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The BPA Act: Fighting Breast Cancer among Women in Manufacturing

BPA is a toxic chemical that has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer among women in many job sectors, including food packing. (Infographic by the BlueGreen Alliance)

BPA is a toxic chemical that has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer among women in many job sectors, including food packing. (Infographic by the BlueGreen Alliance & UFCW)

Even today, women who work in middle-class jobs across America face pronounced barriers and gender discrimination in the workplace, as exemplified by the recent Demos report on gender inequality in retail wages. However, workplace inequality can manifest in other, more subtle ways – such as the manufacture of products containing Bisphenol-A, or BPA.

BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical, which alters hormone production and behavior, disrupting the body’s normal functions. In a 2012 six-year study, BPA was found to have a pronounced effect on women who work in the automotive plastics and the food packaging industries.

These women are five times more likely to have breast cancer than women who work in other industries.

BPA, which is found in the epoxy lining of the metal food can and released into the air during the food canning process, was banned by the FDA in the manufacture of baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging. Many private companies have taken further steps to remove BPA from products. However, BPA exposure is still a problem for thousands of manufacturing and packaging workers in America.

In order to address this problem, the UFCW has joined allies such as the Communications Workers of America, the United Steelworkers, and the United Automobile Workers in supporting the Ban Poisonous Additives Act, or the BPA Act.

The BPA Act would remove BPA from food packaging, encourage the development of safe alternatives, and ensure a thorough safety review of all currently used substances in food and beverage containers. It is currently in committee in the House, where it needs to be passed by the House and the Senate and approved by the President before it becomes a law.

This brochure, produced by the BlueGreen Alliance and UFCW, contains useful information about the growing problem of breast cancer among working women.

Local 400 Joins Community, Other Labor Groups at AFL-CIO Citizenship Clinic to Help Those with Greencards Become Citizens

Rosa, a Local 400 organizer, helps a green card holder apply for citizenship.

Rosa, a Local 400 organizer, helps a green card holder apply for citizenship.

On Saturday, June 28th, Local 400 joined other labor and immigration groups and community organizers such as DC Labor and Working America at the AFL-CIO’s international headquarters in Washington, D.C. to put on a workshop that assisted green card-holders in applying for citizenship.

The workshop was designed for workers who are legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship as well as young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as kids who want to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.  Attendees were given information on how to apply and volunteers and lawyers assisted them as they filled out the correct paperwork.

The event was put on as part of an ongoing effort to move immigration reform forward–legislation for which has been stalled in the House ever since passing in the Senate over a year ago.

Some green card holders don’t apply for citizenship when they become eligible, and may eventually face deportation. But for many,  becoming a citizen means that they can more actively participate in their communities, their union, and their democracy. Citizenship enables immigrants to have a stronger voice, whether its through voting, speaking out for workplace rights, or being able to stand up for a living wage.

The AFL-CIO’s executive vice president Tefere Gebre, a naturalized citizen himself, said the group hopes to educate immigrants about the benefits of being citizens.

 

UFCW President Hansen Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement regarding the one-year anniversary of Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

“One year ago last week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that created a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans and strengthened protections for immigrant workers. The bill, which also included a ‘border surge’ provision that we strongly opposed, was an exercise in compromise. I said at the time that we could not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Senate passage was supposed to kick off the process of fixing our broken immigration system.

“Instead, one year later, it remains the only meaningful step taken toward reform. The inaction of House Republicans on this issue—save for a precious few—is a national embarrassment. The only pieces of legislation that have moved through committee might as well have been drafted at a Tea Party convention. No bills have gone to the House floor. The American people, including most Republicans, support comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, Speaker John Boehner has chosen to put the demands of an extreme minority over the wisdom and compassion of the sensible majority.

“The unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border further highlights the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system and create a clear and fair path to citizenship. Yet some Congressional Republicans are using the plight of immigrant families to call for even stricter enforcement policies. It’s shameful.

“I was pleased that yesterday the President announced his intention to take executive action on immigration. He should move boldly and decisively to stop the deportation of those who would qualify for citizenship under comprehensive immigration reform.

“A year has passed and families are still being torn apart. A year has passed and aspiring Americans are still living in the shadows. A year has passed and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to exploitation. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time for our leaders to act—or be replaced by those who will.”

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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.