NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 11 -- Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. John Kerry today called on Quebecor World, Inc., the world's largest commercial printer with facilities in 17 countries, to stop harassing and intimidating workers who want to form unions. Workers in Quebecor's Covington, Tenn. facility -- and in plants throughout the United States -- are trying to gain safer jobs and improve their lives with support from the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) and the international labor movement.
"These workers are attempting to form a union in their workplace but have been met by resistance from the management of Quebecor," said Sen. Kerry in the Tennessee primary-day statement.
"I have always believed that one of the best ways to raise people out of poverty is to give them the real freedom to form a union," Kerry continued. "I urge Quebecor to remain neutral when it comes to its employees' choice to form a union."
Quebecor World has forced workers to attend mandatory closed-door meetings against the union. Management has also implied that the plant might close or jobs might be cut if workers gain a voice at work. During past union organizing drives, the National Labor Relations Board found that Quebecor World broke the law when workers tried to unionize by firing and disciplining workers.
"On behalf of the 80,000 hardworking members of the GCIU, I applaud Sen. Kerry for his commitment to justice for Quebecor World workers and for his commitment to workers' rights," said George Tedeschi, International President of the GCIU.
"Since the beginning of the year, Quebecor has nearly doubled our health insurance premiums and has quit contributing to our retirement plan," said Keith Rushing, who works in the pressroom at Quebecor's Covington facility. "Sen. Kerry's support of our efforts to provide for our families and win better lives means a lot to us."
In the statement, Kerry also praised the Employee Free Choice Act, bipartisan legislation now pending before Congress. The Act will streamline the process of forming a union by respecting the decision of a majority of workers, bypassing the contentious and delay-prone National Labor Relations Board election procedure. It will also eliminate employer stalling in negotiating a first contract; and provide meaningful remedies for employer violations.
Kerry's statement of support for Quebecor World workers is available at http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/releases/pr_2004_0210c.html.
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