Who is the UFCW, and why are they turning Pullman into a battlefield?
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) represents approximately 1.3 million U.S. employees in industries ranging from meatpacking and food processing to manufacturing and retail grocers.So why wage war against Wal-Mart? The graphs below give the answer.
"If we can't organize [nonunion supermarkets]," says Tom McNutt, president of Local 400 of the UFCW, "the best thing to do is to erode their business as much as possible." This is the slash-and-burn theory driving UFCW's political-style PR offensive against Wal-Mart. Because the union has failed to organize workers at the chain, its leaders want to harm the company's bottom line and its employees.
"Organizing is war," according to longtime UFCW leader Joe Crump, and that means harassing nonunion employers and "costing them enough time and energy and money to either eliminate them or get them to surrender to the union."
The UFCW is dying, as are all non-public sector unions. That's why GM is offering to pay up to $140,000 to get rid of a 1/3 of its union workers. The UFCW's assets and members are declining. Unionizing Wal-Mart, with it's 1.3 million U.S. employees, would instantly double the UFCW's membership and replenish its coffers.
And let's take a look at how that money is spent. In 2004:
Now THOSE are some "living wage" jobs.
The International union headquarters paid former president Doug Dority more than $700,000 in salary and benefits. The International paid $309,000 to retired executive vice president Sarah Amos and another $256,000 to retired International executive vice president Michael Leonard --again, as salary. 262 UFCW officials across the country made more than $100,000 in salary.
Speaking of hypocrisy, remember how the UFCW charges Wal-Mart with all sorts of "unethical business and labor practices"?
Eastern Washington is represented by UFCW Local 1439. You may recall that Anthony Walters, a representative of UFCW Local 1439, spoke after the anti-Wal-Mart movie was shown in a taxpayer-funded facility on the WSU campus. This of course was right after PARD spokesman Chris Lupke denied that PARD had any union affiliations.
In late 2005, the former assistant to the president of UFCW International, Joseph DiFlumera, was sentenced for mail fraud, racketeering, and extorting more than $1.5 million from a grocery chain. DiFlumera told prosecutors that he would offer an "insurance policy" that allowed a company to "come under the umbrella" of protection from union organizing. DiFlumera "repeatedly advised these individuals that the monies paid to him were handed over to the president of Local 1445 and the UFCW. The defendant insisted that if these monies were not paid by the company the company would suffer extreme economic harm." Former UFCW International secretary-treasurer Joseph Talarico pled guilty to his role in embezzling $2 million from Local 1. He was ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution. In related indictments for defrauding UFCW, his son was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to repay $81,000 in embezzled funds; his daughter was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to repay $26,000; and his brother pled guilty to embezzling $650,000 from the union. Together, the four family members made more than $1 million in salaries from the local in 1996. In 1993, Newsday reported that UFCW founder William Wynn traveled in a $5 million union-owned jet plane and sold his house to the union for $620,000 (nearly twice the appraised price) -- and continued to live there for at least three years. The paper reported that in addition to Wynn's salary of $263,000 ($346,000 adjusted for inflation), he was reimbursed for $80,000 in expenses the previous year. It further noted that a reformer seeking to unseat Wynn "said that Wynn's salary and perks are a disgrace when put in the context of the incomes of the workers he represents" and had research that showed "Wynn's salary rose 122 percent from 1980 to 1992, while the average meat packing worker's wages went up 3 percent over that period."
The National Labor Relations Board investigates instances of union violations of the National Labor Relations Act and other labor laws. Unfair Labor Practices include instances of bad faith bargaining, excessive dues, violence, threats and many other violations. The table below shows some of the allegations filed against the UFCW since 2000:
On a unrelated note, there is an interesting link on the UFCW Local 1439 site called Stop Winco. The website, however, has not been developed yet.