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    News and Updates

April 16, 2019

A Stronger Contract for Local 1776KS Nursing Home Workers

Over 300 members of UFCW Local 1776KS who work at Berks Heim Nursing and Rehabilitation in Leesport, Pa., ratified a new contract on April 2 that preserves long-term, quality resident care and ensures job security.

The new five-year agreement, which was approved by an overwhelming margin, includes a 3 percent yearly wage increase over the previous contract’s 2.5 percent year-over-year wage increase. The agreement also protects employees’ health care, and locks in language that secures Berks Heim employees’ jobs for years to come, with significant penalties if the county were to violate the agreement.

In addition to the approved contract, Local 1776KS, along with SEIU Healthcare PA, which represents the nurses in the facility, has been collaborating with county officials, as well as Senator Judy Schwank and Governor Tom Wolf, to work on solutions to secure additional funding for Berks Heim and other high-performing, quality long-term care facilities through state Medicaid reimbursement programs and other funding mechanisms. With this joint effort, Berks Heim has seen increased state funding through Medicaid reimbursement rates and other funds over the past two state budgets.

“I am proud of the hard work and commitment of our bargaining committee members at Berks Heim. Through months of negotiations, our committee remained steadfast and ensured all key issues were addressed,” said UFCW Local 1776KS President Wendell Young IV. “Working on this contract has helped us develop a better relationship with Berks Heim county officials and I would like to thank the County Commissioners, particularly Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt and Commissioner Christian Leinbach, for their engagement with our membership, as well as SEIU Healthcare – their membership, the bargaining committee and SEIU Healthcare PA President Matt Yarnell. I am grateful for both Senator Judy Schwank and Governor Tom Wolf, who showed crucial, steadfast support of our members who work at Berks Heim. This contract allows our members to continue to provide exemplary care to Berks County residents and keeps the nursing home in County hands where it belongs.”

April 8, 2019

UFCW Urges Congress to Close the Gender Pay Gap

The UFCW has a proud history of negotiating strong contracts that protect workers from discrimination and help them obtain equal pay for equal work. Over the past few weeks, the International’s Legislative and Political Action Department has taken action on the federal level by urging members of Congress to narrow the gender pay gap by supporting and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) so that all workers have an opportunity to advance in the workplace. On April 2, their hard work paid off when the House of Representatives passed this legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). This legislation will provide women with the necessary tools to challenge pay gaps and gender-based discrimination.

For women who don’t belong to a union, gender pay discrimination is a persistent problem in the workplace. Women are typically paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, and the pay gaps are even larger for women of color. The Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes that have allowed employers to pay women less than men for the same work. It prohibits employers from relying on salary history in determining future pay and requires them to prove that pay disparities are based on factors other than gender. It also protects employees against retaliation for discussing salaries with colleagues and removes obstacles to participation in class action lawsuits regarding pay discrimination.

The passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House of Representatives is an important step toward ending gender-based discrimination. While belonging to a union is still the surest way to guarantee equal pay on the job, with unionized women making approximately 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts, the Paycheck Fairness Act would provide new and important tools to close the wage gap. The UFCW applauds the men and women of the House prioritizing the passage of this important bill and urges the Senate to pass this legislation immediately and ensure that women don’t go another day without making equal pay for equal work.

To learn more about what the Legislative and Political Action Department is doing to level the playing field for women and all workers, contact your region’s legislative point person in the department. If you are unsure about who your assigned representative is, reach out to Shannon Harris at sharris@ufcw.org.

April 8, 2019

UFCW Welcomes Vireo Health Workers in Maryland to Union Family

On March 22, workers at Vireo Health’s Maryland Medical Solutions in Hurlock, Md., voted to join UFCW Local 27 to ensure they receive the good pay and benefits they have earned. Vireo Health’s Maryland Medical Solutions is a physician-led, patient-focused medical cannabis grower and processor.

Workers at the facility were excited to join our union family.

“I’m excited to be able to negotiate over wage increases that would allow for things like a savings account,” said Ian Stenzer.

“It’s exciting to know that we will have job security and will have the power to bargain for improvements to our jobs,” added Blaine Hill.

“Congratulations to the hard-working men and women of Vireo’s Maryland Medical Solutions,” said UFCW Local 27 President Jason Chorpenning. “They have empowered themselves with the tools for a better future. We look forward to negotiating the best contract that we can for the workers and their families.”

April 8, 2019

Victory for Minnesota Tannery Workers With Better Wages and Benefits

Members of UFCW Local 1189 who work at S.B. Foot Tanning Company in Red Wing, Minn., ratified a new agreement on March 28 that improves wages and protects benefits. S.B. Foot Tanning Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Red Wing Shoes Company, Inc. and is the principal supplier of leather to their shoe manufacturing plants.

The three-year contract includes wage increases for all members and continues the fully employer-paid health care at current benefit levels. The contract also made great strides to strengthen equal pay standards and end the two-tier wage system.

Congratulations to the Union Bargaining Committee for their hard work in protecting benefits, improving wages, and trying to reform the payroll system.

April 8, 2019

Local 1445 Helps Launch Boston Program to Support Local Farmers, Workers

UFCW Local 1445 played an instrumental role in supporting the Boston City Council’s passage of the Good Food Purchasing Program on March 20. The program will transform the way public institutions, including Boston Public Schools, purchase food and put millions of dollars back into Boston’s regional economy. This is the second time this year that our union has helped to pass a food justice policy. UFCW Local 75 helped to pass the Good Food Purchasing Program in Cincinnati on Jan. 28.

Boston’s Good Food Purchasing Program encourages food suppliers to provide healthier food that is ethically produced, locally sourced and environmentally friendly. The policy also protects workers’ rights to organize a union free from intimidation and helps ensure that farmers receive a fair price for the fresh food they produce.

UFCW Local 1445 was part of a community-based coalition that included other unions, as well as faith, policy and student groups, and environmental and animal welfare organizations, which advocated for the program.

“We commend the City of Boston for passing the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which includes fair labor standards,” said UFCW Local 1445 Political Director Jim Carvalho. “The city took a strong step towards providing strong incentives for food companies receiving taxpayer dollars to pay their workers a living wage, provide strong protections against workplace hazards, and otherwise move towards adopting more sustainable food production practices in a manner that bolsters our local economy.”

April 1, 2019

Bipartisan Bill in Congress Protects Workers and Families From Discrimination

On March 19, the UFCW OUTreach board voted to formally endorse the Equality Act, a new bipartisan bill that would strengthen protections for workers and families across the country and help to end discrimination that has impacted so many communities.

Every American deserves the freedom and opportunity to earn a living and build a better life for themselves and their family without facing discrimination. In a majority of states, LGBTQ Americans are still not fully protected from discrimination. While many states have strengthened protections for workers and families who are at risk, the current patchwork of laws leave many vulnerable to discrimination.

This bill would ensure that all Americans enjoy the full protection of the law and are not discriminated against when it comes to employment, housing and other public accommodations. In addition to bipartisan support in Congress, the bill has also been endorsed by a broad coalition of more than 160 leading American companies across the country.

“While our UFCW union contracts protect our LGBTQ members on the job, the lack of non-discrimination laws across our country leave them exposed to discrimination once they walk out of their workplace,” said UFCW OUTreach Chair Michele Kessler, who is the Northcentral Division Director and Secretary-Treasurer at UFCW Local 1776KS. “It’s time to get this law finally passed and we urge our UFCW family to help by contacting their members of Congress to support the Equality Act.”

You can get more information about UFCW OUTreach here.

April 1, 2019

United Latinos Helps More Workers Achieve the American Dream

Across the country, many members who work hard every day to contribute to our communities and build a better life for themselves and their families still face obstacles to achieving the American Dream. To ensure these members and their families have the opportunities they need to succeed, United Latinos of the UFCW hosted a Union Citizenship Action Network (UCAN) Clinic in New York City on March 23 which focused on legal services, the process to become a citizen, and other immigration and citizenship issues.

With strong attendance from members and families throughout the community, the clinic was also sponsored by RWDSU, UFCW Locals 888 and 1500, Dominicanos USA and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement’s New York City Chapter. The event helped answer questions about the application process for permanent U.S. residents to become U.S. citizens. To help members with the application fees, United Latinos created the New American Citizenship Fund, which awards $600.00 scholarships to members who have applied for U.S. citizenship. To date, United Latinos has helped hundreds of UFCW members continue and complete the application process.

The UCAN Clinic marked the last event of a week-long United Latinos board meeting hosted at the RWDSU, which featured panels on organizing, immigration, and the state of Latinos in the workforce. UFCW International President Marc Perrone and International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López spoke at the event. United Latinos President Rigo Valdez, who is the Vice President and Director of Organizing at UFCW Local 770, challenged attendees at the board meeting to “take action and engage our membership, whether it be by helping our members become citizens, registering [members] to vote, or by providing organizing training in Spanish. We need to activate our community.”

The UCAN program, which was launched in 2014, assists members who are lawful permanent residents and meet the legal requirements with their application process to become U.S. citizens. Since its inception, the UCAN Program has helped thousands of our members and their families with their citizenship application process. For more information or to get involved with the UCAN program, contact International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Robin Williams at rwilliams@ufcw.org.

You can learn more about United Latinos of the UFCW and the important work they do here.

April 1, 2019

Big Wins for Local 222 Empirical Foods Workers in New Contract

On March 29, about 300 members of UFCW Local 222 at Empirical Foods, Inc. (formerly BPI) in South Sioux City, Neb., ratified a new contract with big wins for workers there.

Thanks to the strength and courage of our members at Local 222, they were able to achieve a new four-year contract that ensures the hard-working women and men at Empirical Foods receive the pay increases they’ve earned and can take time off (up to 52 weeks) when they need to take care of a sick or injured service member. The new contract also provides workers up to 90 days to return to work with renewed work authorizations without loss of seniority, a significant improvement from the previous contract.

“This is an unbelievable contract. I never thought we could accomplish all these changes,” said Kimberly Orellana, who served as a member of the bargaining committee. “My coworkers are very happy with the wages and various improvements.”

March 25, 2019

New England Rally: Stop & Shop Must Put Customers and Community First

A rally in western Massachusetts on March 20 united customers, local leaders, teachers, and community members in support of Stop & Shop workers in the push for a new contract that honors the hard-working women and men who have made the grocery chain one of the most successful in the country.

Hundreds of members of Local 1459 helped lead the rally outside of the Stop & Shop store in Chicopee, Mass. They were joined by Springfield City Council Member Jesse Lederman, a representative from the office of Senator Eric Lesser, and members of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, SEIU and Jobs With Justice.

UFCW Local 1459, along UFCW Locals 371, 328, 919 and 1445, have been united in working to secure a new contract with Stop & Shop that invests in workers and strengthens our commitment to delivering the very best service to the communities we serve. Negotiations began on January 14. Together, all five locals represent over 31,000 Stop & Shop workers.

New England communities know that Stop & Shop’s plan to drastically cut the number of full-time jobs will mean less customer service in the aisles, fewer products on the shelves, and longer lines at checkout. Our members want to be able to provide the very best service for their customers while still being able to provide for their families

“Stop & Shop is a neighborhood store and it is our members who provide quality service and food every day that keep our friends, families, and neighbors coming back,” said UFCW Local 1459 President Tyrone Housey. “Today’s event makes it clear that the community also values good service and wants Stop & Shop jobs to be jobs where people can work hard and build a better life.”

The Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island AFL-CIO organizations recently sent a letter in support of the five locals’ pursuit of a fair contract. The letter states: “Together, we represent approximately 700,000 union members across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. You have the full weight of the labor movement behind you in your struggle for as long as it takes.”

Jobs With Justice and other community allies held another rally in support of Stop & Shop workers in Somerville, Mass., on March 23.


March 25, 2019

Local 663 Helps Members Make Their Voices Heard in State Capitol

Veronica Orellana of Worthington, Minn., speaks at the state capitol in St. Paul on Feb. 21.(Photo by Dave Orrick / Pioneer Press)

Every member’s voice deserves to be heard, especially on issues that impact their jobs and their families. UFCW Local 663 is helping its members speak out in support of a new bill that strengthens economic opportunities for communities across Minnesota. The bill is H.F. 1500, the License Access and Public Safety Act, which will open up a road of opportunity not only for our members, but for all workers in the state of Minnesota.

On Feb. 21, UFCW Local 663 and Freedom to Drive MN coalition partners joined Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler at the state capitol in St. Paul, Minn., in support of this bill, which would expand eligibility for obtaining a driver’s license or Minnesota identification card to include all members of the workforce.

Veronica Orellana, a student from Worthington, Minn., and the daughter of UFCW Local 663 member José Orellana, shared what this bill would mean for her family.

“My mother and father work hard to provide for our family,” Orellana said. “They work to build us a better life together. As the next generation, I see that every day. Every Minnesotan deserves the chance to live, grow and go wherever we want to without fear. That’s why I’m supporting this bill.”

“Our union drives Minnesota forward when we invest in people,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht. “Access to driver’s licenses is the right thing to do. Expanding access to driver’s licenses for all people of age, regardless of status, supports our UFCW union families—in Worthington, Madelia, Butterfield, Luverne, Twin Cities and all the way to Pequot Lakes. But it’s not just about our UFCW 663 union family. It’s bigger than that. Union membership isn’t just about fighting for our union families, it’s about fighting for better lives for all working families. And that’s why we support driver’s licenses for all.”

UFCW Local 663 is one of the leaders of the Freedom to Drive MN coalition, which includes nonprofit organizations, other unions, community advocates, faith-based organizations, workers’ rights advocates and local businesses.