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    UFCW Blog

May 25, 2019

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Change Needlessly Threatens America’s Food Safety

Largest Private-Sector Union Representing Thousands of Pork Workers Calls on USDA to Stop Inspection Change that Threatens America’s Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced its opposition to a new proposal by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which shifts some meat inspection responsibilities from its inspectors to pork plant employees. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“For over 100 years, USDA inspectors have played a vital role in ensuring the safety of our pork. This change to USDA meat inspection rules would dramatically weaken the critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day.

“Shifting the responsibility onto pork workers, instead of the USDA inspectors who are specifically trained for this critical job, is needlessly reckless and dangerous. Our members in pork plants work incredibly hard already and stand with families across the country to demand USDA keep our food safe and let inspectors do their job.”

BACKGROUND

With the USDA’s test hog-inspection program expected to expand this summer after the agency approves new rules, 35 plants already plan to join the five test plants in using the new program. Together, these plants would produce 90 percent of the pork consumed in the United States.

USDA Meat Inspection Policy Change Impact

  • Federal inspectors on hog slaughter lines at the plants new to the program will be cut from 365 to 218, a 40 percent cut.
  • The overall number of inspectors at those plants will drop from 400 to 288, a decline of 28 percent, according to figures provided by the USDA.
  • The new policy will allow the slaughter-line speeds to run as fast as the plant desires. The current cap on line speed is 1,106 hogs per hour, or 18 per minute.

In its report, the Washington Post notes that food safety groups and the USDA inspectors’ union say they are concerned that “increased line speeds and federal staff reductions on those lines will cause diseased and contaminated meat to slip by the remaining inspectors.” These groups also cite an inherent conflict-of-interest with pork producers overseeing inspections of their own products. Training for those workers, they point out, is also done entirely at the plant owners’ discretion.”

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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 24, 2019

Auto buying options for union members

Exclusive Savings for Union Members, Their Parents, and Children

 As a UFCW member, you are eligible for savings on a new car when you use the Union Plus Auto Buying Service to help find the right new or used car or truck for you and your family.

The Union Plus Auto Buying Service is administered by TrueCar and Union Auto, depending on your state of residence:

TrueCar


Find your new car or truck with TrueCar
True Car

Available in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine , Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Get upfront pricing on your next car, truck or SUV – before visiting the dealer.

  • Save an average of $3,402 off MSRP1 on new cars
  • Free access to online research tools to see what others paid for the same car you want
  • Search 900,000+ used cars for sale nationwide
  • Up to $2,000 in post-sale benefits like Auto Repair and Deductible Reimbursement2
  • $100 rebate when you buy a new union-made car
  • $200 rebate on a new union-made, EPA Green Car3

FIND YOUR CAR OR TRUCK


Union Auto Program

Available in the following states:
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Find your new car or truck with Union Auto

Worry less and save more, with benefits that go the extra mile:

  • Guaranteed low “Fair Purchase Price”4 based on Kelly Blue Book
  • Choice of FREE Lifetime Powertrain limited warranty coverage5, or FREE 3-year; $5,000 Payment Protection & Vehicle Return Plan6
  • $100 extra savings on union-built vehicles at time of purchase
  • Designated Union Auto representatives to help throughout the buying process

FIND YOUR CAR OR TRUCK

May 22, 2019

UFCW: Amazon Must Address Practices that Harm Workers and Customers

Ahead of Amazon Shareholder Meeting, Largest Private-Sector Union Backs Resolutions to Strengthen Accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, ahead of the annual Amazon shareholder meeting in Seattle where a vote will be held on nine resolutions aimed at holding the company accountable for its practices that put employees and customers at risk, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“The growing frustration and anger with the way Amazon and Jeff Bezos do business is real. Year after year, Amazon earns billions in profits on the backs of American taxpayers and its own workers, while ignoring the company’s responsibility to do what is right.

“Today’s shareholder meeting is an opportunity to hold Amazon accountable. These resolutions are about sending a clear message to Amazon and Jeff Bezos that the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing billionaires and huge corporations at the expense of workers and consumers. It’s time for companies like Amazon to realize that they succeed because of their workers – not in spite of them.”

BACKGROUND

Today’s Amazon shareholder meeting will consider nine resolutions supported by a broad coalition of socially responsible investors focused on holding the company accountable for its practices that pose direct threats to employees, customers, and the broader public. A list of the resolutions to be voted on today is below:

  1. Risks of Sales of Facial Recognition Software: Open MIC, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment
  2. Independent Study of Rekognition: Harrington Investments
  3. Report on Efforts to Address Hate Speech: Nathan Cummings Foundation
  4. Amazon’s Plans for Disruptions Posed by Climate Change: Amazon Employees
  5. Reduce Food Waste: JLens Network
  6. Executive Pay-Incorporate Diversity & Sustainability Metrics: Zevin Asset Management
  7. Independent Board Chair: SumofUs
  8. Majority Vote: Investor Voice
  9. Gender Pay Equity: Arjuna Capital

In November 2018, investors sent a joint letter to Amazon to underscore their concerns and request meaningful dialogue with the company.  The letter was endorsed by 114 investors representing over $2.6 trillion in assets under management, many of whom had varying degrees of prior engagement with Amazon.

Additional concerns were raised by Amazon’s decision to petition the SEC to omit many of the proposals from its proxy. Many investors see the fact that the company has actively sought to avoid addressing these problems in a constructive manner with the investment community as highly troubling.

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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 17, 2019

UFCW OUTreach: Passage of Equality Act a Victory for LGBTQ Workers Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) OUTreach Chair Michele Kessler released the following statement praising passage of H.R. 5, the Equality Act of 2019, by the U.S. House of Representatives:

“Today’s passage of the Equality Act by the House is a powerful step toward a future where millions of LGBTQ Americans and their families no longer have to worry about facing discrimination at work or in their communities. Too many Americans live in states with outdated laws that leave our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family vulnerable to discrimination.

“Everyone deserves equal access to the employment, housing, and education they need to provide for their families and build a better life. We are proud to stand with Americans across the country in support of the Equality Act and urge the Senate to do the right thing and pass this bill immediately.”

BACKGROUND

Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws.

The Equality Act of 2019 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.

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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 14, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Replacing Workers with Robots

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement in response to a new report that Amazon is rolling out machines to automate the boxing of customer orders, a job held by thousands of its workers:

“Jeff Bezos’s vision for our economy is focused on driving up profits at any cost by replacing talented employees with automation. While Amazon is raking in billions in tax cuts from cities desperate for new jobs, the company is ruthlessly working to eliminate the jobs of thousands of its current employees.

“This comes as Amazon announced it is offering to pay its workers $10,000 to quit their jobs rather than using that money to make Amazon jobs good jobs to begin with. It’s clear that Jeff Bezos cares more about the bottom line than investing in the hardworking employees who made Amazon a success in the first place. This is shameful.

“Our nation’s leaders need to wake up and realize that left unchecked, Amazon’s predatory business model will only continue to wipe out thousands of jobs that have powered our economy for decades. Our families and communities deserve better than this.”

BACKGROUND:

As reported by Reuters, Amazon started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelops them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item. The plan shows how Amazon is pushing to boost profits at the expense of its own workers.

  • Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one, these people said.
  • These facilities typically employ more than 2,000 people.
  • Resulting in more than 1,300 cuts across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory.
  • Amazon would expect to recover the costs in under two years, at $1 million per machine plus operational expenses, they said.

This report comes as Amazon announced they are offering up to $10,000 for current Amazon employees in warehouses and other facilities to quit their jobs so that they can start delivering packages for the company instead.

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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 11, 2019

UFCW Members Help to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country

Union Representing Grocery Workers Across the Country Donates 7 Million Bags of Food to Nation’s Largest Single-Day Food Drive

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union released the following statement on participating in the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on May 11. 

“Every year, Stamp Out Hunger unites Americans across the country to donate food to millions of families in need. With more than 46 million Americans struggling to put food on the table, there has never been a more important time for us to give back. 

“Our members work in grocery stores across the country and know firsthand the impact hunger has in the communities they serve. UFCW is proud to continue serving as a national partner in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Together, we can ensure that millions of Americans are able to receive the food they need to feed their families.”   

UFCW Local Unions across the country supported this incredible cause by collecting food and holding local area events that encouraged people in their communities to donate to Stamp Out Hunger. UFCW represents more than 600,000 grocery workers across the country.

In the last 25 years with support from UFCW and other organizations, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive has collected 1.5 billion pounds of food that was donated to local food banks and other organizations helping to feed the more than 46 million Americans who struggle with hunger.

In the United States, hunger impacts 12 million children, nearly 5 million seniors, and 2.4 million rural households. Additionally, 20 percent of households struggling with hunger include veterans who have served our country. Click here to read more about the communities most impacted by hunger.

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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.

 

May 8, 2019

UFCW Calls for Congress to Strengthen Rights of American Workers to Join a Union and Protect Good Jobs

Ahead of Congressional Hearing, UFCW Urges Passage of PRO Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s House Education & Labor Committee hearing on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act follows the bill’s introduction by House and Senate Democrats last week and highlights the need for Congress to expand protections for workers to exercise their rights to join a union and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. As one of the leading national voices, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As corporations and billionaires continue to thrive, stagnant wages and anti-worker policies around the country are leaving millions of American workers behind.

“We need to rebuild the middle class and reverse decades of income inequality and that starts with unions. For generations, unions have helped hard-working Americans stand together for higher wages, affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement. The time is now for Congress to pass the PRO Act to protect the rights of workers to join a union and negotiate for the better life they have earned and deserve.”

BACKGROUND

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is a bill that will expand protections for workers to exercise their rights to join a union and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. Workers who join a union earn higher wages and receive stronger healthcare protections than non-union workers:

  • On average, a union worker earns over 13 percent more than a non-union worker with similar education, occupation, and experience in the same sector.
  • Women union members earn 30 percent more than those in non-union workplaces.
  • Workers who are represented by a union are 27 percent more likely to be offered health insurance through work, and nearly five times as likely to have defined-benefit pensions.

In order to help grow the middle class and protect the right of workers to join a union, Congress must strengthen worker protections under federal law. To help achieve that, the PRO Act would:

  • Increase transparency by requiring employers to post a notice in the workplace of workers’ rights and responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
  • Authorize civil monetary penalties to deter violations of the NLRA.
  • Improve remedies for workers who are retaliated against for exercising their rights to join a union or engage in protected activities—including swift temporary reinstatement, liquidated damages, and the ability to bring cases directly to federal court.
  • Expand coverage of who is deemed an employee under the NLRA to prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.
  • Facilitate dispute resolution by requiring mediation and arbitration procedures to help unions and employers conclude a first collective-bargaining agreement.
  • Strengthen the right of workers to strike for basic workplace improvements.
  • Ensure that the National Labor Relations Board’s orders are enforced in a timely manner.
  • Protect the right of workers, whether in a union or not, to engage in collective actions, such as employment-related class action litigation.

Passing the PRO Act is also key to strengthening employer accountability. Currently, the NLRA lacks basic enforcement tools such as civil penalties to deter violations or adequate remedies when workers face unlawful retaliation.

Facing trivial consequences for non-compliance, employers are free to deploy unlawful tactics to deter workers from voting in favor of a union, or to create delays to avoid reaching a first labor agreement as a way to frustrate workers’ rights. The NLRA has few tools to deter persistent violations—such as firing workers who support forming a union.  This has contributed to the erosion of union density, which has decreased from 33.2 percent of the total workforce in 1956 to only 10.5 percent in 2018.

 

May 7, 2019

UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship Deadline is May 12

If you haven’t yet applied for The UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship, now is the time to act. Applications will be accepted from UFCW members and their families* up until May 12, 2019.

Every year the UFCW Charity Foundation 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.

Please email cfscholarship@ufcw.org with questions.

Apply Now >>>

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

May 6, 2019

One Simple Way to Give Back to Your Community – Stamp Out Hunger

This year, the UFCW is once again partnering with the National Association of Letter Carriers to sponsor the 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which will take place on Saturday, May 11. This campaign, which is the largest single-day food drive in the country, is an opportunity for UFCW Locals to make a difference in the lives of millions of American families who are suffering from the effects of hunger.


Stamp Out Hunger LogoLast year, our union helped to collect millions of pounds of union-made, non-perishable food for local food banks. This year, we are encouraging all UFCW Locals and their members to pitch in by collecting unopened, non-perishable food and placing it in a bag next to their mailbox before their letter carrier delivers their mail on Saturday, May 11.

Help us make this year’s campaign the biggest and most successful yet. You can get more information about the campaign here.

Together, we can help families struggling to put food on the table and make a positive difference in the communities we proudly serve and call home.

Learn More


Stamp Out Hunger 2019 is May 11

May 6, 2019

UFCW Kentucky florist to retire after over 30 years of derby rose garlands

UFCW Local 227 member Carol Belzer has worked for decades as a talented florist at Kroger, where every year she helps craft the iconic Kentucky Derby rose garland.

Carol has had a hand in every derby garland since 1987. Recently, she appeared on tv talking about her upcoming retirement and how it feels to be trusted with making the famous “Garland of Roses.”

“Seeing that blanket of roses placed across that winning thoroughbred, that is such a warm, touching feeling,” she said in an interview with WDRB.

The derby’s rose garland has a history that dates back to 1896, when winner Ben Brush received an arrangement of white and pink roses. Red roses became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904, and UFCW members at Kroger have been crafting the garland since 1987.