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February 24, 2017

Why Tom Perez Should Be DNC Chair

As the DNC prepares to elect new leadership, UFCW International President Marc Perrone penned an op-ed in U.S. News & World Report that explains why Tom Perez is the best candidate for hard-working men and women. A key excerpt is below:

The success of the Democratic Party will come down to its ability to do one thing: put hard-working families first.

Tom Perez understands the realities faced by hard-working men and women across America who deserve and have earned a better life. Our union family experienced this firsthand when he was Secretary of Labor during the Obama administration. We saw his passion and commitment to improving the lives of workers when he joined with us to push for better working conditions at our nation’s poultry plants, where workplace safety and health is a key concern.

The truth is that too many good people, from all backgrounds, are struggling to make ends meet and they’re tired of it.

In order for the Democratic Party to help these families and connect with these voters, their message and how they communicate must change. They must do a better job of speaking to voters’ economic needs and social wants, and they must mobilize people who do not see the clear difference between political parties. We believe Tom Perez can do that.

You can read the full op-ed online on the U.S. News & World Report website.

January 26, 2017

Jim Beam Workers Have Each Other’s Backs

In October, UFCW Local No. 111D members who work at Jim Beam distilleries in Clermont and Boston, Kentucky were in the middle of negotiating for a new contract.  They loved working at Jim Beam but had reported regularly working 80 hour weeks, injuries on the job, and a lack of job security.

By standing together and speaking out, Local No. 111D got support from the community and eventually their employer.  Jim Beam agreed to a new contract with the workers that would stop relying on temporary workers and hire more full-time workers who could keep up with demand for the product.  For members of Local No. 111D, this victory meant less overtime and most importantly, more time with their families.

 

December 20, 2016

UFCW Locals Help Pass Minimum Wage, Sick Leave and Scheduling Legislation

This year, UFCW locals played a major role in passing legislation that helps working families.

In June, UFCW Local 881 helped to pass the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance by 48-0, which will extend earned sick leave to over 450,000 workers in Chicago. The ordinance will most dramatically benefit 42 percent of Chicago’s private sector workforce who currently lack paid sick leave.“On behalf of the 8,000 hardworking members of Local 881 UFCW who live and work in every neighborhood of Chicago, I commend the 48 supportive voting members of the Chicago City Council for passing the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance,” said UFCW Local 881 President Ron Powell. “In 2015, voters in every ward of Chicago overwhelmingly supported extending earned sick leave to working families who are one flu season away from losing their job and economic hardship. We are pleased today that the City Council listened to the working people of Chicago! This is a historic step for our city and a victory for workers and our communities.”

UFCW Local 881 was the founding member of the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, a partnership of community, public health, faith, women’s advocacy, and labor organizations that worked together to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick Leave Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017.

Also in June, San Diego passed legislation that will immediately increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and then to $11.50 an hour in January. This bill also provides five days of annual paid sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 135 played an important role in the fight for this legislation, which will help hard-working men, women and their families in the San Diego area and improve public health.

This legislation immediately gives a boost to 170,000 workers in the city of San Diego, where many minimum wage employees work two or more jobs to make ends meet.

This new minimum wage increase was a long time coming. Back in 2014, the San Diego City Council voted in favor of raising the minimum wage. However, shortly thereafter, the mayor vetoed it, the city council overrode it and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce stepped in with petitions for a ballot initiative, which halted raises for the working poor for more than two years.

UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian spoke before the San Diego City Council in favor of raising the minimum wage, and UFCW Local 135 staff phone banked and knocked on doors to get the ballot initiative passed. This victory is the result of an effort, by a diverse coalition led by RaiseUp San Diego, to ensure that no one who works full-time in San Diego is forced to live in poverty.

“The historic passage of an increase in minimum wage and earned sick days for San Diego workers signals a clear turning of the tide in San Diego,” said UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian. “In the end, a million dollar campaign from out-of-town hotel and restaurant lobbyists and a veto from Mayor Faulconer could not stop San Diegans from voting their conscience. Hopefully, this will alleviate the struggles for workers who make tough decisions like whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.”

In September, 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.

Also in September, 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.”

December 6, 2016

Local 27 Safeway and Giant Workers Raise Starting Pay, Protect Health Care

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Over 7,000 UFCW Local 27 members who work at over 80 Safeway and Giant stores in the Baltimore area ratified new contracts on Nov. 16. Both three-year contracts include higher starting pay, wage progression improvements, no cost increases to employee health insurance, and a plan to secure pensions.

For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with UFCW Local 27; but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, UFCW Local 27 members who work at Safeway and Giant stuck together and engaged with customers and community members for a better contract.

“As always, Giant and Safeway bargaining presents unique challenges that, coupled with the cost of health and pensions, along with increased competition in retail food, made these negotiations more challenging than ever,” said UFCW Local 27 President George Murphy. “But with the hard work and cooperation of the staff of both Local 27 and Local 400, we were able to come up with an agreement that protects and improves our contract, as well as keeping the employer competitive in an ever-changing market.”  

 

December 6, 2016

Local 23 Giant Eagle Workers Join the Fight for $15 National Day of Action

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Members of UFCW Local 23 who work at Giant Eagle joined the Fight for $15 National Day of Action in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. The Giant Eagle workers are calling on the company to give all workers at all Giant Eagle stores merit raises so that their wages can be brought up to a $15 per hour minimum, chain-wide. The workers are also asking Giant Eagle to give those employees who already make more than $15 per hour an additional $1.50 pay raise.

Three UFCW Local 23 members who work at Giant Eagle were arrested for civil disobedience during the rally.

“When I started working at Giant Eagle in 1970, I made the equivalent of $15.80 per hour,” said Sonny Linden, one of the Giant Eagle workers who was arrested. “Workers made living wages and we could support our families. Employees hired today can’t possibly raise a family on the starting rate of $8.25. Successful employers all over the country—including some here in Pittsburgh—are already committed to $15 per hour. Giant Eagle can do better.”

You can watch UFCW Local 23 members at the Fight for $15 National Day of Action here.

November 29, 2016

RWDSU/UFCW Quaker Oats Workers Ratify New Contract

RWDSU UFCW Logo

On Nov. 10, Quaker Oats workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who are members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 110, ratified a new contract.

The new three-year agreement includes a $1,500 signing bonus and yearly wage increases. The contract also calls for improvements to the vacation eligibilities, implements day-at-a-time vacation usage, and includes a vacation bonus for members with over 25 years of service.

The contract also restricts the company from requiring overtime on weekends, and improves the new hire progression rates so that some employees will receive wage increases from $1.91 an hour to $2.46 an hour depending on their time in the progression right away. Improvements were also made to the Short Term Disability Benefits and the Shoe and Clothing Allowances, and to the Perfect Attendance bonus.

November 29, 2016

Local 2 National Beef Workers Ratify New Contract

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On Nov. 19, 2,500 workers at the National Beef plant in Dodge City, Kansas, ratified a new contract. The workers are members of UFCW Local 2.

The new five-year contract includes significant wage increases, improved health benefits, and an improved bidding system for jobs. The new contract also establishes a union office inside the plant.

“UFCW Local 2 is working hard to enhance the lives of meatpacking workers in southwest Kansas,” said UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas. “We’re very proud of this contract and the workers we represent.”

November 24, 2016

President Perrone Calls for Unity in Thanksgiving Op-Ed

UFCW International President Marc Perrone spoke out on behalf of America’s workers in an op-ed featured in The Hill on Thanksgiving. The following is an except. To read the whole piece, please go to The Hill:

Through hard work and dedication, our 1.3 million members help millions of Americans celebrate the special moments in their lives. Our members are also able to earn a better life for their families with the help of valuable contracts that honor their hard work and dedication. By being part of a union family and standing together, our members earn better wages, benefits and schedules.

Their training and devotion offer real value to employers and the customers they serve. And when they work on holidays, like Thanksgiving, it is not under threat or duress, but with the realization that such sacrifice deserves something extra, like holiday pay.

Sadly, there are those in the political world and corporate America who may see the right to earn a better life, or to spend time with family even on one of our most sacred holidays, as a threat to their businesses. Truth be told, such thinking is a symptom of what is so fundamentally wrong and unfair in America’s economy.

Over the last 16 years, as inequality has grown and wages have stagnated, the wealthiest few have become wealthier. At a time when America needs good jobs, it is nonunion companies like Walmart that buy more Chinese goods than any other company in this nation. They even try to fool our elected leaders into thinking they care about creating American jobs.

The fact is that millions of hard-working Americans, especially those in retail, endure low wages, schedules that make it impossible to go to school or take care of a family, and the risk that one sickness or injury will send them to financial ruin because of their lack of health benefits.

America’s workers and families deserve better.

November 15, 2016

Colonnade Apartments Workers Join RWDSU/UFCW Local 108

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On Nov. 10, 15 maintenance workers employed at Colonnade Apartments in Newark, N.J., voted overwhelmingly to join RWDSU/UFCW Local 108.

The workers were concerned about low pay, health and safety issues, and the lack of retirement benefits. Workers were also concerned about being paid for all of the hours they worked.

“I am happy we voted the union in to represent us,” said Pedro Parada, a porter at Colonnade Apartments. “We need someone to fight for our rights and to be there when we need help. The company has been doing whatever they want to us.”

“I feel happy that we now have a union,” said Elva Rodriguez, who works as a janitor at Colonnade Apartments. “I am thankful for them being there for us. I know they are going to help and care for us.”

“This was truly a needed victory,” said Abraham Asabor, an organizer with RWDSU/UFCW Local 108. “This small group of workers are expected to be Jack-of-all-trades. They not only keep the building clean, they are required to do building and apartment upkeep, painting, plumbing, AC and heating and apartment clean outs.”

“They are required to be on call and they are not properly compensated,” Asabor added. “To add insult to injury, they are treated with disrespect and paid low wages. This is the second building we have organized in the past month and the problems are similar. We will fight hard to make sure these workers receive better working conditions.”

“Most importantly, these workers weren’t being treated with any respect, and they wanted to change that,” said RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr.

November 1, 2016

Workers at Hale & Hearty Join Local 1500

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On Oct. 20, 56 workers at the Hale & Hearty commissary in Brooklyn, N.Y., banded together for a better life by joining UFCW Local 1500. Hale & Hearty is New York-based counter-serve chain that well known for its soups.

Donald Torres, who has worked at the Hale & Hearty factory for two years said, “We all just felt that we deserved better. We want to have a voice and to build a better life working here.”

Tony Speelman, president UFCW Local 1500, said “I want to congratulate the hard-working men and women at Hale & Hearty for joining us at Local 1500. Our entire union is proud of them and admires their courage. We look forward to building a relationship with Hale & Hearty, and working together to find ways to benefit workers and the company together.”

“By working together we will improve their lives and make Hale & Hearty into a better and more successful company. This cannot be done alone, it will be a joint labor-management effort and we look forward to beginning that relationship,” Speelman concluded.