Trade Unions Call for Ban on Gene-Altered Foods

WASHINGTON, April 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Meeting at its World Congress in Geneva on April 15-18, the International Union of Food and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) threw the weight of its 320 affiliated unions in 112 countries behind AFL-CIO affiliates' key organizing campaigns. And in a sign of the increased importance international solidarity plays in labor fights in North America, the 356 delegates from around the world elected Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers (BC&T) International President Frank Hurt to head the international body.

"Capital and its power have gone global," said Hurt. "IUF is excited about intensifying our work with AFL-CIO unions to build the framework to balance transnational corporate power wherever it operates."

IUF delegates committed their unions to fully support current and planned organizing and first contract drives. IUF unions will step up their support for the workers at the New Otani Hotel in Los Angeles represented by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE). The IUF and the IUF Japan Coordinating Council will facilitate Sweeney's upcoming trip to Japan to meet with union and government officials about New Otani management's anti-union practices and contempt for worker rights.

In addition to the New Otani fight, delegates discussed ways to support other ongoing North American campaigns, including the United Farm Workers of America's (UFW) effort to organize thousands of strawberry and mushroom workers, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' (IBT) campaign to win justice for Diamond Walnut workers.

"These campaigns are about nothing less than how America -- a continent of immigrants -- deals with hard working men and women who come to build a better life for their families," said IUF North America Director Kurt Stand.

Intense discussion surrounded the anti-worker behavior of soft drink, snack, and fast food giant PepsiCo. The company has practiced anti-union activities in Europe and North America, as well as pursued questionable investment polices in repressive countries like Burma. Just this month, a jury in Washington state ruled the company systematically violated the labor rights of 13,000 workers at its Pizza Hut subsidiary there. Workers have filed a similar suit in South Carolina.

In another indication of the increasing ties between labor and its natural allies in the human rights, food safety, and environmental movements, delegates passed an exceptionally strong resolution calling for a ban on the introduction of genetically altered food products until their safety can be proven. European environmental and food safety groups are concerned about the possible health risks connected to these agricultural products engineered to be grown with powerful chemical pesticides.

"Unions fight corporate-produced safety problems wherever they exist -- in the factory, in the field, or in the kitchen," added Stand. "Transnational corporations like Monsanto should know workers won't let them experiment with our health so they can fatten their bottom lines."

The IUF is one of 15 international trade secretariats (ITSs) that coordinate and strengthen global labor solidarity. IUF North America has 15 affiliates in the United States and Canada representing workers in the food, hotel, restaurant and related industries. IUF North America coordinates company-wide councils in leading transnational corporations such as PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestle; conducts research and analysis for affiliates and allied organizations; and works closely with the AFL-CIO, affiliates and other ITSs on organizing and related campaigns.

SOURCE International Union of Food and Allied Workers' Associations

CO: International Union of Food and Allied Workers' Associations

ST: District of Columbia



04/24/97 14:51 EDT

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