the proposed election rule changes as a modest but important first step toward modernizing and streamlining an outmoded process that encourages unnecessary, time-consuming and wasteful litigation.

“The proposal to defer resolution of most voter eligibility issues until after the election, including all bargaining unit disputes affecting less than 20 percent of the unit, would make the current process more efficient and worker-friendly. Just ask the employees of Home Market Foods in Norwood, Mass., who sought representation by UFCW Local 1445. Workers petitioned for an election in a unit of all production, maintenance, shipping, receiving and housekeeping employees, including 11 quality assurance (Q.A.) technicians but excluding nine Q.A. technologists, who the technicians consider to be their supervisors. However, the company argued that none of the Q.A. workers should be in the unit – or if they were included, that the technologists were not supervisors and should vote in the election.  By disputing the Q.A. workers’ status, the company delayed the election until 79 days after the petition was filed.  And during this delay, management used the time to further threaten workers with job loss and plant closure if they won in the election. The workers lost the election 104-114. If the Q.A. employees’ eligibility to vote had been deferred until after the election, the election would have taken place before the employer’s scare tactics had their intended effect. In that case, the workers would have won the election by a big enough margin that their votes would not have affected the outcome.

“This is exactly why the proposed changes are needed.  Workers go to work to earn a living, not to get engaged in a protracted lawyer-driven tug of war with their employer. When workers want to organize a union, they want to do it immediately.

“The proposed rule changes will not interfere with employers’ free speech rights. Workers know their employers’ views on unionization.  And if workers are unclear about their employers’ position, it doesn’t take long for them to find out.  Nor will this rule change lead to “ambush” elections, as claimed by employer-funded lawyers.  Almost all union election campaigns are well underway and well known to employers long before an election petition is filed. In virtually all instances, employers have ample time to communicate with their workers.

“This fact is supported by a recent study by Professors Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell and Dorian Warren of Columbia, both of whom will address this panel later today.  Their research shows that “Thirty-one percent of serious [unfair labor practice] violations occurred 30 days before the petition was filed and 47 percent of all serious allegations occurred before the petition was filed.” The data support their conclusion that employer “opposition starts long before the filing of the petition.”  UFCW organizers have long known and experienced this first-hand many times.

“The UFCW is optimistic that the proposed rule changes will begin to restore the NLRB election process back to what it was intended to do – give workers a clear process to organizing a union.  We are, however, concerned about the possible elimination of the blocking charge policy.  Strong employer opposition to union organizing campaigns is the rule rather than the exception. Workers and their unions, when faced with serious employer unfair labor practices during the critical period, may need temporary postponement of the election to try to counter the employer’s illegal conduct. The blocking charge policy is needed to help attempt to prevent that from happening.

“The UFCW will make a more detailed response to the Board’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the written comments it plans to file. Again, thank you for this opportunity to speak in support of the proposed rule.”