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September 17, 2019

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Rule Endangers Safety of American Workers and Consumers

Union Representing 30,000 Pork Workers Across the Country Condemns New USDA Policy Increasing Line Speed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) condemned the new rule issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows for unlimited line speed increases at swine slaughter plants which will endanger the safety of workers and our food. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“Today’s USDA rule sends a clear message that this administration values corporate profits more than the safety of America’s food and workers. Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands.

“This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. We urge the USDA to put the safety of American workers and consumers first and stop this dangerous rule.”


BACKGROUND

In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule proposed by the USDA would hurt workers and consumers across the country.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that the increased line speeds can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

Key Facts About Swine Workers:

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The current maximum line speed for swine is 1,106 hogs per hour.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents 30,000 workers in the pork slaughter industry
  • UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

September 16, 2019

UFCW Announces 2020 Presidential Forums with Focus on Future of Work and Protecting Good Jobs

America’s Largest Private Section Union to Host Forums with Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, and Warren in Michigan and Iowa 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union is announcing it will host 2020 presidential candidate forums this fall in Michigan and Iowa. The events will give 2020 presidential candidates the chance to speak to the 1.3 million members of the UFCW – one of the most critical blocs of voters for anyone aiming for the White House – about their vision and plans to address critical issues, such as the 36 million American jobs threatened by automation and companies like Amazon.

Confirmed presidential candidates include Senator Michael Bennet, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Hard-working Americans deserve an economy that creates good jobs now, and in the years ahead. Every candidate who wants to be President of the United States has a responsibility to share their vision and ideas, and how they will address major threats to the future of work, like automation and the companies that are pushing this vision, like Amazon. Our 1.3 million members and their families will play a major role in the 2020 election, and as we have heard from our members, they want to know exactly where these presidential candidates stand on the issues that matter to them and their families.”

Each of the UFCW 2020 Presidential Candidate Forums will feature three or more presidential candidates who will answer questions from UFCW members in attendance and via video. The forum schedule is as follows:

  • September 29 – Detroit Area, Michigan
  • October 13 – Des Moines Area, Iowa

 

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

 

September 13, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Cuts to Healthcare for Whole Foods Workers

America’s Largest Grocery Union Condemns New Policy that Hurts Workers and Undermines Customer Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest grocery union in the country, condemned the plan by Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, to cut healthcare benefits for part-time employees. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Amazon’s plan to cut healthcare for these part-time employees is one of Jeff Bezos’ most brazen attacks on the quality of jobs at Whole Foods and the communities they support.

“Too many workers today are already working two to three jobs just to get the hours and benefits they need, and these cuts by Jeff Bezos just made it harder for them. Grocery jobs should be good jobs and one job should be enough to provide for yourself and your family.”

Background:

As reported by Business Insider, Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers. The changes will take effect on January 1 and is expected to hurt 1,900 people who will lose healthcare benefits. The benefits that the company is cutting are offered to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

UFCW has been a vocal critic of Amazon’s aggressive move to devalue and degrade grocery jobs at Whole Foods. In March 2019, UFCW condemned actions by Whole Foods to reduce employee hours. These cuts came just months after Amazon announced a wage increase that was supposed to be an investment in Whole Foods workers. The reduction in employee hours eliminated any overall increase in income for many Whole Foods workers.  

 

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

July 15, 2019

UFCW Stands with Amazon Workers in Prime Day Strike

America’s Largest Private-Sector Union Backs Amazon Workers in Push to Strengthen Pay, Address Unsafe Working Conditions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced its strong support of the strike by Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis on Prime Day to address working conditions at the plant. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement in support of these workers:

“Amazon workers are sending a powerful message to Jeff Bezos this Prime Day: It’s time to stop putting profits ahead of people. With the recent move to one-day Prime shipping, Amazon workers are being forced to meet impossible demands at increasingly unsafe speeds.

“Americans have had enough with a broken economic system that rewards shareholders with billions of dollars while hardworking men and women receive pennies from the very companies they make a success. We are proud to stand with these brave Amazon workers on Prime Day as they fight for what’s right.”

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

July 11, 2019

UFCW: Amazon Spending $700 Million to Push Workers Out of Jobs

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Calls for Real Action from Company to Address Unsafe Working Conditions and Efforts to Automate Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in retail and other industries, announced its opposition to Amazon’s new $700 million initiative which aims to continue automating its own workers out of jobs. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Jeff Bezos’s vision is clear – he wants to automate every good job out of existence, regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores.

“Amazon is throwing money at a problem it created and somehow thinks that it deserves applause. This is an insult to the thousands of Amazon workers who are forced to endure dangerous working conditions and meet impossible demands every day. Amazon has become an economic arsonist that suddenly decided to put out the fires it is starting.

“Our nation’s leaders – from both parties – must wake up. It is time to realize that Amazon’s ruthless business model will lead to massive job losses that could cripple our entire economy. The longer America waits to act, the greater the economic pain we will all suffer – all to further enrich one person – Jeff Bezos.”

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

 

June 4, 2019

UFCW: Congressional Passage of Immigration Reform a Victory for Millions of Working Families

Largest U.S. Private-Sector Union Praises House Passage of Bill that Supports Workers and Strengthens the Economy, Urges Swift Approval by Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) praised House passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, legislation that would provide much-needed stability to businesses and millions of workers across the economy. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents 1.3 million workers across a wide range of industries strengthened by this legislation, released the following statement:

“Today’s House passage of the Dream and Promise Act is a critical step to improving the lives of millions of hard-working men and women who already strengthen our nation’s economy, as well as the communities they call home.

“All of our elected leaders, from both parties, must embrace the truth that providing stability for those who have already passed intensive background checks, pay taxes, and work hard every day to build a better future for all of us is simply the right thing to do.

“Given that this nation was built by generations of immigrants who believed in the promise of this country and worked hard every day to build a better life for their families, it is time for the Senate to join the House and pass this commonsense immigration reform immediately.”

BACKGROUND

The UFCW, which represents 1.3 million workers, is part of a coalition of labor organizations representing workers – including many TPS and DACA recipients – in the service and hospitality, airline catering, laundry, meat packing and food processing, entertainment, transportation, and building and construction industries.

Many of our members and their families maintain TPS and/or DACA status and have been in this country for many years working, building their families, paying taxes, and contributing to the economy. Giving TPS holders and DREAMers a path to citizenship is critical to our unions and to the U.S. economy.

The American Dream and Promise Act will:

  • Protect workers from all TPS designated nations, and their immediate family members, who have had a continuous presence in the U.S.
  • Give these workers a path to legal permanent resident status as well as eventual naturalization
  • Ensure that immigrants who came to the U.S. as children will be able to have a path to permanency as well

Allowing TPS workers to lose their status would have a significant impact on the economy:

  • $967 million in turnover costs for employers
  • $164 billion in lost GDP
  • $6.9 billion in lost Social Security and Medicare payments over a decade.
  • 60,000 TPS families would be forced to drop mortgages.

This bill is needed to ensure that our members can continue to strengthen our economy and contribute to our communities.

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June 4, 2019

UFCW Praises Congressional Action to Protect America’s Food Safety and Stop Dangerous Pork Plant Change

Largest Private-Sector Union Representing Thousands of Pork Workers Applauds Passage of Amendment to Defund Implementation of USDA Line Speed Increase

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) applauds the House Appropriations Committee for taking steps to protect the safety of food and workers at swine slaughter plants. The legislation passed by the Committee included an amendment championed by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and David Price (NC-04) which aims to halt the USDA proposal that increases pork plant line speeds and puts American workers and consumers at risk. The amendment would prevent the USDA from spending funds to implement the rule. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement praising today’s vote:

“America’s food safety and the safety of the workers who produce our food must never take a backseat to corporate profits. Today’s vote to defund this dangerous line speed rule makes clear that Congress is ready to honor that commitment and the USDA must do the same.

“Increasing line speeds needlessly threatens the quality and health of America’s food supply and cruelly endangers the lives of workers who help produce that food. The proposed USDA rule would dramatically weaken protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day.

“Our members in pork plants nationwide understand from firsthand experience that the USDA’s proposed rule would hurt workers, consumers, and our economy. We urge the USDA to stop this rule and do its job to protect American workers and consumers.”

BACKGROUND

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule proposed by the USDA would hurt workers and consumers.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that the increased line speeds can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule provides no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionally hurt women and people of color.

Key Facts About Swine Workers: 

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The current maximum line speed for swine is 1,106 hogs per hour.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents 30,000 workers in the pork slaughter industry
  • UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

May 25, 2019

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Change Needlessly Threatens America’s Food Safety

Largest Private-Sector Union Representing Thousands of Pork Workers Calls on USDA to Stop Inspection Change that Threatens America’s Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced its opposition to a new proposal by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which shifts some meat inspection responsibilities from its inspectors to pork plant employees. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“For over 100 years, USDA inspectors have played a vital role in ensuring the safety of our pork. This change to USDA meat inspection rules would dramatically weaken the critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day.

“Shifting the responsibility onto pork workers, instead of the USDA inspectors who are specifically trained for this critical job, is needlessly reckless and dangerous. Our members in pork plants work incredibly hard already and stand with families across the country to demand USDA keep our food safe and let inspectors do their job.”

BACKGROUND

With the USDA’s test hog-inspection program expected to expand this summer after the agency approves new rules, 35 plants already plan to join the five test plants in using the new program. Together, these plants would produce 90 percent of the pork consumed in the United States.

USDA Meat Inspection Policy Change Impact

  • Federal inspectors on hog slaughter lines at the plants new to the program will be cut from 365 to 218, a 40 percent cut.
  • The overall number of inspectors at those plants will drop from 400 to 288, a decline of 28 percent, according to figures provided by the USDA.
  • The new policy will allow the slaughter-line speeds to run as fast as the plant desires. The current cap on line speed is 1,106 hogs per hour, or 18 per minute.

In its report, the Washington Post notes that food safety groups and the USDA inspectors’ union say they are concerned that “increased line speeds and federal staff reductions on those lines will cause diseased and contaminated meat to slip by the remaining inspectors.” These groups also cite an inherent conflict-of-interest with pork producers overseeing inspections of their own products. Training for those workers, they point out, is also done entirely at the plant owners’ discretion.”

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

 

May 22, 2019

UFCW: Amazon Must Address Practices that Harm Workers and Customers

Ahead of Amazon Shareholder Meeting, Largest Private-Sector Union Backs Resolutions to Strengthen Accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, ahead of the annual Amazon shareholder meeting in Seattle where a vote will be held on nine resolutions aimed at holding the company accountable for its practices that put employees and customers at risk, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“The growing frustration and anger with the way Amazon and Jeff Bezos do business is real. Year after year, Amazon earns billions in profits on the backs of American taxpayers and its own workers, while ignoring the company’s responsibility to do what is right.

“Today’s shareholder meeting is an opportunity to hold Amazon accountable. These resolutions are about sending a clear message to Amazon and Jeff Bezos that the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing billionaires and huge corporations at the expense of workers and consumers. It’s time for companies like Amazon to realize that they succeed because of their workers – not in spite of them.”

BACKGROUND

Today’s Amazon shareholder meeting will consider nine resolutions supported by a broad coalition of socially responsible investors focused on holding the company accountable for its practices that pose direct threats to employees, customers, and the broader public. A list of the resolutions to be voted on today is below:

  1. Risks of Sales of Facial Recognition Software: Open MIC, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment
  2. Independent Study of Rekognition: Harrington Investments
  3. Report on Efforts to Address Hate Speech: Nathan Cummings Foundation
  4. Amazon’s Plans for Disruptions Posed by Climate Change: Amazon Employees
  5. Reduce Food Waste: JLens Network
  6. Executive Pay-Incorporate Diversity & Sustainability Metrics: Zevin Asset Management
  7. Independent Board Chair: SumofUs
  8. Majority Vote: Investor Voice
  9. Gender Pay Equity: Arjuna Capital

In November 2018, investors sent a joint letter to Amazon to underscore their concerns and request meaningful dialogue with the company.  The letter was endorsed by 114 investors representing over $2.6 trillion in assets under management, many of whom had varying degrees of prior engagement with Amazon.

Additional concerns were raised by Amazon’s decision to petition the SEC to omit many of the proposals from its proxy. Many investors see the fact that the company has actively sought to avoid addressing these problems in a constructive manner with the investment community as highly troubling.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

 

May 17, 2019

UFCW OUTreach: Passage of Equality Act a Victory for LGBTQ Workers Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) OUTreach Chair Michele Kessler released the following statement praising passage of H.R. 5, the Equality Act of 2019, by the U.S. House of Representatives:

“Today’s passage of the Equality Act by the House is a powerful step toward a future where millions of LGBTQ Americans and their families no longer have to worry about facing discrimination at work or in their communities. Too many Americans live in states with outdated laws that leave our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family vulnerable to discrimination.

“Everyone deserves equal access to the employment, housing, and education they need to provide for their families and build a better life. We are proud to stand with Americans across the country in support of the Equality Act and urge the Senate to do the right thing and pass this bill immediately.”

BACKGROUND

Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws.

The Equality Act of 2019 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org