News and Updates
April 18, 2017
This month, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) launched a campaign to highlight the “hidden tax” every taxpayer has been paying for years to Walmart. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the retail giant receives an estimated $6.2 billion in subsidies every year, primarily from the federal government.
An op-ed titled “The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays” by UFCW Local 1529 President Lonnie Sheppard was published in USA Today on April 8, and highlights many of the key facts that Walmart refuses to acknowledge, like the high cost and hidden tax that every American taxpayer pays every single day.
Among the key facts:
- Walmart, a company that generates almost $500 billion in revenue every year with annual profits averaging $15.5 billion over the last five years, is also one of the nation’s largest welfare recipients.
- According to a 2014 report by Americans for Tax Fairness, Walmart receives an estimated $6.2 billion in subsidies every year, primarily from the federal government.
- Even though Walmart claims that it spent $500 million on hourly associate bonuses and recently boosted employee wages, it still has thousands of employees who rely on public assistance programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing.
- A single Walmart Super Center is estimated to cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.74 million per year in public assistance money.
- Logically, if Walmart increased employee wages, and/or provided better benefits, much of this $6.2 billion dollar burden would be lifted off the taxpayers.
MCAW also ran digital ads targeting shoppers and workers inside stores across the U.S., and MCAW organizers have been exposing the Walmart tax to shoppers and workers across the country. Thank you to all UFCW local and regional staff that worked on this project.
April 17, 2017
On April 11, members of UFCW Local 655 who work at Holten Meat in Sauget, Ill., ratified an industry-leading new contract by an overwhelming margin. The new three-year contract resolves many of the work-life issues that forced Holten Meat employees to make the difficult decision to go on strike on March 18.
“Today is victory for our hard-working members who love their jobs, but love their families more. This union contract will not only make Holten Meat a better place to work in Sauget, it will make Holten Meat a better company,” said UFCW Local 655 President David Cook. “Make no mistake, we want Holten Meat to succeed, and that is why this contract is so important—it recognizes that no company succeeds in the absence of its hard-working employees and members. Best of all, UFCW members at Holten Meat now have a better contract that lets them not only support their families, but advance their careers at work.”
The new contract lets experienced members have more control over their lives and move to the shifts they need to spend more quality time with their families. The contract also allows members to advance their careers, and establishes a new labor and management committee at Holten Meat that will regularly meet to solve problems in the workplace cooperatively.
“We stood together and spoke out because we believe that our lives matter. None of us should have to choose between spending time with our family and doing our job—we should be able to do both,” said Trinetta Kitchen, a seven-year veteran of the production line at Holten Meat. “This contract will not only help ensure we can earn a better life, it recognizes our hard work and will make Holten Meat a better and more successful company.”
April 10, 2017
Isolina “Izzy” Pistolessi, a member of UFCW Local 400 who works as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente’s Falls Church Care Center in Falls Church, Va., has been chosen to be the recipient of Kaiser Permanente’s National Extraordinary Nurse Award.
Pistolessi has worked at the Falls Church Care Center for 18 years, and is the second nurse from Kaiser Permanente’s Mid-Atlantic Region to receive this recognition. She will be flown to California in May to accept her award.
At the Falls Church Care Center, Pistolessi is a mentor to other nurses, conducts outreach to the community, promotes public health, educates and cares for patients, and serves as a UFCW Local 400 shop steward. Off the job, she is a volunteer and leader with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, a member of the Fairfax Country Medical Reserve Corps, and a union activist who recently participated in UFCW Local 400’s Lobby Day.
“I’m very fortunate to work for Kaiser Permanente and do the work that I love to do—caring for patients and nurturing other nurses so they become better,” Pistolessi said. “And I’m proud to serve my coworkers as a shop steward. To receive this honor is a complete surprise—but it’s also wonderful.”
March 21, 2017
On March 18, members of UFCW Local 655 who work at Holten Meat in Sauget, Ill., rejected a contract offer that asked them to work harder for less, and made the difficult decision to authorize a strike.
No matter where our members live or the local they are part of, our union family is stronger when we stand together. Our members who work at Holten Meat have made it clear that a work-life balance is not only important, it’s worth fighting for.
“The issue for our members is about quality of life. It’s about having more control over their lives,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook.
UFCW Local 655 has been negotiating with Holten Meat over this contract for more than four months. While many workers are satisfied with the wages and benefits the company offers, they’ve become frustrated with schedules that make them choose between working and spending time with their families.
Why is this an issue worth standing up for? Today, a veteran employee who works on the night shift at Holten Meat is unable to use his or her seniority to transfer into an open day shift position. Instead, Holten Meat will frequently hire new employees to fill the open day shifts, making our most committed and dedicated members work schedules that sacrifice time from family.
Members are also being asked to split their days off, meaning they have to spend part of the weekend at work and away from their families for no extra pay.
As we all know, our hard-working members can relate to what’s happening at Holten Meat. The dedicated members who work simply want the better life they’ve earned, and supporting a family shouldn’t mean that you never get to see them.
“Give these hard-working men and women the contract they have earned and deserve,” Cook said. “It’s that simple.”
March 20, 2017
In March, RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 members who work at Bloomingdale’s in New York City thanked customers for shopping at the store. RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 members handed out fliers to remind Bloomingdale’s shoppers that when they shop at the store, they are supporting good jobs in New York City. They also let Bloomingdale’s shoppers know that negotiations for a new contract are coming up soon.
December 6, 2016
On Nov. 30, members of UFCW Local 435 who work at the JBS plant in Hyrum, Utah, ratified a new union contract by an overwhelming majority. The new five-year contract includes substantial wage increases, improved bidding (promotion) language, a sustainable health care package, and grade increases.
This contract includes the largest wage increases members in this plant have ever won, and would not have been possible without the recent membership growth, as well as a committee that was willing to fight for a good contract.
“I thought this process would be done in one day,” said Taner Atwood, a JBS worker and member of UFCW Local 435 who was new to the bargaining committee. “I did not know there was so much involved in negotiations. It took longer than expected, but a good contract is worth the wait. The members look forward to working together to grow and build the union.”
November 29, 2016
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
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 22, 2016
On Nov. 20, 2,400 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, ratified a new contract. The workers are members of UFCW Local 431.
The new five-year contract includes $2.60 in wage increases for the five-year term of the contract, with $1.10 per hour upon ratification; $.50 per hour wage increases in years two and three; and $.25 per hour wage increase in years four and five. The contract also includes an additional paid holiday, and increases vacation leave to four weeks after ten years of employment.
“This was a team effort between UFCW Local 431, our bargaining committee, our members and UFCW International to help close the wage gap in the pork industry,” said UFCW Local 431 President Jerry Messer. “I would like to thank everyone involved for helping to secure this contract. I am proud of each and every one of our members.”
November 2, 2016
Last month, 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 a New York-based counter-serve chain that’s 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.