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February 2, 2007

La UFCW busca amparo federal contra ataques contra trabajadores en empacadoras de carne

Washington, D.C. – La UFCW está buscando un amparo inmediato en los tribunales federales a nombre de los trabajadores de la compañía Swift & Company, en Texas, Colorado, Iowa y Minesota.

Los trabajadores fueron sujetos de una redada masiva que incluyo detenciones por parte de los agentes migratorios (ICE por sus siglas en inglés).

“Esencialmente, los agentes allanaron las plantas, algunos con equipo antimotines, en un esfuerzo diseñado para aterrorizar a la fuerza laboral,” dijo Mark Lauritsen, Director del Departamento de Procesamiento y Manufactura de Alimentos de la UFCW.

La UFCW representa a trabajadores en las plantas de Swift & Company así como en las otras plantas empacadoras importantes por todo el país.

“Este tipo de acción es innecesaria,” dijo Lauritsen. “Está diseñada para castigar a los trabajadores por su trabajo duro de cada día que contribuye al éxito de sus compañías y sus comunidades. Ellos son víctimas inocentes de un sistema migratorio que ha sido secuestrado por las corporaciones con el propósito de importar una fuerza laboral explotable.”

Por muchos años, la UFCW ha hecho llamados por una reforma migratoria comprehensiva—una reforma que proporcione un proceso migratorio ordenado que proteja los derechos de los trabajadores, asegure buenos salarios y beneficios para todos los trabajadores y reconozca las contribuciones de los inmigrantes en nuestra sociedad.

“Estamos aconsejando a los trabajadores detenidos a que ejerzan su derecho a un abogado y que permanezcan callados hasta hablar con un representante legal. Las acciones del ICE del día de hoy, son una afrenta a la decencia.”

La UFCW representa a 1.3 millones de trabajadores, incluyendo 250,000 en la industria de empacadoras de carnes y procesamiento de alimentos.

Para mayores informes contacte a Andrea Nill al (202)-466-1591 o Luis Espinosa al 202-368-7154 o a press@ufcw.org

February 2, 2007

Agentes migratorios aterrorizan a trabajadores inmigrantes debido al fracaso de la pol

Para su difusión inmediata

Agentes migratorios aterrorizan a trabajadores inmigrantes debido al fracaso de la política migratoria

Washington, D.C.— Miembros de la UFCW que trabajan en las plantas empacadoras de Swift & Company están reportando que agentes de inmigración (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) entraron a las plantas con armas automáticas acorralando, segregando y aterrorizando a los trabajadores.  Las puertas de las plantas fueron aseguradas por los agentes.

“El uso de la fuerza por parte de los agentes del ICE es escandaloso,” dijo Mark Lauritsen, director de la División de Procesamiento, Empacado y Manufactura de Alimentos de la UFCW.  “Creemos que son victimas de violaciones masivas de derechos civiles. De hecho, el ICE está criminalizando a estas personas simplemente por trabajar.” 

Los niños de los trabajadores quedaron traumatizados esperando a sus padres en la escuela.  En algunos casos, sus padres han sido transportados a centros de detención en ciudades distantes sin la oportunidad de hacer llamadas para realizar las coordinaciones necesarias para el cuidado de sus niños.  Los trabajadores en la planta de Swift en Grand Island, Nebraska, han sido transportados a Camp Dodge, Iowa, a seis horas de sus familias sin garantía de transporte de regreso. 

Los trabajadores en la planta de Greeley, Colorado reportaron disparos.  A los abogados de la UFCW, que han estado esperando para representar a los trabajadores, se les negó el acceso a los trabajadores detenidos. 

“Los trabajadores aprehendidos en esta redada son víctimas de un sistema migratorio fracasado. Es hora que el gobierno federal deje de tratar injustamente a los trabajadores y reforme de manera comprensiva nuestro sistema migratorio,” dijo Lauritsen. “El último congreso inútil no estableció una reforma migratoria antes de su receso como lo había prometido.  Como consecuencia de esto, niños se han quedado huérfanos, sin estabilidad familiar, sin saber que va pasar con su navidad o su futuro.  Redadas en los lugares de trabajo con agentes armados no son la solución a la llamada nacional para la reforma migratoria.  Los Estados Unidos merece inmediatamente una política de inmigración que es humana, sistemática y comprensiva.”

Los locales de la UFCW están trabajando sin descansar para contactar a las familias y proteger a los niños menores de los trabajadores detenidos.  Los locales están estableciendo un sistema para ayudar a las familias, contactar familiares de los niños, y formar fondos de ayuda para proveer regalos de navidad y cualquier otra ayuda que los niños necesitarán al largo plazo.

La UFCW representa aproximadamente 10,000 trabajadores en cinco plantas de Swift & Company. 

February 2, 2007

La AFL-CIO y la UFCW interponen demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo de los EEUU

 por su retraso de ocho años en la finalización de una regla que requiere a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo de seguridad

Washington, D.C.—Hoy, la AFL-CIO y la Unión de Trabajadores Comerciales y de Alimentos (UFCW) interpusieron una demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo por no finalizar una regla que establece un estándar requiriendo a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo personal de seguridad (PPE)—un estándar que ha estado en desarrollo por casi ocho años. Esta regla de la Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (OSHA, por sus siglas en inglés) requeriría los empleadores pagar el costo de ropa protectiva, caretas, guantes y otro equipo usado por aproximadamente 20 millones de trabajadores para protegerles contra los peligros de trabajo.

La demanda afirma que la inacción de la administración del Presidente Bush pone a los trabajadores en peligro. OSHA ha estimado que 400,000 trabajadores han resultado heridos y 50 han muerto por causa de la inexistencia de esta regla. Los grupos laborales dicen que los trabajadores de las industrias más peligrosas de los EEUU—como la de empacadora de carne, avícola y construcción—junto con los trabajadores inmigrantes y los que ganan un salario bajo sufren una alta tasa de heridas. Estos pueden ser forzados por sus empleadores a comprar su propio equipo de seguridad por la falta de la finalización de la regla de PPE por parte de OSHA.

La regla fue anunciada por la primera vez en 1997 y propuesta en 1999 por OSHA después de un fallo de la Comisión de Revisión de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional que determinó que el estándar de PPE en existencia no podía ser interpretado para requerir a empleadores que paguen el costo del equipo de seguridad. La nueva regla no impondría nuevas obligaciones a los empleadores con respecto al suministro de equipo de seguridad; sino, simplemente codificaría la política de siempre de OSHA, que los empleadores, no los empleados, tiene la responsabilidad de comprarlo.

En 1999, OSHA prometió que la regla de PPE iba ser finalizada en julio 2000. Pero, no cumplió con esa fecha de limite, ni tampoco con cada fecha de limite que se han impuestos a si mismos desde ese tiempo. La agencia todavía no ha tomado acción después de varias solicitudes por parte de la bancada Hispana del Congreso, ni tampoco después que la AFL-CIO y la UFCW les presentó una petición en 2003. La demanda de hoy busca la finalización de este retraso de ocho años, calificándolo “”atrozmente reprensible.””

“”No hay nada que prevenga que OSHA finalice esta regla de PPE para proteger la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores excepto la falta de voluntad. Esta demanda esta pidiendo la intervención de la corte para decirle a la agencia que ya basta,”” declaró Joe Hansen, presidente de la UFCW.

“”La falta de implementación de una regla tan básica por parte de la administración Bush demuestra como ellos han abandonado a los trabajadores de este país,”” dijo el presidente de la AFL-CIO, John Sweeney. “”Demasiados trabajadores han resultado heridos o muertos. El Departamento de Trabajo del Presidente Bush debe dejar de proteger los intereses de las corporaciones al costo de la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores.””

La demanda fue puesta en la Corte Federal de Apelaciones de los EEUU en el Circuito del Distrito de Columbia. Pide que la corte ordene al Secretario de Trabajo que termine la regla de PPE dentro de 60 días de su orden.

February 2, 2007

UFCW APPLAUDS FDIC DECISION TO EXTEND ILC MORATORIUM


(
Washington, D.C.)—The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) enthusiastically supports the recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) decision to give Congress another year to consider whether to prohibit companies such as Wal-Mart stores from acquiring their own banks.

The UFCW applauds the FDIC’s unanimous vote to delay and possibly stop Wal-Mart’s entry into the banking industry.

UFCW International Vice President and Director of the UFCW Legislative and Political Action Department Michael J. Wilson said, “Local community banks and other financial institutions are critical to economic vitality and diversity. In recent years, Wal-Mart has destroyed local businesses and dismantled local economies.  If Wal-Mart can get a bank and push local banks out of business, its economic control in these communities will be almost complete.”

The UFCW is part of the Sound Banking Coalition, which has fought Wal-Mart’s industrial loan company (ILC) application because of its interference with the historical and necessary separation between banking and commerce.   A Wal-Mart-owned bank would place a dangerous concentration of capital in the hands of one single company. While the fight to stop Wal-Mart from acquiring its own bank will continue, the moratorium puts a significant roadblock in the company’s plan to monopolize the American consumer.  It also helps ensure, at least for now, that federal and state lawmakers will have the added time necessary to pass legislation that will prevent Wal-Mart from further jeopardizing the nation’s economy.

The UFCW supports and commends the FDIC’s decision for fulfilling its obligation to protect working people’s financial security.

The Sound Banking Coalition is made up of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the National Grocers Association (N.G.A), the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), and the UFCW.

January 8, 2007

Statement from the UFCW on the settlement of Albertsons Off-the-Clock Class Action Lawsuit

After nearly a decade of litigation, an agreement-in-principle has been entered into for concluding the Albertsons’ off-the-clock case and distributing $53.3 among UFCW members and other workers and former workers who brought a class-action off-the- clock suit against the company. The court has given preliminary approval to the settlement and a hearing will be held on March 22, 2007, to determine the court’s final approval. Claimants will be receiving notice, within the next several weeks, of the court’s preliminary approval and the amount they would receive under the settlement upon the court’s final approval. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union had been assisting workers throughout the eleven-year process and is pleased that an agreement-in-principle has been reached.

After settling the case six years ago, litigation over the claims process has delayed justice for the thousands of workers affected by Albertsons’ practices.

The giant retail food grocer was purchased in 2006 by the Minnesota-based SuperValu chain. The new owners deserve credit for bringing this long chapter to a close and moving the process forward so that the workers’ case could be resolved.

If given final approval by the court:

· Albertsons would pay $53.3 million to be apportioned among the claimants, with individual payouts being based on information submitted in individual claims, the clarity of that information, and the timeliness of its submission;

· Payouts could occur as early as spring 2007.

The class counsels’ website, www.albsuits.com, of the law firm of Webster, Mrak & Blumberg, will be updated shortly to include a copy of the notice, and class counsel will then be available to answer any questions of claimants about the proposed resolution and individual claims. Class counsel can be contacted by claimants toll-free at 1-888-222-5729 or by email at wmb@wmblaw.net.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million members with one million working in the supermarket industry.

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January 3, 2007

AFL-CIO and UFCW Sue Bush Administration to End Eight-Year Delay on Rule Requiring Employers to Pay for Safety Equipment

(Washington, Jan. 3) – – The AFL –CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) today sued the U.S. Department of Labor over its failure to issue a standard requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) – – a standard which has been delayed for nearly eight years.  This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.
The lawsuit asserts that the Bush Administration’s failure to act is putting workers in danger.  By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule.  The labor groups say that workers in some of America’s most dangerous industries, such as meatpacking, poultry and construction, and low-wage and immigrant workers who suffer high injury rates, are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of OSHA’s failure to finish the PPE rule.
The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.  The new rule would not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codifies OSHA’s longstanding policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.
In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency has failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and numerous requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.  The lawsuit filed today seeks to end this eight-year delay, calling it “egregious.”
“”Nothing is standing in the way of OSHA issuing a final PPE rule to protect worker safety and health except the will to do so.  It is long overdue that the agency take action on protective equipment.  Now, we are asking the courts to force OSHA to act,”” said Joseph Hansen, UFCW International President.
 “The Bush Administration’s failure to implement even this most basic safety rule spotlights how it has turned its back on workers in this country,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.  “Too many workers have already been hurt or killed.  The Bush Department of Labor should stop looking out for corporate interests at the expense of workers’ safety and health on the job.”
 The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks the court to issue an order directing the Secretary of Labor to complete the PPE rule within 60 days of the court’s order.
December 27, 2006

NATIONAL GROCERY WORKER MOVEMENT UNITES WORKERS AND STRENGTHENS BARGAINING POWE


(
Washington, DC)— For the second month in a row, grocery workers across America are coming together in an unprecedented show of strength and solidarity.  With nearly half a million United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) grocery workers’ contracts up for negotiation over the next 18 months, grocery workers nationwide are supporting each other through in-store actions and other support-building activities. Workers also have a website, www.groceryworkersunited.org, which offers downloads of flyers, videos, photos and news about the grocery industry.

This is the first time that grocery workers have been united on such a scale. Their movement is growing fast, gaining momentum and generating buzz, as grocery workers nationwide gear up for bargaining in 2007.   As Javier Perez of UFCW Local 870, in Oakland, Calif., said, “National bargaining re-enforces the whole concept of what a union means. It means we all band together and struggle for what we think is right.”

Last month, supermarket workers represented by the UFCW launched the national store-to-store movement of grocery workers. Workers wore 850,000 stickers in stores over five days in November, to demonstrate unity and solidarity with other UFCW supermarket employees across the country.

Now community members are voicing their support for grocery workers’ goals: career jobs with affordable health care, and wages that pay the bills. UFCW members across the country have asked customers and the community to stand by them as upcoming contracts are negotiated. And workers have been overwhelmed by the positive response.

As Supa Tong of UFCW Local 400 in Bethesda, Md., noted, “Our customers are very supportive of the stickers. I think that they’ll support us, because we are also members of their community. If we have better wages and health care, it’s good for everyone.”

To celebrate solidarity between grocery workers and the community, UFCW members will wear a special sticker in their stores on December 27-31.   The sticker reads, “Grocery workers and community members for good jobs and affordable health care.”

“Everybody needs health care,” said Richard Waits, of Local 44 in Mt. Vernon, Wash. “Our customers support us because they are facing the same issues—paying for health care, supporting their families. Customers have told me that they’re glad we’re fighting for those things, because it helps the whole community.”

December 21, 2006

PECO POULTRY WORKERS RAISE LIVING STANDARDS WITH NEW UFCW CONTRACT

Peco poultry workers have negotiated a new contract that will bring positive changes in the lives of the approximately 230 workers at the Brookville, Miss. plant.  The contract was approved unanimously by workers this Wednesday.

As members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1991, Brookville Peco workers secured a contract that will guarantee wage raises, improved benefits, and will hold the company to more rigorous health and safety standards.

Highlights of the new agreement will include:

  • Guaranteed wage increase to $9.65/hr for those who have worked at the plant for 2 years or more;
  • An upgrade in the salary of premium jobs totaling 20-60 cents an hour;
  • Substantial pay increases for maintenance workers of 50 cents an hour for each year worked at the plant;
  • A change in health insurance plans that will eliminate deductibles and bring significant cost savings to employees;
  • Establishment of bereavement leave as opposed to funeral leave, granting workers more time to mourn the death of a loved one;
  • New safety equipment standards including additional time and stations to clean safety equipment and the required replacement of worn-out equipment by the employer;
  • Optional orientation on union membership for those interested in joining.

“UFCW members from the Peco plant stood together and demonstrated the determination necessary to win a groundbreaking contract that will improve the lives of Brookville families and benefit the local economy as poultry workers have more money to spend,” said Eddie James, President of UFCW Local 1991.  “This just shows that solidarity gives us strength at the bargaining table so that we can improve the lives of working people and their families.”

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December 18, 2006

ICE TERRORIZING IMMIGRANT WORKERS BECAUSE OF FAILED U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY

(Washington, D.C.) – United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) members working in Swift and Company meatpacking plants are reporting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents marched into plants Tuesday morning with military weapons, herding, segregating, and terrorizing workers. Plants and plant gates were locked down.

“”The display of force by ICE agents is totally outrageous,”” said Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President and Director of the Food Processing, Packing, and Manufacturing division of the UFCW. “”We believe they are victims of wholesale violations of worker rights. In effect, ICE is criminalizing people for going to work.””

Families have been ripped apart leaving traumatized children stranded at school waiting to be picked up. In some cases, their parents are being transported to detention centers in distant cities and denied the opportunity to call anyone to make arrangements for their children. Workers at the Swift plant in Grand Island, Neb., have been bussed to Camp Dodge, Iowa, six hours away from their families, with no guarantee of return transportation.

Workers at the Greeley Colo., plant reported that gun shots were fired. Representatives and attorneys with the UFCW, who have standing to represent these workers, have been denied access to the detained workers.

“”The workers caught in this vice are victims of a failed immigration system. It’s time for the federal government to stop victimizing workers and reform our immigration system,”” said Lauritsen. “”The last do-nothing Congress failed to produce its promised immigration reform before recess. The result is that children have been orphaned, left to sleep in strange beds and uncertain about their holiday or their future. Worksite raids with armed agents are not the answer to the nationwide call for immigration reform. America deserves a humane, systematic and comprehensive immigration policy immediately.””

UFCW local unions are working tirelessly to contact family members to protect minor children. Union representatives have been denied access to the facilities to represent workers. UFCW local unions are putting in place a system to aid the families, contacting relatives of children, setting up aid funds to supply holiday gifts and whatever long-term assistance they may need.

The UFCW represents approximately 10,000 workers at the five Swift and Company plants.

December 12, 2006

FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS SEEKS FEDERAL INJUNCTION TO END ATTACKS AGAINST WORKERS IN MEATPACKING PLANTS

Washington DC—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is seeking an immediate injunction in federal court, today, on behalf of workers employed by Swift and Company packing operations in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

The workers were subjected to a wholesale round up, including detention, by Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

“Essentially, the agents stormed the plants, many of them in riot gear, in an effort designed to terrorize the workforce,” said Mark Lauritsen, director of the UFCW Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing division.

The UFCW represents workers at the Swift and Company plants, as well as other major packers around the country.

“This kind of action is totally uncalled for,” said Lauritsen. “It’s designed to punish workers for working hard everyday, contributing to the success of their companies and communities. They are innocent victims in an immigration system that has been hijacked by corporations for the purpose of importing an exploitable workforce.”

For years, the UFCW has called for comprehensive immigration reform—reform that provides an orderly immigration process that protects worker rights, ensures good wages and benefits for all workers, and recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our society.

“We are advising all the detained workers to exercise their right to an attorney and remain silent until they confer with counsel. These actions today by ICE are an affront to decency.”