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Viscofan Workers Launch Petition; Call for Safe Jobs

DSC_0531_(1)The workers at the Viscofan plant in Danville, Illinois, deserve safe jobs, they say in a newly launched petition to The Viscofan Group Chairman Jose Domingo de Ampuero y Osma. The workers, who are members of UFCW Local 686, and their families shouldn’t have to worry whether their loved ones will come home in one piece when they return from work each day.

After a successful year, Viscofan has seen positive growth, which is centered on the work done by these members and others in North America. But as company sales and profits increase, the workers say they are being hurt by the plant. The Danville plant had 18 violations of U.S. health and safety law in the last seven years, yet Viscofan has refused union proposals to improve the safety of their workplace.

These Local 686 members are now asking supporters to sign their petition that says the company’s success shouldn’t come at the expense of the health and safety of its workers. The Viscofan plant is an integral part of the Danville community and its workers count on the good, safe, family-supporting jobs it provides. They are asking the company to send its negotiators back to the table with an edict to make the plant safer, the community stronger, and share in the success. Click here to sign the petition.

 

Stop & Shop Workers Ratify New Contracts

Stop & Shop Workers Ratification3 Stop & Shop Workers Ratification2 Stop & Shop Workers Ratification

Last week, the hard-working men and women of Stop & Shop in New England ratified new contracts with their employer by an overwhelming majority. The contracts cover 35,000 union members represented by UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459.

The new contracts secure wage increases for all the men and women whose hard work has made Stop & Shop a successful and profitable company. In addition, the new contracts will help new full-time employees earn a family-supporting wage of $15 an hour more quickly. By negotiating together, the five local unions were able to secure a commitment from the company to increase the total number of full-time jobs by 480 over the next three years.

These contracts demonstrate the ways that union members work in collaboration with management to solve problems in the workplace. These contracts establish the first Labor-Management Committees at Stop & Shop, giving employees and management a forum to come together to make Stop & Shop a better place to work and shop. The men and women of Stop & Shop were also able to work with the company to design a new scheduling system that will ensure working families have their schedules two weeks in advance.

The New England Council of the UFCW made the following statement after the contracts were ratified by membership:

“The UFCW has a long history of working in partnership with Stop & Shop to ensure that people who work hard in these stores can earn better wages and a better life. Today, by standing together, our members ratified contracts that will continue that tradition.

“These contracts are a powerful measure of what our union family can truly achieve when hard-working men and women come together and stand together. This is also a victory for Stop & Shop customers, whose support throughout our negotiations sent a powerful message that they value employers and companies who treat their employees and their families right.

“Over these many long days and weeks, as we have worked hard to negotiate a better life for our members and their families, our New England bargaining committee has drawn real strength from the support of their customers, their communities, and our entire UFCW family who have stood with us. We will never forget what you have done for us, and we look forward to seeing you in our stores with an even bigger smile.”

Perrone and Johnson: Food safety, Local Agriculture at Risk if Congress Passes TPP

via the Colorado Statesman

by Marc Perrone and Roger Johnson on April 27, 2016

downloadDo you care about the quality of your food and where it comes from? If you do, and you should, it is time to be concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The TPP, like other trade deals before it, is being sold as a boon to the American agricultural industry. But the real track record of these agreements tells a different story. In reality, the Pacific trade pact represents a major, ongoing threat to American food processing workers, family farmers, ranchers, fisherman and consumers.

Nearly every trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has  promised to stimulate the U.S. agricultural industry. The unfortunate truth of these agreements is that they flood American grocery stores with cheap and low standard foreign meat imports. Not only is this bad for our families, it puts U.S. farmers, ranchers and workers at a significant disadvantage as they struggle to compete with countries who pay workers mere pennies per hour.

The growth of live cattle and meat imports brought by trade is especially dangerous to the U.S. beef sector. The beef market is more fragile than others because the biology of a cow demands 39 months from conception to slaughter. By flooding the market with unexpected imports, the historical ebb and flow of this cycle is disrupted, harming both U.S. ranchers who raise and sell cattle and plants who process beef. Just since NAFTA passed, 50 beef processing plants have closed, costing our country thousands of high paying jobs with good benefits that were often located in rural communities.

If the TPP passes, we will be forced to accept even more live cattle and foreign beef imports. This will hinder the ability of ranchers to rebuild the U.S. cattle herd, resulting in continued plant closings and the loss of even more good jobs.

In addition to the loss of jobs, U.S. consumers could also be faced with a major loss of appetite. The TPP would increase food imports from countries like Malaysia who have notoriously lax safety standards. And unfortunately, avoiding food imports of questionable origin may not be so simple.

A prime example of this threat happened recently when the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the U.S. must forego country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on meat or pay more than $1 billion in penalties to Canada and Mexico.

The WTO ruling claimed that by telling U.S. consumers where their food comes from so that they can make informed choices about what they eat, meat products from Canada and Mexico were being unfairly discriminated against.

As a result of the WTO sanctions, Congress repealed COOL, so consumers no longer have easy access to information about where their beef or pork came from.

The WTO’s decision perfectly illustrates how global trade agreements like the TPP can quickly put the profits of global corporations above the protection of consumers and more importantly, above American law. In this case, Congress rolled back this once-celebrated law to avoid fines, effectively forcing people to buy meat of unknown origins simply to enhance the profits of foreign corporations.

It is inexplicable how any elected official, whether Democrat or Republican, can support the TPP when it so clearly puts American jobs and our food supply at risk. With these facts in mind, we hope every member of Congress will oppose this dangerous trade agreement. The American agricultural industry and the millions of consumers who rely upon it to feed their families deserve better than the TPP trade deal.