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    UFCW Blog

July 27, 2012

UFCW Members Show Community Spirit in Rockmart, Georgia

UFCW/ICWUC Local 90-T in Rockmart, Georgia took time out this week to volunteer at their local Home Spun Festival – registering voters, giving away water bottles, and talking to friends and neighbors about what it means to have a union voice on the job.

The Home Spun festival is a tradition dating back 35 years in Rockmart, but this year marks Local -T’s first official involvement in the festival. The local staff and members in attendance were in agreement that it won’t be their last!

What a great way to spend the day – union brothers and sisters coming together for the good of the community to share information on voting and workplace rights. Do you have more stories about union members giving back in their communities? If so, send them along to submissions@ufcw.org and your story could be featured right here on the blog!

July 18, 2012

UFCW Members, Family Members Awarded Union Plus Scholarships

July 12, 2012

National Labor College Graduates the Class of 2012

Here on the blog, we like to recognize those who work hard and strive to help the cause of the working family.

Congratulations to the 78 newest graduates of the National Labor College Class of 2012!

The students graduated this past Saturday with Bachelors degrees, representing 25 unions across the nation including UFCW, as well as Working America, the AFL-CIO’s Community affiliate.
“Today, it is vitally important that we have NLC graduates with the skills necessary to put our members back to work and to effectively respond to the strident challenges we face to our basic right to bargain collectively,” said John Sweeney, President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO. “By balancing work, education, union roles, and family responsibilities, the graduates have achieved a tremendous accomplishment.”

Several students were highlighted for their outstanding contributions to the NLC community:

  • Helen Foreman-Hines of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was awarded the prestigious President’s Award.
  • Mark King, president of the student government association and member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was elected by his fellow graduates as class speaker and received a distinguished paper award for his senior thesis.
  • Jon Leinbaugh of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) and Joseph Walsh of the Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) were awarded the 2012 Bert and Annabel Seidman Prize for Advancing Social Policy.
  • Trenton Reich of Working America and Paul Simon of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) received distinguished paper awards for their senior theses.

About National Labor College
Established as a training center by AFL-CIO in 1969 to strengthen union member education and organizing skills, today the NLC is the nation’s only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union leaders, members and activists. Learn more at www.nlc.edu.
July 10, 2012

Decline in Working Class Jobs Hurts Our Kids

New research about the bifurcation of American society has produced some alarming information about the opportunity gap in our country.

Although there is of course inequality in the standards of living among America’s adults, the inequality in opportunity for our children is sometimes overlooked.  But it is a growing problem. According the the article from the NYTimes, in the decades to come, our country will be even more divided than it is now.  In decades past, kids of college-grads and high-school grads invested similarly in their children. Now, however, more affluent parents spend much more on their childrens’ futures, while the less affluent have decreased in those investments.

 Aside from money, the most important thing affluent parents are giving to their kids is time. In fact, affluent parents have quadrupled the amount of time they spend with their kids, whether it be at home, supporting them at a sporting event, or driving them to any plethora of extracurricular activities.  Meanwhile, high-school educated parents have increased child-care time, but only slightly. In the previous generation of families, things were opposite, and it was the working-class families who spent more time together. But now, the attention gap in the first three years of life for working-class family kids, when it is most important, is only growing.

Of course, the gap in the amount of money we spend on our kids is growing too. Affluent parents have increased the amount they spend on their kids enrichment activities by $5300 a year, whereas the financially stressed have only increased the amount they spend per year to $480.

Data taken in 1972 shows that kids from the bottom quartile of earners participated in about the same number of activities as the kids from the top quartile.  The facts today are starkly different.  Rich kids are now involved in twice as many activities as poorer kids, and twice as likely to excel in those activities.

This growing chasm among the classes is also causing the less fortunate children to become more pessimistic and detached. One researcher noted that “It’s perfectly understandable that kids from working-class backgrounds have become cynical and even paranoid, for virtually all our major social institutions have failed them — family, friends, church, school and community.” These kids are less likely to participate in voluntary service work that could provide them with a sense of purpose, they do worse in school, and their opportunities are limited.

A long series of cultural, economic and social trends have merged to create this sad state of affairs. Traditional social norms were abandoned, meaning more children are born out of wedlock. Their single parents simply have less time and resources to prepare them for a more competitive world. Working-class jobs were decimated, meaning that many parents are too stressed to have the energy, time or money to devote to their children. 
Affluent, intelligent people are now more likely to marry other energetic, intelligent people. They raise energetic, intelligent kids in self-segregated, cultural ghettoes where they know little about and have less influence upon people who do not share their blessings. 
The political system directs more money to health care for the elderly while spending on child welfare slides.
Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern. America’s leaders need to change this, and take advantage of all of the human capital in our country rather than the most privileged two-thirds of it. Let’s focus on bringing back working class jobs so that our kids will have a bright future.
Click here to read the full article by David Brooks from NYTimes.com
July 3, 2012

Bird’s Eye Food Workers in Wis. Choose a Union Voice on the Job with Local 1473

Workers at a Bird’s Eye Food facility in Darien, Wis. have voted to join the UFCW. Both the full-time workers and the seasonal workers held elections and voted for a voice on the job with UFCW Local 1473.

The 30 workers decided to come together and work side-by-side to hold elections because they wanted to have a voice on the job. They also wanted workers to experience workplace equality in terms of wages, promotions, and hiring.

The employees work in the product quality assurance line of the facility. There, they check the bags of frozen vegetables and other products to make sure they are properly sealed and meet quality standards before leaving the facility.

July 2, 2012


WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk have named two key officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) to important trade advisory committees. Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President and Director of the Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division, has been named to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC). Arne Anderson, Director of the Strategic Resources Department, has been named to the USTR’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade (ATAC). Both committees will advise Vilsack and Kirk on negotiating objectives and bargaining positions for future trade agreements. “We understand the important role trade can play in supporting jobs in the agricultural and food industries,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen. “Mark and Arne’s appointments will help ensure the voice and concerns of workers are represented during these important negotiations.” ###


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.