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UFCW JBS Workers Lobby to Protect Workers in the Beef and Pork Industries

UFCW JBS workers met with USDA/GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell along with numerous members of Congress to lobby for meatpacking workers.

UFCW JBS workers met with USDA/GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell along with numerous members of Congress to lobby for meatpacking workers.

Last week, UFCW JBS beef and pork workers traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of lobby days to advocate for workers who are facing hardships in the meatpacking industry. Members from UFCW Locals 7R, 227, 293, 435, 540, 951, 1149, 1161, 1473, and 1776 visited with White House staff, numerous members of Congress, the DOL, and also the USDA.

During their sessions with congressmen and department officials, workers shared their stories of how they are negatively impacted by cattle shortages due to the severe drought, and hog shortages because of the PED virus.

“We’re used to working 50-60 hours a week. Now because of the drought we’re seeing a lot less work because there just aren’t enough cattle to slaughter,” said Tim Gavaldon, a JBS beef plant worker from Greeley, Colo., and member of UFCW Local 7R. “It’s really taking a toll on workers and our communities are hurting financially.”

Workers lobbied for members of Congress to support a new drought relief bill. The California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 (S. 2016) was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and includes a section covering emergency supplemental agriculture disaster appropriations for agricultural and migrant farm workers. The bill would provide funds for food, rental assistance, and utilities. UFCW members advocated for similar legislation to be introduced so it includes not just farm workers, but meatpackers and food processors as well.

Workers also expressed their concern about a new healthcare plan that JBS is proposing. At a time when workers are already struggling because of reduced hours, JBS is proposing a substandard health plan that will double, or even triple the health costs for workers. If the new plan goes into effect, the costs are so high that a family could become bankrupt if they decide to have a baby or if there is a medical emergency.

“We came to Washington, D.C., to stand together and tell people on Capitol Hill that the new plan is unacceptable. This new health plan could mean financial ruin for workers and their families. We work hard to help make JBS a profitable company and now they are trying to push this on us for extra profits,” said Ramon Sanchez, a JBS beef plant worker form Cactus, Texas and member of UFCW Local 540.

UFCW JBS workers from across the country will continue to stand together and support each other until they are back to operating at full time and also fight for a fair health plan that protects workers.

This Equal Pay Day, We Still Strive for Equal Pay for Equal Work

Equal-Pay-Day-AdHere’s a sad fact: the average working woman would have to keep working until today, almost two weeks into April, to make what a man doing the same job made in 2013. We call today Equal Pay Day, a day to remember that women still only get paid 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make and to demand equality in the workplace. Over the course of their working lives, women make between $400,000 and $2 million less than they would if they were paid fairly.

That’s why it’s so important that the Senate has decided to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would stiffen penalties for corporations that discriminate against women.

It’s been nearly 50 years since President Kennedy signed legislation that first barred gender-based pay discrimination. But when Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, can get away with paying women $5,000 less than men a year, it’s clear we need stronger protections.

Equal pay isn’t just a woman’s issue – it’s a family issue. Families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet — women are now the primary or only breadwinner in 40 percent of households. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for groceries, rent, doctors’ visits, and their children’s education.

When workers form a union to bargain for wages and benefits, women are protected from pay discrimination. In fact, studies show that a union voice improves a women workers’ wages more than a year of college. But UFCW members know that all workers deserve fair pay.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is a huge win-win for women workers and their families. Now we need to speak up and let the Senate know that it’s time for paycheck fairness, and that we’re ready to hold them accountable if they don’t act.

Click here to write your Senator today!

UFCW Locals Take Part in Massive Moral March

This past Saturday, to kick off this years Moral Monday rally attended by over 80,ooo people was held in Raleigh, North Carolina to protest the extremist right-wing policies of the current government in the state.

Local 1208 members at Raleigh's Moral March

Local 1208 members at Raleigh’s Moral March

Members and staff from UFCW Locals 1208 and 400 took part in this march for social justice and workers rights.

An article from The Nation explained the march’s historical significance:

On February 1, 1960, four black students at North Carolina A&T kicked off the 1960s civil rights movement by trying to eat at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro. Two months later, young activists founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee  at Shaw University in Raleigh, which would transform the South through sit-ins, Freedom Rides and voter registration drives.

So it was fitting that North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement held a massive “Moral March” in Raleigh…which began at Shaw University, exactly fifty-four years after North Carolina’s trailblazing role in the civil rights movement.

These thousands of activists from all races and backgrounds made their way to the state capitol, to protest such injustices as the elimination of the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 North Carolinians, “refused Medicaid coverage for 500,000, ended federal unemployment benefits for 170,000; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slashed taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; axed public financing of judicial races; prohibited death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts; passed one of the country’s most draconian anti-choice laws; and enacted the country’s worst voter suppression law, which mandates strict voter ID, cuts early voting and eliminates same-day registration, among other things.”

All of these violations are what began the Moral Monday movement. Outraged, the people of North Carolina have been fighting to reinstate their rights and overturn laws that threaten equality for all. According to The Nation, “when nearly 1,000 activists were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience inside the North Carolina General Assembly… rallies were held in more than thirty cities across the state and the approval ratings of North Carolina Republicans fell into the toilet.”

At last weekends Moral March, the activists rallied in full force, with a sampling of signs that read: “OMG, GOP, WTF. It’s 2014, not 1954!!!” and “Welcome to North Carolina. Turn Your Watch Back 50 Years!” referring to a pre-Civil Rights era state.

The movement has prompted similar actions in cities across the country, and is being touted as part of the next civil rights movement. The thousands of people who have come together against these extreme policies has transformed the state’s politics, as well as  built “a multiracial, multi-issue movement centered around social justice such as the South hadn’t seen since the 1960s.”

The Moral March proves that the movement will only continue to grow, the rallies will only swell in number, and will rest only when justice is restored.