Packing and Processing


Urgent Action Needed! Algerian Union Activist Jailed for Speaking Out

Although our struggle for the right to stand to together in the workplace can be difficult, we live in a country that allows for freedom of speech and we do not have to fear being jailed or physically assaulted for voicing our opinions and standing up for others. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is protected by such freedom.

Yacine Zaid

An Algerian union activist named Yacine Zaid has been punished by his government for speaking out on the behalf of others.  As a representaive of IUF in Algeria, Zaid helps workers to organize for their rights, most notably within the UK catering company Compass.

Recently, Zaid was arrested for his outspoken defense of and work for human and workers’ rights, and was beaten by police. He was released, but shortly after he was picked up by unidentified men, while friends and family were left to fear for his safety and his life.

Zaid is scheduled to appear in court next today on trumped up charges. Together with IUF, UFCW is urging members and allies to speak out and put pressure on the Algerian government to drop these charges before it is too late.

You can help. Click here to send a message to the Algerian government now.

We must stand together with our union brothers and sisters not just across the country, but across the globe.  When human life is threatened simply for standing up for other people’s well-being, we cannot stand back and watch.


Warehouse Workers’ 6-Day Pilgrimage Culminates in L.A. City Hall Rally

Yesterday, the 6-day long journey taken by striking Walmart warehouse workers, in protest of working conditions, came to a close as they reached their 50 mile destination in Los Angeles.  The trek went out with a bang, as the more than 30 workers were joined by hundreds of supporters in front of L.A. City Hall.

At the rally, warehouse workers, exhausted from the journey and the 103-degree heat, took the opportunity to express to the crowd that, although the pilgrimage was tiring and hard to endure, it was nothing compared to the conditions they are forced to work in at the Inland Empire warehouse, a subcontractor of Walmart.

These warehouse workers are not protected by a union, and, by taking a stand to highlight the abuses they have endured, they have risked everything.  But the risks are worth it to these workers, who work in 120-degree warehouses with no fans, which often results in vomiting and nosebleeds. Not only is the heat unbearable, but they are no given clean water or regular breaks, and the equipment they use is unsafe. Does Walmart, who controls the working conditions of the sub-contracters, think that putting workers in terribly unsafe environments and then not paying them enough to make a decent living, is okay?

It simply isn’t.  

The strike has brought well-deserved attention to the unacceptable conditions at Walmart warehouses, and drawn many supporters to the workers’ cause.  Warehouse Workers United, health professional volunteers, and countless supporters have helped in the effort, and speakers at the rally on Tuesday included Rep. Judy Chu, California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, City Councilman Ed Reyes, National Farmworkers Association co-founder Dolores Huerta, California Secretary of Labor Marty Morgenstern, and LA County Federation of Labor secretary-treasurer Elena Durazo.

Despite widespread community support for workers, Walmart and its sub-contractors haven’t offered to meet about improving the situation at all.  In fact, a Walmart spokesman has claimed that Walmart officials regularly tour the locations of their subcontractors, and the conditions are “ambient.”

Despite the lies and blatant denial of those responsible, workers have taken a stand and a national spotlight is shining on the unjust treatment they receive.  Once they return home, the warehouse workers plan to continue to picket outside the facility in Mira Loma where they work, in the hopes that even more workers will take a stand to decrease the amount of worker injuries due to unsafe working conditions, to fight for respect, and to force corporations like Walmart to be responsible.

For more information on the warehouse workers’ pilgrimage, and to see great photos from their journey and the rally, click here.

Tyson Workers Receive Long-Awaited Payment from Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement

$32 million Settlement Ends 12-year Legal Battle to Get Paid for Hours Worked

(Washington, D.C.) – After a 12 year legal struggle, more than 12,000 Tyson poultry workers in 41 plants in 12 states will receive their payments from the largest settlement against a major poultry company at $32 million.  Thanks to the tenacity and dedication of thousands of workers from across the country and the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, workers involved in the suit will receive payments averaging $1,200 in lost wages.

The success of the Tyson’s settlement for poultry workers is just one in a series of actions where workers continue to fight and take a stand for workers’ rights in poultry and meatpacking plants around the country. Similar cases have been brought and resolved against Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride plants as well. The UFCW continues to work to make sure that every meatpacking and poultry worker is paid honestly and fairly for the work they do. A suit that was filed in 1999 was the first action of its kind to force poultry companies to obey the nation’s basic wage and hour laws.

“This lawsuit and the new pay practices in the meatpacking and poultry industry are just one way union workers raise standards for every worker in their industry,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “While this settlement is long overdue, our efforts have ensured that thousands of workers have been paid correctly for years now.”

The affected Tyson poultry employees work at plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

These payments will inject much-needed money into America’s rural economy and reward a hard-working and dedicated group of poultry workers.

The lawsuit charged Tyson with violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and cheating their poultry plant employees out of wages by failing to pay workers for the time they spend putting on and taking off protective gear they wear to keep the food they process safe and for their own protection. The poultry company also violated the basic wage and hour laws by failing to provide workers with their required break time.

“Every American deserves to get paid for the work they do,” Hansen continued. “We’re changing the way meat and poultry industries do business by ensuring that workers are paid for all of their time on the job.”

Workers, the UFCW, and activists started to take collective action for workers’ rights to fair wages and treatment at the workplace in 1999. Between 1999 and 2001, they took their action on the road and spread the word of their mission through a bus tour and leafleting other Tyson workers. In that brief time, almost 4,000 workers signed up to join. The federal lawsuit developed following a U.S. Department of Labor survey that found over 60 percent of the nation’s poultry companies were in violation of basic wage and hour laws.

The collective case representing the workers from several plants from across the country went through several judges until a judge in November 2006 declared that the case under the different plants could not be presented as a singular case and dismissed it. The workers and their supporters continued their legal action despite the large setback and filed their cases on a plant-by-plant basis. More than 17,000 workers start signing up to join the suit under the new case conditions.

In September 2011, the workers sent a settlement agreement to the court, which the court later approved. After almost 12 years, workers receive notice in January 2012 that they will finally be receiving their settlement payments.

In order to qualify for the settlement, current workers must have signed up to be part of the lawsuit back in 2008 and former employees were required to send back the W-4 form included with the payment notice, so that tax withholdings could be properly calculated.


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit, or join our online community at and