Tell McDonald’s, you’re not lovin’ it

Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for McDonald’s don’t have the right to unionize or to receive overtime pay and have no benefits. Most make under $10,000 per year.

Liz Cattaneo of American Rights at Work told the World by letter that if the company paid only a penny more a pound for its tomatoes, the wages of the farmworkers could be raised drastically. The company, which raked in $3.5 billion in profits last year and gave its CEO an $8 million “bonus,” has refused to do this. Cattaneo urges everyone to write to CEO Jim Stern and V.P. of Social Responsibility Bob Langrel telling them that you demand McDonald’s start respecting workers rights.

Hog boss gets ‘social responsibility’ award

The Financial Times named Smithfield Foods as “one of the most socially responsible companies in the world.”

We asked Dennis Pittman, spokesman for Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, N.C., whether the award had anything to do with the poverty wages, crippling injuries or union busting faced by his 5,500 workers daily as per reports by Human Rights Watch and the National Labor Relations Board.

“We’re the biggest in the business,” Pittman said, “and when you get as big as we are, you automatically become a target.”

Minimum wage hike and Black workers

A recent study conducted by the Joint Center for Political Economics Studies shows that African Americans will be the leading beneficiaries of the new federal minimum wage increase, which will raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 in three increments by 2009.

In its analysis of the hourly wage reported in the 2006 Current Population Survey, the Joint Center’s Study indicates that 1.4 million African American workers will potentially see their incomes rise as a direct effect of the minimum wage hike. As many as 189,000 African American workers will receive a pay raise on May 1, 2007, when the minimum wage increases to $5.85 per hour.

New York Taxi Workers Alliance joins AFL-CIO

Increasingly, traditional labor unions and nontraditional worker organizations are coming together to fight for working families.

On March 18, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, representing 10 million members, spoke to a gathering of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which has 7,200 members, and presented it with a certificate of affiliation. The Taxi Workers Alliance, whose members are classified as “independent contractors” and do not have collective bargaining rights, has nevertheless been fighting for years for better wages and working conditions.

S.F. Labor Council backs May Day actions

The AFL-CIO’s San Francisco Labor Council, at its meeting March 12, unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the federation’s unions and all workers in that city to join a planned May 1 march for workers’ and immigrant rights.

The resolution noted that history was made last year on May 1 as millions took off from work and school to march for the rights of immigrants and all workers.

The resolution calls for “marching behind the banner of (1) legalization and equal rights for immigrant workers, (2) stop the brutal raids on immigrant workers, (3) no ‘guest worker’ programs, (4) a moratorium on deportations and (5) uniting workers of all nationalities in the struggle for our rights and our future.”

Building trades to rally in D.C.

The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO is expecting over 2,500 representatives of workers from all 50 states to attend its 2007 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., March 26-28. They will hold a mass rally aimed at getting Congress to “stop the squeeze” on American workers, and sponsor a presidential candidates forum. Those who have announced they will attend the forum are former Sen. John Edwards (D-S.C.), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

John Wojcik (writergdr @ europe.com)

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