News and Updates
August 12, 2019
When Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va., brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side that is willing to back you up.
For Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.
Dickerson’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to the store in Appomattox. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.
In Richmond, Dickerson worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Dickerson worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Dickerson was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Dickerson in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Dickerson stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.
Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Dickerson was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.
Eventually, Dickerson became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”
When Pete raised concerns, months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Dickerson’s issues, he filed a grievance.
After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Dickerson for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” Dickerson said. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”
August 6, 2019
On July 11 and 12, UFCW Local 876 President Dan Pedersen, along with Organizing Director and Legislative/Political Representative Johnnie Turnage, braved the Washington, D.C., summer heat to meet with key members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation.
The purpose of these meetings was to bring important membership issues to Congress and build working relationships with these elected leaders so that UFCW Local 876 can continue to be a formidable partner in the fight for the issues impacting working families in Michigan. The meetings were held in coordination with the International’s Legislative and Political Action Department.
Pedersen and Turnage met with eight members and staff of the Michigan Congressional Delegation, including meetings with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
“Taking the time to visit members of Congress provides the vehicle UFCW local unions need to amplify membership concerns, priorities and goals,” said Pedersen. “As you know, major decisions are made that directly impact our contracts and our members’ lives. Why would we leave this important message to anyone else to deliver?”
Since these meetings, multiple Congressional leaders from Michigan have reached out to UFCW Local 876 to schedule additional meetings in the district during the upcoming August recess. By taking affirmative action to meet with key members of Congress, UFCW Local 876 is that much more positioned to serve as an effective advocate to communicate important issues that impact their members and working people.
If your local is interested in coordinating a meeting with your Congressional delegation, contact Karen Gasper in the Legislative and Political Action Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 6, 2019
Equal pay for hard-working women across the country is long overdue and this month, members can make their voices heard to support Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on Thursday, August 22. This is the day when black women’s pay finally catches up to what white men were paid last year.
While 80 percent of black mothers are the primary breadwinners of their households, black women are still paid only 63 cents for every $1 paid to white men. These hard-working women are also more likely to work for employers that provide little job security, few benefits, and limited opportunity for advancement. With restricted access to unions in the states with the highest number of black workers, these women face unique barriers to the economic security and overall well-being other workers take for granted.
Please get involved and make your voice heard on Twitter on August 22 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, using the hashtag #BlackWomensEqualPay. You can get additional information about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day here.
August 6, 2019
Seattle Children’s Hospital workers who serve as Electroneurodiagnostic Technicians voted unanimously to join UFCW Local 21 on June 7. These 18 workers, who use various machines to monitor a patient’s nervous system, wanted the same union benefits as other technicians at the hospital who recently negotiated a strong union contract.
Last month, 80 Patient Access and Patient Advocate Representatives who work for Conifer Health Solutions at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw, Wash., voted to join UFCW Local 21 by an overwhelming margin. St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital are part of CHI Franciscan Health System, one of the largest health care systems in the Puget Sound area.
Since being outsourced to Conifer several years ago, these workers have dealt with stagnant wages, benefit reductions and poor treatment. Finally, workers had enough and decided to join UFCW Local 21 like their colleagues at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Wash. Conifer—a subsidiary of the giant conglomerate Tenet Healthcare Corp.—threw everything they had at this group of workers, flying in top union busters from Los Angeles and New York. Despite these tactics, the workers held on and won union representation.
“We have opened the door for a chance to achieve amazing changes,” said Conifer employee Peggy Laush. “Keep up the positive momentum and our workplace will be one that everyone will want to be a part of instead of a revolving door.”
August 6, 2019
Food service workers at New York University (NYU), who are members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, recently ratified a new contract that strengthens wages and benefits. The workers prepare and provide food for NYU students on campus.
The new agreement includes strong wage increases and improves medical insurance coverage. In addition, the company retirement contributions will rise, improving retirement security for these hard-working members.
July 15, 2019
Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis went out on strike at about 3 p.m. on Prime Day to address working conditions at the plant.
There have been protests on Prime Day in Europe in past years, but the action in Minnesota is the first major Prime Day strike for workers in the United States.
In June, Amazon announced it would provide one-day shipping on select items to Prime members, a move that has reportedly pushed many workers past their breaking point.
“With the recent move to one-day Prime shipping, Amazon workers are being forced to meet impossible demands at increasingly unsafe speeds,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone in a statement on the strikes. “We are proud to stand with these brave Amazon workers on Prime Day as they fight for what’s right.”
June 3, 2019
On May 21, members of UFCW Locals 5, 8, 135, 324, 648, 770 and 1167 traveled from across California to Sacramento for their annual lobby day to rally support for policies that strengthen workers and help them and their families succeed. The lobby day was coordinated by the UFCW Western States Council and members visited legislators that represent California’s diverse geography, economy and people. In these meetings, our members shared their firsthand experiences as grocery workers, pharmacists, and workers in California’s burgeoning cannabis industry. They urged lawmakers to support legislation that would:
• Ensure workers who are on strike or locked out by their employers are eligible to collect unemployment insurance benefits, so employees can stand up for justice without fear or losing their homes or having their car repossessed (AB 1066).
• Establish basic safety standards for grocery delivery services, so consumers don’t lose protection from food-borne illnesses when their food leaves the grocery store (AB 1360).
• Protect Californians from unlicensed cannabis businesses, increase transparency in the industry, and lift up legitimate cannabis businesses that abide by safety and labor laws (AB 1417 and SB 581).
• Develop a certification program for produce clerks, service deli clerks and nutrition clerks, providing a pathway to success for workers in a changing grocery industry (AB 1459).
“Having the opportunity to speak directly to my elected legislators helped me understand the difference workers make through our union,” said Marc Zavala, who is a member of UFCW Local 324. “I was encouraged to see that our elected representatives are eager to hear from the working people who are the backbone of California’s economy and are willing to partner with us to enact policies that make real change in workers’ lives.”
UFCW members in California have been hard at work making their voices heard. Earlier in May, members of UFCW Local 1428 joined the growing number of workers speaking out in favor of these bills that put workers and consumers first.
June 3, 2019
On May 22, more than 400 workers at the Danone North America plant in Dallas joined UFCW Local 540 to ensure they have the good pay and working conditions they’ve earned and deserve. Danone is a major food and beverage company with a wide range of products, including the organic milk and coffee creamers produced by these workers.
The Danone workers joined UFCW Local 540 to strengthen job security after several employees were terminated or disciplined without any way to voice their disagreement. The workers were also concerned about favoritism, and not having a fair job-bidding system.
“This is a very good example of how the International union and Local Union staff, in solidarity with global unions, can collaborate and work together for a great victory for the workers,” said UFCW Local 540 President Johnny Rodriguez. “Let’s do it again.”
May 28, 2019
UFCW International President Marc Perrone recently called on Amazon to address business practices that put employees and consumers at risk and criticized the company for replacing hard-working humans with robots.
On May 22, ahead of the annual Amazon shareholder meeting in Seattle where a vote was held on resolutions ranging from facial recognition to gender pay equity, Perrone said, “The growing frustration and anger with the way Amazon and Jeff Bezos do business is real. Year after year, Amazon earns billions in profits on the backs of American taxpayers and its own workers, while ignoring the company’s responsibility to do what is right.”
“Today’s shareholder meeting is an opportunity to hold Amazon accountable. These resolutions are about sending a clear message to Amazon and Jeff Bezos that the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing billionaires and huge corporations at the expense of workers and consumers,” Perrone added. “It’s time for companies like Amazon to realize that they succeed because of their workers – not in spite of them.”
Earlier this month, a new report showed that Amazon is rolling out machines to automate the boxing of customer orders, a job held by thousands of its workers. Amazon started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelops them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item. The company has considered installing two machines at dozens of warehouses, which would result in more than 1,300 job losses across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory.
Perrone called out Amazon’s continued effort to replace workers with technology, saying, “Jeff Bezos’s vision for our economy is focused on driving up profits at any cost by replacing talented employees with automation. While Amazon is raking in billions in tax cuts from cities desperate for new jobs, the company is ruthlessly working to eliminate the jobs of thousands of its current employees.”
“It’s clear that Jeff Bezos cares more about the bottom line than investing in the hard-working employees who made Amazon a success in the first place. Our nation’s leaders need to wake up and realize that left unchecked, Amazon’s predatory business model will only continue to wipe out thousands of jobs that have powered our economy for decades. Our families and communities deserve better than this,” Perrone added.
May 28, 2019
In addition to wage increases, the three-year agreement includes enhanced paid time off utilization and improves job bidding procedures. Rich Products Corporation is a leading supplier and solutions provider to the food service, in-store bakery and retail marketplaces.
Congratulations to our members and the Negotiating Committee, which included Assistant Director of Collective Bargaining Dan Ross and Union Representative Jose Echevarria.