August, 2013

Fast-Food Workers Set for Nationwide Strike

1229910_617261608294016_1092454025_n-300x300On Thursday, fast-food and other low-wage workers in more than three dozen cities will boost their campaign for a living wage and justice with a nationwide one-day strike. The workers and the faith, community and labor groups that back them are calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The mobilization began in November with a handful of walkouts and grew even larger in July. Steven Ashby, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations, tells Time.com:

“It’s absolutely going to continue to grow. I see no signs from all the people I’ve talked with that it’s going to falter. At this point, it hasn’t reached its peak yet. The energy of the workers, their passion, their commitment, is very, very high. They basically feel like, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose.’”


UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Study Shows A Decade of Stagnant Wages Despite Growth

1238152_10151805141154655_314714131_n-225x300Since the economy collapsed in 2008, everyone from politicians, to activists, to bankers has talked about how to get America back on track. Finally, most are beginning to see that the way to rebuild America’s economy, is to rebuild America’s middle class–not tax cuts for the rich or trickle down policies.

However, although more policymakers are agreeing that its time to focus on the economic challenges of the middle class, we are failing to fix the key problem that is hurting so many working-class Americans. Despite steadily increasing productivity, wages have remained stagnant or have even deflated for the majority of blue and white-collar Americans throughout the past decade.  Right now, overall growth is actually benefiting the richest households in the country, and companies that make billions of dollars annually, like Walmart and McDonalds, continue to make their executives unfathomably rich, while the workers who make such businesses flourish, earn starvation wages.

This data was recently presented in the newest report by the Economic Policy Institute.

Growing income inequality in America must be reversed. The economy cannot recover if the rich continue to become richer, and the poor only poorer. That’s why a raise in the minimum wage is essential. In the case of large retailers, whose CEO’s rake in staggering amounts in earnings and bonuses each year, there is no excuse to not pay their employees enough to live on, or to provide basic benefits.


UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

The March on Washington: 50 years Later, the Fight for Social and Economic Equality Continues

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This weekend, members and supporters of the Retail Justice Alliance will be joining our brothers and sisters from across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary

of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  The 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech, was organized largely by civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph and other black labor leaders to promote freedom, economic equality and jobs, and paved the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In spite of the advances we have made over the last 50 years—including the election of our first African American president—the fight for social and economic justice continues.  In the retail sector alone, too many workers are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs with little to no benefits and our economy’s increasing reliance on low-wage, part-time work has widened the gap between the rich and poor. The assault on workers’ rights continues to persist, and in many cases, retail workers who want to stick together to bargain for better wages and benefits are threatened, intimidated and sometimes fired by their employers.

The need to mobilize for freedom, jobs and equality has never been stronger, and the Retail Justice Alliance is honored to carry on the work of the 1963 activists by fighting for social and economic justice in the retail industry and in our communities.


UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

UFCW Opens 7th Regular Convention in Chicago

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union opened its 7th Regular Convention at the McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago.  Delegates from across the U.S. and Canada representing local unions, inspired by the theme Blue. Gold. Bold. Powerful Together, are in the Windy City to chart a course for the next five years and beyond.  Their aim is to raise standards and build power for workers in the grocery, retail, and food manufacturing industries.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), and activist/author Lilly Ledbetter opened the first day of convention with rousing and inspired speeches to the nearly 2000 delegates assembled.

The convention, brought UFCW delegates from across North America representing over 1.3 million UFCW members together to hold election of officers as well as to deliberate on taking steps to strengthen the UFCW’s strong base of member activists who are at the forefront of creative organizing campaigns, engaged collective bargaining programs and political activism.

“I am here today to tell you we can rebuild the American Dream for everyone,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky.  “I am more optimistic than ever, not just because I know you are here to lead the fight, but because I see more working people coming together around the country than ever before.”

The convention which occurs every five years is an opportunity for UFCW members to come together, debate issues and take back organizing tools to their respective communities.

“This is awesome. I feel so excited to be here – this is our first convention,” said Sharon Hill a member of UFCW Local 932 from Russellville, AL.  “We just got our first contract, at Pilgrim’s Pride in Russellville, Alabama, and so to carry that good feeling all the way to Chicago and share it with all these other union members is just so amazing.”

Other notables slated to appear later in the week include U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Sherrod Brown (OH), Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis (GA-5), actor/activist Ashley Judd, and President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters James P. Hoffa.  The convention ends Thursday, August 15.


UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Walmart to Make Safety Changes After OSHA Inspections Find Violations

Retail giant Walmart reached an agreement with the Labor Department to make improvements at nearly 4,700 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection at a Rochester, N.Y., store in 2011 found numerous safety violations, USA Today reports. The company also will pay $190,000 in fines. Similar violations were found between 2008 and 2010 at stores in nine states.

Inspectors found a poorly secured trash compactor, an unguarded grinder, hazardous chemicals, exit routes that were blocked, and a lack of information and training in the use of the compactor. Walmart now will require compactors to be locked when they are not in use and will require operation to be supervised by a trained manager. Workers no longer will be required to handle undiluted cleaning chemicals, and training programs will be improved. All stores will post the agreement for employees to see.

Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo, said:
“The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the seriousness of these conditions but the fact that several of them are substantially similar to hazards identified at nine other Walmart locations in New York and eight other states.”

UFCW Joins AFL-CIO

On August 8, 2013, our union affiliated with the AFL-CIO in a bold move toward a stronger, more unified labor movement. UFCW President Joe Hansen, supported by a vote of the UFCW Executive Board, decided to add the 1.3 million private sector members to the AFL-CIO federation in order to build a stronger, more unified voice for the rights of workers.

UFCW International President Joe Hansen released the following statement:
“We join the AFL-CIO because it is the right thing to do for UFCW members, giving them more power and influence. This is not about which building in Washington D.C. we call home — it is about fostering more opportunities for workers to have a true voice on the job. It is about joining forces to build a more united labor movement that can fight back against the corporate and political onslaught facing our members each and every day.

“Our affiliation with the Change to Win Federation (CTW) has been a rewarding one. The CTW’s Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) is leading some of the best campaigns to give workers rights and dignity. While no longer an affiliate of CTW, we continue our strong relationships with the Teamsters, SEIU and the Farmworkers. We will remain active in the SOC and bring our AFL-CIO partners into collaboration with private-sector unions in an effort to build more power for workers.

“The need for unity became paramount after the 2010 elections. The attacks on workers brought the UFCW into direct strategic partnership with the AFL-CIO and the entire labor movement. Our shared campaign revealed a dynamic and revitalized AFL-CIO and made it clear that it was time for the UFCW to redouble our efforts to build a more robust and unified labor movement.

“I respect Rich Trumka’s bold leadership of the AFL-CIO and his strategic advocacy on key issues like the urgent need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, fix the Affordable Care Act so workers in multiemployer plans can keep the health care they currently have, and ensure the National Labor Relations Board protects workers’ rights. The UFCW is proud to affiliate with a transparent, strategic and innovative AFL-CIO – an AFL-CIO committed to bringing a union voice on the job to millions of workers from coast to coast.”


 

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.