In the News

RSS

UFCW Announces Strong Opposition to Fast Track and the TPP

President Perrone calls for bipartisan opposition and says largest private sector union in the nation “will remember those elected officials who stood with America’s workers”

WASHINGTON, D.C.Marc Perrone, International President of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today penned an op-ed in The Hill announcing his strong opposition to fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The UFCW supported the last major trade agreement with Korea because of its improved labor standards and potential to create 20,000 jobs in the meat sector. But in his op-ed, Perrone makes clear that this time is different.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the Korea free trade agreement,” he writes. “It is neither free nor fair. And the UFCW is determined to see it defeated.”

In the piece, Perrone ties unfair tpp-5trade deals directly to the declining standard of living for hard-working families. “Income and economic inequality has grown to historically high levels,” he writes. “Industry consolidation, fueled by unchecked global competition, has led to countless jobs being lost. Good union jobs have been decimated across nearly every state and replaced by either no job, or non-union jobs that barely pay above minimum wage.”

Perrone is also strongly critical of the TPP’s provisions to roll back labor, consumer, and environmental protections and the fact that it is being put together “with the advice and counsel of hundreds of corporate special interests with absolutely no input from labor or other groups that fight on behalf of the working and middle classes.”

“Given all that we know, how any elected official, Democrat or Republican, can support TPP is inexplicable,” he writes.

Perrone issues a warning to both political parties, calling on every member of Congress to oppose the TPP and the fast-track legislation that would make it possible to pass the TPP.

“In the end, while we may not be able to change every mind, we will remember those elected officials who stood with America’s workers by voting for jobs and against another destructive trade deal,” he writes. “More to the point, we join with the AFL-CIO and other unions that refuse to support any member of Congress that decides to put narrow self-interests above the interests of hard-working families.”

The full op-ed is linked here and pasted below.

###

Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational    @UFCW

 

April 15, 2015, 02:00 pm

Trans-Pacific Partnership will harm middle and working class Americans

By Marc Perrone

Four years ago, after careful consideration, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) decided to endorse the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, making us one of the only labor unions to do so. We viewed the Korea deal—which had improved labor standards and was estimated  to create over 20,000 jobs in the meat sector, as a small, but not insignificant, step forward on global trade policy. As the union that represents hundreds of thousands of meatpacking and food processing workers, we support fair trade agreements that open up new markets to sell UFCW-made products abroad.

This time it’s different. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the Korea free trade agreement. It is neither free nor fair. And the UFCW is determined to see it defeated.

The truth is as we’ve heard during past trade debates, many Republicans and even some Democrats, repeatedly say that the TPP won’t hurt families or communities, or devastate industries, unions, or the middle and working classes.

America’s families know from experience the brutal reality will be quite different.

Over the last three decades, in large part because of bad trade deals, Americans have worked harder than ever, while wages remain stagnant.  Income and economic inequality has grown to historically high levels. Industry consolidation, fueled by unchecked global competition, has led to countless jobs being lost. Good union jobs have been decimated across nearly every state and replaced by either no job, or non-union jobs that barely pay above minimum wage.

As for the TPP, while a bipartisan chorus will sing the praises of this trade deal, they choose to ignore the truth that it is America’s working men and women, not them, who will pay the price as irresponsible corporations justify future cuts to wages, hours, and jobs–all in the name of “international competition.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the TPP goes even further by rolling back regulations that could be construed as a “barrier to trade,” which includes environmental, consumer, and labor protections. And, if there were any remaining doubts, this massive trade deal, which will impact tens of millions of American jobs, has been put together in secret, with the advice and counsel of hundreds of corporate special interests with absolutely no input from labor or other groups that fight on behalf of the working and middle classes.

Given all that we know, how any elected official, Democrat or Republican, can support the TPP is inexplicable.

So, on behalf of the 1.3 million hard-working men and women of the UFCW, we are calling on every member of Congress to oppose the TPP and the fast-track legislation that would make it possible to pass the TPP.

Let me be very clear, no elected official, regardless of political party, who is truly interested in making the economy better and fairer, can responsibly support the TPP. Simply put, this trade deal, like so many others, is bad for our workers, families, and shared future.

In the end, while we may not be able to change every mind, we will remember those elected officials who stood with America’s workers by voting for jobs and against another destructive trade deal. More to the point, we join with the AFL-CIO and other unions that refuse to support any member of Congress that decides to put narrow self-interests above the interests of hard-working families.

Marc Perrone is International President of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

Tell Walmart: Help Striking Farm Workers

This post was written by our friends at UFW.

On March 17th, thousands of farm workers toiling in the San Quintín Valley—an export oriented agricultural region in Baja California Norte—walked off their jobs in protest of low wages, poor working conditions, and alleged violations of Mexican labor law. Nearly three weeks later, key demands made by leaders of the work stoppage have been largely unmet. At issue to date is an across the board wage floor of 200 pesos per day (about $13.00 USD, brought down from an initial demand of 300 pesos per day, or about $20.00 USD) and an overhaul of existing union contracts leaders claim serve employers’ interest more than those of workers.

Hundreds of farms in the valley export millions of tons of fresh produce each year to major US retailers.[1] While US consumers enjoy the berries, cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes produced in the region, farm workers who live and labor there say that with average wages currently running at about $7.00 to $8.00 USD per day, they are unable to meet their basic needs.

AdeliaAdelia Hernandez Zamora, who says she has worked at many different agricultural companies in her 14 years living in the San Quintín valley, shared the following:

“Supposedly the product we produce here for the other side is sold in dollars. We are paid in Mexican pesos. With the money we make, we are unable to meet [our needs]. We have kids in school. We pay rent… A kilo of meat costs 120 pesos. A carton of eggs is at 80 pesos. A kilo of tortillas is at 14 pesos. Water is at 14 pesos. We do not have plumbing in our homes and pay for water.”

ElizElizabeth Valenzuela Chavez is a single mother who works for Rancho Magaña. She says, “Food prices have gone up. Gas has gone up. What about our wages?”

Representatives for the region’s growers have claimed that the 200 peso daily rate the strike leaders are demanding would cripple the local economy.[2] Workers claim that that rate is the minimum required to meet basic needs in the wake of peso devaluation impacting local prices. This is a sign of dysfunction. But both identifying where the dysfunction is occurring and how to correct it is a responsibility that goes beyond the negotiation that took place between workers and their employers in San Quintín.

Reports of low wages and poor conditions in San Quintín follow a series of documented labor abuses in other export ag producing regions in Mexico. In response to those earlier reports, the largest buyer of Mexican produce, Walmart—an industry giant —said to the LA Times on February 12 that it would be stepping up its efforts in ensuring social responsibility in its supply chain. [3] This latest unrest presents an opportunity for consumers to let the retail giant know we are expecting them to come good on this commitment with the utmost urgency. Walmart can set a new standard for other players in the fresh produce business.

Join us and more than 25,000 other supporters in calling on Walmart and other leaders in the grocery retail industry hold powerful agribusiness companies such as Driscoll accountable by signing the petition at http://action.ufw.org/baja.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-baja-farmworkers-20150320-story.html#page=1

[2] http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-baja-farmworkers-20150330-story.html

[3] http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-me-farm-labor-20150213-story.html#page=1

Seattle UFCW Local 21 Member Helps to Kick-off “Lead on Leave” White House Tour

Calls On Washington State Senate & Federal Government to Enact Paid Leave Laws  

UFCW Local 21 member Ariana Davis with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

UFCW Local 21 member Ariana Davis with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

Seattle, WA –Today, Ariana Davis, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21, was featured at the kickoff event of the “Lead on Leave – Empowering Working Families Across America Tour” hosted by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. The roundtable discussion was the first stop of a national tour by the White House to highlight the importance of enacting a paid leave law that will ensure all working and middle class families have the opportunity to deal with a sickness or spend time with their children and family members during times of illness or other critical life moments.

Ms. Davis joined a diverse group of local employers, workers, and community groups to discuss the demands of family and the importance of enacting state and federal paid leave laws.

“No one in America should have to choose between their health, their family and their job,” said Davis. “On a bad week, when we’re sick, we can’t afford to take unpaid time off so we get some Kleenex, drag ourselves out of bed, and come to work. This is unhealthy for coworkers, customers, and the communities we live in. Paid leave will help us all deal with these difficult moments and improve our ability to do our jobs. Passing laws like this are essential to making life better for every hard working family in America.”

As a young, female, LGBT person of color within the labor movement, Davis has proven to be an effective and rising voice. She has been instrumental in helping push for fundamental changes that have helped hard-working families in Seattle obtain better wages and benefits, and justice at the workplace.

A few years ago, stories like Davis’ helped the city of Seattle pass a much needed paid sick leave law. A few weeks ago, those same stories were a big reason why the Washington House of Representatives passed paid sick leave. Davis is calling on the State Senate and the federal government to do the same.

Davis started working at Safeway when she was 16. Now 25, she is an elected member of the UFCW Local 21 Executive Board and is proud to work at Haggen, a union grocery store in Renton, Washington.

###

Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online atwww.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational    @UFCW