The Stand

1.3 million member UFCW rejoins AFL-CIO

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CHICAGO (Aug. 9, 2013) — On Thursday, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) affiliated with the AFL-CIO in a move the leaders of both organizations said helps build a stronger, more unified labor movement.The UFCW Executive Board voted to add their 1.3 million member union to the labor federation at their meeting in preparation for the UFCW’s annual convention, which begins Monday, Aug. 12 in Chicago.

hansen-joe-UFCW“The need for unity became paramount after the 2010 elections,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen. “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.”

UFCW was previously affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but left in 2005 to form Change to Win, along with Service Employees International Union, UNITE HERE, Teamsters and the United Farmworkers. UNITE HERE re-affiliated with the AFL-CIO in 2009.

“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,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “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.”

ufcwAlthough their international union had disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO, UFCW local unions around Washington state — including UFCW Local 21, the state’s largest private-sector union with more than 38,000 members — remained affiliated and active with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Charter program allowed local unions outside the AFL-CIO to remain affiliated with AFL-CIO state federations and central labor councils. Also affiliated with the WSLC are UFCW Local 367 in Tacoma, UFCW Local 1439 in Spokane, and Washington Public Employees Association/UFCW 365 in Olympia. All of the remaining Change to Win unions also have locals in Washington affiliated with the WSLC (see the list).

“Yesterday was a great moment for the labor movement as the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union voted to rejoin the AFL-CIO,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “Though the WSLC and Washington’s UFCW locals have continued to work together all along, it is with great enthusiasm and pleasure that we welcome back UFCW International. UFCW’s has a great history of progressiveness and fighting for social and economic justice. We look forward to working together to expose inequality in our workplaces and communities and bringing together all workers with one voice.”

Here is UFCW President Hansen’s statement released Thursday:

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. 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 (CTW) has been a rewarding one. The CTW’s Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) 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.  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.

Here is a statement issued Thursday from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

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.

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