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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 7, 2001
6:06 PM
CONTACT:  United Food and Commercial Workers Union
Greg Denier, 202-466-1591 or Jill Cashen, 202-728-4797 press@ufcw.org
Working America Challenges Corporate America:
Do Our Jobs For An Hour
UFCW Challenge Business Leaders On Ergonomic Standard
 
WASHINGTON - 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 families.

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 loss.

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 in place.

The UFCW has some of the most effective ergo programs in the country -- at IBP in Dakota City, Nebraska and at various Excel plants.

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 industry.

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.

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