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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.

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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.

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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).

Musician and “Workingman’s Warrior” Steve Earle Releases New Album

image via the Sun Times

image via the Sun Times

Back in 2011, when the collective bargaining rights of public sector union members in Wisconsin were being threatened by union-busting Governor Scott Walker, legendary Steve Earle released two songs–‘Harlan Man’ and ‘The Mountain’–with all proceeds going the Labor Unity Fund. The songs were glimpses into the life of a union member. Just like the hundreds of other angry union members that showed up at the capital building in Madison to defend their rights, Earle was adamant that letting collective bargaining be taken away would be detrimental to our system of democracy.

Fast forward four years and we are back in the same situation: despite the objections and testimonials from countless working men and women, Wisconsin lawmakers are again attacking our rights. The state senate passed Right to Work legislation last week, which, if passed in the Assembly this week as it’s expected to be, will make Wisconsin the 25th Right to Work (for less) state in the country. No matter what happens, the labor movement and its supporters will always stand together and speak out about defending our rights.

Earle, whose support of union members in 2011 made him a beloved “workingman’s warrior” has now released a collection of blues songs. Read more about his new album–called Terraplane–at Rolling Stone. If you’d like to support Earle the way he has supported labor while simultaneously enjoying some great tunes, you can purchase the album here.

 

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Schedules That Work Act

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement regarding introduction of the Schedules That Work Act.

“If you ask a worker in the retail industry what improvements can be made to their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Fair, flexible, and reliable scheduling is a simple way to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect. In a perfect world, employers would view workers as human beings with competing life demands rather than numbers on a balance sheet. But in reality, scheduling is more erratic than ever.

“The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. This includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers advance notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.

“This legislation would ensure all workers have the rights fought for and won by UFCW members for decades.  Our contracts have long guaranteed predictable and adequate scheduling. The law of the land should do the same. I urge Congress to pass the Schedules That Work Act as soon as possible.”

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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 www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw