International President, UFCW
Joe Hansen has led the transformation of the UFCW into a dynamic, growth-focused movement to build worker power through coordinated bargaining and concentrated growth in our core industries. After four decades of union activism, Joe is revitalizing the labor movement to meet the challenges of the global economy, and his leadership is bringing new hope and opportunity for workers and their families to improve their living standards by standing together on the job.
Joe began his career as a meat cutter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since that time, Joe has been activating and empowering workers. He spent more than 11 years working his trade while serving as a volunteer organizer for his local union – Local 73 of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America. His activism helped keep Milwaukee a union town where new grocery stores were quickly met with organizing activity. His passion for organizing led Joe to become one of the youngest members of his local union’s executive board. Joe was elected to serve as International Secretary-Treasurer in 1997 and International President in 2004 and 2008.
Joe has been active in the global union movement since 1994. His early experience with global unionism provided him with the foresight to realize that only global solidarity can confront the power of global corporations. He served as president of Union Network International (UNI), an international labor organization representing 15 million workers in 900 unions in more than 100 countries from 2003, until November 2010.
In the United States, lawmakers and opinion leaders seek his perspective and leadership on some of the most important challenges facing American workers in the 21st century – health care, immigration reform, and trade policy.
In 2005, the U.S. Congress named Joe to the 14-member Citizens’ Health Care Working Group. Through his service on that panel, Joe established himself as a key leader in the debate on health care reform. He continues to be an advocate on the health care issues facing working families.
Joe founded the National Commission on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Misconduct and Violations of the 4th Amendment Rights to examine ICE misconduct during the Bush Administration’s workplace raids. The commission presented its findings to the American people in a report that documented the terrible costs and human suffering caused by ICE misconduct and outlined key elements of needed immigration policy reforms. He remains a key leader and advocate in the efforts to reform U.S. immigration law.
Tapping into Joe’s perspective and experience representing food manufacturing workers, in September 2010, President Obama appointed Joe to the United States Trade Representatives Advisory Committee for Trades Policy.
Joe’s bold leadership in transforming the UFCW into a growth union; his collaborative work to build bridges with every union in the labor movement; his experience in global unionism; and his deep-rooted commitment to improving people’s lives by bringing them into the UFCW’s movement for social and economic justice make him one of the most staunch and influential advocates for working people in the country.