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RWDSU Mott’s Workers Ratify New Contract with Stronger Benefits

Mott’s workers in New York signed a new contract for better wages, benefits, schedules, and respect on the job.

Local 220* Mott’s workers in New York have ratified a new contract. The contract contains wage improvements, signing bonuses, secures health care coverage for over 300 employees at the plant, and contains numerous language improvements that will help workers with scheduling and overtime issues.

In 2010, Local 220* members employed at the Mott’s plant in Williamson, New York were forced on strike by company greed. Workers waged a nationwide public campaign that exposed the greed of Motts and their parent company, Dr. Pepper/Snapple. Workers walked a picket line for several months, until Motts backed away from demands to gut their contract and do away with the workers’ retirement security.

Congrats to the Mott’s workers of Local 220* on their hard-earned contract!

UFCW Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry Workers Travel to Washington, D.C. to Fight for Industry Changes

UFCW Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers visited Secrectary of Agricultre Tom Vilsack, OSHA, and members of Congress to lobby for better wages and worker safety in the poultry industry.

Last week, 12 Pilgrim’s Pride poultry workers from UFCW Locals 227, 455, 540, 1996, 2008, and RWDSU Mid-South Council traveled to Washington, D.C. to fight for changes in the poultry industry.

Despite the financial success experienced by many poultry companies, poultry workers continue to earn some of the lowest wages and face some of the most dangerous workplaces in the industry. Pilgrim’s Pride workers especially are suffering.

When Pilgrim’s Pride faced bankruptcy back in 2008, the company asked the workers to make concessions to keep their plants viable. Those workers with a union voice on the job were able to protect themselves from the most severe cuts, but had to sacrifice overtime pay and holidays to keep their jobs. The company is now posting record profits but the workers have not seen a raise in over two years, or had the overtime and holidays they gave up returned to them. And, Pilgrim’s Pride is holding workers up at the negotiating table and leaving contracts open.

“We work hard and work full-time and we just can’t make ends meet on these wages. My entire community is centered around the poultry plant. When workers aren’t making decent wages, the whole community suffers because people can’t afford to buy anything,” said Brian Rush, a Pilgrim’s Pride worker from the Batesville, Ark., plant and a member of UFCW Local 2008.

“On these wages, a lot of people can’t even afford to buy the product that they make. If a person makes $9 an hour and a box of chicken is around $60 – it all just doesn’t make sense,” said Carey Stanley, a Pilgrim’s Pride worker from the Live Oak, Fla., plant and a member of UFCW Local 1996.

Pilgrim’s Pride traveled to Washington, D.C. on a mission to tell their stories and educate lawmakers and policymakers about what it’s like to work in the poultry industry. They visited and spoke with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his staff, ranking members of OSHA, as well as Senators Pryor, Kaine, Bennet, and Stabenow, and several members of the House of Representatives.
At the Department of Agriculture, members told Secretary Vilsack and key staff members about the struggles they face working full-time for a successful company that pays low wages. Workers also pointed out that Pilgrim’s Pride receives almost $75 million in government contracts, and is the second largest government poultry contract in the country. They argued that changes have to be made so that there is some balance and justice between company profits and worker wages.

“I brought my W-2 and my last paycheck to show them that I work 40-hour weeks and last year I made only $18,000. I work hard, my family makes sacrifices, and we are struggling so much,” said Idalid Guerrero, a Pilgrim’s Pride worker from the Lufkin, Texas, plant and a member of UFCW Local 540.

Workers then visited with Assistant Director of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, Chief of Staff Debbie Berkowitz and additional staff of OSHA. In their meeting, workers discussed safety issues on the job, including dangerous ammonia leaks, the lack of decent medical care at the workplace, and the company not reporting injuries to avoid any lost-time reports.

The lobby day continued with workers visiting senators and representatives on Capitol Hill. There, workers educated members of Congress and their staff on the nature of the poultry industry, how workers are treated, and called for the necessary changes that the industry and union can make to turn poultry jobs into middle class, family supporting jobs. Workers also asked members of Congress to support a new federal study on the poultry industry in order to investigate further into worker wages and workplace conditions and bring the poultry industry issues to attention so that companies will begin to be held accountable and changes can be made.

Check out photos from the Lobby days on our Flckr! (Day 1Day 2)

 

UFCW and Allies Write Open Letter to President Obama and Congress Calling for Stronger Family-Based Immigration Reform

Yesterday, the UFCW, along with a long list of other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, and faith-based organizations, wrote to President Obama and Congress to call for protections of a family-based immigration system in the ongoing fight for immigration reform legislation.

Currently, some members of the senate are writing an immigration bill that would severely limit access to green cards for extended family members of current American citizens. Senator Lindsay Graham, R-SC, who is part of a bipartisan senate committee for immigration reform, “indicated that he would prefer to eliminate” the current immigration clauses that allow citizens to petition for their married children and siblings to be brought to the U.S.

The UFCW, along with countless other organizations, believes that “families belong together”, no matter what their immigration status. Also, we believe that family relationships cannot be summed up by name – aunts and uncles can be just as close to someone as mothers and fathers, and cousins can be like brothers and sisters.  It is unfair that someone be denied a green card simply because their title isn’t included in the traditional nuclear family unit.

Written in the letter to Congress and President Obama, is the fact that “as of November 2012, nearly 4.3 million loved ones are waiting in the family visa backlogs.” Thousands of people from Mexico, China and other Asian countries, and elsewhere around the world have been waiting for years to be reunited with loved ones in the U.S.  Also noted, was the fact that “strengthening the current family-based immigration system is good for our economy and is commonsense policy for the United States.”  Turning away from a family-based system to focus on the economy doesn’t make sense, because, as said in the letter:

“A robust family-based immigration has significant economic benefits, especially for long-term economic growth of the United States. Family-based immigrants foster innovation and development of new businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses that would not otherwise exist, creating jobs for American workers and raising revenues for our recovering economy. Families also provide support and care for young children and the elderly, allowing others to focus on building the businesses and contributing to American society.”

UFCW and our allies hope that the President and Congress will uphold the family-based values that America was built on, and do what is right for working America.