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May 30, 2020

Stuart Appelbaum – UFCW Executive Vice President and President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store District Council of the UFCW (RWDSU)

UFCW Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum first became involved in the labor movement because he believed that the best way to end injustice is by organizing people for change. As President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), he has been a transformative labor leader and improved the lives of thousands of workers across the country.

Appelbaum ascended to the presidency of the RWDSU in May of 1998 and has been reelected four times since then by the members of the union. During that time, the union has secured contracts for retail workers and other workers that have raised industry standards for scheduling, wages, benefits, and a variety of job protections.

Appelbaum is known for championing new models of organizing, and has given a strong union voice to many of the most vulnerable workers in the United States.

He has greatly increased the influence of the RWDSU and UFCW as forces for economic justice and social progress, forging deep alliances with the progressive movement, the civil rights movement, the immigrant rights movement, the faith community, and the LGBT movement.

In 2010, Appelbaum oversaw the successful strike at Mott’s Applesauce in upstate New York, a strike that generated national attention for the RWDSU and led to a strong new contract with wage hikes and benefit increases for more than 300 RWDSU members who are Mott’s workers.

To bridge the gap between union and nonunion retail, Appelbaum launched the Retail Action Project (RAP), a member-based organization with the mission of building worker power through collective action, elevating industry standards, and promoting family-sustaining jobs.

Under Appelbaum’s leadership, the RWDSU has also successfully pushed the New York City Council to pass the strongest municipal living wage law in the country, and secured numerous contracts for car wash workers, setting a new precedent for a previously unorganized workforce.

Appelbaum has been a leading national critic of Walmart’s harmful business model and mistreatment of workers, and has defeated Walmart’s numerous efforts in recent years to enter New York City, the largest and most coveted retail market in the United States.

A strong believer in the importance of political action and engagement, Appelbaum has turned the RWDSU’s electoral endorsement into a must-have for many Democrats in competitive races.

May 30, 2020

Paul R. Meinema – UFCW Executive Vice President and National President, UFCW Canada

Paul R. Meinema is the National President of UFCW Canada — the country’s leading and most progressive private-sector union with more than 250,000 members from coast to coast. Paul is also Executive Vice President, UFCW International and a member of the UFCW International Executive Committee.

Paul’s dedication to UFCW spans four decades, going back to the early 1980s when he first volunteered to serve his coworkers as a shop steward while working on the floor at the Fletcher’s meat processing plant in Red Deer, Alberta. Over the next six years, he also served as a member of various workplace committees, as well as a community labour rights activist.

In 1990, Paul was hired as a local union staff representative at UFCW Canada Local 1118, and was part of the team that successfully organized the Cargill packing plant in High River, Alberta. A year later, in 1991 he joined the UFCW Canada national office with responsibilities as an organizer and International Representative for Atlantic Canada.

In 1995, Paul returned to Western Canada as an International Representative assigned to Saskatchewan. In 2002, he was elected as President of UFCW Canada Local 1400 — the largest private-sector union local in the province.

In 2009, Paul moved from his Local 1400 presidency to join the UFCW Canada national leadership team as Executive Assistant to the National President. In 2013, he was elected UFCW Canada National President, and UFCW International Executive Vice President.

In addition to his role as UFCW Canada National President and UFCW International Executive Vice President, Paul also serves as a trustee of the UFCW Saskatchewan Dental Plan; as Canadian Sector Representative on the Board of Directors of the International Foundation of Benefits; and as a trustee of various UFCW Canada benefit and pension plans.

May 30, 2020

Milton Jones – Executive Vice President and Director of National Bargaining

Milton Jones has been a labor activist for 40 years and has served at the UFCW International in various capacities for 29 years.

He began his career at Kroger in Florence, Ala., where he worked as courtesy clerk, and became member of Local 1557 in Nashville, Tenn., (now Local 1995) in 1978.  After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Navy for four years before returning to Kroger.  In 1986, he became a steward after transferring to the Kroger store in Nashville and served as a VOC (now a SPUR).

In 1990, he joined the UFCW International in Atlanta, Ga., where he worked as an organizer, general organizer and International Representative.  He worked his way up the ranks and was promoted to Assistant to the Director and Collective Bargaining Representative.

In the last 15 years, he has served as Executive Assistant to the Regional Director of Region 2 in Philadelphia; Assistant and Executive Assistant to the International Organizing Director; and Executive Assistant to the International Collective Bargaining Director in Washington, D.C.

In February 2015, he was promoted to Director of Region 5 Southern and elected International Vice President. In June 2018, he was promoted to Director of National Bargaining. In April 2019, he was elected Executive Vice President.

May 30, 2020

Shaun Barclay – International Secretary-Treasurer

UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Shaun Barclay has been a member of the UFCW for over 50 years. He joined the UFCW while employed at Safeway in Kansas City.

His background includes service as a full-time representative for over 40 years for the UFCW as a shop steward, rank and file bargaining committee member, strike captain, organizer, local union president, and Region Director, representing 278,000 members in the 10 Western states stretching from Alaska to Mexico to the Rockies.

Under his leadership as president of the Arizona local union, it became the largest private sector union in the state, growing from 6,000 to 12,000 members. His staff led a drive that successfully organized 56 nonunion stores in less than two years. While serving as Director of Region 5 in Texas, his staff organized the first Walmart meat department in the country in Jacksonville, Texas.

In 2015, Barclay was promoted to Director of Organizing. In that position, he led the UFCW’s national growth efforts. In April 2019, he was elected to serve as Secretary-Treasurer.

Barclay’s father was a retired member of the United Auto Workers and his mother was a retired member of the American Federation of Teachers in Kansas City, Mo.

May 30, 2020

Marc Perrone – International President, UFCW

On December, 15, 2014, Anthony “Marc” Perrone was elected International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. His election, following a decade of service as the UFCW’s Secretary-Treasurer, is the capstone of a lifelong career in the service of working people. Now at the helm of the country’s most dynamic labor union, Marc’s bold leadership is revitalizing the UFCW’s promise: workers can improve their workplaces, communities, and living standards by sticking together in a union and engaging in activism.

At the heart of Marc’s philosophy is his fundamental belief that rank-and-file members are the true leaders in the fight for economic justice; and that worker voices must inspire and fuel the work of our union – from building enough power to confront giant corporations at the bargaining table, to organizing new members into our movement for justice, to influencing the elected officials and public policies that affect our ability to live and work with dignity.

Marc brings more than four decades of experience and union activism to his position. He joined the Retail Clerks – which later became the UFCW – in 1971 while working as a clerk at Weingarten’s food store in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He learned firsthand the power of collective action and was inspired to step forward as a union representative. Marc honed his union organizing skills on campaigns across the country bringing workers together for a voice on the job in retail stores, meat packing plants, nursing homes and many other UFCW-represented industries.

Marc has served in many leadership capacities within the UFCW. He was elected to the UFCW International Union Executive Committee in February 2000 and elected Secretary-Treasurer in 2004.

In his capacity as Secretary-Treasurer, Marc took seriously the knowledge that as our union’s financial strength grows, so does our strength at the bargaining table. Under his guidance, the UFCW streamlined finances to transition to a union with a renewed focus on organizing and enabled the UFCW’s collective bargaining and political programs to transform the lives of working people. He was also responsible for the stewardship of the pension funds that will enable UFCW members to live out their retirement years in security and with dignity.

Marc paid his way through college while working in a grocery store and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Labor Studies. Over the course of his career, he sought additional educational opportunities and continued his education in economics, capital markets, and public policy.

May 28, 2020

American Farmers, Ranchers and Food Workers Call for Better Worker Protections at Meatpacking Plants to Stop COVID-19 Outbreaks and Protect Food Supply

Diverse Group Makes Urgent Call on Trump Administration to Take Immediate Safety Steps to Prevent Ongoing Spread of COVID-19

Union Announces New Numbers: At Least 44 Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Over 3,000 Meatpacking Workers Testing Positive for COVID-19

SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents over 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing, joined with a diverse group of American farmers and ranchers from Dakota Rural Action (DRA), Northern Plains Resource Council, Western Colorado Alliance, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) to call on meatpacking companies, the Trump Administration, as well as state and local governments, to take immediate and stronger steps to protect frontline meatpacking workers and our food supply from the deadly COVID-19 virus.

“The best way to protect our food supply is to protect the people who work within it,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “From frontline food processing workers to farmers and ranchers, we are all critical to keeping American families fed during this crisis. Enacting strong worker safety standards inside meatpacking plants will help people outside of them as well and ensure every link in our food supply chain is secure.”

The broad coalition which came together to protect workers and the food supply is calling on meatpacking companies to take immediate safety steps to stop the ongoing spread of COVID-19, which include, but are not limited to: (1) increased worker testing at meatpacking plants, (2) priority access to PPE for all meatpacking workers, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing inside meatpacking plants, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19.

The need to take these immediate safety steps reflects the significant threat still facing America’s meatpacking workers. According to the UFCW internal estimates, there have already been at least 44 meatpacking worker deaths and over 3,000 meatpacking workers testing positive for COVID-19. Because of the continuing spread, at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March 2020 – with closures impacting over 45,000 workers and contributing to a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

The following statements are from the leading members of the diverse coalition:

“Too many workers are being sent back into meatpacking plants without adequate protections in place, reigniting more outbreaks in the plants and our communities,” said Nick Nemec, a farmer, cattle producer and DRA member from Holabird, SD. “Leadership at all levels has shown a lack of support and concern for the workers and the farmers. A safe food system starts with the safety and respect of those doing the work to produce and process the food. Our current system fails because it treats farmers and workers with little respect and little regard for our safety.”

“We support the workers’ call for mandatory worker protections,” said Kathryn Bedell, rancher and Western Colorado Alliance member from Fruita, CO. “If they don’t get protective equipment and safe working conditions, the food system will remain vulnerable and we all lose – producer, workers and consumers. For too long, the government agencies have stepped back and allowed global meatpacking companies to voluntarily comply with antitrust laws. We know from firsthand experience that this is a failed approach, because it has allowed the meatpacking cartels to manipulate prices paid to livestock producers to the detriment to our livelihoods, and to the detriment of our rural communities who depend on the cattle business.”

“Safe food starts with safe workers,” said UFCW Local 304A member John Massalley who works at Smithfield in Sioux Falls, SD. “When meatpacking plants struggle to contain this virus, it’s not just the workers inside like me who are at risk, family farmers and ranchers are too. Regular testing is critical to stopping future outbreaks, keeping workers safe and protecting our food supply.”

“This pandemic didn’t create the crisis for workers and producers in the meat industry, but it has made a horrific situation even worse,” said Steve Charter, a Shepherd, MT rancher and Northern Plains Resource Council board member. “The consequences of this rigged system are now threatening the lives of meatpacking workers at the same time they’re killing the livelihoods of family ranchers. If leaders want to address this crisis, they need to start with enforcing antitrust laws, instead of abusing emergency authority to force workers to endanger their health. We must use this opportunity to create decentralized, local and regional food systems that are better for producers, consumers, and workers. Now, more than ever, we need policies that help folks who wear boots to work each day instead of shining the shoes of executives in board rooms.”

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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.

Dakota Rural Action (DRA) organizes people and builds leadership while developing strong allied relationships. We protect environmental resources, advocate for resilient agriculture systems, and empower people to create policy change that strengthens their communities and cultures. 

Northern Plains Resource Councils is a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group that organizes Montanans to protect our water quality, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life.  

Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action brings people together to build grassroots power through community organizing and leadership development. We believe that right now, today, we have the ability and opportunity to create a future where engaged local voices are leading communities across Western Colorado that are healthy, just and self-reliant. 

The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is a network of eight grassroots organizations in seven Western states with 15,000 members, many of them ranchers and farmers committed to common-sense reform in agriculture, oil and gas development, coal mine reclamation, and rural economic development. Headquartered in Billings, Mont., WORC also has offices in Colorado and Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

May 27, 2020

Mississippi Hearthside Food Solutions workers, who package Kellogg’s cereal, vote to join UFCW

Dozens of hardworking men and women at Hearthside Food Solutions in Byhalia, Mississippi voted to start a union at their work by joining the UFCW. Hearthside operates the country’s largest privately-held bakery, and major baked good brands outsource production to the company. Workers at the Byhalia facility primarily package Kellogg’s cereal many families depend on to start their day.

Concerns about the coronavirus have caused many employees to want to have more of a say in the policies and protocols at work that impact their health and safety both during work hours and after they go home to their loved ones.
In addition to health and safety concerns, the company employs more temporary workers than full-time, leaving many workers without access to benefits even though they are performing the same work.

Rose Turner, UFCW Local 1529 staff who helped the workers organize, knows what it feels like to work without a say on the job or benefits you need to take care of yourself and your family. A long-time organizer with the UFCW, she got her start in 1981 as a nursing home worker in the deep south. When workers decided to try and organize to join UFCW Local 1529 that year, Rose immediately got involved, hoping to change the working conditions: “At that time there was no family medical leave. Women–when they got pregnant, they went out and came back [after giving birth] and they didn’t have a job. You were penalized for getting pregnant, because you had no job. One woman even slipped in the kitchen a broke her knee, [and in order for her to not lose her job] her daughter had to come work while she was out.”

While some progress has been made over the years, employers still look for ways to cut costs at the expense of workers. For Hearthside, the heavy reliance on temp workers comes at a cost to the workers themselves.

“It’s 200 temps in that place, doing the same job that the regular employees are doing…It’s unfair to them,” Turner said. “You don’t have any benefit no more than getting a check every paid period. You don’t have no holiday, no vacation and you can’t buy anything…it’s not a permanent job.”

Full-time employees make $16-$18 per hour, Turner said.

“Money is good but people want to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and they want to be paid and know their benefits,” added Turner.

May 22, 2020

UFCW Calls on Top Supermarket Companies to Reinstate Hazard Pay

On May 20, the UFCW hosted a national press call with leading reporters from across the country to address the fact that many of America’s largest supermarket and food retail companies – including Kroger, Walmart and Amazon – have recently ended so-called “hazard or hero pay” even as the pandemic continues across the country.

During the call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on these companies to immediately reinstate this essential pay until the need to wear masks and other protective measures are no longer necessary.

As a measure of the real and growing risk of the public health crisis facing grocery workers, the UFCW also released new internal numbers that show at least 68 grocery workers have died and more than 10,000 have been infected by or exposed to the new coronavirus. During the call, the UFCW called on every leading food retailer to release the number of their food retail and supermarket workers who have died or become sick and/or exposed to COVID-19.

“As this pandemic continues, the threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Yet, most states and supermarket chains are still failing to enforce social distancing or mask wearing in stores to keep customers and workers safe. Even worse, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger have failed to release internal numbers on worker deaths, infections, and exposure. Amazon even fired workers brave enough to speak out.”

“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales,” added Perrone. “When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day to help ensure our families have the food we need. While we hope some of these companies do change and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not. American consumers and workers deserve better and we will continue to stand with them.”

As part of the call, Kroger grocery workers from across the country spoke about the serious risks they face, and how Kroger eliminating its ‘hero pay’ has had a damaging effect on them and their coworkers.

“Five people in my household work for Kroger and together, we put in about 250 hours per week,” said a Ralphs (Kroger banner) grocery worker in San Diego, Calif. “When Kroger gave us ‘hero pay,’ it felt like we mattered and they were recognizing the risks we are taking. Every day, you fear that you might catch the virus at work. You fear that you might take the virus home to your family. I’ve had customers swear at me when we ask them to wear a mask. One customer even told me I might be dead in a month. After work each day, I want to cry, but I don’t have the tears to cry because it’s not going to make things better. We are working longer hours under stressful conditions. At my store, they take daily temperature scans, but the thermometers the company provides us don’t work. Kroger and all grocery companies need to provide the protective equipment, testing, and essential pay that all of us need so that we can keep our stores operating safely. Our lives are on the line.”

“There is a lot of fear in my store because of the virus,” said a Kroger meat department worker in Lansing, Mich. “Every day, we prepare like we’re going into battle with the virus. We are exposed to thousands of people every day for hours and the reality is it only takes one person to expose an entire store. Kroger ended our ‘hero pay,’ but the crisis is not over. I face each day with anxiety and it gets worse when I see customers refuse to wear masks. I am a mother and my children need me to stay healthy.”

You can access the full video recording of the press conference here.

 

UFCW & COVID-19

May 20, 2020

In National Coronavirus Press Conference, America’s Largest Food & Retail Calls on Top Supermarket Companies to Reinstate Hazard Pay

As Hazards Facing Grocery Workers Continue, UFCW Announces At Least 68 Grocery Workers Have Died and Over 10,000 Exposed or Infected in COVID Pandemic – More Than Double the Number of Deaths and Infections 5 Weeks Ago Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Kroger Condemned for Failing to Release Numbers on Worker Deaths and Infections and for Ending Hazard Pay for Millions of Grocery Workers 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, food processing and other industries, hosted a national press call with leading reporters from across the country to address the fact that many of America’s largest supermarket and food retail companies – including Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon – have recently ended so-called “hazard or hero pay’ even as the pandemic continues across the country. Click here for the full video recording of the press conference.

During the call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on these companies to immediately reinstate this essential pay until the need to wear masks and other protective measures are no longer necessary.

As a measure of the real and growing risk of the public health crisis facing grocery workers, the UFCW also released new internal numbers that at least 68 grocery workers have died and more than 10,000 have been infected or exposed. During the call, UFCW called on every leading food retailer to ensure public health by releasing the number of their food retail and supermarket workers who have died or become sick and/or exposed to COVID-19.

Excerpts of prepared remarks by UFCW International President Marc Perrone are below:

“As this pandemic continues, the threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America. Yet, most states and supermarket chains are still failing to enforce social distancing or mask wearing in stores to keep customers and workers safe. Even worse, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Kroger have failed to release internal numbers on worker deaths, infections, and exposure. Amazon even fired workers brave enough to speak out.

“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger, and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales. When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day, to help ensure our families have the food we need.

“While we hope some of these companies do change, and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not. American consumers and workers deserve better and we will continue to stand with them.”

Grocery Workers Speak Out

As part of the call, Kroger grocery workers from across the country spoke about the serious risks they face, and how Kroger eliminating its ‘Hero Pay’ has had a damaging effect on them and their co-workers. The following are statements from these grocery workers.

“Five people in my household work for Kroger and together, we put in about 250 hours per week. When Kroger gave us ‘Hero Pay,’ it felt like we mattered and they were recognizing the risks we are taking. Every day, you fear that you might catch the virus at work. You fear that you might take the virus home to your family. I’ve had customers swear at me when we ask them to wear a mask. One customer even told me I might be dead in a month. After work each day, I want to cry, but I don’t have the tears to cry because it’s not going to make things better. We are working longer hours under stressful conditions. At my store, they take daily temperature scans, but the thermometers the company provides us don’t work. Kroger and all grocery companies need to provide the protective equipment, testing, and essential pay that all of us need so that we can keep our stores operating safely. Our lives are on the line,” said a Ralphs grocery worker in San Diego, California.

“There is a lot of fear in my store because of the virus. Every day, we prepare like we’re going into battle with the virus. We are exposed to thousands of people every day for hours and the reality is it only takes one person to expose an entire store. Kroger ended our ‘hero pay,’ but the crisis is not over. I face each day with anxiety and it gets worse when I see customers refuse to wear masks. I am a mother and my children need me to stay healthy,” said a Kroger meat department worker in Lansing, Michigan.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, I’ve been working 60-70 hours a week. As a cashier, it’s hard to social distance from customers. We put our lives on the line every day and I worry about taking the virus back to my grandchildren or husband. When Kroger took away our ‘Hero Pay,’it felt like a slap in the face. Because Kroger is not requiring our customers to wear masks, it’s putting us in jeopardy. The spread of the virus hasn’t stopped, so neither should the protections or ‘Hero Pay’ that our families need ,” said a Kroger cashier in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

“Since Kroger ended ‘Hero Pay,’ I’ve seen the morale in my store go down. My co-workers and I are facing the same struggles and risks, but now the company suddenly doesn’t want to recognize that. What changed? Kroger – and every supermarket company – should pay every grocery worker in America for the risk we are all facing, until this pandemic is over,” said a front-end Kroger worker in Columbus, Ohio.

 Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for action to support and protect grocery workers who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the UFCW sent a letter to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country condemning them for suggesting that the health risks of this pandemic have diminished, and failing to provide the pay and protections necessary given the risks that America’s grocery workers face.

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 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.

May 19, 2020

New Trump Guestworker Policy Exploits Coronavirus Outbreak, Threatens Safety of Workers & American Jobs

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union, with 250,000 Workers Across the Industry, Condemns New H-2B Visa Policy That Will Endanger Workers, American Jobs & U.S. Food Supply

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy removing limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed essential to the food supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak. The new policy will make it easier for companies to eliminate American jobs and replace current employees with guest workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s brave meatpacking workers are not replaceable. They are putting their lives on the line every day, with dozens dying and over 10,000 infected, to make sure millions of Americans have the food they need during this deadly outbreak.

“When the Trump Administration forced meatpacking plants to reopen, but failed to enforce the strong safety standards needed, it put more American workers at risk. This new policy is a betrayal of America’s meatpacking workers, giving companies a free pass to ignore safety and push anyone who gets sick out of a job by replacing them with untrained guest workers.

“America’s food supply depends on our country’s meatpacking workers who have the skills and training needed to keep our food supply chain strong during this pandemic. An American president should be protecting American jobs and the food workers who are keeping our country running, not replacing them or exploiting this crisis to further enrich meatpacking companies.

“At a time when our economy is spiraling and our food supply is already under pressure, this decision is a direct threat to workers and represents a clear and present danger to public health and safety. Our country’s leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – must reject this move and stand up for the American workers helping to feed our families during this crisis.”

Background:

This past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Temporary Final Rule that will remove limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed “essential to the U.S. food supply chain” and make it easier for employers to obtain guest workers for food manufacturing and processing.

This follows an effort in March 2020 by the National Pork Producers Council to pressure members of Congress and other U.S. Government officials to allow pork producers to hire more guest workers who would displace the hardworking Americans keeping these plants running.

UFCW has been the leading national voice calling for action to increase safety in meatpacking plants to protect workers and keep the U.S. food supply chain secure. In a recent letter to Vice President Pence, UFCW urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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 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.