News and Updates
December 11, 2017
Last week, members from several local unions across the country, including UFCW Locals 99, 431, 876, 1189, 1776 and RWDSU, came to Washington, D.C., to deliver a message to our elected officials: Save Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and keep hard-working families together. This message was highlighted by the delivery of over 60,000 signed petitions to members of Congress.
UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez rallied members on the Hill. with a clear message.“Hard-working people who have lived here for decades and played by the rules should be offered a path to legalization and citizenship,” she said.
TPS families have fled natural disasters, violence, instability, and ethnic, religious, and ideological persecution. They have also raised children here, regularly undergo DHS background checks, paying renewal fees on top of taxes, and are truly making America a better nation even as they work hard to build a better life for their families.
Ending TPS for tens of thousands of hard-working families is a personal issue to our union family – that’s why we recently joined with UNITE HERE, IUPAT, Bricklayers, AFL-CIO and the Ironworkers to form a group called Working Families United to raise our united, collective voice on behalf of TPS holders. We support Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)’s bill (SECURE ACT), and another introduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), H.R. 4253 (115). Together, we’re keeping the pressure on key congressional targets to support these measures.
December 11, 2017
On Dec. 7, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding safety and health in the poultry industry. This report confirms that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t consider worker safety when allowing new and dangerous chemicals to be used in poultry plants, and that OSHA can’t or won’t adequately protect poultry workers from injury. The GAO also found a pattern of poultry companies repeatedly denying access to federal safety and health inspectors, leaving workers in at least 15 plants across the South working in potentially dangerous environments.
This report supports findings by Oxfam that poultry workers struggle to get adequate bathroom breaks, even to the point of endangering their health. Other GAO reports in 2005 and 2016 also found significant problems with safety and health in the poultry industry.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“The hard-working people who work in poultry plants have some of the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs in America. This report sadly confirms that many of these skilled professionals who keep our food safe are struggling to keep themselves safe at work. They have earned and deserve better.
“The dangers endured by poultry workers that are highlighted in this report also underscore why a recent request by the National Chicken Council to increase line speeds defies common sense and is being clearly driven by greed. We urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take this report seriously and reject that request so that poultry workers and the food we all consume can be kept safe.”
December 11, 2017
On Dec. 6, 2,696 UFCW Local 152 members who work at ShopRite stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin. The workers are employed in the meat, seafood, deli and prepared foods divisions of ShopRite.
The five-year contract includes wage and pension increases. The agreement also includes health insurance premium increases for the duration of the contract.
“I am very pleased to secure a new five-year contract extension that runs through 2022,” said UFCW Local 152 President Brian String. “The contract contains a guarantee of 40 percent increases in contributions, if needed, to fund the health and welfare benefits through that time. We also secured wage increases for every year of the contract, as well as increases into the pension plan every year. Language changes resolved outstanding issues regarding overtime and proper payment, and the contract vote was nearly unanimous for an outstanding agreement.”
December 4, 2017
UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on lawmakers to protect U.S. jobs, as well as the safety of our food supply, by opposing Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA) of 2017 (H.R. 4092) in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner on Dec. 4.
The following are excerpts from the op-ed:
The AGA is a direct threat to America’s hard-working families, the incomes they depend on, and the food we all eat. This is not hyperbole. If the AGA becomes law, it will allow 450,000 foreign visa holders to work in agricultural and meat processing jobs that are currently held by hard-working American men and women. The impacts of this bill, particularly upon the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the meat and poultry industry, would be devastating.
This bad bill does more than just hurt American jobs and workers – it also puts our food supply at risk. While we may not see food processing workers do their jobs, the truth is that they are highly trained professionals who perform dangerous and highly skilled work. These professionals serve as a much needed layer of protection for consumers when it comes to food safety because they know to quickly spot meat that is low quality or diseased.
Like any high skilled and vital profession, current salaries reflect the quality and importance of this workforce, with wages as high as $23 per hour. By allowing untrained workers or guestworkers to hold these important jobs for as little as $10.88 per hour, the AGA will effectively drive down wages and destroy hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the process.
At a time when we need to strengthen American jobs and make our food safer, the AGA would also allow guestworkers to stay for up to three years. That isn’t a guestworker – that’s a long-term employee and further shows how this bill is designed to both exploit foreign workers and replace American workers at the same time.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
December 4, 2017
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) released a 30-second TV commercial on Nov. 22 as part of its multi-pronged holiday campaign denouncing Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” The ad ran during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on local NBC affiliate markets in Sacramento, Phoenix, Madison, and Cincinnati.
The ad is part of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight the retail giant’s “war on the holidays,” which included grassroots actions and social media efforts in Indianapolis, California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Delaware, and New York during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Coordinated actions will continue this week at Walmart locations in at least 10 cities across the U.S. to highlight Walmart’s failure to do what every responsible employer does – pay its workers holiday pay.
Up until last year, Walmart workers who worked on a holiday received their regular hourly wage plus additional pay, equal to the average daily wage in the 12 weeks leading up to the holiday. In 2016, Walmart changed its policy and eliminated holiday pay for all workers.
The script of TV ad titled “This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful That You Don’t Work For Walmart” reads as follows:
These are all real Walmart workers
Afraid to speak out publicly or show their faces.
They’re faced with a choice of working with no holiday pay on Thanksgiving
Instead of spending time with their daughter,
Or to see her grandfather,
Or to be with her four-year-old.
Hard-working Walmart workers
With no holiday pay,
And no chance for a better life.
So, this Thanksgiving, give thanks for one thing,
That you don’t work at Walmart.
You can view the ad here.
December 4, 2017
In the northeast, UFCW Local 1500 is organizing a Toy Drive for the John Theissen Children’s Foundation. Since 1992, the foundation has collected over 920,000 new toys and donated them to sick and underprivileged children in hospitals and child care facilities.
UFCW Local 152’s annual Teddy Bear Drive collects stuffed animals for Santa to give away at the holiday dinner dance for ARC of Burlington County, which provides a variety of disability services that include adult day care and in home supportive services.
In November, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 delivered 200 turkeys donated by its members to several food pantries and charitable organizations throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County as part of the union’s annual “Turkey Drive.”
RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 members weren’t the only ones out making sure everyone could have a nice holiday feast. On the other side of the country, UFCW Local 1428 members in California held a turkey giveaway over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Are you a UFCW member with a story of how union members in your area are giving back this holiday season? If so, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us your story on our Facebook page and let us know how you are making a difference in your community.
December 4, 2017
This video is part of a series of “how to” tips from UFCW members who are experts in their fields. In addition to Michelle’s tips about how to create a beautiful topiary, the series features expert advice from a UFCW butcher, produce clerk, prep cook, cake decorator and makeup artist.
November 15, 2017
Rocky Mountain High cannabis workers in Durango, Montrose, and Carbondale, Colorado, voted to join UFCW Local 7 by an overwhelming margin on Nov. 6. These locations include two of the company’s grow facilities. The 25 workers wanted a voice in the workplace and the same benefits as their 32 colleagues at four Rocky Mountain High cannabis dispensaries in Denver, who joined UFCW Local 7 in September.
The Rocky Mountain High workers joined UFCW Local 7 because they were concerned about pay increases, health benefits, and a safer workplace. The workers also wanted to reduce high turnover and have a path to a career. Many of the workers also expressed an interest in the UFCW’s Free College Benefit.
November 13, 2017
This video is part of a series of “how to” tips from UFCW members who are experts in their fields. In addition to Michelle’s tips about how to create a beautiful centerpiece for the holidays, the series features expert advice from a UFCW butcher, produce clerk, prep cook, cake decorator and makeup artist.
November 13, 2017
The UFCW Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Office recently convened a health and safety “train the trainer” program in Chicago for union representatives, staff, and stewards from 12 UFCW local unions.
The UFCW “train the trainer” programs on safety and health have taken place across the country since December 2011. This program provides participants with the necessary technical and leadership skills to actively participate in injury and illness prevention efforts in their workplaces, and conduct brief trainings at their locals or worksites.
UFCW Locals 7, 9, 23, 75, 227, 540, 555, 881, 1208, 1473, 1546 and 1776 participated in the training in Chicago, which was held in Spanish and English, and Region 6 Director Tish Ramirez opened the program. Of the 20 trainers that participated in the program, 10 were seasoned trainers from past “train the trainer” sessions, and 10 were new to the program.
“The most important thing I have learned over the years from these trainings is how important it is to speak up about safety and health in the workplace,” said Rodney Ryks, a member of UFCW Local 9 and a seasoned trainer.
“Through this program, lives are saved, injuries and illnesses prevented, and our union becomes stronger,” said Robyn Robbins, director of the UFCW OSH Office.