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December 17, 2013

Funds Raised for Hope for Haiti Project Helps Build New Computer Lab and Library

UFCW local unions from around the country donated funds to help the Haitian people to get back on their feet and rebuild their country after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The UFCW partnered with Hope for Haiti to rebuild the computer lab and library at St. Francois de Sales School in the neighborhood of Riviere Froide, commune of Carrefour, Port-au-Prince.

Students started classes at the St. Francois de Sales School in Port-au-Prince on Otcober 1st.

Students started classes at the St. Francois de Sales School in Port-au-Prince on Otcober 1st.

Thanks to the generous donations from UFCW local unions, the St. Francois de Sales School officially began on October 1st with the computer lab and library set to open on January 12th. Some of the materials purchased with the donations to help complete the computer lab and library include 34 computers outfitted with Microsoft Office software, along with tables, chairs, book shelves, and lockers. The school will provide education to more than 1,320 students in the kindergarten, primary, and secondary levels.

More information on the Hope for Haiti project and updates on construction progress can be found at
www.hopeforhaiti.com.

December 12, 2013

This Holiday Season, Buy Union-Made!

RWDSU/UFCW Local 224 member

RWDSU/UFCW Local 224 member

(List originally posted at AFL-CIO Now)

Going searching for that perfect holiday gift? Make sure it’s union made in America. Check below for gifts made by the UFCW and other union members in the U.S.

Apparel and Accessories

Brooks Brothers (UNITE HERE)

Joseph Abboud (UNITE HERE)

Majestic Athletic (UNITE HERE)

Timex watches (IAM)

Red Wing Shoes (UFCW)

Beauty Products

Avon (UFCW)

Caress skin care (UFCW)

ChapStick (USW)

Dove beauty products (UFCW)

Revlon (UAW)

Games

(All made by RWDSU/UFCW)

Barrel of Monkeys

Battleship

Candy Land

Chutes and Ladders

Clue

Connect 4

Game of Life

Hi Ho Cherry-O

Monopoly

Mouse Trap

Operation

Pictionary

Risk

Scrabble

Sorry

Taboo

Twister

Yahtzee

Sports Equipment

American Athletic (Russell) (UAW)

Louisville Slugger (UAW and IBT)

MacGregor Golf clubs (Boilermakers [IBB])

Standard Golf (IAM)

Top-Flite golf balls (IBB)

Stocking Stuffers

Rayovac batteries (Teamsters and UAW)

Bic Lighters (USW)

Ghirardelli chocolates (BCTGM)

Jelly Belly (BCTGM)

Laffy Taffy (BCTGM)

Tootsie Roll Pops (BCTGM)

Wine and Beer

(Wines brought to you by UFW.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle (IBT)

Columbia Crest

St. Supery

Charles Krug

C.K. Mondavi

Gallo of Sonoma

Miller Beer (UAW & IBT)

Miller High Life

Miller Genuine Draft

Miller Lite

Milwaukee’s Best

Icehouse

Red Dog

Anheuser-Busch (IBT & IAM)

Budweiser

Budweiser American Ale

Bud Light

Michelob

Shock Top

Busch

Rolling Rock

O’Doul’s

If You’re in the ‘Big Spender’ Category (UAW)

Jeep

Ford Mustangs

Cadillacs

See more cars made by UAW.

Editor’s note: This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all made in America, union-made products. Some places to find more info on those products include but are not limited to Labor 411Union PlusAmerican Rights at Work and the BCTGM website.

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November 29, 2013

PROTESTS FOR BETTER JOBS AT WALMART SWEEP STORES NATIONWIDE

Workers, Community Leaders in 9 Major Cities to Risk Arrest; Cite Walmart’s Poverty Paymwalmart

Nation Rallies Behind Walmart Workers; Black Friday Protests Mark One of Largest Mobilizations of Working Families in Recent History

Media Call: TODAY, 12pm ET/9am PT
RSVP/Call-in Info: Giovanna Frank-Vitale, 610-207-9167, giovanna.vitale@berlinrosen.com

For Live Updates and Photos: Black Friday protests across the nation throughout the day, visit: www.BlackFridayProtests.org
Follow on Twitter: @ChangeWalmart; @ForRespect; #WalmartStrikers

(USA) – Calling for better jobs, Walmart workers and community supporters across the nation are holding 1500 protests against the mega-retailer today, in one of the largest mobilizations of working families in recent history. As part of the protests already underway, workers, faith leaders and community supporters are risking arrest in at least nine major metropolitan cities, outraged that with $17 billion in profits, Walmart continues to pay many workers poverty wages. Workers and supporters are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, for Walmart to publicly commit to paying $25,000 a year and to provide more full-time work.

Workers and supporters are set to take peaceful civil disobedience in major cities from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Sacramento, Secaucus, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. The group has been emboldened by revelations from Walmart’s CEO that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000, while the Walton family’s wealth totals over $144 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

“We refuse to live in fear. And we refuse to accept scraps. That’s why there have been so many strikes and protests this month,” said Dorothy Halvorson, a Walmart employee in Placerville, California, who has worked at the store for 11 years and plans to take part in civil disobedience today. “We know that we are closer to change at Walmart than ever before – and it’s clear that Walmart knows it too. We won’t stop protesting until we get change. This Black Friday is historic, and we will only grow stronger from here.”

In recent weeks, protesting Walmart workers have received an outpouring of national support. Calling for an end to Walmart’s illegal retaliation and attempts to silence workers who speak out for better working conditions, workers have walked off their jobs in a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Ohio, Dallas, Florida, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

“The civil disobedience by Walmart workers and supporters across the country is a testament to the immense courage of these workers fighting for dignity, respect and a decent wage — the same things that working people have marched and rallied for in this country for decades,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of America’s foremost civil rights activists. “The civil rights movement of the past called for workers to be free and equal. Walmart workers today are free, but far from equal. The company has lost its way, and it’s an honor to support workers taking this powerful moral action to get Walmart on the right path.”

Earlier this month, a photo from a Canton, Ohio store went viral, as workers, customers and commentators pointed to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages. And the federal labor board recently announced it would prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights, providing additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs.

“As the largest company in the country, Walmart makes billions of dollars in profit while paying workers so little that many cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner. It shows a complete disregard for employees and their families,” said Rev. Ed Middleton, a pastor at First Community Church in Dallas, Texas who plans to risk arrest today. “The scope of today’s nationwide protests matches the outrage felt by Americans across the country. Walmart’s business model is morally indefensible, and we won’t stand for it.”

Since then, the company has been on the defensive. On Monday, when Walmart announced that Doug McMillon would replace Mike Duke as CEO, numerous business analysts highlighted that the incoming CEO would have to address Walmart’s failing business model and pay its workers more.

“I’m prepared to get arrested today for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves,” said Myron Byrd, a 45 year-old father of three who makes $20,000 as a full-time Walmart employee in Chicago. “I’ve never done civil disobedience before, but I know what it is. My mother participated in the civil rights movement, and always told me that if I saw something wrong, it was our job to change it. And that’s exactly what thousands of us are doing today – calling for change at Walmart and standing up for fair pay and better jobs.”

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For updates and photos of Black Friday protests throughout the day, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation at @ChangeWalmart and  #WalmartStrikers.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

November 21, 2013

Immigrant Farmworkers, Labor Leaders and Immigration Advocates to the Republican House: “Do Your Jobs” on Immigration

Advocates Deliver Immigrant Processed Turkeys, Merlot and Fact Sheets to Speaker Boehner, Steve King and Other Key GOP Members; Remind Them Who’s Working Hard for America While They’re Taking More Days Off

turkeysWashington, DC – While Congress has been busy voting to repeal Obamacare forty-seven times, blaming the President for [insert anything here], taking 198 days off (including 32 of the final 40 days in 2013 as of today), complaining about having to read too many pages of legislation, and whining about “not having enough time” to do anything productive in 2013, millions of immigrant workers have been working day in and day out to help put Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of millions of Americans.

Today, immigrant farmworkers, labor leaders and immigration advocates launched the “Do Your Jobs” campaign as a reminder to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of the House Republican caucus about who is actually working hard for America and who needs to step it up.

According to Esther Lopez, Director of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s (UFCW) Civil Rights and Community Action Department, “At the UFCW, we are proud to put food on America’s table, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. Our members work hard—often in difficult conditions—to provide an excellent product for their customers and communities.  UFCW members are doing their jobs. It is time for Congress to do the same. Give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.”

As a send-off to Congress before they take their two-week Thanksgiving break, advocates delivered turkeys processed by immigrants to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and other targeted Republican Members to remind them about the back-breaking work immigrants and others do in America every single day (see below for a full list of Members of Congress who received deliveries).

As a special touch, Boehner received an immigrant-harvested bottle of merlot wine (his favorite).  Volunteers from each organization also handed out fact sheets to key Members of Congress, outlining the hard work that immigrants do to harvest produce, process meats, prepare foods, clean houses, and complete the numerous other jobs necessary to set our nation’s Thanksgiving tables while Members of Congress enjoy their two-week break (see the fact sheet here).

Giev Kashkooli, National Vice President of United Farm Workers (UFW) delivered turkeys and wine alongside two immigrant grape growers from the Yakima Valley in Washington, providing a face behind the hard work that goes into providing Speaker Boehner with the wine he adores.

As one of the growers, Adelaida Mendoza, UFW member from Mabton, Washington, said at today’s press conference, “It takes a lot of hard work to produce the grapes that make Merlot wine. From January when we begin to prune the vines early in the morning in 20 degree weather‎ through the harvest season in the summer heat when poisonous snakes are regular visitors at our feet  to now when we prepare the ground for the next year, the work is difficult. Now, we ask Speaker Boehner and the Republican House Leaders to Do Your Job. How can Speaker Boehner let Republicans take 32 of the next 40 days off when our country needs immigration reform?”

Added Maria Ramirez, UFW member and immigrant grape harvester from Benton, Washington, “‎Our work is difficult but we love doing this work producing wine that so many  Americans enjoy. I am here today because the struggle that our families have to win a new immigration process is so important. We have done our job so others can enjoy wine. Now, we want Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders to do their job.”

Thus far, instead of actually doing something to address immigration (an issue that’s been debated for decades), Speaker Boehner has found nearly every excuse in the book to avoid actually doing his job by tackling this issue and the many others he’s left on the table.  The only immigration vote the Speaker found time to schedule this year was on a Rep. Steve King (R-IA) amendment to deport DREAMers and others, yet so far he hasn’t found the 20 minutes needed to vote on an immigration proposal that the vast majority of Americans support.

“Immigrants show up for work and do their jobs. House members show up at the Capitol but do not do their jobs. Instead, they play politics with our lives,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “If House members do not pass commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship, they will suffer the consequences next November. It’s as simple as that. The House can act today or face the consequences tomorrow.”

Donations were also made in the name of the Republican Members who did not receive turkeys today as well as the immigrant workers who produced these products to a local area food bank.

Said Andrea Zuniga, Legislative Representative of the AFL-CIO, “Each day Speaker Boehner delays immigration reform workers pay the price with stolen wages, unsafe working conditions and threats of deportation if they try to organize. Many of these workers will not have the luxury of spending Thanksgiving with their families- they will be working extra shifts to make ends meet or praying for family members that have been deported. It’s time for Speaker Boehner to give us a vote and fix our broken immigration system in a manner that protects all workers.”

“Immigrant workers spend hours preparing and harvesting the food that we eat every day.  While Speaker Boehner and other House Republicans are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with their families, immigrants are facing permanent separation from their families—all because the House Republican leadership will not act.  Our message is simple: do the right thing.  Pass immigration reform to let these hardworking immigrants become hardworking Americans, said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.

This new campaign is follow-up to the “Take Our Jobs” campaign of 2010 where United Farm Workers invited American workers to step into the shoes of an immigrant farmworker.  Stephen Colbert and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) took up the offer and witnessed firsthand the difficulties of doing this backbreaking labor.  As millions of immigrants continue their hard work to contribute to our country, we’re just asking that Congress do the same.

In August, leaders from UFW, America’s Voice and United We Dream responded to comments from Steve King about DREAMers having “calves the size of cantaloupes” by delivering sweet American-grown and immigrant harvested cantaloupes to all the 224 Members who voted in favor of Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers.  Just as House leadership gave Steve King his vote, leaders demanded that Speaker Boehner schedule their vote on citizenship as well.

Fact Sheet: Do Your Jobs.We work hard for America. When will you work for us?

List of Members’ Offices Receiving Deliveries:

Receiving Turkey, Merlot and Fact Sheets:

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Receiving Turkeys and Fact Sheets:

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA)

Receiving Fact Sheets and a Donation to a Local Food Back in theirs and an Immigrant Workers Name:

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)

Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)

Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)

Rep. Scot Tipton (R-CO)

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)

 

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November 20, 2013

JBS Workers Vote for a Union Voice on the Job with UFCW Local 1776

JBS workers in Souderton, Pa., voted to join UFCW Local 1776 to have a union voice on the job.

JBS workers in Souderton, Pa., voted to join UFCW Local 1776 to have a union voice on the job.

This work, about 200 workers in a JBS rendering plant in Souderton, Pa., overwhelmingly voted for a union voice on the job with UFCW Local 1776.

“I have been a driver at JBS for three years and one reason why I wanted a union was to have better health insurance for my family. When it came time to vote, I stood with my co-workers and voted union ‘yes’,” said JBS worker Tony Serra.

The workers began campaigning to join a union at the beginning of this year. During the campaign, UFCW Locals 23, 204, 1994, and 1208 sent member activists to help UFCW Local 1776 members and JBS workers to handbill, hold worker-to-worker and member-to-worker meetings, and perform home calls to show solidarity and have a successful election. Many of the workers have been part of a union before and understand the power that workers have when they stand together.

Contract negotiations are set to begin immediately in order to run parallel with negotiations for the UFCW Local 1776 JBS beef plant workers. Respect on the job and protecting healthcare benefits are top priorities for workers.

November 18, 2013

FEDERAL LABOR BOARD: Walmart Violated Workers’ Rights Nationwide

UFCWnewsNational Labor Relations Board Decides to Prosecute Nationwide Violations at Country’s Largest Employer

Workers, Supporters Vow to Increase their Calls for Walmart to End Illegal Retaliation, Create Better Jobs

WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board General Counsel is issuing a decision today to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs at the country’s largest employer.

The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June, according to the decision.

The decision addresses threats by managers and the company’s national spokesperson for discouraging workers from striking and for taking illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes. Workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights.

“The Board’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work. “Americans believe that we have the responsibility – and the right – to speak out against corporate abuses of workers, and this proves we’re finally being heard, and making kinks in Walmart’s armor. Customers, clergy and community members from across the country are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for better jobs and a stronger economy for all of us.”

Today’s decision addresses charges filed one year ago in advance of Black Friday 2012, when Walmart managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, spokesperson for the company, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.

Additionally, the decisional covers the illegal firings and disciplinary actions that occurred after 100 striking Walmart workers took their concerns to the company’s June shareholder meeting in Bentonville. Support from investors, Walmart workers and the general public continued to grow after tens of thousands of shareholders heard from OUR Walmart members at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

When these workers returned to work, Walmart systematically fired and disciplined them despite their legally recognized, protected absences. This included disciplinary action against at least 43 workers and the firing of at least another 23 worker-leaders.

“Working at the largest employer in the country should mean making a decent living. Those days are long gone,” said Tiffany Beroid, a Walmart worker from Laurel, MD. “Walmart continues to show that it’s afraid to have real conversations about creating better jobs, but would rather scare us into silence. But change at Walmart is too important to our economy and for our families for us to stop speaking out.”

Prior to the extended strike in June, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice released a white paper documenting Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates. At that time, there were more than 150 incidents in stores across the country, with few signs that Walmart would soon stop targeting those who speak out and act collectively.

In other labor charges against Walmart, workers have been winning. In California alone, the National Labor Relations Board recently decided to prosecute Walmart for 11 violations of federal labor law from some threats made around Black Friday last year.

In Kentucky, one settlement was reached between Walmart and Aaron Lawson in which Walmart fired Lawson after he distributed flyers and spoke out against the company’s attempts to silence those who called for better wages and consistent hours. As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to rehire Lawson and provide full back wages for the time that he was out of work.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

November 14, 2013

UFCW Local 400 Members Vote to Authorize Strike Against Giant

Fired up about management intransigence at the bargaining table, members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 yesterday voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against Giant.

Their current contract originally expired on October 31st. It was extended for two weeks and has since been extended through December 20th, while bargaining takes place on a new agreement. Today’s vote does not mean that a strike will occur, but it sends a strong single to Giant that members will do whatever it takes to get a fair contract.

Giant and Safeway members voted to authorize union leadership to call a strike if necessary by a standing vote. Photo by Joe Coffin/Page One.

Giant and Safeway members voted to authorize union leadership to call a strike if necessary by a standing vote. Photo by Joe Coffin/Page One.

“Today, our members put Giant on notice that it is long past time to come to the table with a proposal that provides them with the security, respect and dignity they have more than earned,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici.

“We’re the ones making all their money and it’s about time they recognize that and start respecting us,” said Tasha Schrantz, a Local 400 member serving on the Bargaining Advisory Committee who works at Giant #749. “Now more than ever, we have a stand up together because actions speak louder than words.”

“We need to keep this momentum up, we have to stand together and we as union members need to actively support our decision by participating in store actions,” said LaWanda Nedd-Kea, a Bargaining Advisory Committee member who works at Giant #140.

“It’s our members whose hard work, unmatched productivity and outstanding customer service make Giant so profitable and the dominant grocer in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area,” Federici said. “All our members ask of management is a fair deal that reflects all they contribute to the bottom line. No one wants a strike, but if that is the only way to get a contract providing living wages and health and retirement security, that is what we will do.”

            UFCW Local 400 represents 40,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

November 7, 2013

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Senate Passage of ENDA

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement after the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

UFCWnews“I applaud the Senate on its bipartisan support for ENDA. No one should be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. It goes against everything we stand for as Americans. At the UFCW, we have been proud to win strong non-discrimination language in our contracts.  But in more than half of all states, a worker can be fired solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is wrong. Workers should be judged on their ability to do the job, not where they are from, what they look like, what language they speak, or who they love. Today the Senate has taken an important step toward protecting America’s workers from discrimination. I urge the House to do the same.”

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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.

November 7, 2013

Walmart Workers, Community Supporters Announce Increase in Activity, Support for Better Jobs, End to Illegal Retaliation

Workers Launch Petition to President Obama, Online Portal to Sign-Up for Community Support

L.A. Workers Begin Second Day of Strike, Community Members Vow to Commit Largest Civil Disobedience in Company History

LOS ANGELES – As Black Friday approaches, Walmart workers are standing up to the country’s largest employer – even in the face of widespread illegal retaliation against them.  Workers and community supporters announced today increased activity and calls for change, launching a petition to President Obama and unveiling an online portal that lets associates sign-up for community support. Workers are part of the national organization OUR Walmart, which is calling on the company to use its $17 billion in profits to pay a minimum of $25,000 a year for full time work and to end its illegal retaliation against its workers.

More than 100 unfair labor practice allegations have been filed against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for illegal firings and disciplinary actions against workers who have participated in legally protected strikes and to deter them from speaking out.

Walmart workers demonstrateDuring a press call as a two-day strike and civil disobedience is underway in Los Angeles, workers, community supporters and economic policy experts outlined the growing nationwide movement to demand Walmart end illegal retaliation and improve jobs. On the call, Anthony Goytia, one of many L.A.-based Walmart workers taking part in the two-day strike, discussed why he is risking his job to end the retaliation that Walmart workers face when speaking out.

“I know that I may be fired for speaking out today, but Walmart executives and the country need to hear about what’s really going on at our largest employer,” said Goytia. “I’m on strike today because Walmart’s retaliation against workers is illegal and it’s wrong.  We won’t be silenced.  Change at Walmart is too important to our families, our co-workers and our country.”

Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart employee from Colorado, pointed to a new website, www.associatevoices.com, which allows associates to step forward with their stories about the reality of working at Walmart and ask customers and community members to support them by holding Black Friday events at their stores. In less than 24 hours after beginning to promote the site, requests from associates across the country have poured in. Already, workers in more than 90 cities have requested a Black Friday rally at their store.

“Associatevoices.org provides a space for associates to raise their concerns and see that they are not alone. OUR Walmart and our supporters are standing up for 1.3 million associates in this country who aren’t getting the hours they need and are nervous about Walmart’s aggressive retaliation,” said Gertz. “The fact that the website has taken off as it has, in such a short period, is a clear sign: whether online or on the picket line, our concerns are widespread and our voices and support are only growing louder and stronger.”

Workers, supported by various organizations, also announced the launch of a petition calling on President Obama to meet with courageous workers risking their jobs by protesting against Walmart. Inspired by the activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream of good jobs and freedom, workers like Charmaine Givens-Thomas noted that Walmart’s low-wage business model, erratic scheduling and illegal retaliation hold America back from realizing Dr. King’s dream.

“As a 60-year-old African American woman who marched with Martin Luther King Jr., I want to promise my grandchildren that they will have a brighter future than I had. I can’t do that,” said Givens-Thomas in the petition. “More and more of us are struggling to nourish our children and pay our bills. It’s time the president met with Walmart workers like me who are standing up to Walmart and hear about the reality of scraping by on Main Street.”

The call took place as more than 80 community leaders and clergy members prepared to join workers at a rally at the Chinatown Walmart, in what is slated to be the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against the mega-retailer. Dozens, including Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson, pastor at Fairview Community Church, are prepared to be arrested in response to Walmart’s illegal retaliation and low wages.

“I stand in solidarity with the brave Walmart workers who have walked out and gone on strike as well as those who have been intimidated, fearful they’ll lose their jobs if they speak up,” said Rev. Dr. Halverson. “They are not alone for they stand with thousands of clergy and interfaith communities across the country as we pray for their strength and find inspiration in their actions. I am thankful for these workers and I pray that Walmart will respect its employees and show them the dignity they deserve with fair pay and a commitment to refrain from intimidation.”

Recently, Walmart US CEO Bill Simon disclosed in a presentation that 475,000 Walmart workers are paid more than $25,000 a year; meaning that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers are paid less.

Throughout much of the recovery to date, the vast majority of jobs being created pay low wages, according to research by the National Employment Law Project. To make matters worse, lower-wage and middle-wage jobs have seen significantly larger declines in their real wages during the recovery than higher-wage occupations, a separate report by NELP shows. Another study shows that improving retail wages to a minimum of $25,000 would lift tens of thousands of families out of poverty, add to economic growth, increase Walmart’s retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.

“The research on raising retail wages is clear – employers benefit from taking the high road, workers and families spend the additional money in their pockets and our economy as a whole strengthens,” said Jack Temple, policy analyst at NELP. “Walmart has a choice. It can take steps to improve the lives of its workers, customers and economy, or continue to force U.S. taxpayers to bankroll its low-wage business model.”

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For more information on Black Friday protests, photos and live-streams of events, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and changewalmart.tumblr.com.

 LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees. 

November 4, 2013

Cannabis Workers Rising: A Voice for Medical Marijuana and Hemp Workers

DSC_0175UFCW has a brand new website dedicated to the growing number of workers and UFCW members who are employed at medical marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis industry-related workplaces around the country.

Together these members are raising standards and professional stature for all marijuana and hemp workers. They are helping to build a legitimate industry that provides safe jobs for its workers.

Check out cannabisworkers.org to hear from workers in the industry, and how the union difference ensures their jobs are good, secure jobs.

Be sure to check the site for organizing resources and the latest industry updates, including how these union members are improving the lives of patients.

For more information, check out the Cannabis Workers Rising facebook page.