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November 22, 2017

Top turkey tips from yesterday’s Reddit “IamA butcher, AMA” with UFCW member Jon Viner

Jon VinerYesterday, the UFCW’s own Jon Viner, star of one of our recent “How To” videos, took to Reddit to help answer everyone’s meat questions and quandaries.

We’re really proud of Jon and congratulate him on how well the AMA went, and beyond being able to puff up our feathers a bit and brag about how talented our members are, we wanted to share a Thanksgiving round up for those of you who are not on Reddit because this stuff is too good to miss.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Reddit AMAs, they stand for “Ask Me Anything.” They are sort of like an online press conference where anyone can post and ask questions and have them answered real time.

Here’s a few of the best Thanksgiving-related questions posted during the live session:

1. How much turkey should you get per person?

2. What’s better, fresh or frozen?

3. How far behind am I am defrosting my turkey?

4. How long is too long for brining a turkey?

5. What if I’m just cooking a turkey breast?

6. Should I trust the pop up timer?

7. What’s the best part of the bird?

Thanks again, Jon, for sharing your knowledge and experience to help us all pull off a delicious, well-cooked Thanksgiving! If you haven’t seen Jon’s video on how to carve that turkey, check it out:

November 20, 2017

A Butcher Shows You How To Carve A Turkey

Watch UFCW member and professional butcher Jon Viner show you how to carve the perfect holiday turkey.

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November 19, 2017

2017 UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship Winners Announced

Every year the UFCW scholarship program offers scholarships to UFCW members or their immediate family members who want to further their education and demonstrate a commitment to their communities and to UFCW values.  Since 1958, the fund has distributed more than $2 million in scholarships.*

Past winners have gone on to make significant contributions to society and to the UFCW – entering a range of fields including public service, medicine, law, business and teaching.  Many have returned to the UFCW as staffers, organizers, and community activists who contribute to our mission.

*UFCW-employed officers and staff, and their immediate families are not eligible for this program.

Here are this year’s winners:

Region 1:

JuliAnna Picardi
Local 328

Region 2:

Melissa Quintero Segura
Local 1208

Region 4:

Rebecca Price
Local 227

Region 5:

Alison Martin
Local 1995

Region 6:

Ellyse Kealy
Local 881

Region 7:

Matthew Moore
Local 555

Region 8:

Chelsea Diaz
Local 1428

Canada:

Michael Piaseczny
Local 175

 

November 16, 2017

Three Things You Should Know About Poultry Line Speeds

And How Safe Line Speeds Keep Chicken Safe to Eat

Oxfam estimates that each person eats 89 pounds of chicken a year – which means as a country, we’re eating close to 9 billion birds per year. It’s a major, multi-billion dollar industry that supplies us with chicken nuggets, wings, and the foundation for so many of our favorite, home-cooked meals.

It’s easy to cook, it’s affordable, and a mainstay in the meals American families share with one another.

But jobs inside poultry plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. The National Chicken Council, which is the poultry industry’s main trade association and functions to represent its interests to Congress and other federal agencies, wants to do away with a key protection to keep workers safe on the job: line speeds.

Here’s what you need to know:

1.) By law, most poultry plants can run their processing lines at 140 birds per minute. That’s already insanely fast.

Federal law currently sets the line speed maximum at 140 birds per minute at most poultry facilities. To give you a sense of what that translates to in real life, that’s just a hair faster than the tempo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” except where each beat is a chicken.

On the line itself, one employee can process more than 14,000 chickens each day. Depending on the job, each worker can process around 35-45 birds per minute – which rounds out to about 2,000 chickens per hour or nearly one chicken every two seconds.

Some plants are even allowed to operate at 175 BPM (for background on why some plants are allowed to be faster than others and for more examples of songs that match different line speeds, check out this great article from The New Food Economy). There are few things that we do each and every day that can even compare to that level of repetition.

2.) As line speed increases, safety decreases. And they want to eliminate line speeds entirely.

While there’s currently a speed limit in poultry plants, the National Chicken Council wants to eliminate them entirely.

As line speeds increase, so does the risk of injury—including serious and bloody cuts and amputations.

But faster line speeds also mean less time for federal meat inspectors and quality control workers to do their jobs and ensure the chicken you’re eating is safe to consume.

Want a better idea how fast poultry lines could move if they eliminate line speed limits? Here’s what 200 BMP sounds like, which is how fast Germany already allows their plants to run (with negative side effects, as explained in #3):

 

3.) Faster line speed also means inspectors have less time to watch out for food safety issues. That should make anyone feel queasy. 

If current line speeds are eliminated, federal inspectors who are tasked with spotting contaminated birds may be forced to examine more than two per second for abscesses, tumors, or other diseases.

The National Chicken Council argues that increased line speeds will help modernize the system, and keep up with international competitors.

But countries which allow faster line speeds have more issues with food safety. Germany allows line speeds up to 200 BPM and their poultry meat is found to have higher levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination.

Retired USDA food safety inspector Phyllis McKelvey spoke out about the dangers of increasing line speed in an interview with NPR earlier this year:

“These machines will pull the viscera, which is the guts of the chicken. And a lot of times the guts hang on their prongs and those machines just get covered up in guts, which is slinging manure all over the product,” she says.

In the live hang section, McKelvey said equipment failures would also occur in the stun bath, where birds are shocked with electricity. That would send fully conscious birds to a machine that would sever their necks.

“If the line is going too fast you have a lot of birds that don’t get stunned,” she says. “So you’ve got some birds going into the scald vats, alive.”

The USDA describes the new inspection system as more science-based in that it requires that all poultry facilities perform their own microbiological testing along with two federal inspectors. This leaves one inspector to view the carcasses.

But with fewer inspectors, McKelvey argues, plants are relying on more chemicals like peracetic acid or food bleach to reduce the chance of food contamination.

“And if they don’t have a proper air system, these chemicals are causing people to sneeze and cough. And even at that rate it gets so bad we’d have to shut the line down,” McKelvey says.


Here’s how you can take action to keep poultry workers safe on the job and chicken safe on your plate:

 

Take action HERE

We deserve safe food, and America’s poultry workers deserve safe workplaces. Write the USDA today and ask them to reject the National Chicken Council’s petition and keep safe line speed limits in poultry plants.

 

November 8, 2017

Veterans’ Day Flower Discounts – Nov. 11th

Union Members save 20% on all Teleflora flowers and GiftTree gift baskets — your discount will be automatically applied at checkout.  Promotion code: BAAUP20

Send a patriotic bouquet to honor a veteran

Veterans Day falls on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Patriotic wreaths are a way to honor a veteran who sacrificed their life for their country. Each year on November 11th at precisely 11:00 a.m. a floral wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Why are red poppies are worn on Remembrance Day?

The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars. In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars.

Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of their blood-red color.

World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

November 2, 2017

On Latina Equal Pay Day, Remember the Power of the Union Difference

Latina Women Equal Pay Day

 

Although Latinas make substantial contributions to the U.S. economy, they have the largest wage gap, typically earning only 54 cents for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men. You can help us fight unfair and unequal wages by supporting hard-working Latinas today, on Latina Equal Pay Day.

UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López explains more about today and how we can work together to make a better life for Latinas working in the U.S.

As López writes:

“There exists a sure-fire way for Latina women to earn the better wages they deserve: joining a union in their industry. Latina women who have joined a union earn more than their non-union counterparts — $242 more per week, in fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For decades, the labor movement, constituency groups, women’s organizations and other allies have been fighting for just and safe working conditions for hard-working families. Many of these folks are Latina women who are constantly finding new and innovative ways to bring people together and drive them to action.”

Read the whole Bustle piece here.

Please get involved and help us draw attention to this economic disparity by joining the Twitter storm (#LatinaEqualPay and #Trabajadoras) on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 2-3 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional information about Latina Equal Pay Day is available here.

November 1, 2017

UFCW Statement on Senate Democrats’ Better Deal Proposal on Collective Bargaining

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, made the following statement regarding Senate Democrats’ Better Deal Proposal on Collective Bargaining.

“We must build an economy that works for all – not just those at the top. By strengthening the collective voice and negotiating rights of workers, the better deal proposal on collective bargaining begins to do just that.

“Our hope is that every member of Congress will support these more modern workplace policies because this is about more than unions, this is about helping their constituents and all hard-working men and women who have earned the right to a better life.”

The Better Deal Proposal on Collective Bargaining seeks to:

  • Create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
  • Strengthen penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
  • Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
  • Ban state laws that undermine worker freedoms to join together and negotiate.
  • Provide millions of public employees with the freedom to join a union and collectively bargain with their employers.
  • Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
  • Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.
  • Use federal purchasing power and policy to help expand opportunities to negotiate.

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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

October 31, 2017

A Florist Shows You How To Create A Fall Centerpiece

Watch United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s (UFCW) Michelle show you how to create a beautiful fall floral centerpiece—great for fall decorating or to set off a holiday meal. Visit ufcw.org/howto/ to subscribe to UFCW’s DIY tips from more experts in our union family.

Related

October 30, 2017

15 Union-made Candies for Halloween

As the ghosts and ghouls come out this Halloween, keep your eyes peeled for some of our favorite union-made treats. UFCW members as well as our brothers and sisters of the BCTGM union have been hard at work making sure there’s plenty of sweets for all those trick-or-treaters.

For a longer list of union-made candies, visit Union Plus.


1.) Hershey’s Nuggets / Kisses


2.) Kit Kat


3.) Butterfinger*


4.) Baby Ruth*


5.) Smarties


6.) Jawbreakers

 


7.) Sour Patch Kids


8.) Tootsie Rolls


9.) York Peppermint Patties


10.) Jolly Ranchers


11.) Bit-O-Honey


12.) Mary Jane Peanut Butter Chews


13.) Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares


14.) Jelly Belly Candy Corn


15.) Red Vines


*some made in Mexico. Check packaging for country of origin.

October 26, 2017

UFCW Statement on the Agricultural Guestworker Act

Bill would cut food processing wages by 50 percent and put the safety of our food at risk 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, released the following statement regarding the Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092), which passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 17-16 on October 25.

“The Agricultural Guestworker Act is a direct threat to American jobs, wages, and food safety. 

“It will flood the meat processing sector with hundreds of thousands of untrained visa holders, effectively destroying middle class jobs that are currently held by hard-working American families who play a critical role in the safety of our food. 

“This bill will also make it easier for guestworkers to be exploited and encourages them to take on work that is demonstrably unsafe without years of training. 

“Any member of the House who cares about protecting good American jobs and wages will do the right thing and oppose the Agricultural Guestworker Act.”

Background:

  • The Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092) will bring 450,000 visa holders to work in agriculture and meat processing jobs that are currently held by hard-working American families.
  • The bill had bipartisan opposition when it passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, with Republicans Steve King (IA-4) and Louie Gohmert (TX-1) joining Democrats to vote no. Five other Republicans refrained from voting.
  • The impacts of this bill on the meat and poultry industry, and the U.S. workers employed within them, would be devastating. Food processing workers are highly trained professionals who not only perform a very difficult and highly skilled job, but also serve as a much-needed layer of protection for consumers when it comes to food safety.
  • Rather than require that new H-2C workers be paid at similar rates so that they cannot be used to displace workers and drive down wages, the bill simply requires that employers attempt to recruit workers at $10.88 per hour. If U.S. workers don’t apply at that wage rate, the employer would be authorized to bring in hundreds, or even thousands, of guestworkers at the $10.88 figure—a fraction of what meat and poultry workers in America currently earn.
  • This bill encourages irresponsible employers to displace American workers by bringing in hundreds of thousands of guestworkers across multiple sectors of our economy – effectively forcing U.S. workers out of currently good-paying jobs.

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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

 

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