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March 5, 2019

UFCW Responds to Amazon’s Plan to Open New Grocery Chain

UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement on March 1 in response to news that Amazon will be launching a new grocery chain.

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

UFCW Responds to Amazon Canceling NYC Location

On Feb. 14, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement in response to Amazon’s decision to withdraw its plan to establish a new campus in New York City.

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

Local 75 Helps Pass Good Food Purchasing Policy

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

A Better Contract for UFCW 770 Overhill Farms Members

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.

January 22, 2019

Meatpacking Workers in Detroit Join Local 876

Meatpacking workers at the Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit joined UFCW Local 876 on Dec. 28. The approximately 85 workers were concerned about the company’s unfair promotion process, pay issues, little advancement for female workers, as well as verbal harassment by management and favoritism.

Wolverine Packing Co. is a family-owned business that produces a range of portioned and processed meats including ground beef and steaks.

January 4, 2019

A Better Contract for Local 663 Grocery Workers in Minnesota

Members of UFCW Local 663 who work at grocery stores in the Brainerd Lakes area in Minnesota ratified a new contract on Dec. 6 that builds better lives for more than 400 families. The three-year contract covers UFCW Local 663 members who work at Quisberg’s Cub Foods in Baxter and Brainerd, Super One in Baxter, and at Miner’s Super One in Crosby.

The new contract includes a Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAPP), which is a defined benefit pension design where the accumulated benefit accrual is adjusted up or down each year based on an investment hurdle rate of 5.5 percent. Members will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAPP beginning in January 2019. A VAPP is attractive to workers because it reduces investment risk and offers an upside in terms of benefit improvements. Employers like VAPP because the design limits their liability.

“Securing the pension was a priority for me because it secures the future for everybody in this industry. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mike Insley, who is a member of UFCW Local 663 and is employed as a grocery manager at Cub Foods in Brainerd. Insley has been in the industry for 35 years.

The new contract also improves wage scales for all members and includes increased wages for full- and part-time positions for top of scale and over scale each year of the contract.

“It’s important to me that we fought for and won higher wages, as my family and I depend on it,” said Sandra Livingston, who is a member of UFCW Local 663 and is employed as a cashier at Super One in Baxter.

Under the agreement, all eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the health and welfare plan, as well as improved treatment and new and improved language to protect workers in the workplace. The new and improved language includes respect and dignity in the workplace; victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave; and two-week schedules that give members more established expectations and opportunities to better plan out their lives.

“Our members lead the way to better benefits for their families and a higher quality of life for all,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht. “A rising tide lifts all boats. We’re proud to work side by side with our Brainerd Lakes retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so.”

June 25, 2018

A Better Contract for Food Workers in New Jersey

UFCW Local 152 members who work at Case’s Pork Roll in Trenton, New Jersey, ratified a new contract that includes better pay and benefits by an overwhelming margin on June 5.

The four-year contract includes wage increases for every year of the agreement, a continuation of no health care benefit cost-sharing by members, and pension contributions by the company to maintain the current benefit level.

Case’s Pork Roll is a family-owned business best known for their flavorful pork roll found in Local 152 union stores, including ShopRite’s private label brands.

June 25, 2018

UFCW Condemns ICE Raids in Ohio

The UFCW denounced last week’s ICE raids at Fresh Mark plants in the Ohio towns of Canton, Massillon and Salem, and called on the Trump Administration and Congress to work together and fix our broken immigration system.

Perrone’s statement reads as follows:

“Tearing hard-working men and women apart from their children, families, and communities is wrong. The people who do these incredibly difficult jobs have the right to due process, and to be treated with respect and fairness. Today’s actions will only drive this nation further apart, while also spreading unmistakable pain among neighbors, friends, coworkers, and loved ones.

“Our top priority is to provide whatever assistance and counsel we can to any of our impacted members and their families. The broken policies that led to these and other workplace raids must be addressed immediately. They are creating a climate of fear where workers across this country are too afraid to stand up for their rights, report wage theft, dangerous work conditions, and other workplace issues.

“We urge President Trump and members of Congress to work together to fix our broken immigration system, and to keep the demands of due process and family unity at the forefront. As a nation of immigrants, we must and can do better than this.”

June 4, 2018

MCAW Slams Walmart for Silencing Workers During Shareholders Meeting

Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) criticized the retail giant for its attempt to silence a majority of Walmart workers’ voices by splitting the formal shareholders meeting from the annual associate celebration so that the two events took place on different dates and at different locations.

Walmart’s decision to switch the date and location for the formal shareholders meeting is a major departure from the company’s previous shareholder meetings. Traditionally, Walmart’s formal business meeting, which includes discussing and voting on shareholder proposals, has always been conducted during the main associate celebration inside the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with over 20,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in attendance, as well as Walmart executives and shareholders.

During last year’s shareholders meeting, two Walmart workers spoke as proxies during the formal business portion, touching on low wages and poor benefits, and were received with cheers from the crowd of Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in the Bud Walton Arena. MCAW’s communications director also spoke on behalf of the Teamsters union, advocating its proposal for an independently elected board member.

This year, however, formal business took place in the smaller John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Arkansas, on May 30 which resulted in a smaller, more controlled audience and excluded thousands of Walmart workers from the meeting that included comments on the company’s low wages, inconsistent and unfair scheduling, and insufficient benefits. The annual associate celebration took place at the Bud Walton Arena on June 1.

“For the first time in Walmart shareholder meeting history, Walmart’s top 1 percent has changed the rules to exclude Walmart workers from being present during business discussions on wages and other proposals that affect them on a daily basis, further silencing the voice of its workers,” said MCAW director Randy Parraz.

Throughout the shareholders meeting, MCAW released a series of statements, fact sheets and digital ads to educate the public, as well as Walmart workers and shareholders, on Walmart’s censorship of its business meeting. Additional information about MCAW’s campaign during Walmart’s shareholders meeting is available here.

May 29, 2018

Pilgrim’s Pride Workers in South Carolina Join Our Union Family

Pictured left to right: Chris Doubilet from Pilgrim’s Pride in Athens, Georgia, and Demetrius Stewart and Kawan Scarborough from Pilgrim’s Pride in Sumter, South Carolina.

Over 800 Pilgrim’s Pride workers in Sumter, South Carolina, voted to join UFCW Local 1996 on May 2 by an overwhelming margin. The workers, who process poultry, were concerned about treatment by management, insufficient wages and unsafe working conditions, including the denial of bathroom breaks. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is a Brazilian-owned, multi-national food company and the largest chicken producer in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Member-to-member organizing made a significant difference in this campaign. UFCW members who work at Pilgrim’s Pride plants in Georgia and Florida met with the workers at the Sumter plant and helped them understand the benefits of standing together for dignity in the workplace.

“We are proud of the unity the employees at the Pilgrim’s Pride Sumter plant demonstrated during the organizing campaign and are honored to have them join our UFCW family,” said UFCW Local 1996 President Steve Lomax. “We now embark on a journey of continued improvement, through having a union contract, that will better the lives of the employees and working families in Sumter. We look forward to doing what the UFCW does best—improving the lives of working families.”