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    Health & Safety

November 16, 2017

Three Things You Should Know About Poultry Line Speeds

And How Safe Line Speeds Keep Chicken Safe to Eat

Oxfam estimates that each person eats 89 pounds of chicken a year – which means as a country, we’re eating close to 9 billion birds per year. It’s a major, multi-billion dollar industry that supplies us with chicken nuggets, wings, and the foundation for so many of our favorite, home-cooked meals.

It’s easy to cook, it’s affordable, and a mainstay in the meals American families share with one another.

But jobs inside poultry plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. The National Chicken Council, which is the poultry industry’s main trade association and functions to represent its interests to Congress and other federal agencies, wants to do away with a key protection to keep workers safe on the job: line speeds.

Here’s what you need to know:

1.) By law, most poultry plants can run their processing lines at 140 birds per minute. That’s already insanely fast.

Federal law currently sets the line speed maximum at 140 birds per minute at most poultry facilities. To give you a sense of what that translates to in real life, that’s just a hair faster than the tempo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” except where each beat is a chicken.

On the line itself, one employee can process more than 14,000 chickens each day. Depending on the job, each worker can process around 35-45 birds per minute – which rounds out to about 2,000 chickens per hour or nearly one chicken every two seconds.

Some plants are even allowed to operate at 175 BPM (for background on why some plants are allowed to be faster than others and for more examples of songs that match different line speeds, check out this great article from The New Food Economy). There are few things that we do each and every day that can even compare to that level of repetition.

2.) As line speed increases, safety decreases. And they want to eliminate line speeds entirely.

While there’s currently a speed limit in poultry plants, the National Chicken Council wants to eliminate them entirely.

As line speeds increase, so does the risk of injury—including serious and bloody cuts and amputations.

But faster line speeds also mean less time for federal meat inspectors and quality control workers to do their jobs and ensure the chicken you’re eating is safe to consume.

Want a better idea how fast poultry lines could move if they eliminate line speed limits? Here’s what 200 BMP sounds like, which is how fast Germany already allows their plants to run (with negative side effects, as explained in #3):

 

3.) Faster line speed also means inspectors have less time to watch out for food safety issues. That should make anyone feel queasy. 

If current line speeds are eliminated, federal inspectors who are tasked with spotting contaminated birds may be forced to examine more than two per second for abscesses, tumors, or other diseases.

The National Chicken Council argues that increased line speeds will help modernize the system, and keep up with international competitors.

But countries which allow faster line speeds have more issues with food safety. Germany allows line speeds up to 200 BPM and their poultry meat is found to have higher levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination.

Retired USDA food safety inspector Phyllis McKelvey spoke out about the dangers of increasing line speed in an interview with NPR earlier this year:

“These machines will pull the viscera, which is the guts of the chicken. And a lot of times the guts hang on their prongs and those machines just get covered up in guts, which is slinging manure all over the product,” she says.

In the live hang section, McKelvey said equipment failures would also occur in the stun bath, where birds are shocked with electricity. That would send fully conscious birds to a machine that would sever their necks.

“If the line is going too fast you have a lot of birds that don’t get stunned,” she says. “So you’ve got some birds going into the scald vats, alive.”

The USDA describes the new inspection system as more science-based in that it requires that all poultry facilities perform their own microbiological testing along with two federal inspectors. This leaves one inspector to view the carcasses.

But with fewer inspectors, McKelvey argues, plants are relying on more chemicals like peracetic acid or food bleach to reduce the chance of food contamination.

“And if they don’t have a proper air system, these chemicals are causing people to sneeze and cough. And even at that rate it gets so bad we’d have to shut the line down,” McKelvey says.


Here’s how you can take action to keep poultry workers safe on the job and chicken safe on your plate:

 

Take action HERE

We deserve safe food, and America’s poultry workers deserve safe workplaces. Write the USDA today and ask them to reject the National Chicken Council’s petition and keep safe line speed limits in poultry plants.

 

September 21, 2017

Safety in mind: rebuilding after natural disasters

Over the past few weeks, our nation’s communities have been battered by multiple hurricanes and natural disasters, but while Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and beyond have worked to recover, tragedy has also brought out the strength and spirit of our communities as strangers and neighbors alike pull together to help out those in need.

Our union family has also activated to help our fellow members return to their workplaces and homes. As millions of people, including thousands of hard-working UFCW members, return to damaged homes and property, our responsibility to keep each other safe continues.

Rain or shine, the safety of our union family is a top priority. Here are some safety hazards to be aware of to help stay safe even after the storm is over:

Contaminated Floodwaters

Catastrophic flooding can introduce sewage from external sources into indoor environments. This sewage can pose serious health threats to building occupants and to cleanup and restoration workers. In any flood cleanup, assume that pathogens are present. Keep the following in mind to prevent further harm.

When you are directly exposed to floodwater…

  • Avoid direct skin contact with floodwaters to minimize the chance for infection. Be especially careful of the face and eyes.
  • Protect all cuts, scrapes, and sores.
  • Immediately wash and disinfect any wound that comes in contact with sewage.
  • If skin contact with floodwaters does occur, use soap and water to clean exposed areas. Waterless alcohol-based hand rubs can be used when soap or clean water is not available.
  • Hands should be washed after removal of gloves. Gloves that will be reused should be cleaned with soap and water and dried between uses.

Discard the following…

  • Food
  • Cosmetics
  • Medicines and medical supplies
  • Stuffed animals and toys
  • Mattresses and pillows
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Large carpets and carpet padding
  • Cardboard
  • Impacted sheet rock, ceiling tiles, and similar porous materials

When disinfecting other items…

  • Make a household bleach solution by combining 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.
  • Bleach should never be used in concentrated form because it can cause severe skin and respiratory harm.
  • Never use bleach with any product that contains ammonia.

Mold

Sheetrock, carpets, and other building materials and furnishings that have been damaged by water, are likely to now be contaminated with mold. Breathing in or touching mold can cause health problems. Killing mold (for example, with bleach) does not get rid of all the health hazards.

When cleaning up your home…

  • Always assume that water-damaged buildings, materials, and furnishings are contaminated with mold.
  • Non-porous materials (metals, glass, hard plastics, etc.) can usually be cleaned.
  • Semi-porous and porous structural materials, such as wood and concrete, can be cleaned if they are structurally sound.
  • Porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and insulation, and wallboards (with more than a small area of mold growth) should be removed and discarded.
  • Disinfectants are usually not needed because physical removal of fungal growth is the most effective way to prevent exposure. Clean with a soap or detergent solution.

While it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure your workplace is safe, being aware of and knowing how to recognize dangerous conditions, can help you stay protected at home as well.

As always, if there is anything we can do to help answer your questions about rebuilding and recovery, or if you’d like to know how you can help, don’t hesitate to let us know at 202-466-1502 or ftapia@ufcw.org.

Sources: NYCOSH

 

August 31, 2017

Summer might be almost over, but heat still poses a threat

Does your workplace have a plan in place for how to safely respond to the risks associated with warmer temperatures? Don’t let the end of summer catch you off guard, as dangerously hot temperatures can continue well into September in many areas of the country. Does your workplaces have proper hot weather safety strategies in place?

1.) Train all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).

2.) Have a clearly written protocol on how to respond to a medical emergency.

This should include information for all shifts about who is authorized to call an ambulance, how to call for an ambulance, and what to do while waiting for emergency medical care. This protocol should be translated into the commonly spoken languages in the facility and posted throughout the workplace.

3.) Train  all management and hourly employees on workers’ right to access drinking water as needed and the right to access to bathrooms as needed.

This is important because some workers hold back on drinking water so that they can put off using the restroom. This is never a good idea and can have serious consequences during hot weather. 

4.) Monitor particularly hot and humid work areas.

This should be done with a device that measures both heat and humidity and combines these measurements to provide the Heat Index. The company should have a plan for additional rest breaks or means of cooling the work area whenever the heat index approaches the Extreme Caution zone.

Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

Work with your union rep and your local to make sure that you and your coworkers are protected in hot conditions. Meet with the company to ensure that all of the proper hot weather safety strategies are being used in your workplace.


Earlier this summer, the UFCW Occupational Safety and Health advisory addressed the issue of workplace safety during the upcoming hot summer months. The advisory can be found here. For more information about heat and heat-related illness, you can contact the UFCW Occupational Safety and Health Office in Washington, D.C. at 202-223-3111.

June 19, 2017

Four Hot Weather Safety Strategies for Your Workplace

Does your workplace have a plan in place for how to safely respond to the risks associated with warmer temperatures? As the summer heats up, it’s more important than ever to make sure that not only are the proper hot weather safety strategies in place, but that everyone knows what they are so you and your coworkers can be protected in hot conditions.

1.) Training all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).

2.) Having a clearly written protocol on how to respond to a medical emergency.

This should include information for all shifts about who is authorized to call an ambulance, how to call for an ambulance, and what to do while waiting for emergency medical care. This protocol should be translated into the commonly spoken languages in the facility and posted throughout the workplace.

3.) Training all management and hourly employees on workers’ right to access drinking water as needed and the right to access to bathrooms as needed.

This is important because some workers hold back on drinking water so that they can put off using the restroom. This is never a good idea and can have serious consequences during hot weather. 

4.) Monitoring particularly hot and humid work areas.

This should be done with a device that measures both heat and humidity and combines these measurements to provide the Heat Index. The company should have a plan for additional rest breaks or means of cooling the work area whenever the heat index approaches the Extreme Caution zone.

Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

Work with your union rep and your local to make sure that you and your coworkers are protected in hot conditions. Meet with the company to ensure that all of the proper hot weather safety strategies are being used in your workplace.

May 9, 2017

Yet another report finds poultry one of the most dangerous industries

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) released yet another report finding poultry to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in, underscoring the continued importance of the UFCW’s efforts to provide a voice for the hard-working men and women of the poultry industry and to make sure no worker is left to suffer on their own.

The report takes a look at serious injury rates in 29 states and finds the rate of serious injuries, such as amputations, to be disproportionately high in poultry plants.

“OSHA’s severe injury data shines a light on the severe toll of preventable workplace injuries, especially in the U.S. poultry industry,” said Debbie Berkowitz, senior fellow for worker safety and health with NELP and the report’s lead author. “The workers who put food on our tables should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck.”

This report is consistent with similar trends shown in past reports by other organizations such as Oxfam, with whom the UFCW has worked to improve safety standards in the poultry and meatpacking industries.

Past reports have found workers at poultry plants, which have a much lower rate of union representation than other meat packing plants, were more likely to suffer from Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) and that many workers in nonunion plants were forced to use adult diapers due to a lack of bathroom breaks and the constant, grueling pace of work.

More injuries than saw mills and other high risk industries

Even when compared to other high risk industries, this report shows an alarmingly high injury rate:

According to the data, the poultry industry as a whole reported 180 severe injuries resulting in hospitalizations or amputations—a number that put them at the 12th-highest number of severe injuries reported to federal OSHA.  Workers in the industry suffered a greater number of serious injuries than much of the construction industry, the auto industry, the steel industry, saw mills, and many other high-risk industries. And these numbers only reflect instances in 29 states. Further, OSHA followed up with inspections in response to 86 of these reports, finding a total of 750 violations in the plants, of which 84 were willful or repeat violations that carry the highest fines.

The rates of injury are likely even higher than reported

The report also makes note that as dramatic as the number of injuries are, they likely don’t come close to representing the full scope of the problem:

Three government agencies, OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the GAO, have found that the poultry processing industry is underreporting the serious injuries that occur in the plants.

A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, along with numerous other studies, have documented that many workplace injuries are not reported by employers. Further, according to a recent report issued by OSHA in 2016, “OSHA believes that many severe injuries—perhaps 50 percent or more—are not reported.”8 Other studies have concluded that the actual number of work-related injuries is three times higher than what companies report.

In 2016, the UFCW was a vocal supporter of OSHA’s decision to issue a citation to Pilgrim’s Pride, only the second citation of its kind in the agency’s 47-year history. “We are disappointed to see yet another example of poultry workers being mistreated and forced to endure harsh working conditions,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “As we strive to improve poultry industry jobs, we applaud OSHA for actively supporting the right of every worker to have a safe workplace.”

The citation alleged that “the employer delayed evaluation, care, and/or treatment from a medical provider, which could result in health hazards such as, but not limited to, increased risk of further injury, prolonged healing, exacerbation of pain and limited recovery from work-related injuries/illnesses.” The citation went on to describe that Pilgrim’s Pride “failed to make timely appropriate medical referrals for employees with injuries related to chronic and acute exposures and incidents. The employees are exposed to injuries which include burns, loss of consciousness, and blunt force trauma which require appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

UFCW’s presence is vital

UFCW contracts include health and safety language to protect workers. This helps to ensure safe working conditions, union access to perform worksite inspections and medical and exposure records, training, joint health and safety committees, protective equipment and chief, walking and ergonomic stewards that can accompany government inspectors during their paid time.  Union contracts also include reimbursement for protective gear.

But the percentage of workers who have UFCW representation is much lower in poultry plants than in other meat packing plants. Only about a third of poultry workers are UFCW members, making improvements in workplace safety more difficult to secure.

Beyond additional workplace protections offered by a union contract, the UFCW’s influence in these plants helps combat a climate of fear and intimidation.

“Many workers are afraid to speak up and advocate for better treatment. Companies increasingly turn to ‘a variety of economically desperate and socially isolated populations,’ many of whom face obstacles that prevent them from standing up and speaking out about abuses in the workplace. In the words of many, the industry takes advantage of workers who live and work in a climate of fear. – Lives on the Line: The Cost of Cheap Chicken, Oxfam

Both in the recommendations of the most recent NELP report and in past reports such as Oxfam’s Lives on the Line: The Cost of Cheap Chicken, the need for workers to have better compensation and a voice on the job is repeatedly echoed.

“Unions provide poultry workers with one of the best ways to improve their safety on the job because we create an environment where people know their rights and feel empowered to speak up,” said Perrone. “We make sure that workers can advocate for their well-being without the fear of being fired.”

Progress through partnership

The NELP report comes on the heels of Tyson’s announcement to rededicate itself to workplace safety. The day before the report was released, Tyson committed to continuing its collaboration with the UFCW on a workplace safety and illness and injury prevention initiative that will be rolled out to all plants and be released publicly. Other highlights in the company’s announcement include:

  • A new initiative on transparency stating that the company will begin publicly sharing results of its third party social compliance audits.
  • A new initiative on compensation stating that Tyson Foods will make sure it’s providing competitive wages and benefits.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to allowing regularly scheduled breaks, as well as restroom breaks, as needed.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to running its processes at a speed according to the number of people available to work.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to a policy allowing workers to stop the line at any time for worker or food safety issues.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to having Team Member safety councils in place at all plants.

“Tyson Foods’ commitment to worker safety and workers’ rights should not just be applauded — it should serve as a model for the rest of the industry,” said Perrone. “Through our ongoing partnership with Tyson Foods, we have already made valuable progress.  We look forward to these new and expanded initiatives and to continuing to work together to provide a better, safer workplace for the hard-working men and women at Tyson Foods.”

 

 

 

April 27, 2017

Is your hard work too hard on your body?

All jobs take some kind of physical toll on the body, but through training employees to recognize safety hazards and working with employers to minimize risk, we can create safe workplaces and help reduce preventable injuries.

The UFCW is committed to nurturing a culture of safety in the workplaces we represent and working with employers to find innovative solutions. We are committed to seeing our members arrive to work safely and leave work safely.


Some Injuries are Cumulative

When you think of injuries on the job, you might first think of a specific accident, like a slip and a fall or getting a hand caught in a machine. But many injuries from work are not so obvious. Something as harmless seeming as operating a register can lead to pain when you are ringing up customers for hours on end, day after day.

Cumulative Trauma Disorders

If work and rest are balanced, it is more likely that our bodies will be able to heal the harm that happens at work. When the healing process cannot keep up with the damage, it can worsen to become a Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD).

The major risk factors for Cumulative Trauma Disorders are:

1.) Posture

Posture is the way workers must position their bodies in order to do their jobs. It refers to the design of the work station, machinery and tools. Posture is not about what workers are doing wrong.

Effective ergonomic solutions that reduce awkward postures include adjustable work stations, sit/stand options, and correctly designed tools.

2.) Force

Force is the physical effort we use with our bodies to push, pull, lift, lower, and grip when we are working.

Effective ergonomic solutions that reduce excessive force include knife sharpening, lift assists, and eliminating pinch grips.

Effective ergonomic solutions that reduce excessive force include knife sharpening, lift assists, and eliminating pinch grips.

3.) Repetition

Repetition is the number of times we make the same movement using the same parts of our body; how fast the movements are, and over what period of time. Repetition is directly related to line speed, production pressures, and staffing.

Effective ergonomic solutions that reduce excessive repetition include line speed reduction, adequate staffing, and reasonable workloads.

Effective ergonomic solutions that reduce excessive repetition include line speed reduction, adequate staffing, and reasonable workloads.

Other factors such as temperature, vibration and stress may also contribute to the risk of injury.

Good Programs Focus on Minimizing Risk, Not Symptoms

Beware of ergonomic programs that do not focus on all of the risk factors. While such programs may increase productivity, they may not decrease injuries.

Some approaches do NOT address risk factors at all, and may therefore be useless, and even harmful. Examples of this include back belts and stretching exercises.

Some approaches do NOT address risk factors at all, and may therefore be useless, and even harmful. Examples of this include back belts and stretching exercises.

For example, stretching and doing hand strengthening exercises after a long day of work might help them feel better in the short term, but it does nothing to actually address the source of the problem. A real safety solution would look at the bigger picture: are inadequate staffing or unreasonable workloads requiring you to work faster than what can be done safely? Is your workstation poorly designed and forcing you to work in an awkward posture? Are you having to expend more energy than is necessary to get the job done due to dull knives or tools that are the wrong size?

For more information, download the “Change the Workplace, not the Worker” booklet.

Download the PDF

March 3, 2017

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” This National Nutrition Month

Spring is just around and the corner, making March the perfect time of year to refocus on eating right, getting healthy, and chasing away those winter blues. We know how hard it can be to balance work with all the demands of your life and still stay focused on your nutrition, but eating healthier foods doesn’t have to be a chore. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing tips with you to make it easier to stay excited and engaged, and help get you on track to a better you and a better life.


Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Plan what you’re going to eat

Before you head for the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try checking what’s on sale in the produce and meat departments and look up recipes that feature those ingredients.

When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it.

Decide how much to make

Making a large batch by doubling a recipe is an easy way to save time in the kitchen and try to stretch your budget even further. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use on nights when you don’t have time to cook. Plus buying larger quantities of each ingredient can help you save money by taking advantage of cheaper bulk prices.

Shop for foods that are in season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods

Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

 

Make your own healthy snacks

Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to prepackaged items.

Cook more, eat out less

Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

January 20, 2017

On your feet all day? Try these exercises.

On your feet all day? Then you know how hard it can be on your body. Though some studies have shown working on your feet might ultimately be better for longevity than working at a desk, that’s small comfort to those dealing with the everyday aches and pains that can be associated with spending hours on your feet.

Getting Started

If you’ve got 15 minutes before you start your work day, why not try this short routine to help your body gear up for the stress and strain of standing for hours on end.

On the Job

Don’t forget to stretch and move throughout your day, too. Even if you don’t have much space, you can do a few simple exercises to help break up the monotony and increase blood flow.

1.) Alternating knee flexion

2.) Figure-8 hip rotations

3.) Hacky-sack kicks

4.) Hamstring stretch

5.) Calf stretch

After Work

Yoga is also a great way to wind down from the stresses of the day, but there are so many instructional videos online it can be overwhelming. Why not start out with a few of these poses targeted specifically for people on their feet all day. Let us know how they work for you!

Start from the Ground Up

Of course you also want to make sure you’re wearing comfortable, supportive shoes and that you have a good floor mat to stand on. Most commercial buildings have concrete floors, even if it’s covered up by carpet, and standing on such a hard surface for hours at a time can be damaging to your body.

If you don’t have an anti-fatigue mat at work, reach out to your UFCW representative and let them know. Not sure who your UFCW representative is? Call your local union office. Let them know where you work and that you’re trying to find out who your representative is. Your representative can help advocate on your behalf to management or let you know about workplace protections you may have in your contract.

We know you are busy balancing all the different demands of work and home, but taking a few minutes out of your day to reduce or prevent pain and stiffness can help the rest of your day go a little more smoothly.

September 22, 2016

Historic Achievement for NY Medical Cannabis Employees

 

In September, two years after medical marijuana was passed into law in New York, workers at Vireo Health ratified their first RWDSU contract. The Vireo Health workers are members of RWDSU Local 338, and this union contract is the first in the history of New York state’s new medical cannabis industry.

The new three-year contract covers workers at Vireo Health’s cultivation and manufacturing facility in Fulton County and at all four of its dispensaries located in Albany, Johnson City (Binghamton), Queens and White Plains. The contract will provide workers with paid time off for holidays, sick days, and vacation, as well as bereavement leave. Workers will receive retirement benefits through an annuity fund that the company is paying for. Full-time workers will also be receiving medical coverage for themselves and their families under the contract. The agreement also includes “profitability milestones” for workers that will kick in as the patient base increases and the company becomes more successful.

“As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract,” said Vireo Cultivator Matt Denten. “I’m proud to be working in the medical cannabis industry and know that my work is helping patients live meaningful lives. My coworkers and I all agreed that we wanted to be represented by Local 338 to make sure that we were protected as workers and had good benefits and wages.”

“The strong union contract approved by the workers at Vireo will ensure that they have secure, middle class jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” said RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso. “This agreement provides these dedicated workers peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.”

RWDSU Local 338 was at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement in New York state, working with legislators to craft legislation that would help patients and protect workers in the new industry. A bill legalizing the production and sale of marijuana for medical purposes was signed into law in New York in 2014, and in part due to the efforts of Local 338, the medical marijuana companies were required to have labor peace agreements where they wouldn’t interfere with workers’ efforts to join a union.

August 11, 2016

UFCW Applauds OSHA for Standing Up for Poultry Workers

ufcw

On July 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Pilgrim’s Pride for nearly two dozen safety and health hazards, including the failure to make medical referrals for workers with workplace injuries in a timely manner. This is the first time a poultry company has been cited for medical mismanagement of work-related injuries.

The UFCW issued the following statement in response to the citations:

“We are disappointed to see yet another example of poultry workers being mistreated and forced to endure harsh working conditions,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Unions provide poultry workers with one of the best ways to improve their safety on the job because we create an environment where people know their rights and feel empowered to speak up. We make sure that workers can advocate for their well-being without the fear of being fired. As we strive to improve poultry industry jobs, we applaud OSHA for actively supporting the right of every worker to have a safe workplace.”