- March 6 - The following is a
statement by Doug Dority, international president, United Food And
Commercial Workers Union:
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is the largest
organization of food processing workers in the United States. We
put breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table for America's
To feed America's families, thousands of food processing workers
are needlessly crippled and maimed each year. Meatpacking and
poultry processing have some of the highest incidences of
repetitive motion injuries in the country.
It is easy to understand.
Take a knife and make a forceful cutting motion. Do the exact
same motion again...and, again...and, again...and, again. Make that
exact same motion 10,000 times...20,000 times...40,000 to 50,000
times a day. Do it for five or six days a week...50 weeks a year.
You will find out what happens to your hand, your wrist, your
elbow, your shoulder. You won't be able to pick your child. You
won't be able to play ball with your kids. You won't be able to do
a hundred simple things that most of us take for granted.
I challenge any Senator or Member of Congress who is thinking of
voting against America's workers and voting against the ergonomic
standard -- to take a food processor's knife and make just a few
thousand cuts -- and, see for themselves why the ergonomic standard
is essential to protect working families from injury, pain and job
I challenge the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and
the National Association of Manufacturers to take a food
processor's knife and make just a few thousand cuts -- and, then
say there is no need for an ergonomic standard.
I doubt if we will have any takers on this challenge.
The case against the ergonomic standard is based on
ignorance...not information. The case against the ergonomic
standard is based on political muscle...not the human muscle that
produces the food products that feed America.
We know that ergonomics works. We have redesigned work stations
in meatpacking plants...and, we cut the injuries, we cut the worker
compensation costs, and we cut the human misery that comes with
workplace illnesses and injuries.
We know that OSHA enforcement action -- or, the potential of
OSHA enforcement action -- motivates employers to work together
with workers and their unions to put effective ergonomics programs
The UFCW has some of the most effective ergo programs in the
country -- at IBP in Dakota City, Nebraska and at various Excel
These plants are models for the meatpacking industry and any
other industry. We know that without OSHA, employers are much less
likely to deal effectively with repetitive motion injuries.
The ergonomic standard is the catalyst for action...action that
will prevent the thousands of crippling injuries that are
destroying life, work and family for workers in the food processing
The 1.4 million member UFCW represents workers in retail food,
meatpacking, food processing, health care and chemicals. The UFCW
is one of the largest single organizations of workers directly
impacted by an ergonomic standard. The UFCW initiated the effort
for an ergonomic standard during the George Bush Administration.
Bush's Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole, began work on the
ergonomic standard following a meeting with the UFCW President. The
current standard is a direct result of the work of the UFCW more
than a decade ago.