UFCW Local 400 representative Robert Brown traveled to Rotterdam, Netherlands to participate in the January 24th signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding between Lipton Teas and Infusions and the IUF global labor federation in which the company recognized its employees’ labor rights around the world—including UFCW Local 400 members working at the Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, VA.

The Memorandum states:

LIPTON Teas and Infusions is committed to ensuring that throughout LIPTON Teas and Infusions’ worldwide operations workers can freely exercise their internationally recognized workers’ rights and in particular their rights to union membership and collective bargaining without fear of retaliation, repression, or any other form of discrimination.

For many years, Lipton Teas and Infusions was owned by Unilever. In 2020, Lipton was spun off into a separate entity, ekaterra. In 2022, ekaterra was purchased by CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm. The Memorandum of Understanding committed Lipton’s new ownership to high labor standards.

“This is an important step forward with the new company,” Brown said. “It provides new protections moving forward and creates a framework for a productive relationship that will benefit our members.”

In October, UFCW Local 400 members working at Lipton ratified a strong new collective bargaining agreement providing an unprecedented 18% wage increase and new benefits. “This was one of the best contracts our members have gotten since they organized the plant in 2016,” Brown said. “That was with the current management and serves as another indication that our members’ rights and well-being will be protected in the years to come. Of course, their union will make sure of that, as well.”

The UFCW is an affiliate of the IUF, “the food, farm, hotels and more global union.”  In addition to Brown, union representatives participating in the Memorandum’s signing included leaders from IUF, the Pakistan Food Workers Federation, and the Tanzania Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union.