UFCW President Perrone: We are Determined to See Fast Track Defeated

TPP-6WASHINGTON, D.C.Marc Perrone, International President of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the agreement reached on trade promotion authority or fast track.

“The TPP and fast track are not just wrong for America, they will hurt every hard-working family. The fact that Democrats and Republicans support TPP is a bipartisan insult to the millions of men and women struggling to find good jobs and earn a decent living.

Make no mistake, we are determined to see this legislation defeated. Our members will mobilize across the United States to call on Congress to stand up for hard-working families. While we may not be able to change every mind, our voices will be heard. And we will remember those who turned their back on America’s workers by voting for another destructive trade deal.”

A copy of President Perrone’s Wednesday op-ed in The Hill is linked here and copied 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.

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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).



Equal Pay Day a Reminder It’s Time to Close the Gender Pay Gap

via www.ywcaoahu.org

via www.ywcaoahu.org

Over half a century ago, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which mandated that “no employer…shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex.”

Yet, 52 years later, women still earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Today, April 14th, which is known as Equal Pay Day, marks just how far into the year a woman must work to earn as much as a man.

It’s simply outrageous that so many women are still paid less than men, for doing the same work. This gender pay gap still exists in part due to conservative members of Congress who refuse to pass legislation that would close it.

Thankfully, many lawmakers are still giving their all to try to ensure equality. Last month Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act. Although it has not been passed in previous years, this legislation is an important step–it would punish employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information and would allow workers to sue for punitive damages for wage discrimination, among other things. It would also require the Department of Labor to increase outreach and training with employers to eliminate pay inequality and to continue to collect wage information based on gender. Additionally, the measure would create a grant program to train women on wage negotiation skills.

Last week Sen. Deb Fischer introduced the Workplace Advancement Act, which would protect employees from retaliation for asking about or discussing wages.

It’s imperative that Republicans and Democrats work together to pass such legislation. It’s past time to ensure all women are paid equally for doing the same work.

However, workers shouldn’t wait for squabbling politicians to fix things. Joining a union is another way for women to combat wage inequality.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, the wage gap is 40% smaller for women belonging to a union. Union membership boosts wages for all workers, but especially women–particularly women of color.

Union men and women have fought hard and bargained for good contracts to ensure workers are treated fairly. Women make up approximately 45% of union membership and that number is growing. Belonging to a union gives women greater opportunity and job protections than their non-union counterparts, creates a level playing field for female workers, and enables them to have a united voice on the job. In order to continue to boost the economic security of women, lawmakers must stop attacking unions.

The UFCW, our labor brothers and sisters, and our progressive allies will always fight for greater workers’ rights and continue to support legislation that aims to end inequality.

New York Attorney General: Just-In-Time Scheduling May Violate Law

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to Gap Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., and other retailers seeking information about their use of on-call shifts and warning the companies that the practices may violate a state employment law. Photographer: Brendan Bannon/Bloomberg

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to Gap Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., and other retailers seeking information about their use of on-call shifts and warning the companies that the practices may violate a state employment law. Photographer: Brendan Bannon/Bloomberg

Retail chains like Target Corp. are under increased scrutiny in New York. On April 10, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to 13 retailers seeking information on their use of on-call shifts. Included in the letter was a warning that just-in-time scheduling practices may violate state employment law.

New York requires employers to pay hourly staff for at least four hours when they report for work. The Office of the Attorney General is examining retail scheduling practices and whether requiring an on-call worker to check shift status would trigger the pay requirement under New York law.

Letters were sent to Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew Group Inc., L. Brands, Burlington Coat Factory, TJX Companies, Urban Outfitters, Target Corp., Sears Holding Corp., Williams-Sonoma Inc., Crocs, Ann Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

Retail workers find just-in-time scheduling makes it difficult to arrange for child or elder care or to hold a second job. Across the country, retail workers have been coming together with the UFCW to advocate for fair scheduling policies and legislation.