December 20, 2016
This year, UFCW locals played a major role in passing legislation that helps working families.
In June, UFCW Local 881 helped to pass the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance by 48-0, which will extend earned sick leave to over 450,000 workers in Chicago. The ordinance will most dramatically benefit 42 percent of Chicago’s private sector workforce who currently lack paid sick leave.“On behalf of the 8,000 hardworking members of Local 881 UFCW who live and work in every neighborhood of Chicago, I commend the 48 supportive voting members of the Chicago City Council for passing the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance,” said UFCW Local 881 President Ron Powell. “In 2015, voters in every ward of Chicago overwhelmingly supported extending earned sick leave to working families who are one flu season away from losing their job and economic hardship. We are pleased today that the City Council listened to the working people of Chicago! This is a historic step for our city and a victory for workers and our communities.”
UFCW Local 881 was the founding member of the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, a partnership of community, public health, faith, women’s advocacy, and labor organizations that worked together to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick Leave Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017.
Also in June, San Diego passed legislation that will immediately increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and then to $11.50 an hour in January. This bill also provides five days of annual paid sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 135 played an important role in the fight for this legislation, which will help hard-working men, women and their families in the San Diego area and improve public health.
This legislation immediately gives a boost to 170,000 workers in the city of San Diego, where many minimum wage employees work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
This new minimum wage increase was a long time coming. Back in 2014, the San Diego City Council voted in favor of raising the minimum wage. However, shortly thereafter, the mayor vetoed it, the city council overrode it and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce stepped in with petitions for a ballot initiative, which halted raises for the working poor for more than two years.
UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian spoke before the San Diego City Council in favor of raising the minimum wage, and UFCW Local 135 staff phone banked and knocked on doors to get the ballot initiative passed. This victory is the result of an effort, by a diverse coalition led by RaiseUp San Diego, to ensure that no one who works full-time in San Diego is forced to live in poverty.
“The historic passage of an increase in minimum wage and earned sick days for San Diego workers signals a clear turning of the tide in San Diego,” said UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian. “In the end, a million dollar campaign from out-of-town hotel and restaurant lobbyists and a veto from Mayor Faulconer could not stop San Diegans from voting their conscience. Hopefully, this will alleviate the struggles for workers who make tough decisions like whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.”
In September, the St. Paul City Council passed the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance by a vote of 7-0, joining Minneapolis and dozens of other cities nationwide that mandate earned sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 1189 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
“The ability to earn and use sick time in the city of St. Paul is a huge step toward creating healthier workplaces and healthier lives,” said UFCW Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen. “I am proud of the tireless work done by our state’s unions. Bennie Hesse, Local 1189 legislative and political director, was a leader in the crusade, working with Union Steward (and Executive Board Member) Dennis Reeves to provide important testimony to the city council on the need for paid sick and safe time for grocery workers.”
Members of UFCW Local 1189 served on a task force put together by the city council and mayor for a year and worked with a coalition of advocates and other labor groups to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017 for businesses in St. Paul with at least 24 employees. Smaller businesses will have to comply by Jan. 1, 2018.
Also in September, Seattle’s City Council passed a historic Secure Scheduling Ordinance by a vote of 9-0. The new scheduling law will require all retail, grocery and food businesses in Seattle with 500 or more employees to provide their employees with their work schedules two weeks in advance and offer existing part-time employees more hours before hiring more workers. The law will also provide workers with a right to request desired shifts, compensation for last minute scheduling changes, and prohibit back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Members of UFCW Local 21 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
UFCW Local 21 members testified at every city council hearing, lobbied their elected officials, made hundreds of phone calls, and participated in numerous actions. Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017.
“Now that we won secure scheduling, I’ll have basic economic security and good workplace scheduling practices,” said Christiano Steele, a UFCW Local 21 grocery worker. “It will allow me to not have to struggle to make ends meet and have a reasonable work-life balance.”
December 14, 2016
On Dec. 9, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to the nomination of Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., which is the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food chains.
“The Secretary of Labor’s top priority must be protecting America’s hard-working men and women, not increasing corporate profits. Andy Puzder has been critical of raising the minimum wage and advocated for replacing workers with automated technology. If he is confirmed, the American people will expect him to protect American jobs and most importantly, all workers who have earned and deserve better wages, better benefits, and a better life.”
December 14, 2016
Local 152 Santa celebration
The holiday season is here, and for many of us, this is a joyful time to reunite with our families and create long-lasting memories. However, during these months, we should also remember that spreading the holiday spirit is about giving back to our communities, too.
UFCW locals are active in their communities and there for those in need all year long–but especially during this time of year.
Santa (Warren Hartman) hears the Christmas wishes of a young boy at UFCW Local 653’s annual Breakfast with Santa.
For starters, throughout the month of December, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 will be collecting toys, coats, and food to distribute across their communities. The generous donations from members will be given to local organizations, including Project Hospitality on Staten Island, the John Theissen Children’s Foundation, and the INN in Hempstead. To see how you can contribute, click here.
UFCW Local 1500 hosted their annual Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 11. Each year, members and their families come to Local 1500’s local hall to have a free breakfast and get a free photo with Santa.
The UFCW Local 152 Women’s Network hosted a “Teddy Bear Drive” for ARC, a grassroots organization dedicated to advocating for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual and development disabilities. On December 9, the ARC hosted a dinner and a dance for their members to receive their teddy bears. UFCW staff, Home Depot employees, and other community members helped out with food and refreshments. Additionally, on December 20, in partnership with Village Shoprite of Somers Point, the local will also donate 120 baskets of food to Local 152 members chosen by their Shop Stewards and to other faith-based organizations.
Santa’s helpers find holiday cheer with a young guest a UFCW Local 653’s annual Breakfast with Santa.
For the seventh year, more than 40 children and their parents gathered at the headquarters of UFCW Local 653 to ring in the holiday season, collect toys for charity and enjoy a breakfast with Santa. In addition, the breakfast kicked off Local 653’s annual toy drive to benefit Toys for Tots. More than 100 new toys were collected and new toys can be donated at Local 653’s office in Brooklyn Center through the holiday season.
Members of UFCW Local 293 and the JBS beef packing plant presented a check for $10,000 last week to six local programs that serve the Grand Island, Neb., area during the holidays and year-round. The recipients were the Hero Flight program; Central Nebraska Humane Society; Christmas Cheer; the Salvation Army; Head Start Child and Family Development; and Toys for Tots.
UFCW local 1189 holds an annual event in South St. Paul for members’ families offering food, fun, games and prizes, and free photos with Santa. Local 1189 brings Santa to their Duluth office for more photos with members and their children. In Duluth, the local teams up with the United Way to provide free Santa photos for families who are needing a little extra hope for the holidays.
Some of the generous donations to the Local 152 food drive last year
Local 1059 turned their union hall into a Winter Wonderland. They had 136 kids that came and sat on Santa’s lap. To be eligible, members had to bring in a non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food bank. Local 1059 will also do a similar Santa experience this week in Jackson, Ohio, with an expected turnout of 30 to 40 kids.
UFCW Local 342 is hosting a toy drive as well, that will drop hold its first drop off on Thursday, Dec. 15. Local 342 members are welcome to join the volunteer team bringing Christmas gifts to 122 toddlers and preschoolers served by the Family Services League. Santa will be on hand to give out the toys and the school provides games and music for the children.
UFCW Local 371 is also participating in their own toy drive through their Women’s Network Toy Drive. The Local 371 Women’s Network collects toys and gifts for children and teenagers in need throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. They not only donate to struggling union members, but to all children in need in their communities.
Local 23 at their “Stuff the Bus” event
UFCW Local 23 members also pulled together to collect toys to assist union members in crisis, from both their own local and others, by providing Christmas toys for their kids. On Dec. 1, they delivered a large stash of gifts to a city bus to be distributed to those in need and had a great time doing it!
Members of Local 1189
UFCW Local 536 will be contributing to Christmas bags for the local elementary school in Peoria, Ill. They partner with the Labor Temple to put together 650 bags for
Local 1189 South St. Paul Union Hall and families taking photos with Santa.
the children with apples, pencils, paper, other supplies and gifts.
Ed McCarthy, an over 50 year member of Local 371, dropping off toys.
Local 1059 event
December 6, 2016
On Nov. 30, members of UFCW Local 435 who work at the JBS plant in Hyrum, Utah, ratified a new union contract by an overwhelming majority. The new five-year contract includes substantial wage increases, improved bidding (promotion) language, a sustainable health care package, and grade increases.
This contract includes the largest wage increases members in this plant have ever won, and would not have been possible without the recent membership growth, as well as a committee that was willing to fight for a good contract.
“I thought this process would be done in one day,” said Taner Atwood, a JBS worker and member of UFCW Local 435 who was new to the bargaining committee. “I did not know there was so much involved in negotiations. It took longer than expected, but a good contract is worth the wait. The members look forward to working together to grow and build the union.”
December 6, 2016
Over 7,000 UFCW Local 27 members who work at over 80 Safeway and Giant stores in the Baltimore area ratified new contracts on Nov. 16. Both three-year contracts include higher starting pay, wage progression improvements, no cost increases to employee health insurance, and a plan to secure pensions.
For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with UFCW Local 27; but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, UFCW Local 27 members who work at Safeway and Giant stuck together and engaged with customers and community members for a better contract.
“As always, Giant and Safeway bargaining presents unique challenges that, coupled with the cost of health and pensions, along with increased competition in retail food, made these negotiations more challenging than ever,” said UFCW Local 27 President George Murphy. “But with the hard work and cooperation of the staff of both Local 27 and Local 400, we were able to come up with an agreement that protects and improves our contract, as well as keeping the employer competitive in an ever-changing market.”
December 6, 2016
Members of UFCW Local 23 who work at Giant Eagle joined the Fight for $15 National Day of Action in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. The Giant Eagle workers are calling on the company to give all workers at all Giant Eagle stores merit raises so that their wages can be brought up to a $15 per hour minimum, chain-wide. The workers are also asking Giant Eagle to give those employees who already make more than $15 per hour an additional $1.50 pay raise.
Three UFCW Local 23 members who work at Giant Eagle were arrested for civil disobedience during the rally.
“When I started working at Giant Eagle in 1970, I made the equivalent of $15.80 per hour,” said Sonny Linden, one of the Giant Eagle workers who was arrested. “Workers made living wages and we could support our families. Employees hired today can’t possibly raise a family on the starting rate of $8.25. Successful employers all over the country—including some here in Pittsburgh—are already committed to $15 per hour. Giant Eagle can do better.”
You can watch UFCW Local 23 members at the Fight for $15 National Day of Action here.
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 10, Quaker Oats workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who are members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 110, ratified a new contract.
The new three-year agreement includes a $1,500 signing bonus and yearly wage increases. The contract also calls for improvements to the vacation eligibilities, implements day-at-a-time vacation usage, and includes a vacation bonus for members with over 25 years of service.
The contract also restricts the company from requiring overtime on weekends, and improves the new hire progression rates so that some employees will receive wage increases from $1.91 an hour to $2.46 an hour depending on their time in the progression right away. Improvements were also made to the Short Term Disability Benefits and the Shoe and Clothing Allowances, and to the Perfect Attendance bonus.
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 19, 2,500 workers at the National Beef plant in Dodge City, Kansas, ratified a new contract. The workers are members of UFCW Local 2.
The new five-year contract includes significant wage increases, improved health benefits, and an improved bidding system for jobs. The new contract also establishes a union office inside the plant.
“UFCW Local 2 is working hard to enhance the lives of meatpacking workers in southwest Kansas,” said UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas. “We’re very proud of this contract and the workers we represent.”
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 24, UFCW International President Marc Perrone published an op-ed in The Hill that celebrates the role UFCW members and all union members play during Thanksgiving, and calls on political and business leaders to uphold workers’ rights.
The following are key excerpts from the op-ed:
“After a bitter election season that divided our country, the men and women of the United Food and Commercial Workers union are proud of the role we play during the one holiday that brings America together: Thanksgiving.
“As America’s retail worker union, our members produce and process many of the items you’ll see on your Thanksgiving table, including turkeys, stuffing, bread, desserts, and drinks. They work in grocery stores, preparing dinners for families across the country, and in retail stores, selling holiday sweaters and gifts for everyone on your list. It’s fair to say that our members make the holidays happen, and we are extremely proud of that.
“Through hard work and dedication, our 1.3 million members help millions of Americans celebrate the special moments in their lives. Our members are also able to earn a better life for their families with the help of valuable contracts that honor their hard work and dedication. By being part of a union family and standing together, our members earn better wages, benefits and schedules. Their training and devotion offer real value to employers and the customers they serve. And when they work on holidays, like Thanksgiving, it is not under threat or duress, but with the realization that such sacrifice deserves something extra, like holiday pay.
“Sadly, there are those in the political world and corporate America who may see the right to earn a better life, or to spend time with family even on one of our most sacred holidays, as a threat to their businesses. Truth be told, such thinking is a symptom of what is so fundamentally wrong and unfair in America’s economy.”
November 29, 2016
In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, several UFCW local unions hosted or participated in local food or turkey drives to help ensure everyone in their communities could enjoy a good holiday meal with their families.
RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 donated and delivered 250 turkeys to various community centers across the New York area, thanks to the generosity of the members. The turkeys were then distributed to food pantries at Suffolk Community College, Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Queens, The INN in Hempstead, and Project Hospitality on Staten Island, all of which ensure that families in their communities have a warm holiday meal. A special video about the turkey drive can be viewed here.
UFCW Local 1776 participated in the 102.9 WMGK Turkey Drop. The local delivered a check for $3,500 and 3,500 pounds of turkey donated by Empire Kosher Poultry. Empire Kosher turkeys are processed by UFCW Local 1776 members in Mifflintown, Pa. Watch footage of their drop off here.
RWDSU members in the New York and New Jersey areas were also among those giving back to help the less fortunate in their communities this holiday season. In addition to food bank efforts throughout the union, RWDSU members prepared meals and provided turkeys to help make the holidays a better time for many families.
In New Jersey, RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 partnered with RWDSU supermarkets Extra Supermarket and Food Bazaar to cook meals to feed thousands of families in Newark and other cities in Essex County. Meals were prepared and served at Clinton Memorial Church in Newark, and the bulk of meals were delivered to area homes, senior buildings, community centers, and public parks. In addition, Local 108, for the 12th year in a row, partnered with the Newark Firehouse Program for Children, and also helped prepare and serve a home-cooked holiday meal for children in Newark.
Local 338 members helped provide 250 turkeys for needy families throughout New York.
Local 108 members prepare meals for kids at the Newark Firehouse Program for Children.
Big-hearted UFCW Local 342 members also donated food, time and effort to serve Thanksgiving meals to hungry families at Angel Guardian and Mercy Inn. King Kullen grocery in Massapequa and Stop and Shop on Hylan Blvd., Staten Island donated the frozen turkeys.
It is during the holidays that many feel the desire to give back to the community. As a union that represents hard-working families, it is also our responsibility to ensure that our neighbors have a meal to call their own during the holidays. Thank you to all who have given back and made the holidays possible for others.