1.3 Million-Member UFCW Rejoins the AFL-CIO
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union's president, Joe Hansen, and Executive Board announced the affiliation on Aug. 8 and posted a statement saying it was done "in order to build a stronger, more unified voice for the rights of workers."
On the eve of its convention that will begin Aug. 12 in Chicago, the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union has affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The move by UFCW President Joe Hansen, supported by a vote of the UFCW Executive Board, comes eight years after the UFCW departed to form the Change to Win Federation with several other large unions. Still in CTW are the Teamsters, Service Employees, and United Farmworkers of America.
"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," Hansen said in a statement posted on the union's website. "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 has been a rewarding one. The CTW's Strategic Organizing Center 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," he continued. "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."
A statement by Trumka, the AFL-CIO president, is posted on the AFL-CIO's blog: "Today's decision by the UFCW to unite with the broader labor movement is great news for workers living in the 'new normal' of the low wage economy -- working women, young part time workers, retail workers, immigrant workers, and so many more. A stronger, more unified grassroots movement of working men and women is exactly what’s needed to raise wages for workers and rebuild an American middle class. Together, we are stronger -- it's as simple as that. Together, working people have a stronger voice and the power to defend their rights on the job. Together, we have a stronger voice in the global economy -- the power to counter the excesses of CEOs and the ravages of inequality. What's exciting is that many workers are already speaking out and taking action to build power together, so UFCW’s affiliation to build a stronger movement couldn't be more timely. This is a bold, important step by the UFCW. I have great respect for the members and leaders of UFCW -- and especially for the innovative, courageous leadership of Joe Hansen. I look forward to a strong partnership that can make a real and growing difference for today's workers."
UFCW members work primarily in grocery and retail stores and in the meatpacking and food processing industries in the United States and Canada.