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.”
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.
Oakville and Ohsweken, Ont. – October 7, 2019 – UFCW Canada recently attended Sisters in Spirit Vigils in Halton and Mississauga to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to demand government action on this important issue.
National Union releases a Voter’s Guide factsheet on Women’s Rights.
A dodgy privatization scheme getting an award from the privatization industry is one more reminder that what’s good for the privatization industry and what’s good for the public are two very different things.
Ottawa (7 Oct. 2019) — “Correctional officers have some of the toughest jobs in Canada, and our members are proud of the work they do. But they need more support from every level of government.” ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President.
Toronto – October 5, 2019 – Every October 10, people around the world observe World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of the stigmas surrounding mental illness and the importance of promoting mental health.
The Minister responsible for the Civil Service, Scott Fielding, is refusing to appoint an arbitration panel after the MGEU recently filed for arbitration in order to reach a contract settlement. In denying Civil Service members their legal right to arbitration, the MGEU Civil Service Bargaining Committee has no choice but to pursue this matter in court.
National Union releases a Voter’s Guide factsheet on Indigenous Rights.
Toronto – October 4, 2019 – UFCW Canada activists recently joined dozens of labour allies and legal advocates to protest unsafe working conditions at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery in Toronto, and demand that the company protect workers’ health and safety.
For immediate release
Friday October 4, 2019
VANCOUVER - Seven municipalities across BC are supporting fairness for contract faculty through motions, proclamations, and public letters of support in the leadup to Fair Employment Week, an international campaign that calls attention to the working conditions experienced by contract faculty at post-secondary institutions.
“This show of support from municipalities demonstrates the broad support for treating contract faculty fairly, not as underpaid disposable labour,” said FPSE President Terri Van Steinburg. “We have contract faculty who have to access income assistance because their pay is so low. We have contract faculty who earn half or less than their colleagues for doing the same work. This has to change. Paying people less for doing the same work is not the right way to build our post-secondary system, or our province.”
Fair Employment Week runs from October 7-11, 2019 and is being recognized across Canada through events on campuses and in communities. The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators will be in Victoria October 9-10 to highlight the issues being faced by contract faculty.
In BC, most institutions pay contract faculty less than regular faculty for doing the same work. However, paying contract faculty fairly can be done. At Vancouver Community College and Langara College doing the same work results in the same pay.
“Paying people fairly is not only a social justice issue, it’s also economic one. Moving to a same work/same pay model at all post-secondary institutions will improve service for students and working conditions for contract faculty, a disproportionate number of whom are women and racialized educators,” continued Van Steinburg. “The time for change is now.”
Full list of municipalities:
City of New Westminster
City of Port Coquitlam
City of Surrey
Resort Municipality of Whistler
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators represents 10,000 educators in colleges, institutes and teaching universities in BC.
Nicole Seguin, Communications Officer
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC
604-873-8988 | 604-831-6684
Sonography Week is October 7 to 13, 2019 which celebrates the important role sonographers play in delivering quality health care to Canadians.
A sonographer is a health care professional who specializes in the use of ultrasonic imaging devices to produce diagnostic images, scans, videos, or 3D volumes of anatomy and diagnostic data, frequently a radiographer but may be any health care professional with the appropriate training. The requirements for clinical practice vary greatly by country. Sonography requires specialized education and skills to view, analyze and modify the scan to optimize the information in the image. Because of the high levels of decisional latitude and diagnostic input, sonographers have a high degree of responsibility in the diagnostic process.
For more information, please visit the Sonography Canada website.
CNTL members voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new collective agreement.
“The members of Unifor Local 4000 at CNTL work long, thankless hours to deliver the goods that Canadians rely on. I congratulate them, and the bargaining committee for this collective agreement that recognizes their worth,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
The new deal builds on strong benefits including a leading fuel subsidy, bonuses for safety and fuel conservation, and increased bereavement leave. Owner-operators will also see mileage and wait time increases in every year of the agreement.
“CNTL owner-operators are asked to drive great distances, delivering cargo right across our country,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “A contract like this one not only raises the bar for Unifor members, but lays down the gauntlet in the trucking industry, asking employers to deliver more for drivers.”
Unifor represents 1006 CNTL members who are dependant owner-operator truck drivers who haul cargo for CN’s Intermodal business, including local pick-up and delivery service, regional and long-haul delivery across Canada, and truck service at Canada’s ports in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.
CNTL membership is truly pan-Canadian, with members based in Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver Island.
National Union releases a Voter's Guide factsheet on pharmacare. With 3 of the 4 national political parties committed to pharmacare, the outcome of this election will be critical to the future of public health care in Canada.
(Ottawa – October 4, 2019) Tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day (WTD) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins with the global education community in celebrating the many accomplishments of the teaching profession, and highlighting the need to ensure the profession is attractive to and supportive of new teachers.
“The success of education at all levels rests upon the foundation of a highly qualified, talented and committed teaching corps,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Today, particularly in Canada’s colleges and universities, the growth of precarious and insecure academic jobs is undermining the attractiveness of academic work and turning away young talent at a time where there is a pressing need for faculty renewal.”
CAUT is urging governments in Canada to make faculty renewal and decent work a core priority, and to adhere fully to the principles of fair employment embodied in both the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).
These are the findings of a survey conducted by Unifor from September 30 to October 3, 2019 with a representative sample of 800 online Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.
For more information about bargaining at Saskatchewan Crowns, visit myCrowns.ca.