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    News and Updates

January 9, 2018

Working Families United Protests Termination of Salvadoran TPS

On Jan. 8, Working Families United protested the termination of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans currently working and living in America. The UFCW is one of five unions that form the Working Families United immigration campaign, which also includes UNITE HERE, IUPAT, Iron Workers, and Bricklayers. All five unions represent tens of thousands of TPS union workers in hospitality, construction, meat processing and trades.

“Hundreds of thousands of hard-working families who pay taxes and contribute to our communities will now be forced to upend their lives and settle into a dangerous country they no longer know,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “From working in meatpacking and food processing plants to retail shops to other sectors, people with TPS hold key roles in our economy that make America stronger and safer.”

Maria Elena Durazo, general vice president of UNITE HERE, echoed that sentiment. “Today Trump’s DHS is taking nearly 200,000 law-abiding American immigrants and turning them from legal workers into targets for deportation,” Durazo said.

Looking forward, Working Families United member unions are pledging to keep the fight to save TPS up at the congressional level, including with a nearly one million dollar advocacy budget.

“We urge Congress to do what is right and immediately pass a long-term legislative solution that gives every TPS family the stability and security they’ve earned and deserve,” said Kenneth E. Rigmaiden, general president of IUPAT. “As a union family, we are committed to helping people who work hard build better lives – especially when they’ve been forced to flee their home countries due to unimaginable violence. We will amplify those voices and stand steadfast, shoulder to shoulder, until a just solution is reached.”

 

January 8, 2018

MCAW Protests Walmart’s Refusal to Provide Holiday Pay

With Santa’s help, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) launched a series of strike actions at Walmart stores across the country in December to protest the retail giant’s refusal to provide its 1.5 million workers with holiday pay. The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were held in 13 cities, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Cincinnati and Memphis. At each action, Santa and his holiday helpers made all those who love Christmas aware of Walmart’s “no holiday pay” policy.

Walmart eliminated holiday pay in 2016, replacing it with a policy where workers accrue paid time off based on hours worked. Under this policy, a new part-time Walmart worker has to work 33 hours to get just one paid hour off, which could take weeks to accrue given Walmart’s inconsistent scheduling. Holiday pay, for those who work on the holiday, typically includes a premium above and beyond what they are paid hourly. And, in the case of many union retail workers, they are given holiday pay even if they don’t work that day.

“Santa Claus is on strike for one simple reason: It’s time Walmart do the right thing and provide holiday pay for its 1.5 million hard-working men and women – the same holiday pay it used to provide in 2015 before it decided to “Grinch” its workers,” said MCAW Director Randy Parraz. “To be very clear, this initiative is about more than Santa Claus and Christmas, it’s about the values that the holidays represent and which Walmart has chosen to ignore.”

The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were the second phase of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” MCAW’s holiday campaign has included grassroots events at Walmart stores, targeted paid media, including two national TV ads, aggressive social media, and outreach to civic and community leaders, all with the important goal of having Walmart end its policy of refusing to provide holiday pay to its workers.

“Walmart earns millions of dollars from not paying its workers holiday pay – this is wrong and it must stop. The extra pay millions of other American workers earn during the holidays make a difference, and Walmart workers deserve no less,” said Parraz.

January 8, 2018

AOC Resins Workers in Indiana Join ICWUC

AOC Resins workers celebrate their new status as ICWUC members with ICWUC organizer Lance Heasley (right).

Workers at AOC Resins in Valparaiso, Indiana, recently voted to join the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) of the UFCW by an overwhelming margin. AOC is a plastic fabrication company, and the workers wanted a voice in their workplace.

“Working class people have no one to trust but themselves. We know what we need and we know as individuals our voices are ignored,” said Kyle Gatlin, an operator at AOC Resins. “It’s only when we accept the idea ‘what’s good for one is good for all’ will we be able to change the conditions of our labor. For the past few months, we have driven towards a common goal of unionizing all hourly employees and accomplishing that goal felt amazing. The ICWUC has been with us for every need along the way, and this wouldn’t have been possible without Lance Heasley’s guidance.”

The ICWUC is proud to welcome all of these workers to our union and looks forward to helping them negotiate their first contract.

January 8, 2018

UFCW Local Unions Endorse Steve Dettelbach for Ohio AG

On Jan. 4, UFCW Locals 17A, 75, 880, 1059, along with the ICWUC and RWDSU, released the following statements after endorsing Steve Dettelbach for Ohio Attorney General. Collectively, these local unions represent over 80,000 hard-working Ohioans.

“Steve Dettelbach has continually proven that he is completely committed to putting what’s best for everyday Ohioans above all else,” said Randy Quickel, president of UFCW Local 1059.

“Now, more than ever, we need and deserve leaders like Steve who will stand with and up for hard-working men and women when it matters most,” said Carl Ivka, president of UFCW Local 880.

“Simply put, Steve Dettelbach will be an Attorney General who protects good jobs and better wages across Ohio. We endorse him with enthusiasm and look forward to helping him win this race,” said Kevin Garvey, president of UFCW Local 75.

“Steve Dettelbach isn’t afraid to push back against predatory corporations and secure real progress for hard-working people. We look forward to him standing up for everyday Ohioans as our next Attorney General,” said Sonja Campell, president of UFCW Local 17A.

“Steve Dettelbach knows how to work with the community and law enforcement to help make our communities safer for all,” said ICWUC President Frank Cyphers.

“The time has come for Ohio to have an Attorney General who puts people before politics. Steve has spent his career fighting for justice for working people, no matter who they work for. Steve is not afraid to stand up to business owners who hurt working people – no matter what. We will fight for him to win this election because we know he will fight for us as Attorney General,” said RWDSU Regional Director Rick Marshall.

January 2, 2018

UFCW Calls on NCC to End Forced and Exploited Labor in America’s Poultry Plants

On Dec. 21, the UFCW called on the National Chicken Council (NCC), the voice of the poultry industry, to set higher industry standards and stop the use of incarcerated and exploited labor by their member companies. In a letter to the NCC, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on the NCC to take the lead in establishing a clear industry standard and give consumers confidence that their chicken is produced without these inhumane practices.

“This is not responsible or moral behavior,” said Perrone in the letter, “and as a leading voice of the poultry industry, it would make a difference if the National Chicken Council condemned these practices publicly and insisted on all of your member companies to do the same by agreeing to a code of conduct that puts an end to this reprehensible behavior.”

While more than 70,000 hard-working members of the UFCW family work in the poultry industry and earn better wages and benefits, the conditions in nonunion plants are far worse. A recent Oxfam report highlighted the struggles faced by nonunion poultry workers, including wearing diapers at work because they are routinely denied bathroom breaks. In addition, the industry has repeated problems with the use of incarcerated labor, underage workers and workers with disabilities being paid less than a minimum wage.

“The fact that some of your member companies have continued to operate in such an irresponsible manner is bringing shame upon the entire poultry industry and devaluing the skilled work of hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women,” said Perrone. “This disgraceful practice also damages the reputation of responsible companies and our members who have good jobs working in poultry plants.”

You can read the entire letter here.

January 2, 2018

UFCW Locals Give Back to Their Communities During the Holidays

UFCW locals made the holidays a little brighter for those in need in communities across the country.

UFCW Local 1428 purchased 100 pairs of shoes for children at four local schools in Montclair and Pomona, California, with money raised from staff, members and community partners. UFCW Local 1428 has coordinated with “Shoes That Fit,” a local nonprofit, for over 20 years to provide shoes to local children.

RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 donated toys to the John Theissen Children’s Foundation for children in the New York area. They also donated to several local food pantries that provide hot holiday meals to families in need. You can see the full impact of their work to make the holidays a little brighter for members of their community here.

UFCW Local 8GS collected donations for members who lost everything in the wild fire in Northern California. Their office in Santa Rosa, California, has been set up for donation collection and distributions to members and the have raised over $120,000 online through YouCaring.com.

UFCW Local 23 held its annual “Stuff the Bus” toy drive for UFCW members in crisis, as well as other union members throughout the region, through the central labor council – where a festively decorated bus is stuffed with gifts and gift cards to make holiday dinners happen. The toy drive is organized by members of UFCW Local 23, who solicit the Christmas “wish lists” from kids of members who are in crisis, and pack boxes with some of the collected toys, as well as some clothing and a gift card for groceries. The gifts and gift cards are delivered to the member parents, who are then able to put something under the tree. There are always a lot of toys left, and these are delivered to other union and community members.

 

 

January 2, 2018

Local 919 Community Renewal Team Workers Ratify New Contract

On Dec. 7, 35 members of UFCW Local 919 who work at Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford, Connecticut, unanimously ratified a new contract. The CRT workers are employed as general kitchen workers, food preparation workers, cooks and drivers. CRT works with local officials, providers, private funders and the public to address challenges such as hunger, homelessness and unemployment, and helps individuals and families in Hartford take steps toward a healthy and economically stable future.

The three-year contract guaranteed raises for each of the three years for all employees, including the higher paid members that were “redlined” in their previous contract, and allows more members to take advantage of 401(k) benefits. The contract also includes sick leave improvements, a more efficient grievance procedure, as well as improved supplied uniforms for the drivers.

 

January 2, 2018

Local 653 Eastside Food Co-op Workers Ratify First Union Contract

Members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis ratified their first union contract on Dec. 14. The three-year contract includes raises for all employees and establishes a just cause discipline procedure. The Eastside Food Co-op employees voted to join UFCW Local 653 last April.

Eastside Co-op workers were excited about their first union contract.

“With this agreement, we won a stronger voice in the everyday conditions that impact our work environment and our experience working at Eastside—more equitable wages, adequate staffing and training, and timely addressing labor and safety concerns,” ​said Seth Kuhl-Stennes.

“I’m excited that we’re going to be paid based on our experience, our knowledge and the time we’ve been working here making Eastside successful,” ​said D.K. Prince.

“I know that we’re leaving a better co-op for future employees and for the community. I think it’s important to work at a place that values workers’ voices,” ​ said M.J. Banken.

Community support for Eastside Food Co-op workers has been steady throughout the bargaining process. “As a longtime member of Eastside Food Co-op, a former EFC board member, and a union member, I am very excited that the workers here will be ratifying their first contract.  The success of our co-op is due in large part to the workers’ dedication and hard work, and this contract will ensure that they are treated fairly and with respect.  This is truly co-op values in action,” ​said Joy Anderson.

“I am inspired by the Eastside Food Co-op workers courage to stand up,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “Our union family is proud to help everyone at Eastside to improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”

December 18, 2017

Opening the Door to Higher Education

The UFCW’s Free College Benefit helped our members and their families go back to school this year with no out-of-pocket costs or need for loans.

Launched this year, this amazing benefit makes it possible for UFCW members and their families to earn an Associate Degree online through Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) with no out-of-pocket costs for tuition, fees or e-books. Registration for the next semester at EGCC is open until January 12.

The UFCW’s Free College Benefit is designed to help UFCW members and their families balance work and home life. You can attend school part-time or full-time – whichever fits your schedule. All you need to get started is a high school degree or GED, and there are no entrance exams to worry about. Available programs at EGCC include Business Management, Accounting, Paralegal, and Early Childhood Education.

This benefit is available exclusively to UFCW members, retired members, and family members, including children, spouses, grandchildren, domestic partners, and dependents. You can learn more about this amazing benefit here.  

December 18, 2017

Celebrating the Talent of Our Members

The UFCW launched a “how to” video series this year to pay tribute to our members, who are trusted experts in their fields and take pride in their ability to produce quality products and provide exceptional service at stores across the country.

The “how to” series features expert advice from Carolyn, a cake decorator in Pennsylvania; Jon, a meat cutter at Cub Foods in Minnesota; Michelle, a florist at Kroger in Texas; Maia, a produce clerk at Stop and Shop in Connecticut; Chardonnay, a prep cook at the Marketplace at Kroger in Ohio; and Jasmin, a makeup artist at Macy’s in New York City.

These videos demonstrate our members’ commitment to excellence, and each video was viewed on YouTube thousands of times. You can view yhis year’s “how to” video series here.