News and Updates
September 3, 2019
Pleasure Chest Workers in New York Ratify First Contract
UFCW/RWDSU members who work at Pleasure Chest stores in New York City recently ratified a first union contract that raises wages, improves benefits and includes security protections.
Highlights of the agreement include guaranteed raises in every year of the contract; accrued vacation time for part-time workers (previously only full-timers accrued vacation time); and significant improvements in workplace protocols and procedures for workers who are threatened or harassed by members of the public, including the right to close the store and remain on paid-time until the threatening individual(s) have left the premises. This part of the contract addresses one of the main issues brought up by Pleasure Chest workers, who sell adult toys, during their organizing campaign.
The agreement also creates minimum staffing requirements for busier times, and new trainings for management and staff. These trainings help employees to address boundaries, safety, and security for conflict de-escalation, as well as reimbursement for self-defense classes. The contract also contains strong language around non-discrimination and respect for workers’ gender identity/expression and pronouns.
August 26, 2019
Local 152 Supports Good-Paying New Jersey Jobs in Cannabis
Staff members from UFCW Local 152 recently attended a Middle Township Committee meeting in Middle Township, N.J., in support of a proposal for a medical cannabis facility in the area.
UFCW Local 152 Union Representative and Organizer Hugh Giordano spoke in support of the plan to build a new facility to grow and sell medical cannabis products, saying that it would bring good, high-paying jobs to the Middle Township area. UFCW Local 152’s support of the medical cannabis facility helped to influence the Middle Township Committee to unanimously approve issuing a letter of support for the proposal. The committee meeting and Giordano’s remarks were covered by the The Press of Atlantic City.
UFCW Local 152’s support of the medical cannabis facility in Middle Township is part of their Cannabis Campaign—a larger effort to build a successful cannabis industry and grow our union family wherever cannabis is legalized.
UFCW Local 152 is committed to standing with cannabis workers to not only create good jobs, but to also represent them so that their employers provide the good wages and benefits they have earned, and the fair treatment in a safe work environment they deserve. You can learn more about UFCW Local 152’s effort to support cannabis workers in their area here.
August 19, 2019
Mississippi Cottonseed Co-op Workers Join ICWUC
On June 25, Cottonseed Co-op Corporation workers in Jonestown, Miss., joined the ICWUC. Cottonseed Co-op was previously known as Delta Oil Mill and was represented by the ICWUC until its bankruptcy and closing approximately five years ago. The cottonseed processing facility reopened approximately two years ago under the name Cottonseed Co-op, and the company rehired many of the previous employees from Delta Oil Mill.
When the workers came back to work without a union contract, they found that many of the benefits and protections they once had when they were members of the ICWUC were now gone.
These hard-working men and women knew they had earned and deserved better, so they reached out to their former union representative, Regional Director Ricky Lawrence, in early May. Lawrence sent them cards to sign to see how much interest there was at the facility and in a couple of weeks they had mailed him back signed cards for approximately 80 percent of the current employees. Organizer Ernest Perkins visited with the workers, and then contacted his organizing colleague, Lance Heasley, to come assist in the NLRB petition process.
During the petition process, the organizing team gave the company the option of having a neutral third party count the cards rather than go through with the NLRB election process. The company agreed to have a neutral third party and on June 25, the neutral party determined that 47 of the 57 employees had signed cards. The company then voluntarily recognized the ICWUC as the bargaining agent for the Cottonseed Co-op employees and agreed on a date to begin negotiating a contract.
The ICWUC is proud to welcome back these workers and looks forward to working with them in negotiating their first contract.
August 12, 2019
The Power of Being a Member of Our Union Family
UFCW Local 400 member Clarence “Pete” Dickerson’s experience correcting a clerical error involving his pension shows the value of being a member of our union family.
When Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va., brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side that is willing to back you up.
For Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.
Dickerson’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to the store in Appomattox. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.
In Richmond, Dickerson worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Dickerson worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Dickerson was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Dickerson in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Dickerson stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.
Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Dickerson was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.
Eventually, Dickerson became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”
When Pete raised concerns, months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Dickerson’s issues, he filed a grievance.
After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Dickerson for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” Dickerson said. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”
July 15, 2019
UFCW supports striking Amazon Prime Day workers
Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis went out on strike at about 3 p.m. on Prime Day to address working conditions at the plant.
There have been protests on Prime Day in Europe in past years, but the action in Minnesota is the first major Prime Day strike for workers in the United States.
In June, Amazon announced it would provide one-day shipping on select items to Prime members, a move that has reportedly pushed many workers past their breaking point.
“With the recent move to one-day Prime shipping, Amazon workers are being forced to meet impossible demands at increasingly unsafe speeds,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone in a statement on the strikes. “We are proud to stand with these brave Amazon workers on Prime Day as they fight for what’s right.”
May 28, 2019
UFCW Calls on Amazon to Put Workers and Consumers Ahead of Profits
UFCW International President Marc Perrone recently called on Amazon to address business practices that put employees and consumers at risk and criticized the company for replacing hard-working humans with robots.
On May 22, ahead of the annual Amazon shareholder meeting in Seattle where a vote was held on resolutions ranging from facial recognition to gender pay equity, Perrone said, “The growing frustration and anger with the way Amazon and Jeff Bezos do business is real. Year after year, Amazon earns billions in profits on the backs of American taxpayers and its own workers, while ignoring the company’s responsibility to do what is right.”
“Today’s shareholder meeting is an opportunity to hold Amazon accountable. These resolutions are about sending a clear message to Amazon and Jeff Bezos that the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing billionaires and huge corporations at the expense of workers and consumers,” Perrone added. “It’s time for companies like Amazon to realize that they succeed because of their workers – not in spite of them.”
Earlier this month, a new report showed that Amazon is rolling out machines to automate the boxing of customer orders, a job held by thousands of its workers. Amazon started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelops them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item. The company has considered installing two machines at dozens of warehouses, which would result in more than 1,300 job losses across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory.
Perrone called out Amazon’s continued effort to replace workers with technology, saying, “Jeff Bezos’s vision for our economy is focused on driving up profits at any cost by replacing talented employees with automation. While Amazon is raking in billions in tax cuts from cities desperate for new jobs, the company is ruthlessly working to eliminate the jobs of thousands of its current employees.”
“It’s clear that Jeff Bezos cares more about the bottom line than investing in the hard-working employees who made Amazon a success in the first place. Our nation’s leaders need to wake up and realize that left unchecked, Amazon’s predatory business model will only continue to wipe out thousands of jobs that have powered our economy for decades. Our families and communities deserve better than this,” Perrone added.
May 28, 2019
Local 1445 Macy’s Workers Strengthen Pay and Health Care in New Contract
UFCW Local 1445 members who work at Macy’s stores across Massachusetts and Rhode Island voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract on May 19. The new contract, which follows more than four months of negotiations, includes wage increases and strengthens access to affordable health care.
The three-year contract includes continued Sunday premium pay, wage increases, lower health care premiums and access to more performance bonuses. UFCW Local 1445 represents around 1,000 Macy’s workers at stores in Boston, Peabody, Natick, and Braintree in Massachusetts as well as Warwick in Rhode Island. This contract is part of the UFCW’s united coast-to-coast effort to ensure every member receives the good pay and benefits they have earned and are able to build a better life for themselves and their families.
“Macy’s is a company that continues to grow and succeed because we work hard for our customers every day,” said Anne Connelly, who works at the Macy’s store in Braintree. “This contract recognizes what we contribute to the company and will help the hard-working men and women of Macy’s get the better life we’ve earned and deserve.”
“Months of preparation mobilizing the members at Macy’s helped bring out the leadership in our rank and file who took active roles in securing the best contract possible,” said UFCW Local 1445 President Jeff Bollen.
May 20, 2019
A Strong, First Contract for Florida Beef Workers
Members of UFCW Local 1625 who work at Florida Beef in Zolfo Springs, Fla., recently ratified a first contract that improves wages and benefits. The successful negotiations of their first contract comes less than a year after the workers joined UFCW Local 1625 in July 2018.
The three-year contract provides the 58 slaughterhouse workers with guaranteed raises starting with ratification, eligibility to participate in the company’s health insurance plan, as well as six paid holidays and paid vacation. In addition, the company has agreed to make contributions to the 401(k) retirement plans for employees. The company will also provide work boots, gloves and knives at no cost to workers. This is the first slaughterhouse organized by UFCW Local 1625 and the first time these workers have had wage and benefit improvements.
May 13, 2019
A Better Contract for Local 367 Macy’s Workers in Washington
Members of UFCW Local 367 who work at Macy’s Full-Line and Furniture Gallery in Tacoma, Wash., ratified a new contract on May 1 that raises wages. The contract was ratified by an overwhelming margin (99 percent) and over 80 percent of the Macy’s workers turned out to vote.
The two-year contract was unanimously recommended for ratification by the bargaining committee, which played a crucial role in mobilizing their coworkers. In addition to wage increases, the new agreement provides significant improvements for a majority of the Macy’s associates. Part-time and flex-time members will also have a shorter time period to earn their wage increases by transitioning from an hourly-based progression to a yearly progression, among many other gains. This contract is part of the UFCW’s united coast-to-coast effort to ensure every member receives the good pay and benefits they have earned and are able to build a better life for themselves and their families.
“I have been a part of the bargaining committee for the last four contracts and, for the first time, I felt like I was part of a winning team,” said Terri Warren-Cavillo, who served on the bargaining committee. “Everyone involved was there for the good of the cause and everyone had a voice and used it. If I had to do it all again, it would be with these same people at my side.”
May 13, 2019
UFCW Helps to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country
On May 11, UFCW locals turned out in full force to collect non-perishable food made by union members for local food banks as part of the 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This is the fourth year that the UFCW has partnered with the National Association of Letter Carriers to sponsor this campaign, which is the largest single-day food drive in the country.
In the last 25 years with support from UFCW and other organizations, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected 1.5 billion pounds of food that was donated to local food banks and other organizations, helping to feed the more than 46 million Americans who struggle with hunger.
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has been an inspiring way for our union family to make a positive difference in the lives of our friends, neighbors and the communities we serve.
Here are a few images, including a video, from this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive: