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September 27, 2011

Nebraska Prime Group Workers Say Union Yes with UFCW Local 293

Two hundred and sixty conventional and kosher beef slaughter workers at Nebraska Prime Group in Hastings, Neb., have exercised their right to join UFCW Local 293. Nebraska Prime Group recognized the workers’ choice for a real voice on the job after an overwhelming majority of workers at the beef processing plant signed cards to show their desire for UFCW representation.
“Our victory is important for me and my family,” said David Pettit, a plant employee and father of three children. “We can work for better benefi ts at my plant and that means I can take better care of my three kids and cover them on my insurance. I’m so glad that Nebraska Prime let us choose a card check process. It speaks a lot for their character and it makes me have more respect for where I work.”
Key issues for bargaining will include Sunday work due to the kosher work schedule, benefits and wages.

September 19, 2011

UFCW MEMBERS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GROCERS

(Los Angeles, Calif.) – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union working at Ralphs (Kroger), Vons (Safeway) and Albertsons (Supervalu) in Southern California reached a tentative agreement today with the companies.

The tentative agreement was reached after 8 months of negotiating and strong involvement and activism by the 62,000 grocery workers and widespread support of customers and allies across the region.  The UFCW is grateful to Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, for his guidance through the bargaining process.

UFCW members will vote on the proposals in meetings over the coming week. The agreement increases wages, protects health care and pension benefits throughout the life of the 3-year contract.

The new contract, once ratified, will cover 62,000 UFCW grocery workers, the largest bargaining unit in the UFCW.  An additional 28,000 grocery workers at regional chains like Stater Brothers, Food 4 Less, Gelson’s Market and other markets are covered by the successful resolution of the Southern California contract.  The contract covering 45,000 grocery workers in Northern California expires in October.

September 19, 2011

Workers Settle Lawsuit With Tyson Foods

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 17,000 Tyson poultry workers in 41 plants in 12 states settled a $32 million dollar lawsuit in a 12-year struggle to get paid for work already performed. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), as the leading union for meatpacking and food processing workers, initiated the suit against Tyson and played a critical role in obtaining justice for Tyson poultry workers and thousands of UFCW members affected by the suit. On Thursday, the United States District Court in Georgia approved the settlement.

“Every American deserves to get paid for the work they do,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “We’re changing the way meatpackers do business and making them pay thousands of workers correctly.”

The lawsuit charged Tyson with violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Meatpacking and food processing workers wear specialized protective gear while they work to protect both themselves and the food we eat. Before these UFCW-initiated lawsuits began, meatpacking companies didn’t pay workers for time spent taking the gear on and off, adding up to thousands of dollars of lost pay over years of work.

“We’ve already made a change in the way meatpackers pay their workers,” said Hansen. “While this settlement is long overdue, our efforts have ensured that thousands of workers have been paid correctly for years now.”

The lawsuit will result in payments, averaging around $1,000 per worker, to current and former Tyson workers across the country. These payments will inject much-needed money into America’s rural economy and reward a hard-working and dedicated group of poultry workers. The affected Tyson poultry workers work at plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

This lawsuit and the new pay practices in the meatpacking industry are just one way union workers raise standards for every worker in their industry, regardless of their union status.

September 16, 2011

STATEMENT BY THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION REGARDING H.R. 2587

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union:

“Once again, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is playing partisan politics instead of creating jobs.  Yesterday’s passage of H.R. 2587, the ‘Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act,’ would block the National Labor Relations Board from protecting workers against companies that violate labor laws.  This bill will do nothing but hurt workers who are already struggling to stay afloat in a fragile economy and further embolden corporations to ignore labor laws.

“At a time when the unemployment rate registers at 9.1 percent and millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed, it is telling that Republicans in Congress would pass a bill that will make it easier for corporations to drive down wages by moving to ‘Right to Work’ states or to eliminate jobs altogether by shipping them overseas. Instead of protecting corporations like Boeing when they violate labor laws and pitting workers against workers, our lawmakers should be focusing on creating good jobs that can support a family with the end goal of giving America’s middle class the purchasing power it needs to revive the economy.”

September 15, 2011

New Four-Year Contract for UFCW Members at Hormel Preserves Past Gains, Sets New Standards for Workers in Meatpacking and Food Processing Industries

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union who work at Hormel Foods Corporation in five states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia, voted this past Tuesday to accept a new four-year contract with the company.

The new collective bargaining agreement provides for, among many other significant gains, a substantial base wage increase of $1.50 over the term of the agreement, significant improvements in health care including 100 percent coverage for transplants and an increased allowance for hearing aids, improved retirement security including a 401(k) match increase from $300 to $500 and a pension increase to $27.

“The strong contract that we secured with Hormel is a pretty big deal,” said Dick Schuster, who has worked at the company’s Fremont, Neb. facility for the past 38 years. “At a time when pensions are under attack nationwide, we were able to bargain for significant improvements to our retirement security. Our contract is a testament to why sticking together and speaking with one voice benefits all workers.”

“Our communities need good jobs with pay and benefits that can support a family,” said Vincent Perry, a four-year veteran at the Hormel plant in Algona, Iowa. “Good union contracts like ours help build more stable and secure communities.”

Nationwide, the UFCW represents 8,000 Hormel workers. The current agreement covers about 4,000 workers at the company’s facilities in Austin, Minn.; Algona, Iowa; Fremont, Neb.; Beloit, Wis.; and Atlanta, Ga.

September 15, 2011

UFCW MEMBERS AT HORMEL RATIFY NEW CONTRACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union who work at Hormel Foods Corporation in five states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia, voted this past Tuesday to accept a new four-year contract with the company.

The new collective bargaining agreement provides for, among many other significant gains, a substantial base wage increase of $1.50 over the term of the agreement, significant improvements in health care including 100 percent coverage for transplants and an increased allowance for hearing aids, improved retirement security including a 401(k) match increase from $300 to $500 and a pension increase to $27.

“The strong contract that we secured with Hormel is a pretty big deal,” said Dick Schuster, who has worked at the company’s Fremont, Neb. facility for the past 38 years. “At a time when pensions are under attack nationwide, we were able to bargain for significant improvements to our retirement security. Our contract is a testament to why sticking together and speaking with one voice benefits all workers.”

“Our communities need good jobs with pay and benefits that can support a family,” said Vincent Perry, a four-year veteran at the Hormel plant in Algona, Iowa. “Good union contracts like ours help build more stable and secure communities.”

Nationwide, the UFCW represents 8,000 Hormel workers. The current agreement covers about 4,000 workers at the company’s facilities in Austin, Minn.; Algona, Iowa; Fremont, Neb.; Beloit, Wis.; and Atlanta, Ga.

 

September 8, 2011

Statement in Support of President Obama’s Plan to Put Americans Back to Work

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Joseph Hansen:

“President Obama’s plan for job creation, including a private fund to rebuild our roads and schools, a tax cut for companies that hire workers and help for the long-term unemployed, is a good start. The nation’s job crisis demands leadership from President Obama, but he cannot revive the economy alone. Bold leadership is also needed from Republicans in Congress and the business community in order to create jobs that can support a family and rebuild the middle class.

“We will never win the future by turning a blind eye to the devastating impact of unemployment and underemployment on our country. It is time for Republicans in Congress to put our country ahead of politics and support the president’s plan to put Americans back to work. It is also time for America’s business leaders to make a patriotic commitment to invest in good jobs in America and provide their employees with decent wages and benefits with the end goal of giving the middle class the purchasing power it needs to revive the economy.

“The wasted economic potential of the millions Americans who are unemployed or underemployed is a national tragedy. But the tragedy goes deeper than statistics alone. In all this turmoil, many Americans believe they will never achieve the American dream of owning a home, sending their children to college or retiring comfortably. If Republicans in Congress and America’s business leaders continue to put corporate profits ahead of job creation, our country will never fully recover from this downward economic spiral.”

September 8, 2011

UFCW Reaches Agreement to Ensure Cargill Workers Get Paid What They’ve Earned

Cargill has settled a multi-plant lawsuit and grievances covering all production workers at represented facilities across the country.

The settlement resolves years of efforts by the UFCW and Locals 2, 230, 293, 431 and 540 to ensure that UFCW members who work at Cargill are fully and fairly compensated for their work.

In the food processing and packing industry, workers are required to wear protective equipment and gear to ensure their safety and the safety of the food we eat. Many large employers, like Cargill, tried to avoid paying workers for the time it takes for them to put on and take off that gear. That time, called “donning and doffing,” has been the focus of UFCW efforts to ensure that meatpacking and poultry workers are paid for all their work.

UFCW locals have worked together to make sure that all workers in the industry get paid for donning and doffing, and now Cargill workers will see their long-overdue wages. All the locals involved will be working to ensure these Cargill workers receive the compensation they are owed. Additionally, a similar suit, covering tens of thousands of poultry workers who work for Tyson Foods, is also nearing a settlement. Keep checking this space to find out more soon!

September 1, 2011

Mr. President, It Is Time to Think Big

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Joseph Hansen:“Daniel Burnham, the preeminent Chicago architect who designed the Flatiron Building in New York City and Union Station in Washington, D.C., once said, ‘Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.’ “This Labor Day, the national unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, and more and more of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of working Americans. It is clear that we need to think big and create a bold jobs plan that will lift Americans out of poverty and rebuild the middle class. But as the country waits for President Obama’s jobs speech next week, too many in Congress are still creating a confusing conversation focused on cutting the deficit at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens—a tactic that will do nothing to create new jobs. “The wasted economic potential of the millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed is a national tragedy that must be addressed. But the tragedy goes deeper than statistics alone. In all this turmoil, many Americans have lost confidence in their government and believe they will never achieve the American dream of owning a home, sending their children to college or retiring comfortably. If the national conversation continues to be manipulated by those who put their own interests ahead of the poor and middle class, our country will never fully recover from this downward economic spiral. “It is time to announce a bold infrastructure rebuilding plan to fix our roads, bridges, schools, airports, railways and seaports. It is time to invest in a WPA-type jobs program to clean up and fix up abandoned and vacant properties to alleviate blight in distressed neighborhoods.“Investing in our country will pay big dividends today and in the future. Having our government prime the pump will create infrastructure jobs which, in turn, will have a wave effect across our entire economy and create jobs in all our economic sectors. These newly created jobs will also generate additional tax revenue. Most importantly, this new influx of jobs will restore the confidence of our citizens in our country and in our government. It is time to think big.”