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August 31, 2012

Eat Union-Friendly This Labor Day!

Labor Day normally brings to mind visions of barbeques, the beginning of fall, and a nice, relaxing day off from work.  Why not make this year’s annual BBQ labor-friendly by choosing union-made snacks? After all, this holiday IS about supporting labor, and the millions of workers who make our lives better in big and small ways every day!

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To see a list of union-made foods and snacks, check out our website! For even more ideas about how to have a union-friendly Labor Day celebration, check out the UFCW snack union Facebook page here.

August 31, 2012

STATEMENT BY THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION REGARDING SHOOTING AT A NEW JERSEY SUPERMARKET

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

“The UFCW is shocked and saddened at the news of a shooting at the Pathmark supermarket in Old Bridge, New Jersey, early this morning. The full details of this tragedy are still being investigated, and UFCW is working to assist our members, Pathmark, and local authorities in any way we can. While the investigation continues, UFCW will be offering professional counseling services to Old Bridge Pathmark workers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the workers who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. We will continue to monitor the situation and offer our support to our members, Pathmark, law enforcement, and the Old Bridge community.”

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. UFCW Local unions 464A and 1262 represent workers at the Old Bridge, N.J. Pathmark.

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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.

August 30, 2012

UFCW STATEMENT REGARDING THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION’S ANTI-WORKER PLATFORM

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

“The Republican Party’s anti-worker platform at their convention in Tampa, Fla., this week further highlights the GOP’s disconnect from the realities of everyday Americans. Instead of offering any serious solutions for creating jobs with benefits and wages that can support a family and addressing the growing gap between the rich and the poor, convention speakers like Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Nikki Haley have resorted to pitting workers against workers by lashing out at labor unions.

“America’s workers are the cornerstone of our country’s middle class, and making it easier for hard working men and women to stick together through a union would put more company profits in the hands of working people and strengthen America’s middle class. While Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, claim to care about the middle class, they have challenged the very idea of the right of workers to stick together and bargain for basic rights—including fair pay, health care and retirement benefits.

“The best way for workers to have a say about their working conditions is by sticking together as a union, and the UFCW will continue to fight any action by Romney, Ryan and followers like Christie, Walker and Haley who favor the wealthy one percent over America’s workers and the poor.”

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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.

August 28, 2012

Fighting Fire with Food and Support

In July of 2009, a terrible fire broke out at the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant in Milwaukee, WI. The massive Smithfield plant was completely consumed by the fire, threatening lives, costing millions of dollars in damage, and displacing over 1,400 workers, leaving them without work.

The devastating fire at the Patrick Cudahy plant prompted UFCW Local 1473 to immediately reach out across the labor community.  The Patrick Cudahy Worker Relief Fund was formed, and generous donations were made.  Local 1473 members then worked with the the Milwaukee County Labor Council and the Hunger Task Force to establish a food bank specifically for the Patrick Cudahy workers.  The Hunger Task Force, which, prior to the fire had relied on the Patrick Cudahy plant to supply many of the products in their food bank, was now helping to feed the displaced workers.

With the support of the Hunger Task force and other organizations, members were able to stick together and move toward recovering from the fire. Three years later, members are back at the plant to continue their work and support for organizations like the Hunger Task Force that play such an important role in their communities.

Last week, members from UFCW Local 1473 again joined partners Smithfield, Patrick Cudahy, and Pick ‘n Save in the latest event for the Feeding the Hungry campaign. The 40,000 pound donation went to the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, WI. Some of the members of Local 1473 still work at the nearby Patrick Cudahy meat processing plant, continuing to help produce products such as hams and bacon, which were part of the donation to the Hunger Task Force. This latest Feeding the Hungry donation exhibited the special and continued relationship members share with the Hunger Task Force.

Local 1473’s story is a powerful reminder that even in times of disaster, when people stick together, there is always hope.

The UFCW is committed to ensuring that families across the country have the relief and the opportunities they need to weather the current economic crises. As the foodworkers’ union, with members working in grocery stores, packing plants, and food processing plants, UFCW members and locals have long been involved in programs to help the hungry and provide for those in need. One of the most successful, and certainly the largest, of these programs is the joint UFCW/Smithfield Feeding the Hungry (FTH) Program – a three-year, multi-city, coast to coast effort to donate and deliver more than 20 million servings of protein to food banks through Feeding America’s network.

All across the country UFCW members are on the frontlines of efforts to improve and strengthen their communities, and this partnership reflects their unwavering commitment to protect and advocate for families during tough times. This partnership is about bringing together organizations with the resources, the relationships and the know-how to ensure that vulnerable communities across the country have access to well-supplied food banks. Our goal is simple: Get good, nutritious food to as many families, in as many communities, as possible.

August 24, 2012

Union-Made Back to School Supplies

To make sure your child’s back-to-school supplies are union-made, check out this great resource from the Union Label and Services Trades Department!

The flyer also notes that the luckiest kids in the nation are getting an education provided by union teachers, principals, and custodial/support staff.  We couldn’t agree more.

August 24, 2012

Millennials Find Themselves in Retail, and it’s not Going so Well

If you’re a young millennial today, you’re working in retail.

In a study published this week by Generation Y research firm Millennial Branding in conjunction with PayScale, it was found that the most common job among Millennials, or Generation Y, is sales representative or merchandise displayer.  Not only were these the most common among this generation, but Millennials are five times more likely to hold these jobs, in comparison to all workers.

There would not be anything wrong with this, except the fact that these positions tend to be among the lowest paid jobs.

According to a recent article from USA TODAY, “for an age group struggling with a poor job outlook and hefty student loans, many settle for retail while they look for jobs in their preferred field”, says Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Millennial Branding. “A lot of them will end up in these retail jobs while applying for professional jobs and hoping there’ll be openings,” he says.

The study of 500,000 worker profiles shows that over half of merchandise displayers have a Bachelors Degree, and 83% of clothing sales associates have them as well.

The bad job economy has resulted in many similar cases, where recent graduates are forced to retain retail jobs they previously held while in school, or otherwise.  It is unfortunate that millennials cannot find work in the fields they spend thousands of dollars to be educated in, but what’s worse is that the retail jobs they move into, cannot support a living wage most of the time.  This is not just true for millennials, but for countless others who work in retail, struggling to make a living.

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young workers sticking together

Stagnating wages and income inequality are ever-growing issues in our country.  Workers who are overworked, underpaid and do not have any job security or benefits are all too commonplace. The fear of not being able to pay the bills, getting sick, or getting fired at any moment is plaguing workers in an industry that will become the backbone of the American economy.

So, what can we do about?  We can all take a stand by supporting retailers who provide solid-work schedules, and paychecks and benefits that pay the bills.

Although many millennials see their retail jobs as a transition job, or stepping stone to something bigger, many will end up staying where they are.  That’s why its more important than ever to stick together and advocate for what’s right.  Union workers at retailers like Macys, H&M, Modells, and Bloomingdales already know that having a union voice on the job means they’ll be compensated and treated in a way that reflects their hard work. They’re able to bargain the middle class wages and health care benefits they earn and deserve.

With a union on the job, empowered retail workers can bolster the growing service industry and re-create the modern middle class that workers had in the past, and what we certainly need now.

August 14, 2012

Local 1208 Serves as Role Model in Community

UFCW Local 1208 has been very busy this year! So far in 2012, Local 1208 has seen both tremendous progress in both the Smithfield Plant they represent, and in their local community of Tar Heel, North Carolina. This progress is due to the actions, member related and community outreach events, and the key role Local 1208 has taken in transforming the working environment for those living in Tarheel and its surrounding counties. Below, see a few of the things Local 1208 has been up to!

Defferred Action Event- St. Pauls, NC 
This event was coordinated by a group of local students. The forum included a PowerPoint presentation given by immigration lawyers, which discussed President Obama’s newest immigration reform.  The floor was opened for questions about the new reform, immigration, and deportation.  Many UFCW members attended, and Local 1208 had the chance to share its support of both immigrants and immigrant reform. Local 1208 is also currently working with attorneys across North Carolina to coordinate labs that will assist people with the application process as new reforms roll out.  Way to make everyone feel welcome!

Community Health Fairs- Fayetteville and Red Springs, NC
Local 1208 this year continued their tradition of participating in Community Health Fairs, which offer free information and services from local health care organization and the communities they serve. Local 1208 offered a range of information about work place safety, health laws (OSHA Q/A), and workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace.

Monthly Obama Sticker Contest- Tar Heel, NC
Each month, Local 1208 rewards it members for showing support for Obama by holding an Obama sticker contest.  The contest involves picking a car at random from the Smithfield Packing Plant (which they represent) parking lot that boasts a “UFCW for Obama” bumper sticker. Not only does each monthly winner receive a VISA gift card, but they also earn the right to have their picture proudly publicized throughout the plant during the corresponding weekly action, encouraging others to participate.  

Head over to the Local 1208 facebook page to see what else the Local is doing!
 

August 10, 2012

UFCW Members Show their True Colors with Generous Donations to Haiti

In 2010, UFCW local unions from around the country pledged generous funds for Haiti to aid in the healing of the destruction and suffering that tool place and still continues today due to the devastating earthquake. 
The UFCW Charity Foundation will distribute more than $450,000 to help bring food, water, and technology to the local children and families in Haiti.
Reviving Haitiis a partner in supporting a water project for the town of Chardonette, Haiti. The town is home to 8,000 people who currently use an unfiltered spring as their water source. The project will create a new water system that will pump and filter water to a series of reservoirs so the local families can have access to clean water.  Eventually the water system will be extended and used to send clean water to other neighboring towns as well. 
 
Other projects that funds are supporting include: 
·        Hope for Haiti – UFCW Local 888 is overseeing the project that will build computer labs and a library at the St. Francois de Sales Primary and Secondary School in Riviere Froide, Carrefour. 
·        High Hopes for Haiti – The Mortel Family Foundation is supporting a project to build computer labs and a libraryat the John Stine College in St. Marc, Haiti.
·         God to Haiti – UFCW Local 1625 member Jean Myril is leading a project to provide hot meals for the children and families in Bitho, Leogane.

August 9, 2012

WALMART WORKERS PAINT GRAPHIC PICTURE OF WORKING CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT SUPPLY CHAIN

Workers Describe Jobs Rife with Retaliation, Hazards and Low Pay

LOS ANGELES – Workers representing four links in Walmart’s global supply chain – food production, processing, warehousing and retail – today filed a formal ethics complaint with Walmart’s corporate executives in Los Angeles. The complaint outlines systemic violations of Walmart’s own Statement of Ethics and Standards for Suppliers.

Standing in front of the proposed site of a Walmart store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, workers and supporters described working conditions that include enslavement, injury, hazardous equipment, retaliatory firings and chemical exposure in the production, transport and sale of Walmart merchandise.

“This is a pattern. No matter the country, no matter the workplace, no matter the worker, we see that Walmart and its contractors’ deny responsibility, ignore serious problems and fire workers who stand up for change. This behavior should not be rewarded with more stores,” said Guadalupe Palma, a campaign director with Warehouse Workers United, an organization committed to improving warehousing jobs in the Inland Empire.

Warehouse workers who move Walmart goods in Southern California are part of an increasing number of workers stepping out of the shadows and calling attention to unsafe and illegal treatment of workers employed by Walmart and its contractors.

“So many of my coworkers are living in pain because of the pressure to work fast or lose our jobs,” said Limber Herrera, a warehouse worker in Riverside. “We often breathe a thick black dust that gives us nosebleeds and headaches. We want Walmart to take responsibility and fix these bad working conditions.”

Workers and supporters also presented copies of two petitions to Walmart that garnered a combined 250,000 signatures and cast light on conditions faced by seafood workers who work for Walmart suppliers. Ana Rosa Diaz, one of eight guestworkers who exposed forced labor at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood in Louisiana last month, spoke at the event. Only after Diaz went on strike and 150,000 people pledged their support was Walmart forced to admit to labor violations and suspend its contract with the supplier.

“We know that hundreds of other guestworkers at other Walmart suppliers are facing abuse,” said Diaz, a member of the National Guestworker Alliance. “The U.S. Department of Labor has confirmed our claims of abuse at C.J.’s Seafood. Now it’s time for Walmart to sit down with us to agree to a solution to stop abuse across its supply chain.”

In Thailand, it was revealed in June that a major Walmart shrimp supplier was engaged in debt bondage. After workers struck, causing media and consumer scrutiny, the Walmart supplier, Patthana, pledged to end its practice of debt bondage. However, many workers in Walmart’s supply chain remain vulnerable to other abuses. At a Thai pineapple factory, Vita Foods, that also supplies Walmart there are reports of human trafficking similar to those at Patthana, including that children under the age of 15 have been bought and sold to work there.

“Globalization for the working poor of the world means that American warehouse workers today have more in common with factory workers in Thailand’s shrimp and pineapple factories than with the one-percenters in their own country who profit from their labor. Hyper-exploitation is the global labor standard Walmart has chosen to pursue. This just means the fight for justice for Walmart’s workers is that much bigger. Thailand may seem far away to the Walton heirs, but we are going to bring the plight of Thai workers to the suburbs of Arkansas. You bring home the profits, you bring home the struggle too,” said Chancee Martorell, executive director of the Thai Community Development Center, representing the Thai workers.

Through the organization OUR Walmart, store associates are fighting for and winning changes at Walmart to help workers, who are struggling to support their families on low-wages, reductions in hours, unaffordable healthcare, unjust terminations and unsafe and discriminatory working conditions. In Riverside, after warehouse workers filed a comprehensive complaint with the state of California detailing broken equipment, limited access to water, extreme heat and other violations of state law, two warehouse workers were suspended indefinitely. Both Carlos Martinez and David Garcia won their return to work after filing charges with the state.

“We are standing up for ourselves and our co-workers to make real changes at Walmart and we will not be silenced,” said Greg Fletcher, a father of two sons and a member of OUR Walmart. “Even though Walmart is the biggest company in the country, the company is not above the law. When we stand together and hold Walmart accountable, we are winning protections for workers, our community and our economy.”

Fletcher is a six-year Walmart associate in Duarte, California.

Members of the Chinatown community joined the rally saying residents are not interested in the expansion of low wage jobs, retaliation, injury and dangerous working conditions and a destruction of the local community.

“We stand with the workers against retaliation, injury and dangerous working conditions. It is illegal, and it is immoral,” King Cheung, a member of the Chinatown Committee for Equitable Development. “For the world’s largest retailer, Walmart pays its workers substandard low wages. Chinatown deserves better than Walmart. Walmart is well known for bad treatment of its workers. It is also well known for harming small businesses and communities. That is why we do not want Walmart here in LA Chinatown.”

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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.

August 9, 2012

Young Union Members Step Up to the Plate at UALE Leadership Summer School

This summer, two young women from Local 400 gave up some time in the sun to learn more about something close to their hearts- union leadership.
To do so, Brittany Metts, 20, from Safeway #1276 and Stephanie Pryor, 29, from Giant #326, attended  the 37th United Association for Labor Education (UALE) Northeast Summer School for Union Women in Amherst, Massachusetts. 
Metts and Pryor were chosen to attend the Summer School because they have been active Local 400 members throughout the community, attending rallies, meetings and events- helping to give the younger members of Local 400 a voice. 
“For Local 400, engaging the young membership has always been key, with the average age of our membership being 24-years-old,” said Local 400 president Tom McNutt. “Brittany and Stephanie have shown great potential participating in actions around Giant and Safeway negotiations. The UALE Summer School is a great avenue for them to acquire additional skills to provide the best possible support for the youth of Local 400 today and to be able to assume a greater leadership tomorrow.”  
The leadership courses Metts and Pryor enrolled in were focused on developing skills regarding collective bargaining, labor law, grievance handling, public speaking, organizing, safety and health, and mobilizing for political and legislative activity. 
Metts’ favorite class was leadership, where she learned the importance of listening, identifying situations and obstacles when in a leadership role, and communicating effectively. The biggest accomplishment she had while at UALE was gaining more confidence in herself as a leader.
Metts also offered some suggestions of her own to her union sisters in the room, who were struggling with reaching out to the younger union members:
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Brittany Metts and Stephanie Pryor

“It’s all about being personable and telling your story,” she said. “You can’t put an age on maturity. Yes, I’m only 20 but I have gone through some experiences that say a 40-year-old just experienced,” Metts added. “We as humans, as women, have a lot more in common than you think, if you just take the time to listen.”

Some sage advice.
Pryor also weighed in, noting that, “it’s important to have an open mind and just take a moment to talk with people around you in your stores.”
Pryor’s favorite class was collective bargaining, where the students participated in a mock negotiations exercise.
“We learned all the tactics management play and how to read their body language,” she said. “Though I was lucky enough to be on the union side of the table during the exercise it was still tough knowing that the ‘members’ would be counting on you. It really opened my eyes to the pressures the leadership of our union faced at the bargaining table with Giant and Safeway recently.”
Metts and Pryor hope to serve as leaders for the young adults in Local 400 and their communities, although it seems as if they have already made a difference among their peers. When they return, they plan to put their new skills to work by leading a youth workshop for the members who are under the age of 35. The workshop will help generate a network of young Local 400 members to meet and discuss not only issues at work, but other challenges life has to offer as well.
“We want to engage the young members and grow the network so they can be the voice of young workers at rallies, events and most importantly inside their facilities,” said Metts
Metts and Pryor would also like to close the gap that sometimes exists between the older and younger generation of workers.
“We want both generations to understand that there are so many mentors around you and stepping outside of your comfort zone is a good thing,” explained Metts. “We all are in this family, we are all union brothers and sisters and regardless of age, we need to stick together.”
“It’s terrific that our union sisters Brittany and Stephanie are taking the initiative and reaching out to the younger membership,” McNutt said. “After all, they are the future of the labor movement, they are the future of Local 400, so educating members on where the labor movement has been and where it’s going is essential.”