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IKEA Workers In Stoughton, MA., File For Union Representation With UFCW

IKEA Workers Union UFCW

BOSTON – Today, workers at the IKEA furniture store in Stoughton, Mass. filed with the company for union recognition. While IKEA USA has union manufacturing plants in Danville, Va., and IKEA Group prides itself on positive relationships with unionized workers in stores around the world, this is the first time that IKEA retail workers in the United States have formed a union.

The bargaining unit consists of workers in the Goods Flow In department. The workers are joining the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the nation’s largest private sector union with 1.3 million members.

“I love working at IKEA, and I want to make a career here,” said eight year IKEA co-worker Chris DeAngelo. “A union is the best way to work together to live our values and build an even better IKEA. We’ve gone through a lot at our store, but this is a chance to turn over a new leaf and reset the relationship between IKEA’s hard-working men and women and management. If IKEA does what is right and chooses to recognize our union today, it will show that IKEA respects our right to join a union without fear of retaliation or harassment.”

Workers are seeking union recognition in an NLRB process that allows an employer to voluntarily recognize a union when workers demonstrate majority support. An overwhelming majority of Goods Flow In workers have signed a public petition to join the union. A copy of the petition can be obtained by contacting mbulloch@ufcw.org.

The Boston-area IKEA store has been the subject of a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint filed in Boston, alleging that the company violated federal law by unlawfully infringing on the right of workers to engage in protected union activity. The company has since settled the complaint with the NLRB.

The effort to improve the lives of IKEA workers has garnered domestic and international support. Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, stated, “here at the meeting of our World Executive Board, the affiliates of UNI, representing 20 million workers, including those working at IKEA stores the world over, have stated their unequivocal support for the brave actions of workers in IKEA Stoughton”.  Jennings continued, “we call on IKEA to listen to the workers at Stoughton and recognize their union rights; and we have today committed to stand with these workers until they have a union contract.”

UNI Global Union is an international federation of unions, representing the unions of IKEA retail workers around the world.

 UNI Global Union, based in Nyon, Switzerland, represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade. UNI and our affiliates in all regions are driven by the responsibility to ensure these jobs are decent and workers’ rights are protected, including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.

Coalition Tests The Strength Of Labor Protections In International Trade Agreements

Testing Labor Protections Within International Trade Agreements, Coalition Files Complaints Against Multinational Supermarket Chain 

Coalition of Labor and Consumer Groups File NAFTA and OECD complaints to Halt Worker Abuse at Mexican Retail Giant Chedraui Commercial Group 

WASHINGTON— As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) debate intensifies, a coalition of U.S. and Mexican labor and civil society groups are taking an unprecedented legal approach to protect workers’ rights that will test the strength of labor protections in international trade agreements.

The coalition filed “double barrel” complaints today under the NAFTA labor agreement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines to challenge workers’ rights abuses in both Mexico and the United States by Mexican retail giant Chedraui Commercial Group. The groups were led by the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770 (UFCW) union in the United States and the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT) union in Mexico.                                          

“Chedraui is a multinational firm that should live up to the labor standards set by NAFTA and the OECD guidelines,” said UFCW Local 770 President Ricardo Icaza. “In both Mexico and the United States, the company has silenced employees’ voices and trampled their rights, and we believe an international solution is necessary to this international problem.”

Chedraui is Mexico’s third-largest retail chain with 35,000 employees in more than 200 stores throughout the country.  Through its 83 percent ownership stake, Chedraui controls California-based Bodega Latina Corporation, which does business as the El Super grocery chain. El Super has 50 supermarkets employing more than 5,000 workers in California, Arizona and Nevada. 

The joint complaint has implications for the upcoming Congressional review of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“President Obama is pushing for TPP approval in the face of strong opposition from unions and others who see it as a giveaway to multinational companies that will only intensify inequality and downward pressure on jobs and wages,” said University of Maryland international labor law professor Marley Weiss, who was formerly chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on the NAFTA labor agreement.  “If the administration fails to take strong action in this Chedraui case, critics will see it as a signal that the United States is falling short on linking trade, investment and labor rights.” 

The OECD complaint calls for a halt to El Super’s aggressive, multi-year campaign of coercion against workers seeking a living wage, adequate sick days and affordable health insurance. After a series of unfair labor practice charges, the U.S. federal government sought a rare injunction to force the company to rehire a wrongfully fired union activist and reinstate unlawfully changed benefits, and return to the bargaining table.  The Federal Court issued injunctive relief and as a result of the government’s actions the company agreed to return to union contract negotiations with the UFCW.  However, the company has continued to ignore its obligations under the National Labor Relations Act and the two sides remain far apart in bargaining.

The NAFTA complaint alleges that Chedraui has cultivated dozens of sham unions in Mexico through so-called “protection contracts” that represent the interests of management, not workers, and prevent the formation of independent unions. Union officials said they are examining additional claims related to the NAFTA labor agreement’s strictures against child labor, discrimination, health and safety hazards, and wage and hour violations. 

This filing is the first time complaints about a company’s international labor abuses have been simultaneously submitted under both the OECD and NAFTA complaint mechanisms. The groups filing the complaints believe this approach will produce results tailored to the situation in each country. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and the Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER) in Mexico co-filed the complaints with the UFCW and FAT.


About the organizations

The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers in retail food, drug stores, packinghouses, food processing plants and other industries. Local 770 has been representing the interests of retail workers in Los Angeles County for 76 years and has 33,000 members, including El Super employees.

The FAT (Authentic Labor Front in English) is an independent confederation of labor unions in Mexico. 

The LAANE is a national leader in the effort to address the challenges of working poverty, inadequate health care and polluted communities.  

The PODER is a regional non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve corporate transparency and accountability in Latin America and to strengthen civil society stakeholders of corporations as long-term accountability guarantors. 

Additional information on the filing process 

The UFCW, FAT, LAANE and PODER filed the NAFTA complaint with U.S. Department of Labor. The NAFTA complaint seeks an investigation into Chedraui’s practices in Mexico and an evaluation of what the unions say is ineffective labor law enforcement by the Mexican government. The U.S. labor department has 60 days to decide whether to accept the NAFTA complaint for review, and it could ultimately lead to fines and other penalties.

Information on the NAFTA labor agreement (formally the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation or NAALC) and its complaint mechanisms is available at the website of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/trade/agreements/naalcgd.htm 

The same coalition filed a complaint against El Super in the United States under the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises of the 34-nation OECD. The organization adopted the guidelines in 2011 to promote good corporate citizenship by firms investing in other member countries. On industrial relations, the guidelines require good faith collective bargaining, respect for workers’ organizing rights, and fair pay and conditions. 

Each OECD country maintains a National Contact Point (NCP) to receive complaints about labor abuses by foreign investors.  Based in the State Department, the U.S. NCP has three months to decide whether to act on the unions’ complaint against Chedraui’s El Super chain. It can offer a mediation process that aims at resolving the dispute within six months.

Information on the OECD Guidelines and the U.S. National Contact Point is available at the US NCP website at http://www.state.gov/e/eb/oecd/usncp/index.htm. U.S. NCP confidentiality rules do not allow disclosure of the text of the unions’ complaint. However, information on El Super’s conduct is available on the union website at http://www.ufcw770.org/content/contractupdate-el-super


UFCW President Marc Perrone Says We “Must Defeat The TPP Once And For All”

UFCW_logo.svgWashington, D.C. — Today, Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, released the following statement in response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal text becoming public.

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton don’t agree on much, but both believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a terrible trade deal for America.

“In a nation so divided politically, a trade deal must be truly devastating to hard-working families when leading Presidential candidates from both parties find common ground in opposing it.

“Of course, the American people should not take anyone’s word for it. Finally, everyone will now have the opportunity, after months of backroom deals and secret negotiations, to read for themselves the truth about how this trade deal will destroy jobs and lead to lower wages in America. 

“Our message to Members of Congress is a simple one – listen to the concerns of UFCW members, everyday Americans and even the leading voices in the current Presidential race – and defeat the TPP once and for all.

“We may not be able to change every mind, but we will remember and hold accountable those elected leaders, Democrat or Republican, who choose to stand with corporate special interests, instead of doing what is right for hard-working men and women and their families.”

Union for Co-op Workers AND Co-op Food Stores Settle Unfair Labor Practice Case

Settlement agreement resolves charges that The Co-op Food Stores violated worker rights

UFCW_logo.svgLEBANON, N.H.– After a contentious union election at its Lebanon location, The Co-op Food Stores has signed a settlement agreement with the National Labor Relations Board and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The settlement contains multiple actions ensuring that workers at The Co-op Food Stores know their rights and do not have those rights violated by their employer.

As part of the agreement, The Co-op Food Stores reinstated a terminated employee with back pay, will remove discipline from another vocal union supporter’s file and will change eight sections of its handbook to ensure that its policies do not restrict workers’ rights to organize. They will also post a notice at all four of its locations informing all their employees of their rights to organize and pledging not to violate federal law. These postings include a pledge not to surveil, threaten, discipline or fire workers for discussing their working conditions or forming a union.

“We believe that this election was not free from intimidation and interference by management, and this settlement agreement begins to right some of the wrongs” said UFCW Local 1459 President Dan Clifford. “As at The Co-op Food Stores, Local 1459 stands by every retail worker who wants a voice at work and feels intimidated and harassed for standing up.”

UFCW Local 1459 represents hundreds of co-op workers across five co-op stores in Western New England. The local will continue to support workers at the Co-op Food Store locations who want to join other workers across the country and work together for improved wages, hours, and working conditions.

“Although the election was unsuccessful, we have made real change at the co-op and will continue to stand up for what’s right,” said Kristin Henault, Cheese Clerk at The Co-op Food Stores Lebanon location. “Workers and member-owners have been coming together to improve this co-op for several years and much more will be done to ensure Co-op Food Stores lives up to its cooperative principles.”

UNIONS MATTER: A&P Supermarket Workers, The UFCW, & The Fight For Justice!


By Matthew D’Amico for Unions Matter

In July, the supermarket chain A&P filed for bankruptcy—for the second time in the last five years. It operates more than 300 grocery stores, including Pathmark in the Northeast, employing in total about 30,000 men and women. According to an article on NJ.com, some 4,500 workers at A&P stores throughout NJ are being notified that they will be out of a job on Thanksgiving Day. Negotiations are underway with various chains including Key Food, which wants to buy A&P stores at bargain basement prices. As we can see from the following, posted on the blog of Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), there is a ferocious battle being waged between the union fighting for their members who work at A&P stores and Key Food, which wants to buy the stores by capitalizing on the A&P bankruptcy. The blog states:

“Key Food’s proposals are greedy, shortsighted and offensive to all of the hardworking men and women we represent. The company has been insistent in proposing that the new owner has the right to reduce the pay of all employees, the right to reduce your hours and the right to reduce your health coverage at their own discretion.

“Together, our unions have made it clear to Key Food that we will not accept any concessionary proposals that would result in diminishing the lifestyles of our members.

“We are not obligated in any way to accept their greedy terms….It is [our] position that if Key Food was allowed to reduce pay by $5 per hour, reduce hours from 40 to 35 hours per week, and reduce health coverage from family plans to single [person coverage] that the damage would be catastrophic. The proposed pay and hour cuts would equate to well over $250 per week in lost wages and the difference between a single and family medical plan could be as much as $600 to $700 per month. If that’s not enough, the company also has the arrogance to demand our members begin making a weekly contribution into this new inferior healthcare plan. These terms are simply unacceptable.

I respect the passion in this writing. It’s shameful that men and women who have given many years of their working lives to A&P are forced to be in this situation at all. The last time A&P went bankrupt, in 2010, its employees gave up $625 million in concessions to help the company stay afloat. A&P is on the rocks again today largely due to strong competition by Walmart and by its own mismanagement—and, of course, the company is blaming its failure on the union contracts. This is a scenario which has played out many times throughout our country. A company such as A&P declares bankruptcy and looks for a buyer–in this instance, Key Food. To make the sale attractive and protect its assets, a bankrupt company will usually gut worker pay and benefits while making sure executives get their golden parachutes and shareholders, a return on their investment. For instance, last year a bankruptcy judge granted a request by Trump Entertainment Resorts to terminate its contract with Local 54 of the UNITE HERE union. The company and their investors said the casino couldn’t survive without shedding costly pension and health care obligations. This is a fake reason for robbing workers of their pensions and health benefits. The idea that an “investor” takes precedence over an employee—has no basis in fact. Workers earned the profits. Why should investors who did no work have a claim to the profits now? They don’t!

In an important issue of the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, wrote about a situation that emerged during the recession of 2008—the restructuring of the auto industry. And it’s very pertinent to what is now occurring with A&P:

There’s only one reason for suggesting that union contracts are hurting the auto industry. That reason is the assumption that we must protect the thing that’s the real blight on American economics: private profits for people who didn’t do the work….To blame union contracts for any of the auto industry’s financial trouble is disingenuous and an insult to the American people. The true feeling of Americans is: All of us should be making at least what our brothers and sisters in the UAW are. Nothing should be taken away from them—the nation should make sure good salaries and healthcare and pensions are had by everyone! What we want is something fundamentally American. What we want is a profit-for-those-who-do-the-work system. What we want is a profit-for-all-Americans system.’”

As a political coordinator for a public sector union (CSEA, AFSCME, AFL-CIO), I have seen the same rhetoric attacking unionized public employees that is used against those in the private sector. We are attacked for having “generous” pensions and benefits. Our work can’t be shipped overseas but it can be outsourced and given over to companies that pay workers low wages with no benefits. I’ve learned that the only way profit economics can survive is by impoverishing the American people, having people be poorer. This is why, Ellen Reiss has explained, that There has been a furious effort to safeguard profit economics by wiping out the long-fought-for achievements of unions, and if possible unions themselves.

As we are about to celebrate Labor Day and honor the sacrifices of those who fought and even died for working people to be treated with the fairness they deserve, it is imperative for the American people and unions to be clearer than ever about the justice unions fought for and stand for. This clearness includes an economy that is fair to people—where the profits go to the people who do the work—not to exorbitantly paid executives and shareholders who profit from the labor of others.

Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, asked a vital question which I’ve spoken about to the members of my union—to good effect: “What does a person deserve by being a person?” We should think of this question the next time we see someone working at a grocery store. What does the woman working at the deli counter deserve? What does the man stocking the shelves with cans of food deserve? What does the lady at the cash register scanning our purchases deserve? When these questions are answered honestly by Americans from coast to coast, we will be closer to having an economy that is both kind and efficient.


I also want my brothers and sisters to know about a great event: the repeat performance of “Ethics is a Force 2015!—Songs About Labor,which will be presented by the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company on Sunday, September 13th at 2:30 PM at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in NYC (SoHo). There is this from the announcement: “This show of songs and comment explains truly and thrillingly what’s really happening in the American economy today, and in the feelings of men and women!” I was at the first presentation, and I tell you, it was electrifying. It can strengthen the life of every union member, and I hope you will be there!

UFCW President Perrone: “We Will End LGBTQ Discrimination in the Workplace”

UFCW_logo.svgUFCW Vows to Fight for LGBTQ Rights at Work and Advocate for Comprehensive Healthcare for Transgendered Workers

ORLANDO — Today, Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, addressed LGBTQ union members at the AFL-CIO Pride at Work conference in Orlando, Fla. The UFCW was the first labor union to endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The UFCW also implemented a policy of including gender reassignment surgery as part of a comprehensive Health and Welfare plan for union employees:

“Even though we are celebrating marriage equality this summer, too many LGBTQ workers still endure discrimination in workplaces that are far from equal. Today, in 29 states, it is still legal to fire a worker on the basis of their sexual orientation. In 33 states, a worker can be fired for being transgendered.

“Right now, the only way for these workers to gain the protection at work that we all deserve is through a union contract.

“In this spirit, I am proud to say that as part of our long commitment to equality for all workers, the UFCW is changing our Health and Welfare plan to include gender reassignment surgery. While this is a change that should have been made long ago, it is a change that I am proud of.

“The UFCW is committed to putting an end to discrimination in the workplace. We will stand up, speak out and fight for what is right when companies disregard the value of hard-working men and women, based on whom they may love or who they are.”

Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational   @UFCW

UFCW President Perrone: “The Best Way to Help the Jobless is to Stop Passing Trade Agreements like TPP that Kill Jobs.”

UFCW_logo.svg“Our campaign for trade policy that is fair and just will continue full speed ahead.”

Washington, D.C. — Today, Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, released the following statement in response to the U.S. House failing to advance fast track trade legislation.

“This is a victory for hard-working men and women all across America. In the face of long odds, the American people sent a powerful message that their interests trump narrow political agendas and special interests.

“Today, we saw elected leaders stand up and make clear that the failed promises of global trade agreements, which only seem to serve irresponsible corporations, must come to an end. More importantly, we have seen what hard-working families can accomplish when we stand together and fight for what is right for both workers and this nation.

“With respect to TAA, we support a clean extension of the program, but the best way to help the jobless is to simply stop passing trade agreements like TPP that kill jobs.

“While one vote does not end the fight, our campaign for a better America will continue full speed ahead until the threat of TPP and other unfair trade deals is gone for good.”

Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

 www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational    @UFCW

New Charge Against Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society Alleges Unlawful Anti-Worker Conduct

UFCW_logo.svgLocal Co-op Charged with Intimidating and Interfering with its Workers’ Rights

HANOVER, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) filed a federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that management at the Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society unlawfully stifled workers’ rights to organize – including preventing them from talking about unions inside the store and intimidating workers who were discussing organizing a union. The Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society employs over 400 workers out of five retail locations and a commissary kitchen and does business locally as The Co-op Food Stores.

“Unions and co-ops are like peas and pods – they stem from the same core, they share the same values,” said co-op Member Len Ziefert. “It is antithetical for co-ops to oppose unionization, unions are employees working cooperatively.”

The member-owned co-op has been in the spotlight over the last year following the termination of two well-regarded employees. The fired workers sued co-op management, claiming they were fired as retaliation for speaking out about workplace conditions and for talking with union representatives. After the fallout from this lawsuit, members elected three new directors to the board who are focused on making the co-op more worker-friendly. While the wrongful termination case is currently still being litigated, this unrelated NLRB charge raises the question if anything has changed at The Co-op Food Stores or if co-op management continues to engage in anti-worker practices.

“By standing together in union, workers preserve their voice and true co-op principles,” said Reid Kotlas, a regular shopper. “The Co-op Food Stores should live up to the values of its member-owners and of the co-op movement and respect its workers’ rights to organize a union.”

The “Fast Track” Bill For The Trans-Pacific Partnership Hit The Floor Of Congress Today, Labor Responds

It was only a matter of time until the multi-national corporations who helped fund the campaigns of many of the politician’s in Washington pushed for another trade agreement that will make them billions of dollars, and leave millions of American workers without a job.

Today the “Senate’s Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” hit the Congressional floor. The deal was brokered by Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The New York Times spelled it out pretty well:

“It would give Congress the power to vote on the more encompassing 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies.”

President Obama has already said he will oppose the unions — who help him win two elections — and his fellow democrats to get this trade agreement passed.

Richard_Trumka“At a time when workers all over the country are standing up for higher wages, Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs. That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track (TPA-2015) and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.”

Trumka continued, “Trade deals have wide-ranging impacts and shouldn’t be negotiated behind closed doors and then rubber-stamped. The current Trans-Pacific Partnership deal under discussion would cover 40 percent of the world’s GDP. A deal this big should be debated in a full and open manner like every other piece of legislation. Working people are showing tremendous courage standing up to the low-wage, corporate agenda. It’s time for politicians to do the same.”

Labor unions and progressive advocates have been calling for more transparency in this ginormous trade agreement. The White House has been negotiating this deal in secret, while assuring everyone that this will not be another NAFTA. The problem is that every time new information about the trade agreement is leaked, it shows exactly the opposite. More gifts to Wall Street and Corporations while the American people suffer.

“The proposed Fast Track bill fails all the tests that Senator Ron Wyden said were critical: Trade Adjustment Assistance, transparency, action to combat currency manipulation, real enforcement of environmental and worker standards, and procedures to enable Congress ‘to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course,’ as Wyden put it. Since this legislation requires a supermajority, or 60 votes, for the Senate to remove the TPP or any subsequent deal from Fast Track consideration, this provision is virtually meaningless,” wrote the Communication Workers of America in a statement late this afternoon.

Larry Cohen CWA“We need to put the brakes on Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority. Just like the TPP itself, there has been no transparency around Trade Promotion Authority. We’ve had the start of a Senate hearing even before a bill was finalized and introduced. Now, that legislation is headed to mark up and a floor vote in just days. Trade Promotion Authority pretends to be about trade, but in reality it is about protecting corporate profits above all else and defining our national security in terms of giving away our jobs, depressing our wages and then rewarding the responsible multinational corporations, often U.S. based, with guaranteed profits in the nations where they invest,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.

Leo W Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers union wrote in his weekly column about how “illegally subsidized steel” is coming into the United States and forcing more workers out on the streets. “American steel producers laid off thousands of workers in bedrock communities from Ohio and Illinois to Texas and Alabama. That’s in just the past three months.”

“NAFTA has led to the loss of 1 million American jobs,” said Senator Bernie Sanders on the floor of the US Senate in late February. “Since we signed NAFTA the United States has cumulative trade deficit of 8.8 trillion dollars. That is wealth that has left the U.S. and gone overseas.”

It is not just the manufacturing unions who are speaking out against the Fast Track and the TPP.

The UFCW supported the last major trade agreement with Korea because of its improved labor standards and potential to create 20,000 jobs in the meat sector. But in his op-ed, Perrone makes clear that this time is different.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the Korea free trade agreement,” he writes. “It is neither free nor fair. And the UFCW is determined to see it defeated.”

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers and an outspoken progressive also spoke out against the agreement.

“At a time when we need to be focused on creating and sustaining good jobs for American workers, fast track would undermine these efforts, leading to trade deals that hurt everyday working people and stack the deck in favor of corporations. And it would do this in a secretive way, with limited public and congressional oversight and no effective enforcement,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

She continued, “Our nation’s trade policy should help put us on a path toward lifting all Americans’ quality of life—ensuring rights for workers, protections for consumers and safeguards for the environments. That’s why we need a democratic and transparent trade process that offers a fair shake for American workers. This bill is over-reaching and will fail to keep working families and our economy strong.”

“We send our elected leaders to Washington to be our voice,” said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson. “Under fast track, Congress will have no say in selecting our trade partners, negotiating trade terms, or debating and amending trade agreements. This bill panders to corporate profiteers, while ignoring the voices of everyday American workers, who are fighting to oppose it.”

Now we need everyone to stand up and put an end to this monumental race to the bottom.

10492525_10153211806206153_8036817465541163150_nUses your cell phone to text TPP to 877877 and you can be connected directly to your Congressman or Senators office to tell them to vote no on this legislation. Or call the Senate directly at 1-855-790-8815 and tell them that “Fast Track means bad trade deals that ship American jobs overseas.”

Then take part in a National Day of Action to Stop Fast Track this Saturday, April 18th. Click here to find an event near you.

The AFL-CIO has more information on the TPP and “Fast Track” legislation on their website.

AFL-CIO Launches Historic Campaign to Assist Workers with Immigration Executive Action and Citizenship Assistance

We Rise! national immigration initiative will build worker and community power and assist eligible immigrants with the DACA, DAPA and with U.S. Citizenship

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO officially launched “We Rise!,” a national immigration initiative to reach, mobilize, and organize immigrant workers to build power on the job and in the community. We Rise! will train union members and equip union halls around the country to empower immigrant workers and their families to gain rights on the job by applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. The program will also encourage qualified Legal Permanent Residents to become U.S. Citizens.

“President Obama’s executive actions were the right thing to do, but we’re not done yet. This progress can be stalled but it cannot be stopped. With the launching of the We Rise! initiative we are moving forward,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The “We Rise!” national immigration initiative was launched with a three day training where more than 200 union members, leaders and staff from 23 different unions and activists from 27 states gathered in Washington, DC to receive practical, hands-on training that will enable them to return to their communities with plans to assist qualified applicants with the DAPA, DACA programs and U.S. Citizenship.

“We learned a lot in the workshops and trainings, from how DACA and DAPA will protect and advance workers’ rights, to how to identify eligible recipients and assist them with the application process,” said Ildefonso Magaña, an International Union of Painters and Allied Trades organizer from Phoenix, AZ. “You could feel the energy in all the sessions. There is a lot of excitement and we are all looking forward to returning to our communities to hit the ground running.”

In February, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction on both immigration executive actions. The 5th Court Circuit has set a hearing for April 17. AFL-CIO President Trumka has stated that “this temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs.”

As part of this commitment, unions in key states will open their halls to eligible workers, where they will learn more about their rights on the job and meet trained volunteers and legal experts who will assist them with filling out their applications and answer any questions in regards to both programs and the citizenship process.

In addition, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, will launch “Working America We Rise!”, a project offering immigrant workers the opportunity to join the labor movement and receive benefits including legal services, credit counseling, prepaid cards with a feature for remittances, and access to dental and vision discounts. Dues-paying Working America We Rise! members are also eligible to apply for a $250 “We Rise! Grant” to help fund deferred action application fees.

“It is great to know there is assistance out there for workers who will benefit from citizenship, and the DACA and DAPA programs,” said Maria Dominguez, an American Federation of Teachers member who benefited from DACA, and now works as teacher in Austin, TX. “With these programs workers will finally be able to claim our rights at work and parents of our students will stop being deported. This is just the beginning.”

During the past year, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions have organized citizenship workshops in several cities in the country.  The UFCW has been at the forefront of building a robust program that has helped to guide the federation’s work. The We Rise! initiative is a continuation of the labor movement’s efforts to empower all workers by pushing for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship.

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