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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Senator Obama Urges Justice for Beef Northwest Workers

Last week, we reported on the situation at Beef Northwest were workers, tired of mistreatment, long hours and a lack of respect, have been asking for over a year to be represented by United Farm Workers (UFW).

On August 4th, Senator Obama sent a letter to Beef Northwest encouraging them to honor their employee's rights to organize for fair wages and treatment. The release below was sent out by UFW discussing that letter. Senator Obama's letter accompanied those from Senator Wyden, Senator Clinton, and Governor Kulongoski.

Obama Urges Justice for Beef Northwest Workers

Steve Witte
503 421-4908

PORTLAND ‑‑‑ Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama sent a letter to John Wilson of Beef Northwest on Monday, urging him to honor the results of a free and fair election where a majority of the workers asked for representation by the UFW.

In his letter Obama said, “I encourage you to recognize the card check election of June 13, and to negotiate with your employees’ chosen bargaining agent, the United Farm Workers.”

On June 13 a neutral third-party verified that a majority of workers wanted UFW representation. To date, Beef Northwest has refused to accept the outcome of this election.

Beef Northwest operates feedlots in Boardman and Nyssa, Ore. and Quincy, WA. Country Natural Beef fattens all their cattle at the Beef Northwest feedlots prior to slaughter.

“If this election is good enough for who we expect to be the next President of the United States, it should be good enough for Beef Northwest,” said Steve Witte, UFW Pacific Northwest director of strategic campaigns. “Beef Northwest should heed Sen. Obama’s call to end this dispute by immediately beginning good faith negotiations with the UFW.”

Feedlot workers at Beef Northwest have been trying for more than a year to organize, but they have been met with resistance by the company as well as subjected to threats and intimidation for supporting the union.

In addition, in late May of this year, three women from eastern Oregon filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against Beef Northwest claiming the company refused to take their applications and instead hired men to fill the open positions.

In his letter, Obama went on to say, “I am committed to the ability of our nation’s agricultural workers to organize, to receive a decent wage, and to have a safe working environment. All workers should be free to form a union, and if they choose to form a union, management should negotiate in good faith to reach first contract.”

The United Farm Workers is the largest agricultural workers’ union in Oregon and Washington.

Senator Obama's Letter to Beef NW


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