UFCW President Hansen Urges Support for Discharge Petition on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C.Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement supporting the discharge petition filed by House Democrats which seeks a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.

“It has been 272 days since the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform on a bipartisan basis. For nearly 9 months, the House has failed to follow suit. This discharge petition is a way for those who support reform to force a vote on legislation to fix our broken immigration system, protect workers’ rights, reunite families, and give aspiring Americans a path to citizenship. House Republican leaders need to stop making excuses and House Democrats who say they are with us need to make this petition a priority. Our nation deserves comprehensive immigration reform—not tomorrow, not the next day, now. The vast majority of Americans support reform—Republicans, Democrats, business, labor, faith communities, law enforcement, and students, just to name a few. The only thing stopping comprehensive immigration reform from becoming the law of the land is a small group of extremist members of Congress and their enablers. It is time to end the gridlock and hold a vote. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration should immediately stop deporting those who will achieve legal status once reform is passed.”


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, or join our online community at and

#ourSOTU Recap

Last night, the President made his fifth State of the Union address. We were pleased to hear him outline, or at least mention, plans for many of the issues UFCW members wanted to see addressed, but the fight to end the growing inequality and economic hardship for working Americans is ongoing, and we hope the President and Congress will truly act on these plans. We know that we will.

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Many of you especially wanted to see President Obama talk about raising the minimum wage, so that more Americans can earn a liveable wage that enables them to make ends meet and provide for their families. He certainly talked about this, and agrees that its time to take action.  As an example, the President said that “profitable corporationss like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity & reduce turnover,” referring to the fact that higher wages are better for business too.  It’s time for mega-retailers like Walmart to follow suit and set a better example for the retail and grocery industries.

Another thing we were relieved to hear was that the President is working on a bipartisan plan to ensure that no one ends up waiting in hours-long lines to vote anymore–in fact the plan would see that there is no more than a 30-minute wait. Voting rights are essential civil rights, and we cannot let states create legislation that will take them away.

Although the Affordable Care Act has a ways to go before it is truly beneficial for everyone, the President also asked Congress to stop wasting time on trying to repeal it–especially when it is working for so many Americans–and instead offer up suggestions or solutions for making the healthcare system better. Chiding, “Let’s not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law helping millions of Americans,” we agree, but must also keep working to push legislation such as the Part-Time Workers’ Bill of Rights, so that companies cannot take advantage of the ACA by severely cutting employee hours to eliminate coverage for their employees.

The President added that he is launching a new retirement savings vehicle called “MyRA”, to help Americans have more money for retirement, in a time when so many are having to delay or cancel their retirement because they have lost their pensions or had to dip into savings for unexpected expenses in this difficult economy.

Equality was a theme that can be tied to many of the issues touched on in the president’s speech, and it was quite empowering to hear him say that, in regards to income equality, it was past time to end the gender wage gap. The fact that women are paid less for doing the same work as men “is an embarrassment,” said President Obama. We couldn’t agree more!  Referencing the popular 60′s era show Mad Men, the president also called for an end to outdated workplace policies that punish women and men for needing time off to care for sick family members, or to have children.

And it brought a smile to our faces to hear President Obama mention labor leaders, in regards to the their calls for immediate action to fix our broken immigration system. Its time for all workers to have their rights protected, and have a path to citizenship–business leaders agree. Like UFCW members hoped for, the President mentioned labor, which was a good sign, but our members are still awaiting to see action that supports what they work for everyday, and will do more to help rebuild our middle class.

There were many other issues that President Obama mentioned last night, such as more American manufacturing that will create jobs, extending unemployment insurance, and ending political arguments that shut down the government and its functions. Overall, we turned off our TV’s feeling inspired and hopeful for 2014, yet we know we cannot rest in our quest to ensure a better life for working Americans, and we will keep working with our communities, politicians, and other leaders to make sure the President and Congress don’t rest either.



Immigrant Farmworkers, Labor Leaders and Immigration Advocates to the Republican House: “Do Your Jobs” on Immigration

Advocates Deliver Immigrant Processed Turkeys, Merlot and Fact Sheets to Speaker Boehner, Steve King and Other Key GOP Members; Remind Them Who’s Working Hard for America While They’re Taking More Days Off


turkeysWashington, DC – While Congress has been busy voting to repeal Obamacare forty-seven times, blaming the President for [insert anything here], taking 198 days off (including 32 of the final 40 days in 2013 as of today), complaining about having to read too many pages of legislation, and whining about “not having enough time” to do anything productive in 2013, millions of immigrant workers have been working day in and day out to help put Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of millions of Americans.

Today, immigrant farmworkers, labor leaders and immigration advocates launched the “Do Your Jobs” campaign as a reminder to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of the House Republican caucus about who is actually working hard for America and who needs to step it up.

According to Esther Lopez, Director of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s (UFCW) Civil Rights and Community Action Department, “At the UFCW, we are proud to put food on America’s table, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. Our members work hard—often in difficult conditions—to provide an excellent product for their customers and communities.  UFCW members are doing their jobs. It is time for Congress to do the same. Give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.”

As a send-off to Congress before they take their two-week Thanksgiving break, advocates delivered turkeys processed by immigrants to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and other targeted Republican Members to remind them about the back-breaking work immigrants and others do in America every single day (see below for a full list of Members of Congress who received deliveries).

As a special touch, Boehner received an immigrant-harvested bottle of merlot wine (his favorite).  Volunteers from each organization also handed out fact sheets to key Members of Congress, outlining the hard work that immigrants do to harvest produce, process meats, prepare foods, clean houses, and complete the numerous other jobs necessary to set our nation’s Thanksgiving tables while Members of Congress enjoy their two-week break (see the fact sheet here).

Giev Kashkooli, National Vice President of United Farm Workers (UFW) delivered turkeys and wine alongside two immigrant grape growers from the Yakima Valley in Washington, providing a face behind the hard work that goes into providing Speaker Boehner with the wine he adores.

As one of the growers, Adelaida Mendoza, UFW member from Mabton, Washington, said at today’s press conference, “It takes a lot of hard work to produce the grapes that make Merlot wine. From January when we begin to prune the vines early in the morning in 20 degree weather‎ through the harvest season in the summer heat when poisonous snakes are regular visitors at our feet  to now when we prepare the ground for the next year, the work is difficult. Now, we ask Speaker Boehner and the Republican House Leaders to Do Your Job. How can Speaker Boehner let Republicans take 32 of the next 40 days off when our country needs immigration reform?”

Added Maria Ramirez, UFW member and immigrant grape harvester from Benton, Washington, “‎Our work is difficult but we love doing this work producing wine that so many  Americans enjoy. I am here today because the struggle that our families have to win a new immigration process is so important. We have done our job so others can enjoy wine. Now, we want Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders to do their job.”

Thus far, instead of actually doing something to address immigration (an issue that’s been debated for decades), Speaker Boehner has found nearly every excuse in the book to avoid actually doing his job by tackling this issue and the many others he’s left on the table.  The only immigration vote the Speaker found time to schedule this year was on a Rep. Steve King (R-IA) amendment to deport DREAMers and others, yet so far he hasn’t found the 20 minutes needed to vote on an immigration proposal that the vast majority of Americans support.

“Immigrants show up for work and do their jobs. House members show up at the Capitol but do not do their jobs. Instead, they play politics with our lives,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “If House members do not pass commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship, they will suffer the consequences next November. It’s as simple as that. The House can act today or face the consequences tomorrow.”

Donations were also made in the name of the Republican Members who did not receive turkeys today as well as the immigrant workers who produced these products to a local area food bank.

Said Andrea Zuniga, Legislative Representative of the AFL-CIO, “Each day Speaker Boehner delays immigration reform workers pay the price with stolen wages, unsafe working conditions and threats of deportation if they try to organize. Many of these workers will not have the luxury of spending Thanksgiving with their families- they will be working extra shifts to make ends meet or praying for family members that have been deported. It’s time for Speaker Boehner to give us a vote and fix our broken immigration system in a manner that protects all workers.”

“Immigrant workers spend hours preparing and harvesting the food that we eat every day.  While Speaker Boehner and other House Republicans are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with their families, immigrants are facing permanent separation from their families—all because the House Republican leadership will not act.  Our message is simple: do the right thing.  Pass immigration reform to let these hardworking immigrants become hardworking Americans, said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.

This new campaign is follow-up to the “Take Our Jobs” campaign of 2010 where United Farm Workers invited American workers to step into the shoes of an immigrant farmworker.  Stephen Colbert and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) took up the offer and witnessed firsthand the difficulties of doing this backbreaking labor.  As millions of immigrants continue their hard work to contribute to our country, we’re just asking that Congress do the same.


In August, leaders from UFW, America’s Voice and United We Dream responded to comments from Steve King about DREAMers having “calves the size of cantaloupes” by delivering sweet American-grown and immigrant harvested cantaloupes to all the 224 Members who voted in favor of Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers.  Just as House leadership gave Steve King his vote, leaders demanded that Speaker Boehner schedule their vote on citizenship as well.

Fact Sheet: Do Your Jobs.We work hard for America. When will you work for us?

List of Members’ Offices Receiving Deliveries:


Receiving Turkey, Merlot and Fact Sheets:

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)


Receiving Turkeys and Fact Sheets:

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA)


Receiving Fact Sheets and a Donation to a Local Food Back in theirs and an Immigrant Workers Name:

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)

Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)

Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)

Rep. Scot Tipton (R-CO)

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)