News and Updates
August 8, 2017
On July 19, WPEA /UFCW Local 365 member Jason Holland was honored with the Mother Jones Award from the Washington State Labor Council for his efforts to help local farm workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington and Mt. Vernon, Wash., organize and secure a strong union contract. Holland works as an organizer and researcher at WPEA/UFCW Local 365.
The farm workers, from Oaxaca, Mexico, realized that there was strength in numbers and formed the first new farm worker union in the country in over 20 years—Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ). Using his law degree from Vanderbilt University, Holland supported FUJ’s efforts by writing the contract the workers would bring to the negotiating table. He also marched and protested alongside FUJ in solidarity, receiving no compensation for his work – besides knowing he stepped up to help fellow hard-working men and women in need of a strong union family.
As he accepted the Mother Jones Award, Holland reflected on his work with FUJ and how the experience changed his life. “When you see injustice, don’t just stand there and let it happen,” he said. “Take action.”
You can see Holland accept the Mother Jones Award here.
December 14, 2016
The holiday season is here, and for many of us, this is a joyful time to reunite with our families and create long-lasting memories. However, during these months, we should also remember that spreading the holiday spirit is about giving back to our communities, too.
UFCW locals are active in their communities and there for those in need all year long–but especially during this time of year.
For starters, throughout the month of December, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 will be collecting toys, coats, and food to distribute across their communities. The generous donations from members will be given to local organizations, including Project Hospitality on Staten Island, the John Theissen Children’s Foundation, and the INN in Hempstead. To see how you can contribute, click here.
UFCW Local 1500 hosted their annual Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 11. Each year, members and their families come to Local 1500’s local hall to have a free breakfast and get a free photo with Santa.
The UFCW Local 152 Women’s Network hosted a “Teddy Bear Drive” for ARC, a grassroots organization dedicated to advocating for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual and development disabilities. On December 9, the ARC hosted a dinner and a dance for their members to receive their teddy bears. UFCW staff, Home Depot employees, and other community members helped out with food and refreshments. Additionally, on December 20, in partnership with Village Shoprite of Somers Point, the local will also donate 120 baskets of food to Local 152 members chosen by their Shop Stewards and to other faith-based organizations.
For the seventh year, more than 40 children and their parents gathered at the headquarters of UFCW Local 653 to ring in the holiday season, collect toys for charity and enjoy a breakfast with Santa. In addition, the breakfast kicked off Local 653’s annual toy drive to benefit Toys for Tots. More than 100 new toys were collected and new toys can be donated at Local 653’s office in Brooklyn Center through the holiday season.
Members of UFCW Local 293 and the JBS beef packing plant presented a check for $10,000 last week to six local programs that serve the Grand Island, Neb., area during the holidays and year-round. The recipients were the Hero Flight program; Central Nebraska Humane Society; Christmas Cheer; the Salvation Army; Head Start Child and Family Development; and Toys for Tots.
UFCW local 1189 holds an annual event in South St. Paul for members’ families offering food, fun, games and prizes, and free photos with Santa. Local 1189 brings Santa to their Duluth office for more photos with members and their children. In Duluth, the local teams up with the United Way to provide free Santa photos for families who are needing a little extra hope for the holidays.
Local 1059 turned their union hall into a Winter Wonderland. They had 136 kids that came and sat on Santa’s lap. To be eligible, members had to bring in a non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food bank. Local 1059 will also do a similar Santa experience this week in Jackson, Ohio, with an expected turnout of 30 to 40 kids.
UFCW Local 342 is hosting a toy drive as well, that will drop hold its first drop off on Thursday, Dec. 15. Local 342 members are welcome to join the volunteer team bringing Christmas gifts to 122 toddlers and preschoolers served by the Family Services League. Santa will be on hand to give out the toys and the school provides games and music for the children.
UFCW Local 371 is also participating in their own toy drive through their Women’s Network Toy Drive. The Local 371 Women’s Network collects toys and gifts for children and teenagers in need throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. They not only donate to struggling union members, but to all children in need in their communities.
UFCW Local 23 members also pulled together to collect toys to assist union members in crisis, from both their own local and others, by providing Christmas toys for their kids. On Dec. 1, they delivered a large stash of gifts to a city bus to be distributed to those in need and had a great time doing it!
UFCW Local 536 will be contributing to Christmas bags for the local elementary school in Peoria, Ill. They partner with the Labor Temple to put together 650 bags for
the children with apples, pencils, paper, other supplies and gifts.
November 3, 2016
On Oct. 22, UFCW Local 648, in partnership with Californians for Safety and Justice and the San Francisco Labor Council, hosted a Proposition 47 Live Scan, record change and job fair clinic in San Francisco to help people with prior nonviolent felonies to petition to get their records changed.
At the event, attorneys volunteered their time and met with each attendee, one on one. The San Francisco Labor Council, City College of San Francisco, Up Vote and the San Francisco Airport Office of Employment all had informational booths, as well. Union members that attended the Proposition 47 Live Scan event and attorney meetings said they were thankful for the opportunity to change their records and move forward with their lives.
In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, a measure that reduces certain low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors. The savings from reduced incarceration costs are invested in drug and mental health treatment, programs for at-risk students in K-12 schools, and victim services. Over one million Californians quality for Proposition 47, but only about 250,000 people have petitioned to have their records changed. Proposition 47 was due to sunset in November 2017, but Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 2757 to extend the time to petition for another five years.
The UFCW has partnered with a number of local and national organizations in an effort to bring to light the issues that are plaguing our communities and transform the criminal justice system.
UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Robin Williams believes restorative rights are especially important for workers. “When you get out of jail, how do you take care of your family if you can’t get a job?” Williams said.
Together with our allies, the UFCW is dedicated to shifting the focus away from punishment and toward educational opportunities that help people change their lives and get back on track.
November 1, 2016
Last month, UFCW Local 1208 partnered with United Way of Robeson County to distribute much needed food to members across southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. The event, which was held at the Family Dollar in Lumberton, provided assistance to over 150 workers and their families. Members of UFCW Local 204, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and corporate partners like Kroger and Kellogg’s, also donated items to help Local 1208 members and their families.
Stephanie Franklin, a member of Local 1208 who has worked at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel for more than 11 years and lives in Lumberton, was one of the recipients.
“The whole area was affected by Hurricane Matthew,” Franklin said. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and this was one of the worst storms I’ve seen. My son is four years old, and we were stuck in our trailer for two days during the storm and we didn’t have enough food or water. Our trailer is up high, but the bathroom ceiling caved in a little bit and the water was still up to my waist.”
“The relief effort meant a lot and shows that Local 1208 is there for you. I appreciate everything they gave me and my son,” Franklin said. “We’re slowly getting back to normal.”
“Hurricane Matthew brought incredible hardship to our friends and neighbors, and it is times like these that we must come together to help those in need” said Ella Ellerbe, who has worked in packaging at Smithfield for ten years. “Our union family, working with our partners, are proud to help our local members and their families get the food assistance they need. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our members recover from this storm because no hard-working family should ever have to struggle alone.”
UFCW Local 1208 worked with Smithfield Foods to ensure that everyone at the plant in Tar Heel received a full week’s pay when Hurricane Matthew struck, regardless of actual time on the job. Members of Local 1208 have contributed more than $10,000 to United Way of Robeson County to help their community recover from Hurricane Matthew.
October 27, 2016
This month, after standing together to improve working conditions, Jim Beam workers in Clermont and Boston, Ky., ratified a new contract by a vote of 204 to 19. The workers are members of UFCW Local 111D.
UFCW Local 111D President Janelle Mudd released the following statement regarding the new two-year contract:
“Today’s vote is the culmination of the efforts of many to reach a compromise that will, ultimately, benefit everyone. After months of negotiation and feeling like the voice of UFCW 111D was not being heard, we had hoped that we would not have to go on strike to reach an agreement with Beam Suntory management. In the end, we made a strong statement and we were heard.
“The final proposal includes many of the key elements that we felt so strongly about, such as equal pay for equal work, a cap on temporary employees and the hiring of more full-time employees. We appreciate management’s diligence to reach an agreement with the union. They met with employees from a cross section of departments from both the Clermont and Boston plants, and representatives talked to employees on the picket line to clarify the areas of greatest need.
“We would also like to thank all the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported us with donations of money, supplies, food and beverages; those who honked, waved and stopped to give words of encouragement; those who picketed with us; and those who refused to cross the picket line.”
October 13, 2016
There’s still time to register in many states, but deadlines are approaching quickly. Anyone who wants to register to vote should visit VOTE.ORG or HELLO.VOTE as soon as possible. It only takes one minute to register to vote and you can do it from your phone.
Our vote is our voice – let’s use it. By voting, we can raise up the issues that matter the most and secure the better America all of us have earned and deserve.
Register today by visiting VOTE.ORG or HELLO.VOTE on your mobile phone.
October 7, 2016
Last month, UFCW Locals 27, 227, 400, 655 and 888 partnered with Faces of Our Children and Howard University during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
The locals held actions to help raise awareness, support and funding for the fight against sickle cell disease, and also helped families who are coping with the disease with bills and food. Faces of Our Children is active in 12 states.
Together, our union family is working to create a better life in our communities.
For more information about Faces of Our Children, visit http://www.facesofourchildren.org.
September 29, 2016
On Sept. 19, Seattle’s City Council passed a historic Secure Scheduling Ordinance by a vote of 9-0. The new scheduling law will require all retail, grocery and food businesses in Seattle with 500 or more employees to provide their employees with their work schedules two weeks in advance and offer existing part-time employees more hours before hiring more workers. The law will also provide workers with a right to request desired shifts, compensation for last minute scheduling changes, and prohibit back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Members of UFCW Local 21 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
UFCW Local 21 members testified at every city council hearing, lobbied their elected officials, made hundreds of phone calls, and participated in numerous actions. Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017.
“Now that we won secure scheduling, I’ll have basic economic security and good workplace scheduling practices,” said Christiano Steele, a UFCW Local 21 grocery worker. “It will allow me to not have to struggle to make ends meet and have a reasonable work-life balance”
September 14, 2016
On September 7, the St. Paul City Council passed the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance by a vote of 7-0, joining Minneapolis and dozens of other cities nationwide that mandate earned sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 1189 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
“The ability to earn and use sick time in the city of St. Paul is a huge step toward creating healthier workplaces and healthier lives,” said UFCW Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen. “I am proud of the tireless work done by our state’s unions. Bennie Hesse, Local 1189 legislative and political director, was a leader in the crusade, working with Union Steward (and Executive Board Member) Dennis Reeves to provide important testimony to the city council on the need for paid sick and safe time for grocery workers.”
Members of UFCW Local 1189 served on a task force put together by the city council and mayor for a year and worked with a coalition of advocates and other labor groups to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017 for businesses in St. Paul with at least 24 employees. Smaller businesses will have to comply by Jan. 1, 2018.
August 9, 2016
Every year, we celebrate Labor Day to honor working people and all their contributions to our country and its middle class. The UFCW is made up of hard-working men and women who serve in our communities at retail and grocery stores, meatpacking and processing plants, and countless other facilities across multiple industries.
This year, the UFCW International is hosting its first ever Labor Day art contest, to celebrate working people with something made by working people!
UFCW members and their children are eligible to enter an original work of art to be in the running for a $500 Visa gift card AND have their artwork framed and displayed at the DC labor Fest in the fall! The winning piece will also be available for all UFCW locals and members at our online UFCW Store. Two runners up will receive $50 Visa gift cards, as well.
To enter, send us a high resolution photo image of your art at www.ufcw.org/contest. Your submission must have a Labor Day theme.
The deadline to submit is August 25th, and winners will be notified by August 29th.