You are here
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) members from across the United States visited Congress yesterday to speak with elected officials and encourage passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The controversial legislation was introduced earlier this month in both the Senate and the House.
During the visit, workers told stories mainly alleging employer intimidation and even terminations related to the attempted formation of unions in the workplace, but Armando Martinez, a Hormel Foods worker from Nebraska, shared his positive experience in joining the UFCW. "I know that having a union makes the difference because I have worked in places where employees are threatened when they try to get a voice on the job," he said. "When I started working at the Hormel Foods plant in Freemont, the UFCW already represented the workers. All I needed to do was sign up to show I wanted to join the union -- all without any intimidation or harassment from the company."
According to the union: "With Employee Free Choice, workers, not employers, will decide how to form a union. Workers will have the option of majority signup in addition to a secret ballot election. The Free Choice legislation will establish meaningful penalties for employers who break the law and harass or fire workers for wanting a union. Finally, Employee Free Choice will ensure that workers gain a first contract through a provision that calls for binding arbitration if workers and management cannot reach an agreement within 120 days."
However, retail industry representatives, including NACS, United Fresh, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and RILA, strongly contend that the proposed measure, because it allows employers to accept a union based on signed union authorization cards rather than the traditional secret ballot, would make it much easier for union organizers to harass and intimidate workers to sign the authorization cards.
The UFCW represents over 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food-processing and poultry industries.