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National Food Union & Food Companies Announce Major Donation to Help Feed Flint Families in Crisis

UFCW partners with Cargill, ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, JBS USA, Pinnacle Foods, Downs Food Group, Ryder Logistics for multi-ton donation of high-quality, high-protein food

Members of Local 617 who proudly process the products made at the Fort Madison Iowa Plant

Members of Local 617 who proudly process the products made at the Fort Madison Iowa Plant

FLINT, MICH. – In an effort to help Flint families dealing with an unprecedented water and economic crisis, the nation’s largest union for food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), has teamed up with some of America’s largest food manufacturers for a massive multi-ton donation of high-quality food to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint, Michigan.

As part of this effort, some of America’s best-known food manufacturers and longtime UFCW partners, including Cargill, ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, JBS USA, Pinnacle Foods, Downs Food Group and Ryder Logistics have joined forces to bring relief to Flint families in need. Together they’ve donated more than 60 tons of beef, pork, poultry, canned meats, ready-to-eat soups and pastas, and peanut butter.

“The crisis imposed on Flint families is a historic failure. To do what is right for these good people we must act, and we must act together,” UFCW 876 President Roger Robinson said. “Today, UFCW and its employer partners have come together for this community, demonstrating our ability to unite in advocacy for the protections all families deserve; to be the voice of the worker that is too often ignored; and to provide the strength and support to navigate all workers to a better life.”

“We firmly believe that everyone has the right to enjoy safe and nutritious food,” said Jarrod Gillig, general manager of Cargill’s beef processing plant in Schuyler that is producing the beef for Cargill’s donation.  “We know that protein, like ground beef, provides an array of essential nutrients to children and adults, and we believe it is important for us to provide some relief for a community in need of long-term support.”

“Our donation provides a variety of quality, protein-rich products for the people of Flint,” said Thomas L. Nuss, director of human resource operations at Hormel Foods. “We are proud to partner with the UFCW in this endeavor, and hope our effort will help those in need.”

“At JBS, we’re committed to giving back to the communities in which we live and work, and to helping when our neighbors are in need,” said Chris Gaddis, head of JBS USA human resources. “Families in Flint are experiencing extremely difficult times, and if we can help, we’re honored to offer our support to those families.”

Leading this effort to help feed Flint families in need are UFCW locals across the country, specifically members of UFCW Locals 38, (Milton, Pa.), 293 (Fremont, Neb.), 540 (Grapevine, Tex.), 617 (Fort Madison, Iowa), 1149 (Marshalltown, Iowa), 1161 (Worthington, Minn.) 1996 (Suwanee, Ga.),  who have made or contributed food or transportation to this effort.

In addition, UFCW Locals 876 and 951, which represent workers in Flint and across Michigan, have been coordinating the UFCW’s ongoing efforts to serve their Flint members, their families and the broader Eastern Michigan community.

“We are committed to helping not only our members, but the entire community effected by the Flint water crisis,” John Cakmakci, UFCW 951 president, said. “To date, we have raised over $100,000 to provide quality food and water to Flint residents. Next week, we will be hosting the first of many food and water give-aways for the nearly 500 UFCW 951 members and retirees living through this horrible situation.”

Additionally, Local 876 has contributed more than $14,000 as part of their on-going local relief efforts.

“Good, nutritious food is key to the Flint community’s recovery, and we can’t thank this incredible team enough for what they have done for Flint families and children” said Kara Ross, Vice President of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.
Background Statistics:

More than 125,000 pounds of food from eight companies in eight states and nine UFCW locals

Products included are: Fresh beef, ground beef,  pork, poultry, peanut butter, canned chicken, Chef Boyardee, Hormel chili, Dinty Moore Compleats beef stew, Peter Pan peanut butter, Skippy peanut butter singles, and Vienna Sausages

UFCW Partners with NLAC for Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

We are pleased to announce that the UFCW has signed on as a national partner for the 24th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which will take place in 2016 on its traditional second Saturday in May: Saturday, May 14!

The partnership between UFCW and letter carriers is a natural one. Working families not only see their letter carrier at least six days a week, they often see their grocery clerk or checker just as frequently. This partnership is perhaps even more appropriate since UFCW represents workers in food-related industries, such as grocery stores and food-processing facilities.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the largest one-day food drive in the United States. In 2015, active and retired letter carriers, along with their family members and friends—not to mention countless volunteers—collected almost 71 million pounds of non-perishable food. These results brought the grand total to more than 1.4 billion pounds since the drive began in 1992.

We look forward to working with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to help reach our mutual goal of to deliver much needed food to local food banks and food pantries.12363116_10154370839077788_8695808383037619542_o

UFCW Western States Council Release Report Studying Grocery Workers and Grocery Industry

UFCW WSC GRAPHIC 4UFCW Western States Council has released a report written by Saru Jayaraman and the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and researched by Professor Chris Benner and the Food Chain Workers Alliance from the University of California, Davis. The report is titled, Shelved: How Wages and Working Conditions for California’s Food Retail Workers Have Declined as the Industry has Thrived, and the full report can be read here. The release of the report by the UFCW Western States Council is part of its ongoing effort for legislation that will push large grocers to be more responsible and  give more money back to the workers who have made the industry thrive.

Key findings in the report include:

Declining Wages and Rising Poverty: As the Industry Grows, Paychecks Shrink
While California retail food employment has grown in the past decade, food retail workers’ wages have declined. According to Census data, in 2010 dollars, median hourly wages of grocery store workers – the largest segment of food retail workers – fell from $12.97 in 1999 to $11.33 in 2010, a decline of 12.6%. Moreover, the proportion of food retail workers earning poverty wages increased dramatically, from 43% in 1999 to 54% in 2010.

Pervasive Hunger: Grocery Workers Can’t Afford Enough to Eat
In surveys, workers reported a dramatic result of the wage decline described above: they now suffer double the rate of “low” and “very low” food security as the general U.S. population. In other words, workers who sell food in California, the largest producer of food in the U.S., are twice as likely as the general populace to be unable to afford sufficient quantities of the food they sell or the healthy kinds of food their families need, despite the financial health of the food retail industry.

Race Still Matters: Racial Inequities in Workers’ Treatment on the Job
Racial inequities also play a significant role in determining food retail workers’ wages and working conditions, especially in Los Angeles County, California’s most populous county. The differential between workers of color (specifically Latinos and Blacks) and whites was fully 3 to 5 times greater in Los Angeles than in the statewide workforce with regard to workers being sent home early with no pay, having a shift canceled on the same day it is scheduled, not being offered a lunch break, and not being paid for all hours worked.

Investors Before Workers: “Financialization” Drives Standards Down
More than half of the decline in union market share is attributable to the closings of stores belonging to a single chain, Albertsons, where significant indebtedness resulting from an ill-conceived 2006 merger reduced the company’s ability to invest in its store infrastructure or maintain competitive pricing. Also, union decline by market segment occurred almost entirely in traditional groceries while non-union growth occurred almost entirely in discount/general merchandise stores and natural/ organic/gourmet markets. Over the same period of wage and union decline (2000 to 2010), high wage, partially unionized employer Costco gained 2.5% in market share, making it California’s single largest food retailer, with 13.3% market share statewide.