UFCW Press Releases

Hormel Workers Approve Contract for 2,500 Employees in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Georgia

With Final Vote, Hormel Workers Ratify New Four-Year Contract to Strengthen Wages, Expand Healthcare Coverage, Increase Pensions

WASHINGTON, D.C.– This week, the final vote by Hormel workers in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Georgia was cast with members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 6 (Algona Iowa), Local 9 (Austin, Minnesota), Local 1473 (Beloit, Wisconsin), and Local 1996 (Atlanta, Georgia) overwhelmingly approving the new contract.

The democratic process for contract negotiations requires members of all four UFCW Local Unions to vote on whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement before contracts are official. The new contract strengthens wages, protects and expands healthcare, and protects and increases pensions for Hormel workers across the country.

The presidents of UFCW Locals 6, 9, 1473, and 1996 released the following statement:

“By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, thousands of our hardworking members sent a powerful message this week about the power that comes from workers standing together.

“This contract not only rewards hard work, it provides affordable healthcare, strong pensions, and critical benefits that ensure our UFCW members are able to build the better life they’ve earned. For millions of Americans, this contract ensures that they can continue to count on our members for the high-quality Hormel products they feed their families every day.”

Background:

A total of 2,500 Hormel workers – represented by UFCW Local 6 (Algona Iowa), UFCW Local 9 (Austin, Minnesota), UFCW Local 1473 (Beloit, Wisconsin), and UFCW Local 1996 (Atlanta, Georgia) – strongly stood united since contract negotiations started the week of July 28, 2019. Together, these workers protected their health care, secured better wages, and improved pensions.

A Tentative Agreement was reached on Friday, October 4 and all four local unions held contract ratification votes with final votes concluding earlier this week.

The new contracts achieve the following:

  • Healthcare: All workers will continue to have access to the affordable and quality healthcare that they and their families need.
  • Pensions: All pensions were protected and increased to help workers prepare for the secure retirement they and their families have earned.
  • Wages: All workers will see increases in wages to help them continue to provide for their families and build a better life.

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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

UFCW Files Lawsuit to Stop USDA’s Dangerous Pork Line Speed Rule

America’s Largest Private Sector Union, Representing 30,000 Pork Workers, Challenges USDA Policy Endangering Safety of Food and Workers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, together with Public Citizen and UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2 filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota seeking to stop the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new swine slaughter modernization rule which  eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter plants and turns inspection of our food over to the companies that produce it.

“Thousands of our members work hard every day in America’s pork plants to help families across the country put food on the table. Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “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. The safety of America’s food and workers is not for sale and this lawsuit seeks to ensure this dangerous rule is set aside and these companies are held accountable.”

“Shockingly, USDA admitted in its rule that it simply ignored the mounds of evidence that showed its actions will harm workers, while bending over backwards to help businesses. That violates basic principles of administrative law,” said Adam Pulver, an attorney with Public Citizen, which represents UFCW and the three locals in the case.

The lawsuit alleges that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is not backed by reasoned decision-making.

“We urged the USDA to consider how unsafe this rule would make our workplaces, but they refused,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht in Minnesota. “We had no choice but to go to court to stop a rule that will endanger the health and livelihoods of thousands of UFCW members.”

“We have a lot of pride in the products our members produce,” said UFCW Local 440 President Leo Kanne in Iowa. “This rule will erode the quality and safety of the food we make and feed to our own families.”

“The USDA claims that this rule will make our food safer,” said UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas in Kansas. “But our members, who have worked in the industry for years, know firsthand it makes both the food they make and the plants they work in less safe. Let’s listen to the first-hand experts who work in these plants every day, instead of big corporations just looking to make even more money.” 

BACKGROUND 

On the USDA published a new rule for pork meat inspections which removes limits on line speeds in swine slaughter plants and turns over major meat inspection tasks from federal inspectors to meat companies.

  • The UFCW represents about 250,000 workers in the meatpacking and food processing industries and 30,000 workers in pork plants. UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.
  • In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rulethat would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.
  • All the UFCW locals who are parties in the lawsuit represent pork slaughter workers. UFCW Local 663 is based in Brooklyn Center, Minn.; UFCW Local 440 is based in Denison, Iowa; and UFCW Local 2 is based in Bel Aire, Kan. 

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule will hurt workers 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 line speed increases 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 previous maximum line speed for swine was 1,106 hogs per hour.

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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

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

 

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

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

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

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