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    News and Updates

February 20, 2018

Region 1 Takes a Stand Against Lidl in New Jersey

Region 1 locals have taken a stand against low wages and poor benefits at a Lidl store in Vineland, New Jersey, and are encouraging members of the Vineland community to protect jobs with good wages and benefits by shopping at local ShopRite Supermarkets and Acme Markets. Region 1 locals have maintained a picket line in front of the Lidl store since last November.

“Every local in New Jersey has committed staff and volunteer members to walk the picket line in solidarity with Local 152 in their stand against Lidl,” said International Vice President and Director of Region 1 Dave Young. “I’m proud of the level of cooperation and strength in membership during these important actions.”

February 20, 2018

Local 919 Burlington Coat Factory Workers Ratify New Contract

On Feb. 2, 37 full- and part-time Burlington Coat Factory workers in New London, Connecticut, unanimously ratified a new contract.

The new three-year agreement guarantees $1.30 increase in wages, improved bereavement coverage, nine-day advanced scheduling, and doubled travel pay reimbursement. The agreement also includes an improved grievance procedure and new hire union orientation language that allows the Business Agent to hold quarterly meetings at the store on company time to introduce workers to the union.

February 20, 2018

Local 653 Lunds & Byerlys Workers in Minneapolis Ratify New Contract

More than 2,100 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Lunds & Byerlys grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new contract on Feb. 11. The three-year agreement includes an increase in wages and better benefits, and the total economic value of the contract is over $60 million over the first year alone.

The new agreement raises wages for part-time and full-time workers during each year of the contract, and the average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers is $3,708.89.

“This raise will provide more financial stability and economic independence for myself and my family. Since I’m part-time, making more money and only having to work one job makes me worry less each month. It means a lot,” said Taddeo Balma, who works in the produce department of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnetonka.

The contract increases the number and security of full-time positions, and improves the quality of part-time positions. Five hundred and fifteen workers will become regular part-time, which guarantees them increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave for domestic partners, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

“When you are part-time, it comes down to the bottom line. I’m on Medicare, and the dental ancillary benefit is huge. It adds a tremendous value to my life,” said Mary Heintz of the Burnsville Lunds & Byerlys, who will now become a regular part-time employee.

Workers who qualify for the 401(k) retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and Lunds & Byerlys. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.

Workers will also enjoy expanded non-discrimination language that covers gender, gender identification, pregnancy, veterans, and criminal record after employment. Employees who return on breaks from high school and college will retain seniority. New to the contract is automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology is implemented in the store.

“I applaud our members for saying ‘yes’ by voting in this new three-year contract,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “In the 37 years that I have been with Local 653, this contract brings the most dramatic improvements to the most workers that I’ve ever seen. I’m proud that our union bargaining committee worked together with Lunds & Byerlys to make so many working families’ lives better.”

February 13, 2018

New “How To” Video Features Local 1000 Kroger Florist

Michelle Garrett, a member of UFCW Local 1000 who works as a florist at a Kroger store in Texas, is back to show you how to create a beautiful bouquet for Valentine’s Day in the UFCW’s new “how to” video.

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 floral arrangement, the series features expert advice from a UFCW butcher, produce clerk, prep cook, cake decorator and makeup artist.

You can watch Michelle create a Valentine’s Day bouquet here. You can also subscribe to UFCW’s “how to” videos here.

February 13, 2018

UFCW Members Make Valentine’s Day Happen

From sparkling wines to See’s candies, UFCW members are making Valentine’s Day a little sweeter for people in communities across the country.

One example is Rob, a member of UFCW Local 1776 and a Wine Specialist at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store 4646 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

“When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I always recommend sparkling wine because it is popular, versatile and celebratory, i.e. ‘pop the cork,’” he said.  “Sparkling wine can be used at any time before, during or after dinner.”

There are many varieties of sparkling wine, but Rob recommends sparkling wines from California, Prosecco from Italy, or the classic: champagne from France.

On the West Coast, Becky at See’s candy has been a member of UFCW Local 5 since 2002. Now an assistant store manager, Becky’s experience is put to good use during one of her store’s busiest times of year–Valentine’s Day.

“We serve anywhere from 200 to 600 people a day,” she said.

If you’re planning to buy a sweet treat for a special someone this Valentine’s Day, Becky recommends getting one of See’s pre-filled 1-pound heart boxes if you’re in a hurry, or using their handy candy menu at sees.com to hand select each individual chocolate inside.

UFCW members also have access to exclusive discounts for Valentine’s Day. You can save 25 percent on flowers and gifts from Teleflora. Get more information here and make someone’s Valentine’s Day special.

February 13, 2018

UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship Deadline Is May 13

Every year, the UFCW Charity Foundation’s scholarship program offers scholarships to UFCW members or their immediate family members who want to further their education and demonstrate a commitment to their communities and UFCW values.  Since 1958, the fund has distributed more than $2 million in scholarships.

Past winners have gone on to make significant contributions to society and to the UFCW – entering a range of fields including public service, medicine, law, business and teaching.  Many have returned to the UFCW as staffers, organizers, and community activists who contribute to our mission.

The UFCW Charity Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for 2018. All applications will be due by May 13, 2018.  You can get more information about the UFCW’s scholarship program here.

February 13, 2018

Severance Foods Workers in Connecticut Join Local 371

On Feb. 1, 51 workers at Severance Foods, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut, voted to join UFCW Local 371. The workers at Severance Foods manufacture a large variety of tortilla chips that are distributed worldwide.

In spite of union-busting tactics and intimidation, the workers were determined to join UFCW Local 371 because they were concerned about wages, medical insurance, and respect in the workplace.

“We voted to unionize to get better benefits, sick days, better safety equipment and raises,” said Severance Foods worker Jan Paul Calo.

On Jan. 31, members of UFCW Local 371, along with elected officials and community allies, stood in solidarity with the Severance Foods workers as they prepared to cast their votes in a secret ballot election to join our union. Organizers used Hustle, the innovative texting app, to reach out to workers at Severance Foods, as well as to coordinate the rally before the vote.

February 5, 2018

UFCW Celebrates Black History Month

The month of February is Black History Month–a time to remember and celebrate the rich history of African Americans and the achievements of the civil rights movement.

Black History Month dates back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans dedicated the second week in February as “Negro History Week” to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, the celebration was officially recognized and expanded and every U.S. president since then has celebrated Black History Month during the month of February.

This month, the UFCW will highlight milestones in the civil rights movement on our website—including the 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation strike. We will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UFCW’s Black History Month program, and pay tribute to African American labor leaders who fought for fair wages, dignity in the workplace, and the freedom to organize in spite of considerable barriers.

February 5, 2018

UFCW OUTreach Scholarship Winners Attend D.C. Conference


Pictured left to right: Denise Anderson, Felicia Miller, Mark McGraw, Jess Steever and David Byrd.

UFCW OUTreach scholarship winners who are members of UFCW Locals 23, 367, 400 and 653 attended the Creating Change Conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24 to 28. The conference was organized by the national LGBTQ Task Force and is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement.

UFCW OUTreach Executive Board members have served as a key voice for working class and labor issues at the Creating Change Conference during the past two years, and providing scholarships to UFCW members so that they can attend this conference is a critical step in recruiting and developing new leaders within our union and in the broader LGBTQ movement.

The UFCW OUTreach scholarships were awarded to: UFCW Local 23 member David Byrd, who works at a Giant Eagle supermarket in the Pittsburgh area; UFCW Local 367 member Denise Anderson, a union steward at Safeway in Hoquiam, Washington; UFCW Local 400 member Felicia Miller, a union steward at Safeway in Warrington, Virginia; and UFCW Local 653 member Mark McGraw, a union steward at Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis.

Here are some excerpts from their essays, which were part of the scholarship application process:

From Denise Anderson:

“I believe what I can learn at this conference will not only help to mentor LGBTQ youth in my community, but will give me the skills I need to help LGBTQ union members realize how being a union member means they have support and are equal to and have the same rights as all other union members.”

From Mark McGraw:

“Contract language is only one part of the equation. It’s only effective if workers are actively and consistently engaged in creating a culture of inclusion, respect and accountability to one another and holding ourselves to a standard that promotes a just and affirming workplace. That’s why I organized a union in the first place and striving to make that vision everyday practice is what keeps me invested in this ongoing project!”

From Felicia Miller:

“I feel I could help our Sisters & Brothers here in Virginia who are LGBT because we are sometime on the margins in fear of protecting our jobs here in Virginia because we fear repercussions from being LGBT.”

From David Byrd:

“I would like to attend the Creating Change conference to acquire skills and tools to help such workers in the Pittsburgh area, as well as to assist in building political power in our quest for social and economic justice.”

“I hope this scholarship program will continue because it will give other LGBT and all the letters of Rainbow Union members an opportunity to know we are not in this fight alone,” said Miller, after attending the conference. “I also hope that we, as union members, can have a booth there next year to catch the nonunion members and explain how important unions are for our fellow community—like with our written contracts that say we cannot be discriminated against just because of our gender preference.”

February 5, 2018

ICWUC Leads Effort to Help Workers in Puerto Rico

On Jan. 22 to 28, the ICWUC led a team of senior trainers and worker educators at the Universidad de Puerto Rico in San Juan to help protect workers on the island from preventable illnesses, injuries and possible fatalities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, millions of island residents still face daily threats to their safety and health. More than two million people live in areas at risk of water contamination, large parts of the island are still without electricity, and 60,000 homes are without roofs.

The week-long “Disaster Train-the-Trainers” event was presented in Spanish with the goal of developing trainers to protect day laborers, construction workers, and others who are at risk of exposure to mold, toxic chemicals, damaged buildings and other hazards.

Trainers from Fe Y Justicia Worker Center in Houston, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the Cincinnati-based ICWUC Center conducted in-depth sessions with graduate students in public health from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, as well as AFSCME members from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

“This program is possible now because we’ve already conducted Spanish-language “Disaster Train the Trainer” events with our partners,” said Luis Vazquez, an education coordinator at ICWUC, who coordinated and conducted the San Juan program to train students and workers.  “The work we’re doing in disaster areas makes a real difference, giving workers the tools they need to stay safe. This event is personal for me; I have many family and friends in Puerto Rico. There are all kinds of dangers lurking in homes and buildings after a hurricane.”

Topics at the training included how to recognize disaster-related workplace hazards, safe clean up procedures and workers’ rights to a safe workplace.  New trainers practiced these modules and presented them to their fellow new trainers. These graduate students and workers, in turn, will soon be out in the field to share this information at temporary shelters, recovery worksites, and other locations where workers are affected by hazards associated with disaster recovery.

This “Train-the-Trainers” session builds on similar programs conducted by the ICWUC in Cincinnati with many of their 10 partners, and with National COSH in Houston last September after Hurricane Harvey devastated that city. The training was made possible, in part, by support from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences. For more information, contact John Morawetz of the ICWUC’s Center for Worker Health & Safety Education at jmorawetz@icwuc.org.