WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive order designed to ensure that the United States only does business with companies that respect workers’ rights.
“The President’s executive order makes clear that the U.S. will not do business with companies that violate our nation’s labor laws. Employers who cheat workers out of wages, fail to provide safe workplaces, and illegally retaliate against those who try to organize a union should never be considered for a government contract. On the other hand, companies that uphold our laws and treat their workers with dignity and respect should be given preference when it comes to federal procurement.
“Today’s announcement builds on years of work by UFCW members and our partner unions to create a system that is fairer for workers and encourages a race to the top when it comes to labor standards. These efforts included a 2013 resolution passed unanimously by delegates to the UFCW convention calling on the creation of a ‘High Road’ procurement process.
“In the last several years, the meat and poultry industries have received over 1 billion dollars from taxpayers. Many workers in these industries work full-time yet are not paid enough to support themselves or their families. They also must endure dangerous workplace conditions and chronic underreporting of injuries by their employers. This executive order sends a message that companies who engage in this type of anti-worker activity must change the way they do business or lose access to their government contracts.
“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary of Labor Perez, and all those involved in crafting this executive order. Today’s announcement is an important first step in ensuring our government is doing everything in its power to protect America’s workers.”
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.
Since its founding, Market Basket has been owned and operated by the DeMoulas family, but for several decades, different branches of the family have been fighting for control. In June, longtime CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas was ousted by his cousin, Arthur S. DeMoulas, who has taken a controlling stake of the company.
The problem is, Arthur T. DeMoulas, or ATD as he is lovingly known as by Market Basket employees, treated his workers well, and now their good jobs are turning into bad ones. Employees and customers alike have been organizing ever since, to pressure the board to bring ATD back. They have built a huge online following and generated a lot of media coverage with protests and actions around the New England area.
Workers are invested in the campaign because they currently enjoy good benefits, including a profit sharing plan, which would be at risk under new management. The protests escalated until workers walked off the job on July 18. Pressure is mounting on the company board. Many of the workers leading the strike were fired, but the chain has still been disrupted. Warehouses have been shut down, shelves are empty, store managers are protesting along with workers, and numerous local politicians, including the governor of New Hampshire, have voiced support for the actions. Arthur T has made an offer to buy the company, but it’s unclear how seriously the board is taking the offer.
As these Market Basket workers continue to fight for good jobs, UFCW members are standing with them. They have been alongside them at actions, and reaching out to Market Basket workers in the stores to let them know about their rights. We support all workers who stand up to make their workplaces the best they can be, and we see what’s going on at Market Basket as an inspiring example of what workers can achieve by standing together to take action.
There are good bosses and bad bosses, but in the end workers need to rely on themselves and their coworkers. No matter who the CEO of Market Basket is, workers should have a seat at the table and a contract that guarantees that a change in leadership won’t mean the end of the benefits they and their families rely on.
If you’d like to support Market Basket workers too, there are several things you can do:
- Take a picture with a sign reading “I stand with Market Basket workers” or something similar. Share those pictures on Facebook with the hashtag #SaveMarketBasket
- Tweet on the hashtag #SaveMarketBasket and encourage others to do the same.
- Make a donation of whatever size to the Market Basket strike fund.
- Share our page where Market Basket employees can contact us for help understanding and protecting their rights: http://www.ufcw.org/industries/retail-food/stand-up-at-market-basket/