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October 15, 2019

2020 candidates address worker issues at UFCW’s presidential forums

The primary for the 2020 presidential election is underway, and UFCW is making sure the candidates are prioritizing the issues that matter most to working families.

UFCW was proud to host 2020 presidential candidates at two forums to discuss issues that matter to working families.

The event was livestreamed for all of our members to watch. At the forums, candidates answered questions from UFCW members in the crowd as well as from videos submitted by UFCW members’ around the country.

The candidates participating in the forums, Senator Michael Bennet, Governor Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, answered UFCW members’ questions about their economic vision and plans to address critical issues, such as the 36 million American jobs threatened by automation and companies like Amazon.

Iowa

At the second forum in Michigan on Sunday, October 13, the UFCW heard from Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Michael Bennet, Governor Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Michigan

At the first forum in Michigan on Sunday, September 29, the UFCW heard from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

October 15, 2019

Save-A-Lot Workers in Ohio Join Local 880

In a recent victory for Ohio workers, more than 100 Save-A Lot distribution center employees in Austinburg voted to join UFCW Local 880 for a better life.

The workers joined our union family because they were concerned about health care, treatment by management, and other issues. Save-A-Lot employees were excited to become part of the union, and happy the organizing process was over and they could get to work making Save-A-Lot a better place to work.

“It feels amazing,” said Shawn, one of the Save-A-Lot employees.

“Honestly, this win is just the beginning,” said Rebeccah, another Save-A-Lot employee. “It feels great that all of our hard work and petitioning paid off and we’re ready for the next step: getting our contract negotiated and accepted.”

Congratulations and welcome to the family!

October 10, 2019

The UFCW sues the federal government over dangerous line speed rule

This week, the UFCW International together with UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2 filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota seeking to stop the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new swine slaughter modernization rule, which eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter plants and reduces the number of Federal inspectors important for ensuring the safety of our food by 40%. Public Citizen Litigation Group represents the UFCW and local unions in the lawsuit. 

In a press release, UFCW International President Marc Perrone said the following: 

“Thousands of our members work hard every day in America’s pork plants to help families across the country put food on the table. Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way. This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. The safety of America’s food and workers is not for sale and this lawsuit seeks to ensure this dangerous rule is set aside and these companies are held accountable.” 

What is “line speed?” 

Mark Nemitz, Assistant to Director of the UFCW’s Food Processing, Packing, & Manufacturing Division, and a former kill floor worker who knows what it’s like to be on the line firsthand, explained: 

A line is basically a chain that is up above you in the air about fifteen feet. On that are these trolleys, and the hog will hang on that and go past you. Currently, with inspectors there we’re running about eleven hundred and six hogs per hour, and if we were to increase that, it would cause them to go faster and we’d have to just hurry through. 

If we were to allow the line speeds to go up, we’re just putting more strain on workers’ bodies. More stressors. And it’s just not good. 

Along with the food safety aspect, when you go faster, you have less time that you can see a piece of meat to detect any foreign material or any imperfections in it. I used to work on the line on the kill floor myself and you say ‘well, I can’t add more people to a lot of places because we’re pretty squeezed tight,’ so you put another person in a tight spot, you have knives in your hands, you’re moving faster. The animals have gotten bigger over the years, too, so there’s more cutting. There’s just a lot to this other than ‘we’re just going to speed this up and it’s going to be fine.’ It’s going to cause a lot of issues. Many times, we’re working around 95% of our capacity anyway as it is, and increasing the speed would just make it so hard. I can only imagine being on the line today.” 

Taking legal action 

In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would “increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.” But the USDA chose to ignore those concerns. 

“We have been objecting as the USDA prepared to promulgate this rule that allows companies to completely eliminate line speeds,” said Sarai King, Assistant General Counsel for the UFCW International. “In addition to line speed limitations, it also reduces the number of federal inspectors on the line by forty percent. When this rule came out, we were ready to challenge it immediately because we knew how badly it would affect our workers.” 

The UFCW represents the largest number of workers in the meatpacking industry in the country. The three local unions who joined with the UFCW International to bring the lawsuit all have major packing plants and represent a significant number of workers impacted by the rule. 

“We urged the USDA to consider how unsafe this rule would make our workplaces, but they refused,” saidUFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht in Minnesota. “We had no choice but to go to court to stop a rule that will endanger the health and livelihoods of thousands of UFCW members.” 

“We have a lot of pride in the products our members produce,” saidUFCW Local 440 President Leo Kanne in Iowa. “This rule will erode the quality and safety of the food we make and feed to our own families.” 

“The USDA claims that this rule will make our food safer,” saidUFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas in Kansas. “But our members, who have worked in the industry for years, know firsthand it makes both the food they make and the plants they work in less safe. Let’s listen to the experts who work in these plants every day instead of big corporations just looking to make even more money.” 

The complaint 

“Shockingly, USDA admitted in its rule that it simply ignored the mounds of evidence that showed its actions will harm workers, while bending over backwards to help businesses. That violates basic principles of administrative law,” saidAdam Pulver, an attorney with Public Citizen, which represents UFCW and the three locals in the case. 

Under the Administrative Procedure Actfederal agencies like the USDA have to provide reasons for what they do that are supported by logical evidence. In this case, in the face of overwhelming evidence that injuries increase when line speeds increase, the USDA ignored the evidence and went instead with what big companies wanted, allowing them to increase the line speeds with no limits at all. The lawsuit objects to the fact that the USDA ignored the risks to worker safety and reduced the number of federal inspectors, which means that food may not be adequately appraised or  properly inspected. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the rule against the law as “arbitrary and capricious,” which means that it was done without reasoned decision-making. It also asks the court to set aside the rule and prevent the USDA from further implementing it. 

BACKGROUND  

  • The USDA published a new rule for pork meat inspections which removes limits on line speeds in swine slaughter plants and turns over major meat inspection tasks from federal inspectors to meat companies. 
  • The UFCW represents about 250,000 workers in the meatpacking and food processing industries and 30,000 workers in pork plants. UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States. 
  • In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve. 
  • All the UFCW locals who are parties in the lawsuit represent pork slaughter workers. UFCW Local 663 is based in Brooklyn Center, Minn.; UFCW Local 440 is based in Denison, Iowa; and UFCW Local 2 is based in Bel Aire, Kan. 
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule will hurt workers across the country. 

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:  

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry. 
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death. 
  • There is no evidence that line speed increases can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety. 
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation. 
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility. 
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color. 

Key Facts About Swine Workers:  

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift. 
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues. 
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries. 
  • The previous maximum line speed for swine was 1,106 hogs per hour. 

 

 

October 10, 2019

Discounts on Award Winning Home Security

UFCW members can get a free home security camera + 2 months of 24/7 monitoring when they register for discounts through the UFCW Lifemart Discount Program.

In 2006, young electrical engineer Chad Laurans started SimpliSafe at his kitchen counter. Today his company protects more than 3 million people.

SimpliSafe has won Editors’ Choice from both CNET and PCMag (3/28/18). The Verge calls it “the best home security system” out there. And it protects your whole home 24/7—with no contract.

The UFCW Lifemart Discount Program gives UFCW members free access to a wide range of savings- from movie tickets to theme parks and more!

Register for Discounts

October 7, 2019

UFCW Files Lawsuit to Stop USDA’s Dangerous Pork Line Speed Rule

America’s Largest Private Sector Union, Representing 30,000 Pork Workers, Challenges USDA Policy Endangering Safety of Food and Workers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, together with Public Citizen and UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2 filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota seeking to stop the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new swine slaughter modernization rule which  eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter plants and turns inspection of our food over to the companies that produce it.

“Thousands of our members work hard every day in America’s pork plants to help families across the country put food on the table. Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. The safety of America’s food and workers is not for sale and this lawsuit seeks to ensure this dangerous rule is set aside and these companies are held accountable.”

“Shockingly, USDA admitted in its rule that it simply ignored the mounds of evidence that showed its actions will harm workers, while bending over backwards to help businesses. That violates basic principles of administrative law,” said Adam Pulver, an attorney with Public Citizen, which represents UFCW and the three locals in the case.

The lawsuit alleges that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is not backed by reasoned decision-making.

“We urged the USDA to consider how unsafe this rule would make our workplaces, but they refused,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht in Minnesota. “We had no choice but to go to court to stop a rule that will endanger the health and livelihoods of thousands of UFCW members.”

“We have a lot of pride in the products our members produce,” said UFCW Local 440 President Leo Kanne in Iowa. “This rule will erode the quality and safety of the food we make and feed to our own families.”

“The USDA claims that this rule will make our food safer,” said UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas in Kansas. “But our members, who have worked in the industry for years, know firsthand it makes both the food they make and the plants they work in less safe. Let’s listen to the first-hand experts who work in these plants every day, instead of big corporations just looking to make even more money.” 

BACKGROUND 

On the USDA published a new rule for pork meat inspections which removes limits on line speeds in swine slaughter plants and turns over major meat inspection tasks from federal inspectors to meat companies.

  • The UFCW represents about 250,000 workers in the meatpacking and food processing industries and 30,000 workers in pork plants. UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.
  • In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rulethat would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.
  • All the UFCW locals who are parties in the lawsuit represent pork slaughter workers. UFCW Local 663 is based in Brooklyn Center, Minn.; UFCW Local 440 is based in Denison, Iowa; and UFCW Local 2 is based in Bel Aire, Kan. 

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule will hurt workers across the country.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule: 

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that line speed increases can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color. 

Key Facts About Swine Workers: 

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The previous maximum line speed for swine was 1,106 hogs per hour.

###

October 7, 2019

Good customer service is especially vital during shifts in retail technology

National Customer Service Week was first championed by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1984. It was proclaimed a national event by Congress in 1992 and is celebrated each year during the first full week of October. This year, we celebrate the value of the customer service work UFCW members do in grocery stores, pharmacies, retail outlets, and a wide range of other workplaces by taking a look at how good customer service has remained key to a business’s success despite a century of technological advances.

John Kressaty, who was President of the ICSA when the week began, said “There are two main purposes of National Customer Service Week. It lets you recognize the job that your customer service professionals do 52 weeks a year. The other purpose is to get the message across a wide range of business, government and industry that customer service is very important along with bottom line profit in running a business.”

Today, customer service is more important than ever. According to Forbes, “Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010.“ As one of the cornerstones of customer experience, customer service is not just an old-fashioned idea that “the customer is always right,” but is what sets companies apart and helps them stand out in a field of ever-evolving retail technology.

Everything old is a new again

In the beginning of the 20th century, grocery shopping looked very different than it does today. Rather than scour the aisles themselves, customers would hand the grocery clerk a list of the items they were looking for, and the worker would go get the items while the customer waited. But all that changed in 1916 when Clarence Saunders opened the first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, in Memphis, Tennessee. The new model was advertised as offering more freedom and choice for the customer.

Old magazine ad for Piggly Wiggly with a woman shopping that reads "Now she is free to choose for herself"A century later, the same concept of “freedom” to do it yourself has been used to sell other technologies like self-checkout where the customer is expected to do the work that was once done by an employee. And in-store grocery pickup options at places like Kroger, where you can order your groceries online and then an employee will do the shopping for you, aren’t so much a new, revolutionary idea in the industry as they are a return to the way grocery shopping used to work.

Today in Memphis, new technologies are still being tested. Dynasty Brown, a UFCW Local 1529 member, works at Kroger #405 as a picker, one of the workers who shops on a customer’s behalf when the online orders come in. “I like taking the orders out and seeing the smiles on customers faces,” says Brown. A hundred years of progress in technology haven’t changed workers’ pride in providing good customer service, nor shoppers’ appreciation of someone who goes the extra mile for them.

Good technology vs. bad customer experience

As anyone who has ever stood helpless at a self-checkout while it yelled at them about an “unknown item in the baggage area” knows, the “freedom” to do the work yourself isn’t always so free feeling.

A recent article in Gizmodo, “Why Self-Checkout Is and Has Always Been the Worst,” does a pretty great job articulating the difference between good and bad technology, namely that bad technology is the stuff that gets rammed down our throats that no one really wants but we are stuck putting up with anyway:

“For every automated appliance or system that actually makes performing a task easier—dishwashers, ATMs, robotic factory arms, say—there seems to be another one—self-checkout kiosks, automated phone menus, mass email marketing—that actively makes our lives worse.

Nobody likes wading through an interminable phone menu to try to address a suspect charge on a phone bill—literally, everyone would rather speak with a customer service rep. But that’s the system we’re stuck with because a corporation decided that the inconvenience to the user is well worth the savings in labor costs.”

But as the article goes on to point out, the promised savings on labor costs for trading out real customer service is often just a long-con by the folks selling the machines.

Customers have been rejecting full automation since 1937

Though the announcement of Amazon Go, Amazon’s grocery store model intended to allow shoppers to enter and exit the store without having to make a single human interaction with anyone, made a big splash when it was announced, the first fully-automated self-service grocery store, Keedoozle, was actually opened in 1937 by the same man who started Piggly Wiggly. Unlike Piggly Wiggly, which still operates today (and where many UFCW members work), Keedoozle was a miserable failure.

Items were kept in separate glass cases so as to be easily seen and never handled. Entering customers received an aluminum “key” with a roll of ticker tape attached. They shopped the product windows as they pleased, slipping their key into slots in the displays and pressing buttons that punched Morse code-like data about their desired products. At the checkout, a shopper handed her key to the clerk, who simultaneously rung up the receipt and transmitted the key’s record to a backroom. There, workers bundled orders and sent them out to customers via conveyer belt. ‘It can’t miss. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever had,’ Saunders told Time magazine. –Americans Have Been Cursing at Automated Checkouts Since 1937

Black and white photo of a woman shopping at KeedoozleOnly it did miss, hard. The last Keedoozle closed in 1949. Saunders wasn’t deterred and went back to work to find even more ways to eliminate more jobs within the grocery store, this time by using an early computer in place of a cashier. Saunders died before the concept got off the ground.

The invisible human labor behind automation

Data & Society’s report, “The Labor of Integrating New Technologies,” finds that rather than replacing jobs, the role out of new shopping technology actually relies heavily on skilled customer service abilities of workers, but those efforts are often invisible and not compensated:

“We find that retail experiments, like self-checkout or customer-operated scanners, tend to rely on humans to smooth out technology’s rough edges. In other words, the “success” of technologies like self-checkout machines is in large part produced by the human effort necessary to maintain the technologies, from guiding confused customers through the checkout process to fixing the machines when they breakdown to quite literally searching for customers aisle by aisle when GPS systems fail. The impact of these retail technologies has generally not been one of replacing human labor. Rather, they enable employers to place greater pressures on frontline workers to absorb the frontline risks and consequences of cost cutting experiments. Much of the work that employees must do on the ground to facilitate new systems is often invisible and undervalued, even as popular perceptions of automation frame these roles as increasingly obsolete.”

The report even points out that senior employees are often needed with advanced skills in “diffusing anger” to help customers navigate new systems and all the bugs that come along with them. But in all the conversations about new technology, this work is swept to the side and seen as exceptional rather than an integral part of both roll out and continued function of self-service technologies.

The report lines up with first-hand accounts from UFCW members who work in stores where new technologies like Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go program have been tested. Scan, Bag, Go allows shoppers to use scanners they carry around the store with them to scan products as they shop. Edith Peck, a UFCW Local 1529 member who has worked at Kroger in Memphis for the past nine years and who says providing good customer service is her favorite part of the job, says that for the most part, customers just ignore the scanners.

“I think this whole thing is Kroger’s scheme to eliminate employees to compete with automation, but at that point, why not shop at Walmart?” says Peck. “They need to understand good customer service is what is going to set us apart.”

Customer sentiment towards scan and go shopping is pretty clear in the Scan, Bag, Go app, which has a 1.9 star rating in the Google Play store. Reading the reviews paints a clear picture of why “diffusing anger” would be a skill needed to help transitioning customers.

Genuine interaction with cashiers makes us happier

Beyond just the importance to a business’s bottom line, when we talk about the elimination of customer service jobs, it’s also worth remembering to ask: what is it that we want our lives to look like?

A 2013 study, Is Efficiency Overrated?: Minimal Social Interactions Lead to Belonging and Positive Affect, found that that when people engage with cashiers in a genuine way (with a smile, eye contact, brief conversation, etc.), it lifts their mood and leads to an increased sense of belonging. Although people often report reluctance to have a genuine social interaction with a stranger, those interactions still are ultimately good for us. Surprise, just like exercise or eating healthier food, talking to strangers turns out to be a thing we don’t think we want but that makes our lives better when we go out and do it.

Are we comfortable with creating a society where we only interact with products and rarely with flesh and blood people? And given that the answer from most people is a resounding no, how can we effectively push back against technology and innovation that might cross that line while still embracing technology that does improve our lives? If we are so collectively stressed out that saving a few moments waiting in line at the checkout seems like a good trade for someone’s job or our own mental health, perhaps the solution isn’t in improving the efficiency of the shopping experience. Maybe it’s tackling why we’re all so stressed out to begin with.

In the meantime, thank you to all the hard-working UFCW members out there ready to help customers feel seen and appreciated in whatever ways they can, whether it’s service with a smile or repeatedly coming to our rescue at the self-checkout machines. We need you now more than ever.

 

September 26, 2019

Watch the UFCW’s two presidential candidate forums

September 17, 2019

UFCW Women’s Network Childcare Grant 2019

The UFCW Women’s Network is now accepting applications for the 2019 Childcare Grant!

The primary purpose of the UFCW Women’s Network is to unify UFCW women through an International network. Women, who comprise more than 50% of UFCW members, represent a powerful resource for the union. The Network believes that the active participation of women in the UFCW will enhance our union’s strength at the bargaining table, in organizing campaigns, and in the political arena.

Because the majority of UFCW women are hardworking mothers, and because the UFCW Women’s Network knows how expensive childcare can be, they are offering a childcare grant to offset childcare costs for our hardworking members.

Criteria

In order to be considered for a UFCW Women’s Network Region I (South) Childcare Grant, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Applicant must be a member of the UFCW in good standing for one (1) year,
  • Have a dependent child (or children) in need of childcare,
  • Parents must work outside of the home,
  • Use a qualified childcare provider either licensed by the state, or on file with the IRS.

Note: Grant winners from the prior year are not eligible for the following consecutive year, but may apply in future years.

How To Apply:

Complete all sections of this application and include the following documentation with your completed application:

    • Previous year’s Income Tax form (1040 Form),
    • Form or document showing childcare expense paid in the previous year, if any,
    • Proof of childcare expenses, which includes the caregiver’s signature on the invoice, bill or receipt.

Feel free to attach a note for any additional information that you believe would be helpful to the selection committee.

Please be aware that applications will not be processed until all necessary documentation is provided. If you have any questions, contact Mayra Valladares at 516-683-1102.

Completed applications must be mailed by October 31, 2019, to:

Mayra Valladares
Local 1102 RWDSU/UFCW
311 Crossways Park Drive
Woodbury, New York 11797

September 17, 2019

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Rule Endangers Safety of American Workers and Consumers

Union Representing 30,000 Pork Workers Across the Country Condemns New USDA Policy Increasing Line Speed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) condemned the new rule issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows for unlimited line speed increases at swine slaughter plants which will endanger the safety of workers and our food. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“Today’s USDA rule sends a clear message that this administration values corporate profits more than the safety of America’s food and workers. Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands.

“This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. We urge the USDA to put the safety of American workers and consumers first and stop this dangerous rule.”


BACKGROUND

In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule proposed by the USDA would hurt workers and consumers across the country.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that the increased line speeds can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

Key Facts About Swine Workers:

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The current maximum line speed for swine is 1,106 hogs per hour.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents 30,000 workers in the pork slaughter industry
  • UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

###

The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

September 16, 2019

UFCW Announces 2020 Presidential Forums with Focus on Future of Work and Protecting Good Jobs

America’s Largest Private Section Union to Host Forums with Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, and Warren in Michigan and Iowa 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union is announcing it will host 2020 presidential candidate forums this fall in Michigan and Iowa. The events will give 2020 presidential candidates the chance to speak to the 1.3 million members of the UFCW – one of the most critical blocs of voters for anyone aiming for the White House – about their vision and plans to address critical issues, such as the 36 million American jobs threatened by automation and companies like Amazon.

Confirmed presidential candidates include Senator Michael Bennet, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Hard-working Americans deserve an economy that creates good jobs now, and in the years ahead. Every candidate who wants to be President of the United States has a responsibility to share their vision and ideas, and how they will address major threats to the future of work, like automation and the companies that are pushing this vision, like Amazon. Our 1.3 million members and their families will play a major role in the 2020 election, and as we have heard from our members, they want to know exactly where these presidential candidates stand on the issues that matter to them and their families.”

Each of the UFCW 2020 Presidential Candidate Forums will feature three or more presidential candidates who will answer questions from UFCW members in attendance and via video. The forum schedule is as follows:

  • September 29 – Detroit Area, Michigan
  • October 13 – Des Moines Area, Iowa

 

###

The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org