News and Updates
March 12, 2018
The actions included a human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala on Feb. 28, as well as a press conference on March 1 at the office of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Yvonne Gonzales, a former Walmart who told her story of being denied light duty at work while pregnant.
The actions were preceded with a joint letter from MCAW and UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart. MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, and lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers.
In addition, MCAW launched a petition asking McCarthy, Rees and Meyers to stand with women and denounce Walmart. The petition has generated over 9,800 signatures. You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
March 12, 2018
Members of UFCW Local 700 who work at Maple Leaf Farms in Milford, Indiana, recently won a health and safety improvement in their plant. The workers, who process ducks at the plant, began to report health related issues, including eye irritation and respiratory problems, as a result of exposure to Microtox, a disinfectant commonly used in the poultry industry.
UFCW Local 700 Union Rep Juan Garcia and Executive Assistant to the President Scott Barnett immediately began an investigation, including a visit from Robyn Robbins, the director of the UFCW’s Occupational Safety and Health Office. Representatives from UFCW Local 700 and the company also met to address worker safety concerns around the use of Microtox.
As a result of the labor-management meeting, the company temporarily discontinued the use of Microtox, took steps to reduce splashing, dripping and spillage, and ordered a new air monitoring system to monitor the levels of Microtox. UFCW Local 700 has created a new workplace survey regarding the impact of this chemical.
Thanks to the quick action of UFCW Local 700 staff and assistance from the International, we were able to effectively address issues regarding the health and safety of our members.
March 12, 2018
Local 653 Members at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s and Independent Grocers in Minnesota Ratify New Contracts
On March 4, members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s Markets and independent grocers approved multi-year contracts with their employers that build better lives for more than 4,000 families in the Twin Cities.
Benefit highlights include the creation of an industry-wide groundbreaking Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAP). Employees from Supervalu and the independent grocers will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAP beginning in January 2019.
Workers at Kowalski’s who qualify for the 401(k)-retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and the company. These include full-time contributions from $1.85-$4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Employees at Supervalu Cub Foods have agreed to a five-year contract. Employees at Kowalski’s have agreed to a three-year contract, as well as employees from Haug’s (Cub), Radermacher’s (Cub), King’s Andover, Jubilee Foods in Mound, Oxendale’s and Driskill’s. Employees at Almsted’s Fresh Market and Knowlan’s Festival Foods have agreed to a two-year agreement.
All of the contracts provide wage increases for all workers. Both part-time and full-time workers at Supervalu Cub will receive raises each year of the five-year contract. The average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers at Supervalu is $8,582.03.
Additional economic highlights of the contract include improved quality of part-time positions at Supervalu and Kowalski’s, including three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six paid national holidays, paid bereavement, and Jury Duty leave. Additionally, Supervalu will provide ancillary benefits to all part-time workers that include dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
All eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increase true cost of the Health & Welfare plan across contracts.
The total worker compensation of the Supervalu contract is over $102 million in the first year alone.
All workers covered under the approved contracts will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved language, including respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“One of the things that sticks with me is that all of the agreements added respect and dignity in the workplace language. That language levels the playing field for workers, and affirms we are the most valuable asset. I’m proud of that,” said Elizabeth Johnson of Kowalski’s in Uptown.
“I’m inspired by our members today who said yes to improving the quality of their livelihoods and future. We’re continuing to build better lives for our retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “The Variable Annuity Pension Plan is the vehicle to reach the retirement security that our members earn and deserve. Together, we’re leading the industry in pension solutions that establish the goal of a dignified retirement.”
March 12, 2018
The three-year and four-month agreement raises starting wages to at least $10 per hour and accelerates wage progressions to $11 per hour after one year of service. The agreement also includes affordable health care, and continued investments in the workers’ pension fund.
“UFCW Local 75 strives to negotiate contracts that secure better wages and affordable benefits, providing a voice for hard-working men and women and strengthening our communities, and this contract does those important things,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey.
March 5, 2018
On Feb. 25, 1,600 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Jerry’s Enterprises, Inc. grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new three-year contract that includes better wages and benefits. Jerry’s Enterprises operates 13 Cub Foods, two Jerry’s Foods, and Richfield Rainbow Foods stores.
Melanie Millner, a deli manager at Minneapolis Lake Street Jerry’s Cub said, “I’m proud of the working relationship we have as a union with Jerry’s. I’m excited to see the results of higher wages with my coworkers. I know it will bring better morale and retention in our stores and it is going to make a difference in families’ wallets.”
Both part-time and full-time workers at Jerry’s will receive raises each year of the contract.
The contract improves the quality of part-time positions, and includes increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
Workers will also enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the Health & Welfare plan.
“The Health & Welfare we negotiated is a substantial savings to our families, especially the way health insurance costs are rising nowadays,” said Bill Jensen, a meat cutter at Elk River Cub Foods.
Employers will contribute a union negotiated rate into a 401(k) for eligible employees. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 and part-time is $1.35 an hour. UFCW Local 653 has also secured two plan trustees.
Workers will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved contract language that addresses respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“I’m really happy that language around respect and dignity is now a part of our agreement. Hard working families come first, and I’m glad that language reflects our shared values,” said Nate McClerin, part-time Deli worker at West Broadway Cub Foods.
“I’m proud our members with Jerry’s voted yes to building better lives for themselves and their families. A sincere thank you to our union bargaining committee who worked together with Jerry’s. Together with the recent Lunds & Byerlys contract, we continue to improve the quality of life for working families in Minnesota,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht.
March 5, 2018
As renegotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) reach their seventh round, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the importance of reinstating country of origin labeling (COOL) in any final agreement.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Right now, consumers have no way of knowing which country their meat is from and it puts them at risk of purchasing less safe products.
“The return of COOL would ensure families are able to see exactly where their food comes from and bring hard-working farmers, ranchers, meat processing workers, and communities the better life they’ve earned and deserve.
“Reinstating COOL would immediately make NAFTA better for hard-working families across the continent and we urge negotiators to include it in any agreement.”
March 5, 2018
The workers were concerned about low wages, insufficient benefits, and not having a voice in the workplace. They were united in their belief that joining our union family will lead to a better life.
“After being there for some time, I realize that nothing was going to change unless we did something about it,” said Tammy Timmons. “I think that having a union is the change we need.”
“Something needed to be done,” said Genell Fontaine. “If we didn’t do it, the company wouldn’t either.”
“We needed a union,” said Danica Alexandre. “We needed better wages, better working conditions, and respect we deserve on the job.”
“I felt having a union is the best way to get what we want: better wages, better health care, better working conditions, and better treatment on the job,” said Erica Nelson.
“This victory was a very good win for these hard-working workers at Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and they voted to join our union by over a two to one margin,” said UFCW Local 27 President Jason Chorpenning. “Our organizers worked very hard and the vote showed it. It was an amazing show of solidarity by the workers. As these new members stand together, Local 27 will help them change their lives for the better. I want to welcome our new sisters and brothers to our family at Local 27.”
March 5, 2018
The month of March marks Women’s History Month and provides us with an opportunity to honor women in the labor movement. This month, we will highlight how labor unions have benefited women, and the social and economic issues that affect women in the workplace, including the need for fair scheduling, affordable, high quality child care, and paid maternity and sick leave.
Throughout this month, the UFCW will pay tribute to women who defied convention and fought for workers’ rights, as well as women who continue to fight for the right to stick together for decent wages and benefits and respect in the workplace.
February 26, 2018
On Feb. 7, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) and UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López sent a joint letter to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart.
The letter was in response to the three prominent female celebrities’ partnership with Walmart to produce the company’s television commercials that will air during the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4. As part of the effort to highlight Walmart’s track record, MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine.
“While at face value this would seem to represent a positive campaign, we urge to you look at the facts about Walmart’s past actions that reflect on its values. Values that have had a negative impact on countless women and their families, and that send a terrible message as to what behavior is acceptable if we are serious about social equality and justice,” said López in the letter to the three Hollywood filmmakers.
The Variety ad, which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers, and details Walmart’s scrutiny towards some women of color shoppers and mistreatment of some LGBTQ employees.
Starting this week, MCAW will begin a series of on the ground actions in Los Angeles, including human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala Wednesday evening and a press conference on Thursday with a former Walmart worker who was mistreated while pregnant and working at Walmart.
You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
February 26, 2018
On Feb. 23, the UFCW International hosted a lunch and panel discussion in celebration of Black History Month. This event marked the 25th anniversary of the UFCW’s Black History Month program, which centered around the theme “we rise.”
UFCW International President Marc Perrone and International Vice President and Director of Civil Rights and Community Action Robin Williams opened the program. Panelists included Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation; Marvin Randolph, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Elections Fund; and Erica Clemmons, state director of the Georgia Chapter of the 9to5 National Association. Carol Joyner, director of the Labor Project for Working Families, served as the moderator.
Panelists talked about the need to work together to achieve social and economic justice.
Clemmons made the point that there are so many organizations out there that are doing good things in the social justice arena. “We need to harness each other’s energy,” she said.
“All these groups have wonderful programs, but people are not talking to other people about what they’re doing,” said Bro. “We’ve got to pull together.”
Randolph also underscored the importance of working together for social justice. “We have the combined power to do great things,” he said.