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    UFCW Blog

June 25, 2012

HANSEN STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING AGAINST ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down most of Arizona’s immigration law.

“The Supreme Court has rightly struck down the majority of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. This decision is a repudiation of those advocating a patchwork of extreme state laws and reaffirms the federal government’s constitutional role in setting immigration policy. We are disappointed the law’s provision encouraging racial profiling survived and hope it will be overturned in the near future. It is time to move forward on this critical issue. President Obama started that process by issuing a common sense order to prevent the deportation of young immigrants who serve our nation. It is now time for Congress to get to work on comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who work hard and play by the rules. Only then can we truly fix our broken immigration system.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

June 21, 2012

Quaker Workers and UFCW Members Win Big in Powerball

This week, 20 UFCW/RWDSU Local 110 members who work as Quaker shipping employees in Cedar Rapids received some overwhelmingly good news- they had all won the lottery! The only winning ticket in the week’s Powerball lottery, the group will split a whopping $242 million prize, the 15th largest in Powerball history; the biggest in Iowa’s. Since the group opted for the lump sum, they will each receive $5.6 million, after taxes.

Workers from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, react as their winning $241 million Powerball ticket is scanned at the Iowa Lottery headquarters, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer says one of the workers bought the winning ticket for the group for the June 13 drawing and the winnings will be split 20 ways. Photo: AP / AP
photo credit: chron.com

The ‘Shipping 20,’ as they’re calling themselves, proudly donned their union shirts to present their winning ticket.

This spot of good luck for the winning workers is nice to hear in times where many are enduring economic hardship. We hope these winnings ease any hard times for these employees, and provide motivation for other workers to stick together when things get tough, whether its to fight for workers’ rights and families, or to win the jackpot. 

June 18, 2012

UFCW Voices: Phil Meza a.k.a. “Mr. Picketman”

Local 1428 member Phil Meza has become somewhat of a celebrity among our UFCW family.  He has contributed not only his time and effort in the fight for working families, but also his voice and musical talents.

For those of you who don’t know Phil, “Mr. Picketman” was a name given to him during a rally one day, after he scrawled out a song on the back of his picket sign – a song he would soon lead the crowd in singing.  Music has been a lifetime hobby for Picketman, but, throughout his 20 years as a union member and Albertson’s employee in Southern California (where he served as a department manager for years, and then as a front end service supervisor) he’s developed ideas for songs that he could use to help further the fight to protect working families.

On what the union means to him, and how it has prompted his songs, Mr Picketman has this to say:

“Over the years, working at Albertson’s and being able to negotiate contracts and the conditions in which we work under, its been a positive experience.”

Mr. Picketman has been a union member ever since he began working at Alberston’s, but says that he became much more involved within the union during the 2003-2004 Southern California strike:

That’s when I learned how to stand up for what I believe in.”

After returning from the strike, Mr. Picketman became a steward within his store, as well as Local 1428 executive board member. Phil wrote several songs about the strike, and from there, the music sort of “just took on a life of its own.”  His songs got out to all sorts of people all over the country and Phil then began receiving calls from people wondering if he could tailor songs to various causes.  Phil helped out a few of these callers, but found that nothing resonated with him as much as the union related songs he had created from the heart, and from his own experiences.

After making the first song for the union, about pro-worker type stuff, its just become an even bigger hobby of mine.”

Phil soon gained more popularity with the creation of an Obama-themed song, during the 2008 election. Of course, he says, he has a 2012 re-election song in the works too.  His recent work includes two songs with OUR Walmart, inspired by his work as a member organizer on the Making Change at Walmart campaign. He has also been contacted by a Local 8 member for help making a song related to the ongoing negotiations with Raley’s in northern California.

“I love being part of organizing and helping membership within UFCW grow.  I know that if we can rebuild union membership we can rebuild the middle class and the economy. Definitely having the experience of helping the union, helping others achieve a voice in their workplace has really been the most rewarding experience. And as for working on the OUR Walmart campaign, being able to talk to the workers who don’t have some of the benefits and privileges that we have as union members.”

One of Picketman’s recent songs, about the situation in Wisconsin and Scott Walker’s agenda to take away  collective bargaining, is a rousing hip-hop style anthem that calls on workers to “build our communities to save our jobs”, and to “stand up, get up, we gotta keep our head up.” The song, entitled “Fight On” has a motivating and catchy chorus that begins: “Anything in life that’s worth having is worth fighting for.”  Picketman’s musical style is one that many of our young members are sure to be drawn to, yet members of all ages can appreciate the message in each song, and the vigor with which he sings them.

The following YouTube video provides a slideshow of pictures capturing scenes from the Wisconsin protests for a re-election, set to “Fight On.”

Click here to download another catchy beat from Mr. Picketman.

June 15, 2012

FOOD WORKERS UNION APPLAUDS OBAMA’S COMMITMENT TO YOUNG IMMIGRANTS

UFCW International President Joe Hansen urges Congress to act on this critical issue for working families

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President (UFCW) Joseph T. Hansen released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s announcement of relief for undocumented youth:

“President Obama today made an important investment in the American dream for thousands of hard-working immigrant students and veterans by removing the threat of deportation and creating a clear path to full civic and economic participation for promising young people.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of high performing children of immigrants who were raised in the United States—including honor roll students, star athletes, and aspiring teachers, doctors, lawyers and U.S. soldiers—graduate from high school. Despite their academic achievements, they have been effectively barred from contributing fully to our communities. Today, thanks to President Obama’s bold leadership, the threat of deportation has been lifted for those aspiring American dreamers.

President Obama is embracing these promising students and soldiers who have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and a strong desire to be upstanding members of our society.

The UFCW, the voice for workers in the food and retail industries, is proud of the thousands of young immigrant activists who have organized into one strong, clear voice for fairness. They are weaving the unique fabric of American society – hard work, entrepreneurship, loyalty to country, ingenuity and invention. We are proud to stand with them, and with President Obama, as we work together to bring hope and a brighter future for every worker in our country.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

June 6, 2012

UFCW PRESIDENT HANSEN STATEMENT ON WISCONSIN RECALL ELECTION

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding the outcome of the Wisconsin recall election.

Scott Walker leaves this recall bruised and weakened. And he will now have a Democratic Senate holding him in check. Walker will try to spin last night’s outcome as an endorsement of his anti-worker policies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Ohio and now Wisconsin, we’ve seen the great possibilities when ordinary citizens band together to fight for their rights. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right like free speech, not some line item in a budget to be cut. Politicians across the country should take notice that if they attempt to take this right away from workers, they will be in for the fight of their lives. I want to commend the people of Wisconsin for their extraordinary efforts over the last 15 months. I have no doubt that they will finish the job on Scott Walker in 2014.