News and Updates
April 16, 2019
As negotiations with Stop & Shop continue in New England, the International is urging all locals and their allies to support the 31,000 members of our union family who work at Stop & Shop as they stand together for a contract that recognizes their hard work and dedication.
On April 11, these brave women and men, who are members of UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445, and 1459, walked off their jobs at over 240 Stop & Shop stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to protest the company’s proposed drastic and unreasonable cuts to health care and retirement benefits and take-home pay. They are also protesting Stop & Shop’s unfair labor practices, including refusing to provide our union with financial information to verify the company’s claim that cutting benefits was necessary to stay “competitive.” In addition to hurting our members’ ability to support their families, the proposed cuts by Stop & Shop, whose parent company earned $2 billion in profits in 2018, would also have a negative and severe impact on customer service by impacting the very cashiers, stockers, bakers, deli clerks, and butchers that Stop & Shop customers rely on.
These hard-working members of our union family have been trying to negotiate a fair contract with Stop & Shop since Jan. 14 and deserve better. Since the work stoppage, staff members from the International have coordinated with locals, allies, community groups, politicians, Stop & Shop customers and members of the press so that our members know they are supported during this difficult time. One of the materials the International has created is an online solidarity petition, so that we can show Stop & Shop that support for these workers is building. You can sign this petition here. You can also read a joint statement from the five UFCW locals regarding the fight for a fair contract here. All locals will be getting an appeal for hardship funds in the coming days.
By standing together, we can show Stop & Shop that it’s time to reach a fair contract agreement that reflects the true value of our members.
April 8, 2019
On March 22, workers at Vireo Health’s Maryland Medical Solutions in Hurlock, Md., voted to join UFCW Local 27 to ensure they receive the good pay and benefits they have earned. Vireo Health’s Maryland Medical Solutions is a physician-led, patient-focused medical cannabis grower and processor.
Workers at the facility were excited to join our union family.
“I’m excited to be able to negotiate over wage increases that would allow for things like a savings account,” said Ian Stenzer.
“It’s exciting to know that we will have job security and will have the power to bargain for improvements to our jobs,” added Blaine Hill.
“Congratulations to the hard-working men and women of Vireo’s Maryland Medical Solutions,” said UFCW Local 27 President Jason Chorpenning. “They have empowered themselves with the tools for a better future. We look forward to negotiating the best contract that we can for the workers and their families.”
April 1, 2019
Thanks to the strength and courage of our members at Local 222, they were able to achieve a new four-year contract that ensures the hard-working women and men at Empirical Foods receive the pay increases they’ve earned and can take time off (up to 52 weeks) when they need to take care of a sick or injured service member. The new contract also provides workers up to 90 days to return to work with renewed work authorizations without loss of seniority, a significant improvement from the previous contract.
“This is an unbelievable contract. I never thought we could accomplish all these changes,” said Kimberly Orellana, who served as a member of the bargaining committee. “My coworkers are very happy with the wages and various improvements.”
March 25, 2019
A rally in western Massachusetts on March 20 united customers, local leaders, teachers, and community members in support of Stop & Shop workers in the push for a new contract that honors the hard-working women and men who have made the grocery chain one of the most successful in the country.
Hundreds of members of Local 1459 helped lead the rally outside of the Stop & Shop store in Chicopee, Mass. They were joined by Springfield City Council Member Jesse Lederman, a representative from the office of Senator Eric Lesser, and members of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, SEIU and Jobs With Justice.
UFCW Local 1459, along UFCW Locals 371, 328, 919 and 1445, have been united in working to secure a new contract with Stop & Shop that invests in workers and strengthens our commitment to delivering the very best service to the communities we serve. Negotiations began on January 14. Together, all five locals represent over 31,000 Stop & Shop workers.
New England communities know that Stop & Shop’s plan to drastically cut the number of full-time jobs will mean less customer service in the aisles, fewer products on the shelves, and longer lines at checkout. Our members want to be able to provide the very best service for their customers while still being able to provide for their families
“Stop & Shop is a neighborhood store and it is our members who provide quality service and food every day that keep our friends, families, and neighbors coming back,” said UFCW Local 1459 President Tyrone Housey. “Today’s event makes it clear that the community also values good service and wants Stop & Shop jobs to be jobs where people can work hard and build a better life.”
The Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island AFL-CIO organizations recently sent a letter in support of the five locals’ pursuit of a fair contract. The letter states: “Together, we represent approximately 700,000 union members across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. You have the full weight of the labor movement behind you in your struggle for as long as it takes.”
Jobs With Justice and other community allies held another rally in support of Stop & Shop workers in Somerville, Mass., on March 23.
March 11, 2019
On Feb. 28, members of UFCW Local 1445 staged a rally at the Macy’s store in Downtown Crossing in Boston to show support for Macy’s members in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who are trying to secure a better contract with the company. Members of UFCW Local 400 and the RWDSU, as well as a large and enthusiastic group of friends, supporters, customers and allies, also attended the rally. Together, they called on Macy’s to provide these hard-working women and men with the wages and benefits they have earned and deserve. The rally also highlighted the hard work and commitment our Macy’s members in Boston, Braintree, Natick, Peabody and Saugus, Massachusetts, and Warwick, Rhode Island, have invested in this company.
This rally is part of a coordinated effort by UFCW Locals 5, 21, 367, 400 and 1445 and RWDSU Locals 1-S and 3 to build bargaining power for 10,000 members of our union family who work at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s leading up to negotiations with the company in 2019 and during the next two years. During the Macy’s rally in Boston, locals that represent Macy’s workers in other parts of the country handbilled the union Macy’s stores in their areas or posted supportive messages on social media in a show of solidarity.
UFCW Locals 5, 367 and 1445 are engaged in bargaining with Macy’s this year. RWDSU Local 1-S will negotiate a new contract with Macy’s in 2020, and RWDSU Local 3 and UFCW Locals 21 and 400 will negotiate new contracts in 2021.
March 11, 2019
UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement on March 6 in response to news that Whole Foods cut workers’ hours after its parent company, Amazon, enacted a wage increase for employees.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“The reports of Amazon’s Whole Foods cutting worker hours is the worst case of bait and switch I’ve ever seen. Just months ago, they told the American people and their workers that they were raising their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. But now it appears that this was all a public relations stunt as they are now cutting worker hours – which is a cruel pay cut, plain and simple.
“More than ever, it is clear Jeff Bezos’s retail vision is focused on driving up profits at any cost by cutting hours and replacing good jobs and skilled hard-working employees with automation. It is time for the American people to wake up to the fact that Amazon’s vision, left unchecked, will cost us millions of good retail jobs. The men and women of Whole Foods have earned the right to a better life, and they deserve so much better than the treatment they are receiving from Amazon.”
March 5, 2019
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.
“Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.
“It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”
February 19, 2019
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Amazon showed its true colors today and every American should be outraged. Jeff Bezos had the opportunity to listen to the voices of working families and support the good-paying jobs New Yorkers deserve.
“But now we can see this is all about blind greed and Jeff Bezos’ belief that everyday taxpayers should foot the bill for their new headquarters even as the company actively works to eliminate millions of American retail jobs.
“No company that refuses to invest in hard-working men and women should be allowed to stuff their pockets with taxpayer-funded subsidies. Make no mistake, this fight has only begun.”
February 11, 2019
UFCW Local 75 played an instrumental role in supporting the Cincinnati School Board’s passage of the Good Food Purchasing Program on Jan. 28. The program will leverage millions of public procurement dollars back into Cincinnati’s regional economy, while encouraging school food suppliers to provide healthier food that is ethically produced, locally sourced and environmentally friendly. The policy also protects workers’ rights to organize a union free from intimidation and helps ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their products.
UFCW Local 75 was part of a community-based coalition that included other unions, faith groups, and environmental and animal welfare organizations, which advocated for the program for over two years. UFCW Local 75 also obtained the endorsement of the Good Food Purchasing Program from the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, and then secured pledges of support from school board candidates.
“We commend the Cincinnati Board of Education for passing the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which includes fair labor standards,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey. “The board took a strong step towards providing strong incentives for food companies receiving taxpayer dollars to pay their workers a living wage, provide strong protections against workplace hazards, and otherwise move towards adopting more sustainable food production practices in a manner that bolsters Cincinnati’s local economy.”
“This is a win for hard-working people, students, farmer-owned cooperatives and those companies that pay livable wages and provide dignity and respect on the job,” added Garvey.
“Many of the 1,000 or so people that work in surrounding plants have children attending Cincinnati public schools,” said Paige Stephens, who is a union representative at UFCW Local 75. “If more of the food contractors are incentivized to agree to labor peace agreements and collective bargaining, this will lower poverty rates and our students will experience more stability at home.”
January 28, 2019
On Jan. 20, members of UFCW Local 770 who work at Overhill Farms in Vernon, California, ratified a new contract that raises wages and improves benefits. This ratification comes after 18 months of contract negotiations, three strike votes, and various actions demanding respect, dignity, and a voice on the job.
Effective from September 2018 to September 2021, the new contract benefits around 400 employees in the bargaining unit. It includes wage increases of up to $2.00 per hour during the contract term, according to seniority (a base salary greater than the minimum wage will rule). The employees will also receive retroactive back pay to Sept. 1, 2018, and a sizeable bonus paid within 30 days of ratification.
Regarding health insurance, the company will establish a fund to reimburse deductibles to employees who are currently enrolled in the company’s health care plan – up to $900 per year for employees with single coverage and up to $1,200 per year for employees with dependent coverage. Grandfathered employees (including covered family members) will receive reimbursements of some copays (up to a total of $50,000). The contract also guarantees no annual increase to weekly medical premiums for the life of the contract.
UFCW 770 members won a guarantee that the company cannot unilaterally change the health care plan, as it had done in the past. Overhill Farms committed to paying up to a 12 percent increase per year and maintaining the same health benefits. If the increase exceeds that amount, then the union can offer another, more cost-effective plan, which the company must accept or pay the entire increase itself.
During contract negotiations, the bargaining committee and rank-and-file members stood strong fighting for better living wages, affordable health benefits, seniority protections, a safe workplace, and dignity and respect. Community, labor, and faith leaders joined the workers in solidarity at all the mobilizations in front of the company’s main plant.
Overhill Farms employees are mostly immigrant workers who produce frozen food items such as plated meals, soups, pastas, sauces and other specialties. Overhill Farms is owned by CPF, a Thailand based conglomerate.