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    UFCW Blog

    American Dream

March 4, 2009


Washington DC–President Obama’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care was reaffirmed today, as he announced his choice of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Gov. Sebelius is well-respected on both sides of the aisle and understands the challenges confronting America’s health care apparatus. During her tenure as Kansas insurance commissioner, she demonstrated both the tenacity and technical expertise needed to overhaul a system paralyzed by insurance companies and special interests. The voters of Kansas have long known Gov. Sebelius as a champion of working families and as a dedicated public servant, and we are eager to join her as she works to realize the dream of a stronger, healthier America.

September 3, 2008

Restoring the American Dream

Washington DC—Martin Luther King Jr. once described Americans and our American way of life this way: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

That statement is as profound—and instructive—today as it was a half century ago when Dr. King wrote those words from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.

Labor Day traditionally kicks off the final sprint to Election Day. From now until November 4, Americans will engage in a national debate about who to entrust with the awesome responsibility of leading our nation. It is up to every single American to determine the tone and character of that debate. We have a choice. We can conduct this debate on the merits of each candidate, knowing that we are, all of us, tied in a single garment, endeavoring in the serious work of setting the future course for our children and grandchildren. Or we can use this national debate as a platform to breed division, conflict, and racial fears as some extremists are already doing in newspapers and over the airwaves.

We cannot solve the challenges before us unless we truly recognize that we must solve them together. Americans may come from different backgrounds and outlooks—but we share the same hope of achieving the American dream. All of us want to take part, and do our part, in a society that provides a better life for every American.

I believe Senator Barack Obama is the best candidate—the American dream candidate—not only for working people, but for all Americans. He believes in the promise of the American dream because he has lived it. He believes that, in America, if you work hard you ought to share in the success of your labor. In America, you ought to be able to earn wages and benefits that can raise a family.

From ending the war in Iraq to shoring up the economy, from ensuring health care for every American to solving our energy crisis, Barack Obama has thoughtful, well-formulated proposals designed to put America back on track—and make the American dream a real possibility again for working families. That’s why it is so gravely distressing to see the nefarious efforts of those who would turn back the clock in America by fueling racial fears and inciting racial conflicts around Senator Obama’s candidacy.

Americans need serious debate about how best to meet the challenges of our ailing economy. We need real, workable proposals on how to fix our health care system and make college more affordable for our kids. It’s critically important for the U.S. to regain its place as a leader on the world stage. Yet there are those who persist in distracting us with divisive and morally repugnant racial fear mongering.

In this election, working people have an incredible opportunity to turn our country around. We can reject the politics of division and conflict. We can say: “Not this time, not this election.”  Union members know better than most, as Martin Luther King says, “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” We know that an injury to one is an injury to all. And grave injury is caused by those who would demean this election with racial rhetoric.

Let’s focus the debate on the prospects for a better tomorrow in which all workers will have their rights protected and their hard work respected; a tomorrow with affordable health care for all Americans, economic prosperity and national security. If we conduct a responsible national debate, we can elect a new president who will bring about positive economic change—a president who will not put corporate interests above those of working people. We have a clear choice on the November presidential ballot. Barack Obama offers change and hope—he brings a commitment to the cause of working people. With his leadership, we can change America, and restore the American dream.

June 4, 2008

Change and Hope for America

Washington, D.C. Last night’s victory by Senator Barack Obama was not only a magnificent moment for our nation, but an historic opportunity for working men and women to reclaim the American Dream.

Senator Obama’s campaign shows us the power that we have to change the direction of our country, and reminds us of our responsibility to reclaim our government on behalf of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of workers and their families across this great nation.

As he stands on the threshold of becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Senator Obama’s candidacy reflects our nation’s progress, but more importantly it represents the promise of a better tomorrow. A tomorrow in which all workers have their rights protected and their hard work respected.  A tomorrow that brings affordable health care, real retirement security, economic prosperity, national security and worker safety.

For the past five months, the UFCW has mobilized its 1.3 million members across the country to support Senator Obama’s candidacy, and his message of hope and change has struck a chord with UFCW members of all ages.  The UFCW will continue to mobilize, organize and energize our members to support Senator Obama and fight to regain the rights and protections that America’s workers have lost under the Bush Administration.

The past seven years of the Bush Administration have been a hard road to travel for America’s workers as they struggle to cope with the high cost of housing, health care, food, fuel and education.  The fragile state of the economy, coupled with a sense of national foreboding, has led many Americans to believe that they will never achieve the American Dream of owning a home, providing their families with health care coverage, or retiring comfortably.

While Senator John McCain now tries to distance himself from President Bush, his economic, health care and trade policies celebrate the Bush legacy of giving big tax breaks to corporations, increasing health care costs and reducing benefits, and supporting trade agreements that have devastated the economy and sent good, middle class jobs overseas.

America’s workers cannot afford another four years of a leader who values corporate interests over the well being of America’s workers and their families.  The UFCW will continue its fight to restore the American Dream by ensuring that Senator Obama becomes the next president of the United States.


February 14, 2008


Washington — For the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the 2008 Presidential election is about restoring the American dream for America’s workers.   UFCW members are energized to seize this opportunity to change America and restore the American Dream for workers and their families.

The UFCW has a powerful presence and a strong organization in key primary states such as Wisconsin, Hawaii, Texas and Ohio.  We are the largest union of young workers with more than forty percent of our members under the age of thirty.  Senator Obama’s message of changing hope into reality has inspired our members, particularly our young members, across the country.

We have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton and her tireless efforts on behalf of working people.  And while both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have a vision to change America, we believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to build a movement to unite our country that will deliver the type of change that is needed – for good jobs, affordable health care, retirement security and worker safety.

Our country requires a change—change that restores America to a place of opportunity and security, where hard work is respected and those who do it are protected.

Our country requires change that brings the security working people require to improve their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Senator Obama understands the needs of working people. As a community organizer, he understands that America must restore the balance between working America and corporate America. He will fight to level the playing field on behalf of workers across our country.  He will fight to regain the rights and protections workers have lost after too many years of the Bush Administration.

UFCW will be mobilizing, organizing and energizing our members, their friends and families to make Senator Obama not just the Democratic nominee, but the next President of the United States.

We are talking about the dreams of meatpackers and food processors working long hours to ensure that the dreams of their sons and daughters for college and a better life become a reality.  We are talking about giving life to the dreams of cashiers and clerks in retail and grocery stores. That is what this election is about. It is about the dreams of hard working people across this country. Men and women who deserve to have their elected officials work as hard as they do.

It is Senator Obama who is best positioned, and who has the best policies, to make these dreams a reality.  Senator Obama is the candidate of the American dream.

January 29, 2008


Washington, D.C. – President Bush’s last State of the Union address yesterday failed to produce long-term solutions to the challenges facing America’s workers as signals of an economic downturn continue to persist. In spite of his lofty rhetoric, the president was unable to gloss over his dismal seven-year legacy of failed economic policies that have favored the wealthy few, while workers and their families continue to struggle with rising heath care costs, the collapse of the housing market, stagnant wages, crumbling job security and the decline of workers’ rights. The president’s address further underlined the irrefutable fact that this administration’s fiscal folly will affect the next generation of Americans who may never realize the American Dream.

President Bush’s seven-year record of fiscal incompetence and mismanagement has had a devastating affect on American workers and their families. Over the course of his administration, America’s debt has increased to over $9 trillion and consumer confidence has plummeted. The number of uninsured Americans, including children, has increased to 47 million, and the cost of health care has risen three times faster than inflation and wages. In addition, gas prices have climbed to over $3 a gallon, state college tuition costs have increased by 40 percent and the share of mortgages entering foreclosure is at the highest level on record since 1979.

This election year, politicians of both parties are highlighting the American Dream as an attainable goal for those who are willing to work hard and play by the rules. It is our hope that the next president combines this rhetoric with real policies and initiatives that will put the needs of all Americans above corporate interests.

October 26, 2007


Washington, D.C. – Last night, the House of Representatives gave America ’s uninsured children a second chance at a healthy future by passing a new version of a children’s health care bill, but failed to get the majority of votes necessary to overturn another presidential veto.  The new bill will cover 10 million children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and tighten eligibility in response to concerns about the previous bill. While imperfect, this new bill is a good start to addressing our country’s health care crisis, and another presidential veto will further punish the millions of children of working parents who are without coverage.

For too long, America’s workers and their children have paid the price for a broken health care system.  While workers struggle to survive on stagnant wages, more and more employers are adding to that burden by shifting the growing cost of health care coverage to workers—forcing them to pay high out-of-pocket premiums, deductibles and co-payments.  These faulty health care plans are proving to be too expensive for working men and women to afford, and in 10 million cases, many workers and  their children have nowhere to go for their basic health care needs.

This new bill is a responsible approach to ensuring that children have access to quality health care, and another veto will signal the president’s indifference to the majority of Americans who equate access to health care with the pursuit of the American Dream, our country’s destiny, and each family’s well-being and future.  The UFCW will continue to fight for health care reform so that American workers and their children are able to live healthy and productive lives and realize the American Dream.


September 25, 2007

UFCW Reviving the American Dream for Meatpacking Workers

New Hormel Chain Agreement Raises the Bar for Meat Industry Contracts

(Washington, DC) – A new contract covering 4,000 Hormel workers in five locations secures big wage increases, health care improvements and greater pension security for meatpacking workers and their families. The contract sets a new standard for wages and benefits in the meat industry-one that will allow packing and processing workers to truly live the American Dream.

Five UFCW local unions took unified worksite actions over the past six months – actions that sent a strong message to Hormel that UFCW members are willing to fight and stick together for a contract that would secure wages and benefits that can support a family.

“We haven’t had a contract like this one since the late 1970s.  Wages, health care, and pensions are all increased,” said Mike Marty, a member of UFCW Local 22 in Fremont, Neb.   “We achieved it by working together, engaging our membership across the country and building good old fashioned union solidarity,” Marty said.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) members in five locations – Austin, Minn.; Algona, Iowa; Fremont, Neb.; Beloit, Wis.; and Atlanta, Ga. voted to ratify a new four-year contract that includes:

–considerable wage increases including  $1.40/hr base wage increase over four years for production workers and $1.80/hr base wage increase for maintenance workers. The increases bring the average wage for production workers to $15.75 an hour-the top of the industry.

–significant improvements in preventive health care, well baby and well child care, hospice care, home health care, vision care, mental health and substance abuse care, and cancer screening as well as big improvements in dental care. These improvements were achieved with no increase in deductible, and only a minimal increase in co-premiums.

–improved retirement security including increased “pension multipliers” which will mean a greater than 10 % increase in pension checks.

The Hormel contract is the latest of several major collective bargaining wins for UFCW members across the country.  Supermarket workers have engaged in unity bargaining and coordinated worksite actions over the past nine months – resulting in groundbreaking contracts with major national supermarket chains on both the East and West Coasts, Texas, and the Midwest.


August 14, 2007


Statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

(Washington, DC) – On a hot, quiet August morning in Washington, DC – when the President is on vacation and Congress at recess – the Bush Administration announced an immigration reform package that essentially mandates federal racial discrimination.

The Administration’s guidelines would throw the doors open to racial discrimination to whole classes of people by placing an undue burden on workers who sound foreign, look foreign and particularly, on the tens of millions of Hispanic and Asian-Americans who would face greater scrutiny in the workplace.  It is irresponsible to toss out civil rights for the sake of political gamesmanship.

Considering the circumstances, today’s announcement smacks of nothing more than a publicity stunt aimed at terrifying immigrant workers.  Further, this program lacks the support and mandate of the American people who have been demanding humane, comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the root causes of illegal immigration.  This program offers no solutions, only punishments to workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has proven by its past behavior that it is not beyond their scope to traumatize innocent workers, including U.S. citizens, under the guise of immigration enforcement.  During its raids at Swift meatpacking plants last December, all workers, including citizens, legal residents, were held by ICE agents and subjected to unlawful search and seizure.  Law enforcement must uphold and defend the Constitution, not violate it.

Congress and the President promised the American people it would work toward solutions to these problems but both parties have failed.  It is time for our elected leaders to get back to work – not with unauthorized, sweeping gestures like this Bush enforcement program.

More than 250,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) work in the meatpacking and food processing industries.  Many of our workplaces include immigrant workers.  Enforcement actions aimed strictly at workplaces like these accomplish nothing in terms of stemming the flow of workers entering the U.S. seeking the American Dream.  Instead, they create huge turmoil in communities, significantly disrupt the otherwise stable production in the plant and violate the civil rights of all workers in the workplace.

The UFCW will continue to fight for reform that ensures that all working people—immigrant and native-born—are able to improve their lives and realize the American dream.

For the UFCW position on immigration go to Issues


July 11, 2007


Washington, D.C.—The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced, today, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made a return visit to four Swift and Company plants where workers are represented by the UFCW and arrested approximately four individuals apparently on charges of identity theft, as well as questioning several others.

It does not appear that ICE engaged in the same level of intimidation and overkill as they did in its raids last December at six Swift plants. To the extent this is the case, the UFCW supports law enforcement efforts that abide by the law and respect the rights of workers.

Worksite law enforcement around identity and immigration issues is a symptom of a failed immigration system, and is no substitute for comprehensive reform.

Last month, Congress failed to demonstrate the necessary leadership and persistence to fix our broken system. The UFCW will continue to fight for reform that ensures that all working people—immigrant and native-born—are able to improve their lives and realize the American dream.

For the UFCW position on immigration go to www.ufcw.org and click on issues.

July 24, 2005

United Farm Workers of America Joins Change to Win Coalition

CHICAGO, IL  —  The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) announced today that it was joining the Change to Win Coalition, the new workers organization devoted to transforming the American labor movement.

“”To realize our goal of organizing significant numbers of low-to moderate-wage Latino and immigrant workers in the face of fierce employer resistance during the next decade, we must move aggressively to apply new resources and make changes in our own organization,”” said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.  “”We are convinced the Change to Win Coalition mirrors our commitment of finding new ways to refocus on organizing and vigorously pursue anti-worker employers.””

“”The Coalition is thrilled to have the Farm Workers join our efforts to improve the lives of millions of American workers,”” Coalition Chair Anna Burger said today.  “”This is a significant moment in American labor history.  The Union of Ceasar Chavez is the heart and soul of the labor movement, and its affiliation with our Coalition sends a powerful signal that we are on the right course.””

“”The Farm Workers represent the highest aspirations of all American workers,”” Burger said.  “”Their historic commitment to organizing low-to moderate-wage workers is the essence of the Change to Win Coalition’s vision of giving hope to millions of workers seeking the American Dream.””

The Change to Win Coalition was formed on June 15, 2005 to marshal the collective strength of its unions (listed below) to develop and implement strategies to bring the labor movement into the 21st century.  Since its inception, two additional unions, the Carpenters and the Farm Workers, have joined the original five.  The Change to Win Coalition unions represent nearly 6 million workers.