• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

    AFL-CIO

June 21, 2007

HOUSTON COMMUNITY MEMBERS STAND WITH KROGER WORKERS IN FIGHT FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE


Participants in
 Houston Press Conference today will Rally and Walk the Block to Let Community Members Know About Kroger’s Plans to “Wal-Mart-ize” Health Care

HOUSTON–United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 408 and 455 members working at Kroger stores in the Houston area will join with local community leaders and supporters today in asking Kroger to stop attacking workers’ health care. A press conference will be held at 3:00 p.m., at the Kroger Store, 10306 S. Post Oak Rd., (just outside of the 610 S. Loop) in Houston, and will be followed by a neighborhood walk to let community members know about Kroger’s greed.

Joining Houston Kroger workers at the press conference and rally will be prominent community and religious leaders, including representatives from the Houston Interfaith Workers Justice Center, ACORN, the Coalition for Workers and the Poor, LCLAA, and the Latino Labor Council, as well the President and Secretary Treasurer of the Harris County AFL-CIO, the President of the of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the President of the Houston NAACP Branch, and other supporters and community activists.

This broad coalition of community and religious supporters are standing with Kroger workers for affordable health care. With Kroger’s latest contract offer, workers will be forced to choose between paying the electric bill and taking their children to the doctor.

Meanwhile, Kroger continues to be the most successful company in the industry, with rising profits and growing market share—and throughout contract negotiations the company has refused to share any of that success with the workers who made it possible.

Houston community members don’t believe that people who go to work everyday should have to rely on public assistance for health care coverage, or that Kroger should be allowed to shift their health care costs to local taxpayers like Wal-Mart does. Please join Houston community leaders and workers in saying “no” to Kroger’s attacks on employee health care and the community.

Members throughout the country are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities.   For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at: www.groceryworkersunited.org.

June 20, 2007

IMMIGRATION DEBATE IS ABOUT WORKERS, UFCW LEADER SAYS

Washington, DC—The immigration debate should focus on worker issues, according to United Food and Commercial Workers International President, Joseph T. Hansen.  Hansen joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumpka, and Ed Sullivan, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, at a press conference this afternoon that focused on how the proposed immigration bill could hurt workers in the U.S. and abroad.

The following may be attributed to Joe Hansen:

“At its core, the immigration debate is about workers, because immigration is fueled by jobs. But the Senate Bill relegates all workers—immigrant and native born—to second-class status. The bill’s new and expanded guestworker program opens the door, especially in low-wage sectors, to worker abuse and exploitation. The facts are undeniable. Guestworker programs create an underclass of workers. They create a culture in which people believe that a person’s race, color, or national origin relegates them to a life of low-paying, no-future jobs. And, they provide employers license to deny full workplace rights and protections.”

“American democracy works because it is inclusive. But guestworker programs permanently exclude people who contribute to our economic well being from participating in our democratic process. Approximately 12 million undocumented workers who go to work every day, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities remain on the edge of hope. They need a realistic path to fully participate in our democratic system and to achieve the American Dream.”

“Touchback requirements, unaffordable fines and complicated filing requirements in the current bill will leave too many workers in the shadows—and simply make our already broken system worse. We are a nation that values families. We cannot allow a point-system that would keep families apart or favor one family ahead of others. We must craft real immigration reform that helps turn that hope into reality for all workers, new immigrant and native-born.”

March 19, 2007

Responding to AFL-CIO, UFCW Lawsuit, Bush Administration Agrees to Issue Safety Equipment Rule for Employees

In response to a lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the Bush Administration has agreed to issue a final rule on employer payment for personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees.  In 1999, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) first proposed a PPE rule that would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.

“We applaud the decision to finally issue a final rule on employer payment for their employees’ protective equipment” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.  “This rulemaking has taken far too long.  We will be monitoring the Department of Labor’s actions to make sure they honor this commitment and issue a strong, protective rule.”

On January 3, 2007, the AFL-CIO and UFCW filed a lawsuit against the Bush Administration over its failure to finalize the payment for PPE rule.  The court ordered the Bush Administration to respond to the lawsuit by March 19.  On March 14, the Secretary of Labor filed papers with the court committing to issue a final rule in November 2007.

“This is a victory for workers who have suffered needlessly while awaiting action by the Bush Administration,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President.  “According to OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died while the rule has been in limbo.  We expect a strong final rule this November.”

Workers in the meatpacking, poultry and construction industries, and low-wage and immigrant workers are most vulnerable to injury.

The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by OSHA after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.   The rule proposed in 1999 did not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codified OSHA’s policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.

In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency has failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and numerous requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.

March 6, 2007

UFCW Lauds the Protective Equipment for America

Washington, DCThe United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) applauds and supports the ‘‘Protective Equipment for America’s Workers Act,’’ introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The Act, also known as H.R. Bill 1327, sponsored by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Congressman George Miller (D-CA), seeks to require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to complete its rulemaking on Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workers.  This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.

For nearly eight years, OSHA has failed to issue a standard requiring employers to pay for PPE.   The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.  In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency has failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and numerous requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.

By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule.   The labor groups say that workers in some of America’s most dangerous industries, such as meatpacking, poultry and construction, and low-wage and immigrant workers who suffer high injury rates, are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of OSHA’s failure to finish the PPE rule.

“”Nothing is standing in the way of OSHA issuing a final PPE rule to protect worker safety and health except the will to do so.   It is long overdue that the agency takes action on protective equipment.  The time has come to force OSHA to act,”” said Joseph Hansen, UFCW International President.

February 21, 2007

Federal Judge Orders Labor Department to Answer for Eight-Year Delay in Requiring Employers to Pay for Safety Equipment

A United States Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Labor (DOL) to respond in 30 days to a suit requesting the court to order OSHA to implement a long-delayed standard that would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the AFL-CIO sued the DOL January 3 over an eight-year delay in implementing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The lawsuit asserts that the Bush Administration’s failure to act is putting workers in danger.  By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule.  The labor groups noted that workers in some of America’s most dangerous industries, such as meatpacking, poultry and construction, and low-wage and immigrant workers who suffer high injury rates, are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of OSHA’s failure to finish the PPE rule.

The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.  The new rule would not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codifies OSHA’s longstanding policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.

In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and  requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.  The lawsuit seeking to end this eight-year delay, called it “egregious.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asked the court to issue an order directing the Secretary of Labor to complete the PPE rule within 60 days of the court’s order.

February 2, 2007

La AFL-CIO y la UFCW interponen demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo de los EEUU

 por su retraso de ocho años en la finalización de una regla que requiere a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo de seguridad

Washington, D.C.—Hoy, la AFL-CIO y la Unión de Trabajadores Comerciales y de Alimentos (UFCW) interpusieron una demanda contra el Departamento del Trabajo por no finalizar una regla que establece un estándar requiriendo a los empleadores pagar el costo del equipo personal de seguridad (PPE)—un estándar que ha estado en desarrollo por casi ocho años. Esta regla de la Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (OSHA, por sus siglas en inglés) requeriría los empleadores pagar el costo de ropa protectiva, caretas, guantes y otro equipo usado por aproximadamente 20 millones de trabajadores para protegerles contra los peligros de trabajo.

La demanda afirma que la inacción de la administración del Presidente Bush pone a los trabajadores en peligro. OSHA ha estimado que 400,000 trabajadores han resultado heridos y 50 han muerto por causa de la inexistencia de esta regla. Los grupos laborales dicen que los trabajadores de las industrias más peligrosas de los EEUU—como la de empacadora de carne, avícola y construcción—junto con los trabajadores inmigrantes y los que ganan un salario bajo sufren una alta tasa de heridas. Estos pueden ser forzados por sus empleadores a comprar su propio equipo de seguridad por la falta de la finalización de la regla de PPE por parte de OSHA.

La regla fue anunciada por la primera vez en 1997 y propuesta en 1999 por OSHA después de un fallo de la Comisión de Revisión de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional que determinó que el estándar de PPE en existencia no podía ser interpretado para requerir a empleadores que paguen el costo del equipo de seguridad. La nueva regla no impondría nuevas obligaciones a los empleadores con respecto al suministro de equipo de seguridad; sino, simplemente codificaría la política de siempre de OSHA, que los empleadores, no los empleados, tiene la responsabilidad de comprarlo.

En 1999, OSHA prometió que la regla de PPE iba ser finalizada en julio 2000. Pero, no cumplió con esa fecha de limite, ni tampoco con cada fecha de limite que se han impuestos a si mismos desde ese tiempo. La agencia todavía no ha tomado acción después de varias solicitudes por parte de la bancada Hispana del Congreso, ni tampoco después que la AFL-CIO y la UFCW les presentó una petición en 2003. La demanda de hoy busca la finalización de este retraso de ocho años, calificándolo “”atrozmente reprensible.””

“”No hay nada que prevenga que OSHA finalice esta regla de PPE para proteger la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores excepto la falta de voluntad. Esta demanda esta pidiendo la intervención de la corte para decirle a la agencia que ya basta,”” declaró Joe Hansen, presidente de la UFCW.

“”La falta de implementación de una regla tan básica por parte de la administración Bush demuestra como ellos han abandonado a los trabajadores de este país,”” dijo el presidente de la AFL-CIO, John Sweeney. “”Demasiados trabajadores han resultado heridos o muertos. El Departamento de Trabajo del Presidente Bush debe dejar de proteger los intereses de las corporaciones al costo de la seguridad y salud de los trabajadores.””

La demanda fue puesta en la Corte Federal de Apelaciones de los EEUU en el Circuito del Distrito de Columbia. Pide que la corte ordene al Secretario de Trabajo que termine la regla de PPE dentro de 60 días de su orden.

January 3, 2007

AFL-CIO and UFCW Sue Bush Administration to End Eight-Year Delay on Rule Requiring Employers to Pay for Safety Equipment

(Washington, Jan. 3) – – The AFL –CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) today sued the U.S. Department of Labor over its failure to issue a standard requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) – – a standard which has been delayed for nearly eight years.  This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule would require employers to pay the costs of protective clothing, lifelines, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by an estimated 20 million workers to protect them from job hazards.
The lawsuit asserts that the Bush Administration’s failure to act is putting workers in danger.  By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule.  The labor groups say that workers in some of America’s most dangerous industries, such as meatpacking, poultry and construction, and low-wage and immigrant workers who suffer high injury rates, are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of OSHA’s failure to finish the PPE rule.
The rule was first announced in 1997 and proposed in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that OSHA’s existing PPE standard could not be interpreted to require employers to pay for protective equipment.  The new rule would not impose any new obligations on employers to provide safety equipment; it simply codifies OSHA’s longstanding policy that employers, not employees, have the responsibility to pay for it.
In 1999, OSHA promised to issue the final PPE rule in July 2000.  But it missed that deadline and has missed every self-imposed deadline since.  The agency has failed to act in response to a 2003 petition by the AFL-CIO and UFCW and numerous requests by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.  The lawsuit filed today seeks to end this eight-year delay, calling it “egregious.”
“”Nothing is standing in the way of OSHA issuing a final PPE rule to protect worker safety and health except the will to do so.  It is long overdue that the agency take action on protective equipment.  Now, we are asking the courts to force OSHA to act,”” said Joseph Hansen, UFCW International President.
 “The Bush Administration’s failure to implement even this most basic safety rule spotlights how it has turned its back on workers in this country,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.  “Too many workers have already been hurt or killed.  The Bush Department of Labor should stop looking out for corporate interests at the expense of workers’ safety and health on the job.”
 The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks the court to issue an order directing the Secretary of Labor to complete the PPE rule within 60 days of the court’s order.
November 13, 2006

FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS BRING FIGHT FOR HEALTH CARE, MINIMUM WAGE TO THE BALLOT BOX

(Washington, D.C.) -In the final weeks of the election, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) from across the country mobilized their co-workers, neighbors, and communities in a massive GOTV effort on behalf of pro-health care reform candidates and legislative initiatives that work for working families. UFCW members were engaged in nearly every important election across the country-from Deval Patrick’s groundbreaking election in Massachusetts to Jerry McNerney’s upset Congressional victory in Stockton, Calif. Their efforts paid off as dozens of candidates committed to health care reform and other worker issues were elected at all levels of state and local government.

“”Working families voted, and working families won,”” said Joe Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). “”That’s the simple explanation for the results of Tuesday’s election.””

The UFCW’s complete grassroots effort in Iowa brought new leadership to both state legislative chambers, two new pro-worker members of Congress, and a governor who understands the issues working families face. A top-to-bottom campaign in Michigan helped to change leadership in the State House there as well as re-electing Governor Granholm and Senator Stabenow. In addition to political races, UFCW members targeted state legislative campaigns as well. Faced with the threat of right-to-work-for-less legislation in Indiana, UFCW members mobilized and helped to change the leadership in the State House to candidates who oppose that anti-worker legislation.

Working with their own local unions, and together with both Change to Win and AFL-CIO affiliated locals, UFCW members used phones, mail, literature and member-to-member canvasses not only to get out the vote, but to inform people about issues like health care, minimum wage, and the right to join a union. More than a quarter million pieces of mail were sent to UFCW members in targeted states and districts.

“”Though the election is over, our members’ work is not over,”” Hansen said. “”In January, we’ll begin holding our newly elected leaders accountable on the issues on which they were elected. Our members will leverage their hard-fought political and legislative victories to push for meaningful health care reform, to improve the economy for working people, to secure real retirement security, and to help workers gain a voice on the job.””

July 29, 2005

UFCW Moves for a Revitalized Labor Movement, Disaffiliates from AFL-CIO

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), its local unions and its officers are committed to rebuilding worker power. We have undertaken the process to restructure and revitalize our union to meet the needs of our current and future members. For our union to succeed on behalf of our members, we must be part of a revitalized and dynamic labor movement that connects with a new generation of workers struggling in the 21st century’s global economy.

We are building on a tradition and record of success. The U.S. labor movement has brought unprecedented prosperity, broad-based political democracy, human rights and legal protections to workers and their families. The labor movement changed the world, and transformed the living standards of working families. Both the AFL and the CIO played critical roles in the success of the labor movement in bringing economic security to workers. The merged AFL-CIO was a product of that success.

Now, the world has changed, and workers’ rights and living standards are under attack. Tradition and past success are not sufficient to meet the new challenges. We, as a movement, now must change to meet the challenges confronting workers. We have an historic opportunity and obligation to organize and lead a new movement for the 21st century.

The UFCW, along with the other unions of the Change to Win Coalition, has a vision and strategy for the future. The Change Coalition prepared and presented to the AFL-CIO a comprehensive reform proposal for change. At the core of our proposal for change is the redirection of resources to rebuild worker power through strategic organizing to increase the number of unionized workers within an industry or occupation. Engaged and organized union workers in an industry constitute the foundation of worker power.

The dynamics of the new economy demand industry-wide organizing and coordinated bargaining to improve living standards, ensure affordable health care and renew respect for work and workers. Solidarity means workers in an industry standing together in their union, and supporting all other workers in their industry.

We believe in worker solidarity, and in organizing to build worker power through solidarity. On this core issue— redirecting resources to organize industry-wide for worker power— there is a fundamental difference between the Change Coalition and the AFL-CIO. We believe international and local unions are best positioned to succeed in organizing.

The UFCW and the Change Coalition unions are rapidly moving forward to develop a national organizing, bargaining and political program based on our vision and strategy for the future.

We believe workers will organize, if there is an opportunity and a strategy for them to win. Workers cannot wait for a change in the political or corporate climate to organize. In fact, the current hostile political and corporate climate is the result of a failure to organize. Organizing workers changes everything.

We believe in coordinated, strategic bargaining that mobilizes the strength of all union members in an industry around common contract goals. Workers bargaining in isolation from one another dilutes their power and divides their strength.

We believe that we must have a strong and vibrant political program connected to the needs, concerns and goals of workers, irrespective of political parties and labels. We must ensure that we are the voice of workers to politicians and elected officials– and, not the voice of politicians or any political party to workers. Politicians will find that as we grow our labor movement, we will also grow our political power.

The UFCW, in order to pursue the most effective course of action for its members and all workers in its core industries, is terminating its affiliation with the AFL-CIO effective immediately.

While our affiliation ends, our commitment to work with the AFL-CIO and unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO on issues and programs where we share common goals remains unchanged. I believe our movement is united in our basic principles and values, even if we pursue different strategies. The UFCW and its local unions will continue to fund and work with state and local federations in politics and lobbying, and for mutual support of worker struggles.

I ask you and other AFL-CIO unions to reject efforts to build barriers within our movement, and to work in cooperation with Change Coalition unions in the myriad areas where we share common goals. We can build our movement, and again change the world to bring prosperity and well-being to workers here and around the world.

July 26, 2005

Chicago, Ill.—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), along with three Change to Win coalition partners—the Service Workers, UNITE/HERE, and Teamsters—will not participate in the AFL-CIO Convention that begins tomorrow.

We are taking this historic step with our coalition partners to build a 21st century worker movement for a new generation of workers. Unions built the American middle class. We are taking this action to revitalize the labor movement to build worker power.

Unrestrained corporate power has set in motion a global race to the bottom—a race dedicated to widening the gap of inequality—eroding basic wages—eroding labor and social standards—and limiting basic democratic participation.

Our unions are changing now to win worker power in the workplace, the community, and the political process.

The Change to Win Coalition is taking the lead to engage and organize workers—and build a worker movement to raise living standards, win health care and pension security, and make government responsive to working people.

Working people can’t win a better life unless more workers belong to unions.

The world is a different place than it was a generation ago. Change to Win partners are changing to meet this new dynamic.

Our vision is clear. Our resolve is firm. The time is now to bring new hope to working families.