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July 22, 2016

Protecting the Safety and Health of Poultry-Processing Workers

close up of workers processing pieces of chicken in a poultry plant

Adapted from DOL Blog

For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.

Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.

No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.

Luckily, there are very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.

Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levels,unsafe equipment, and slippery floors.

Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.

These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the Midwest, Southern, and Southeast states. Their goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.

With UFCW representation, these workers also have better odds because they have a voice on the job,  and can speak up when they see unsafe conditions without fear of retribution. We often work with OSHA to ensure our poultry workers continue to work at safe jobs.

Learn more about their work to protect poultry processing workers.

 

July 7, 2016

Chemtrade Solutions Workers Join the ICWUC

Chemtrade Solutions Workers

On June 28, workers at Chemtrade Solutions in Odem, Texas, voted unanimously to join the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) of the UFCW. The workers wanted better wages, a safer work environment and a voice in their workplace. Chemtrade Solutions is a supplier of water treatment chemicals for municipalities. This is the second election the ICWUC has won unanimously in the last ten months since the DuBois Chemicals victory.

“The ICWUC organizing department is an organizing machine, and we’re working hard to make the lives of our members and soon to be members better,” said ICWUC President Frank Cyphers. “We welcome the Chemtrade Solutions workers to our union family.”

February 19, 2016

SLS Car Wash Workers Latest to Vote to Join RWDSU/UFCW

RWDSUThe workers at SLS car wash in Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York, have seen the difference that union membership has made for hundreds of car wash workers in New York City since the Car Wash Campaign began in 2012. Now, they’ve made SLS Car Wash the 11th car wash facility in New York, where workers are represented by the RWDSU/UFCW. SLS, also known as Atlantis Wash & Lube, has about 50 workers and is the largest car wash in the country to unionize. Nine shops have signed contracts.

Determined workers and RWDSU/UFCW organizers braved the cold winter during the organizing drive. By handing out information and talking with workers, the organizing leaders were able to rally increasing support. Workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the union. They wanted a change after years of mistreatment.

“Before we organized a union we worked under a lot of stress,” SLS worker Cheik Umat Balde said. “The managers will always yell at us to work faster. Sometimes they will call us stupid.  We had to deal with unknown chemicals with no protections. Now, with a union we will be protected – but most importantly, we will have respect and dignity, and that to me is priceless.”

A coworker, Ramon Carcamo, who has been at SLS for six years said, “I decided to organize with my coworkers to change the working conditions at the car wash because I knew that we had rights that we were not getting. Now, with a union, the car wash managers will have to treat all of us with respect. We knew that if we were united, no one could silence our voice for justice and claim our rights at work.”

The Car Wash Campaign, a coalition of New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and the RWDSU/UFCW, have been advocating on behalf of workers in New York City’s largely unregulated car wash industry for nearly four years.

December 16, 2015

Workers at Heritage WTI Say Yes to a Union Voice with the ICWUC

Heritage-WTI-2-300x169By a more than 4 to 1 margin, workers at Heritage WTI in East Liverpool, Ohio, have voted to form a union with the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) of the UFCW. Operations workers at the company, who perform hazardous incineration, finally prevailed in their union effort on November 20 after two previous unsuccessful organizing drives.

Jeff Owens, a 14-year veteran of the plant, partially credited recent legal changes that enabled just the operations workers to form a union and a shortened election period that didn’t let the company intimidate workers into voting “no” with their victory.

“We stuck together and knew what the company had done last time. They spread falsehoods and negativity about the union, but when we voted no they proceeded to systematically reduce our benefits and pay, so we knew they weren’t telling the truth,” said Owens. “We just wanted to be treated with respect and be recognized for the extremely dangerous work we do.”

Workers at the plan use a huge incinerator, or kiln, to dispose of chemicals and waste that most people don’t even want to come near.

“By forming our union, we’re going to stand up for better wages and better benefits,” said Owens. “We’re going to be able to support our families better and get the compensation we’ve earned for our hard work.”

April 28, 2015

Remembering Fallen Workers on Workers Memorial Day

Worker Memorial Day InfographicEvery year on April 28—Workers Memorial Day—the UFCW joins workers in the U.S. and around the world to remember and pay tribute to the thousands of workers who have been killed on the job and the millions of workers who have suffered from injuries, sickness or diseases in their places of work.

While the efforts of union members and their families have resulted in significant workplace safety laws, including the passage of the mine safety law and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, too many workers are still suffering or dying on the job.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,000 workers lost their lives on the job in the U.S. in 2013 alone. And according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 50,000 workers die from illnesses caused by exposure to chemicals and other workplace hazards and millions more will suffer non-fatal workplace injuries each year.

Although the Obama Administration has taken action to strengthen safety and health protections, including proposing new safeguards on silica and other workplace hazards, Republican lawmakers and their corporate backers are trying to stop these protections and shut down all future regulations. Republican lawmakers are also supporting right-to-work laws, which make it harder for unions to bargain for workplace safety protections, along with decent wages and benefits.  In addition to political obstacles, our country’s growing wealth gap and low-wage, part-time economy has emboldened many employers to cut corners, violate workplace safety laws, and punish those workers who report job hazards or injuries.

On Workers Memorial Day and every day, the UFCW stands with workers who are fighting to uphold their basic rights – including safe jobs, workplace fairness and collective bargaining. Working people deserve a safe place to work, and those politicians and corporations that weaken work safety laws and exploit workers for profit and put them in danger must be held accountable.

 

Workers Memorial Day Resources:

Workers Memorial Day Handbill

AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report

Marc Perrone Op-Ed on Workers Memorial Day

UFCW Statement on Workers Memorial Day

March 4, 2015

Local & National Leaders Demand Justice for New York City Car Wash Workers

National and local labor leaders, local elected and community leaders demonstrate and are arrested in support of Car Wash Accountability Act 

BROOKLYN, NY– Today, in an act of civil disobedience, top leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) , as well as local elected and community leaders were arrested as part of a demonstration in support of the rights of car wash workers in New York City. Those arrested included UFCW International President Marc Perrone and UFCW Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone being arrested at the demonstration

UFCW International President Marc Perrone being arrested at the demonstration

The action was led by striking immigrant workers at Vegas Auto Spa in Brooklyn and car wash workers from across New York City. Elected officials and faith leaders also joined in support. Demonstrators undertook a 10-block march through the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and blocked the streets outside Vegas Auto Spa.

“These workers are not just hardworking men and women, they are part of our family. And, like every family, we will stand and fight for them. They’ve earned the right to be treated better and fairly. We stand together to demand not only the better wages they are owed, but the right that every worker has to be treated with dignity and respect on the job” Perrone said. “This is about the right of low-wage and immigrant workers across America to have their voices heard.”

Workers at Vegas Auto Spa have been on strike since November shortly after they sued the car wash owner for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and damages. The workers voted unanimously to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the UFCW, in January. The owner has repeatedly refused to settle the dispute with workers and engaged in threats and retaliation.

Some workers report being paid less than the minimum wage and not receiving time and a half for overtime. Others report working 70 to 90 hours a week. The workers have gone to court, alleging they are owed back wages and damages. They have also filed complaints with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) about unsafe working conditions and not receiving the proper safety equipment to deal with the toxic chemicals used to clean cars. DSC_4729

Vegas Auto Spa was the tenth New York City carwash where workers voted to join the RWDSU/UFCW as part of the WASH New York campaign. Demonstrators urged the New York City Council to pass the Car Wash Accountability Act, legislation that would crack down on unlawful employers and bring transparency and accountability to an industry that has a history of mistreating its workers.

 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

March 4, 2015

Local & National Leaders Demand Justice for New York City Car Wash Workers

National and local labor leaders, local elected and community leaders demonstrate and are arrested in support of Car Wash Accountability Act 

BROOKLYN, NY– Today, in an act of civil disobedience, top leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) , as well as local elected and community leaders were arrested as part of a demonstration in support of the rights of car wash workers in New York City. Those arrested included UFCW International President Marc Perrone and UFCW Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone being arrested at the demonstration

UFCW International President Marc Perrone being arrested at the demonstration

The action was led by striking immigrant workers at Vegas Auto Spa in Brooklyn and car wash workers from across New York City. Elected officials and faith leaders also joined in support. Demonstrators undertook a 10-block march through the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and blocked the streets outside Vegas Auto Spa.

“These workers are not just hardworking men and women, they are part of our family. And, like every family, we will stand and fight for them. They’ve earned the right to be treated better and fairly. We stand together to demand not only the better wages they are owed, but the right that every worker has to be treated with dignity and respect on the job” Perrone said. “This is about the right of low-wage and immigrant workers across America to have their voices heard.”

Workers at Vegas Auto Spa have been on strike since November shortly after they sued the car wash owner for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and damages. The workers voted unanimously to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the UFCW, in January. The owner has repeatedly refused to settle the dispute with workers and engaged in threats and retaliation.

Some workers report being paid less than the minimum wage and not receiving time and a half for overtime. Others report working 70 to 90 hours a week. The workers have gone to court, alleging they are owed back wages and damages. They have also filed complaints with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) about unsafe working conditions and not receiving the proper safety equipment to deal with the toxic chemicals used to clean cars. DSC_4729

Vegas Auto Spa was the tenth New York City carwash where workers voted to join the RWDSU/UFCW as part of the WASH New York campaign. Demonstrators urged the New York City Council to pass the Car Wash Accountability Act, legislation that would crack down on unlawful employers and bring transparency and accountability to an industry that has a history of mistreating its workers.

 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

July 17, 2014

The BPA Act: Fighting Breast Cancer among Women in Manufacturing

BPA is a toxic chemical that has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer among women in many job sectors, including food packing. (Infographic by the BlueGreen Alliance)

BPA is a toxic chemical that has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer among women in many job sectors, including food packing. (Infographic by the BlueGreen Alliance & UFCW)

Even today, women who work in middle-class jobs across America face pronounced barriers and gender discrimination in the workplace, as exemplified by the recent Demos report on gender inequality in retail wages. However, workplace inequality can manifest in other, more subtle ways – such as the manufacture of products containing Bisphenol-A, or BPA.

BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical, which alters hormone production and behavior, disrupting the body’s normal functions. In a 2012 six-year study, BPA was found to have a pronounced effect on women who work in the automotive plastics and the food packaging industries.

These women are five times more likely to have breast cancer than women who work in other industries.

BPA, which is found in the epoxy lining of the metal food can and released into the air during the food canning process, was banned by the FDA in the manufacture of baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging. Many private companies have taken further steps to remove BPA from products. However, BPA exposure is still a problem for thousands of manufacturing and packaging workers in America.

In order to address this problem, the UFCW has joined allies such as the Communications Workers of America, the United Steelworkers, and the United Automobile Workers in supporting the Ban Poisonous Additives Act, or the BPA Act.

The BPA Act would remove BPA from food packaging, encourage the development of safe alternatives, and ensure a thorough safety review of all currently used substances in food and beverage containers. It is currently in committee in the House, where it needs to be passed by the House and the Senate and approved by the President before it becomes a law.

This brochure, produced by the BlueGreen Alliance and UFCW, contains useful information about the growing problem of breast cancer among working women.

July 7, 2014

UFCW Members, Family Members Awarded 2014 Union Plus Scholarships

UnionPlus Logo LargeUnion Plus recently awarded $150,000 in scholarships to 116 students representing 39 unions, including 10 winners representing the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), in the 2014 Union Plus Scholarship Program. In this 23rd year of the program, more than 5,300 applications were received from union members and families in all 50 states. This year’s UFCW winners are:

  • Brittany Androsko of Weedsport, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local One, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
  • Brianna Berry of Florence, Ky., who is a member of UFCW Local 75, as is her father Michael Berry, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
  • Amber Boyce of Orland Park, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Megan Byrne of Chicago, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, as is her mother Eileen Byrne, and whose father Joseph Byrne is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Robert Clifford of Romeoville, Ill., whose father Robert Clifford is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Casey Cooper of Greenville, Mich., who is a member of UFCW Local 951, as is his father Ken Cooper, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Robyn Jordan of New York, N.Y., whose mother Laura Jordan is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Lynne Rader of Bethpage, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local 1500, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship.
  • Datavia Sherman of Washington, D.C., whose mother Janet Sherman is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Martha Solis of Frederick, Colo., whose mother Dora Solis is a member of UFCW Local 7, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“There are a lot of benefits to being a union member. Economic security is number one, and education is the first building block. Education sets up our kids for success, leadership and happiness,” said Leslie Tolf, president of Union Privilege, the organization behind Union Plus benefits and the scholarship program. “By awarding these scholarships we level the playing field – everyone deserves an equal shot at a quality education. We help union families feel just a little more secure in embarking on successful lives.”

Meet the 2014 UFCW Honorees

Brittany Androsko
Brittany is studying for a job in medicine. While maintaining excellent grades she has also found many ways to give back to her community, including volunteering at the local food bank, at retirement homes and on highway cleanup projects. Brittany followed in both her parents’ footsteps by becoming a union member, and she is glad she did. She quotes her father who often says, “Working together and sticking together is what makes a union strong and powerful.”

Brianna Berry
Brianna is a hard worker, but she is also a student, and sometimes those priorities collide. Last year, for example, she was invited to participate in the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, a three-week summer program that is an honor to attend. Many jobs would have required she make a choice, one or the other, but UFCW ensured Brianna could attend the program and still have a job waiting for her. Brianna is planning to major in chemistry and become a doctor.

Amber Boyce
Amber’s very first job was a union job with UFCW! That’s not a typical experience for many high-schoolers today, with so many young people often working for minimum wage and worse, and it sure made an impression on Amber. “Being in a union assures my family and me that I will always have a fair contract with my employer,” she says. The good wages she earns as a union member are helping Amber save for college; she’s planning to major in chemical engineering and spend her career making consumer products better and more eco-friendly.

Megan Byrne
Megan’s many volunteer and service commitments attest to her strong desire to help others. So does her career aspiration: she wants to become a physical therapist. Of course, Megan understands that good physical health begins with safe working conditions, and that’s why she’s grateful for the protection and job safety UFCW has provided to her, as well as to her both her parents. “My parents and I are proud to be part of a union,” she says.

Robert Clifford
Today many industries depend on computers to operate. Robert wants to work in the medical field, but not as a doctor – instead, he is majoring in computer science with the goal of designing programs and software that can help save lives. Of course, industries also depend on skilled workers, and that’s why Robert is proud to be part of a family with a strong union history, including his father in UFCW and many uncles in their unions. “Most of my family has made a living and survived in the working world thanks to the unions,” he says.

Casey Cooper
“Like father, like son,” Casey says. He followed his father into UFCW and has been grateful for the good wages and benefits that come with holding a union job. Yet, Casey also sees the hardship many other people face, including customers who work hard but still need food stamps to purchase their groceries. He is planning to major in social work and help people to receive all the rights and liberties to which they are entitled, he says, “such as a livable wage, a family, property and happiness.”

Robyn Jordan
Robyn is a graduate student with a vision for improving people’s lives. Having completed her undergraduate work in two majors, Hispanic studies and nutrition, she has now begun studying for a graduate degree in public health, which she hopes to follow with a medical degree and a career spent improving and saving lives. Robyn feels that the extraordinary education she has received, from Catholic schools to the Ivy League, would not have been possible without her mother’s more than 30 years of hard work and good pay as a member of UFCW.

Lynne Rader
Lynne’s career goal is to become an optometrist and travel to the developing world to provide treatment for vision problems. Her many volunteer and service commitments – such as being a Girl Scout Leader, and raising money for water relief programs in Africa – have helped to prepare her for this career, and so has her work as a member of UFCW. “My job has helped to shape who I am today,” she says. “I have learned not only invaluable interpersonal skills, but I have also had the opportunity to work with customers and coworkers of various cultures, religions, perspectives and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Datavia Sherman
Datavia enjoys the prospect of solving problems, gathering clues and protecting her community. She’s studying criminal justice, and hopes to become an FBI agent someday! There are many challenges ahead of her, including completing her degree and meeting all the physical requirements to become an agent, but she is confident she can make it. “I want to put criminals away,” she says, “so that the world can be a safer place to live.”

Martha Solis
Martha, a nursing student, has faced many challenges on the course to completing her education. “The road to college can be even more complicated for a first-generation student like myself,” she says. “My family is Hispanic and many of them have never been able to pursue an education.” And while Martha deserves much credit for her hard work and achievements, so does her mother who has spent 18 years as a member of UFCW and created opportunities for her daughter. Martha is grateful not only for her mother’s good pay and benefits, but also for the way her mother and her coworkers at Safeway pitch in to support the community.

Learn More About the Union Plus Scholarship Program

Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school. Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $3.6 million in educational funding to more than 2,400 union members, spouses and dependent children.

In addition to the scholarships, Union Plus also offers the following benefits to help union families afford higher education:

  • Discounts of 15 to 60 percent on college and graduate school test preparation courses from The Princeton Review. Discounts are available for classroom, online and private tutoring for the SAT®, ACT®, GMAT®, LSAT®, GRE® and MCAT® as well as college affordability and admissions online courses. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegePrep or call 1-888-243-7737.
  • Discounts on textbooks – Save 5% or more when you rent or buy textbooks. New, used and digital textbooks are available. And, you get free shipping on orders over $59.  Visit UnionPlus.org/Textbooks.
  • College Counseling Discounts: Union families can save 15% on college counseling from Collegewise, the admission division of The Princeton Review. College counselors help high school student find, apply and attend the correct college. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegeCounsel for more information.

Union Plus is committed to helping union members and their families fund their college education.  They have recently introduced two NEW programs to help members pay down their student loan debt:

  • $500 Student Debt Eraser – grants to help Union Plus Credit Card, Mortgage and Insurance participants pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/DebtEraser for more information.
  • $20K Student Loan Giveaway – All union members can enter by August 15 to win up to $10,000 to pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/Contest for more information.

Visit UnionPlus.org/Education for applications and benefit eligibility.

Union Plus also provides a wide range of money-saving benefits and services for Union members and families, including discounts on all-union AT&T wireless service, a credit card and mortgage with unique financial assistance, savings on travel and recreation, and more. To learn more, visit UnionPlus.org.

June 23, 2014

CertainTeed Workers Say “Yes” to a Union Voice with the Chemical Workers

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in West Virginia, voted to have a union voice and joined UFCW Local 45C. Pictured left to right: Ron Moore, Andrew Gaiser, Josh Mazey, Carl  Sweeney, Lance Heasley.

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in West Virginia, voted to have a union voice and joined UFCW Local 45C. Pictured left to right: Ron Moore, Andrew Gaiser, Josh Mazey, Carl
Sweeney, Lance Heasley.

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in Proctor, West Virginia, voted “Union Yes” on June 6 to join the International Chemical Workers Union Council.

Lance Heasley is a former steward and member-activist with UFCW Local 45C and works as an instrument technician at Axiall, where he and his fellow union members make chlorine and other caustic chemicals. Many of them, including Lance, live side-by-side with workers at the CertainTeed and know each other socially. So, when Lance heard his friends and neighbors talk about how hard it could be working at CertainTeed, he started talking to them about the difference a union could make.

He began to go out of his way to have conversations with CertainTeed workers and slowly built a committee of interested workers. He reached out to the ICWUC organizing department and worked with them to sign up CertainTeed workers on authorization cards. Workers began texting and calling each other and holding meetings to talk about the need for a union at CertainTeed. One of those workers was Carl Sweeney.

One of the major issues for Carl was being able to speak up and speak out without fear of retaliation. “I wanted to go to work every day and not worry about what I said or if I’d be the next one out because someone didn’t like me,” said Carl. “I wanted to speak up when I saw something unsafe and know the problem would be fixed, not seeing me as the problem for bringing it up.”

As soon as the CertainTeed workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an election, the company brought in an anti-union law firm and began holding mandatory anti-union meetings and one-on-one sessions to persuade workers to back down. But they stood strong and stayed united, despite company attempts at intimidation.

“I knew I could lose my job, but I also knew something had to change,” said Carl. “We had to stick together, stay united, to make CertainTeed a better place to work.”

That work paid off and Carl and his coworkers are looking forward to addressing their concerns at the bargaining table – including rapidly rising healthcare costs, favoritism, and safety concerns in the workplace.