News and Updates
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.
November 1, 2016
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) kicked off the “Trump’s Values Are Walmart’s Values” National Week of Action on Oct. 22 with a rally in Cincinnati, and events in Washington, D.C, Anaheim, St. Paul, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, and New York City, to call on Walmart to stop selling Trump products. The rallies were held in partnership with UFCW Locals 75, 99, 324, 400, 540, 653, 1000, 1189 and 1546, as well as Walmart-Free NYC. Additionally, MCAW sent a letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon asking the world’s largest retailer to break its silence on Trump’s hateful rhetoric.
“Walmart refused to denounce Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to the Republican convention, and since then, he’s only gotten worse,” said Jess Levin, communications director at MCAW. “First there was the inexcusable and vile Access Hollywood tape, and now there is a growing list of women accusing Trump of sexual assault. Walmart cannot stay silent any longer. They need to send a message to their customers and employees that it does not support this candidate, and it does not support his behavior. Walmart should stop selling products that promote Trump online and in stores.”
October 27, 2016
This month, after standing together to improve working conditions, Jim Beam workers in Clermont and Boston, Ky., ratified a new contract by a vote of 204 to 19. The workers are members of UFCW Local 111D.
UFCW Local 111D President Janelle Mudd released the following statement regarding the new two-year contract:
“Today’s vote is the culmination of the efforts of many to reach a compromise that will, ultimately, benefit everyone. After months of negotiation and feeling like the voice of UFCW 111D was not being heard, we had hoped that we would not have to go on strike to reach an agreement with Beam Suntory management. In the end, we made a strong statement and we were heard.
“The final proposal includes many of the key elements that we felt so strongly about, such as equal pay for equal work, a cap on temporary employees and the hiring of more full-time employees. We appreciate management’s diligence to reach an agreement with the union. They met with employees from a cross section of departments from both the Clermont and Boston plants, and representatives talked to employees on the picket line to clarify the areas of greatest need.
“We would also like to thank all the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported us with donations of money, supplies, food and beverages; those who honked, waved and stopped to give words of encouragement; those who picketed with us; and those who refused to cross the picket line.”
October 20, 2016
Earlier this month, the hard-working employees in the catering department at the Settler’s Ridge Giant Eagle Market District store in Pittsburgh voted to join UFCW Local 23.
The Giant Eagle workers were concerned about respect and fairness on the job, and wanted to join the hundreds of coworkers in the same store who are members of UFCW Local 23 who are striving for a better life.
“We know that there are many nonunion Giant Eagle workers that would love to be part of the UFCW, but due to fear and bully tactics by Giant Eagle, it takes strong workers to stand up to such an anti-union company,” said UFCW Local 23 President Anthony Helfer. “Our stewards were key in helping to organize these workers and we look forward to more activities at Giant Eagle, even in the face of this anti-union company.”
October 14, 2016
Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it is closing three stores in three different cities (Lamesa, Texas; Brownfield, Texas; and Columbia, Mo.) with very little notice.
“This callous move by Walmart will leave hundreds of workers without jobs and hundreds of families without paychecks,” said Jess Levin, communications director of MCAW. “Walmart has said that people are the most important part of their business. However, this recent news proves that, for Walmart, nothing is more important than profits: not workers, not customers, not anyone. These closings, much like the 269 store closings earlier this year, will not only impact Walmart workers, they will affect these entire communities. ”
In early 2016, Walmart announced that it was closing 154 U.S. stores, which, according to The Washington Post, disproportionately affected lower-income, rural areas.
September 30, 2016
On Sept. 21, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it paid over $200 million in quarterly bonuses to over 900,000 of its hourly employees who work in stores that met the retail giant’s goals of cleanliness, faster checkout and better service. The average bonus per Walmart employee was around $200.
“Walmart is happy to boast when they decide to give workers a very small share of one of the world’s largest company’s earnings, but when it comes down to facts, Walmart continues to mislead,” said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW.
“What Walmart doesn’t tell you is that in order to get this bonus, workers must complete amonths-long training program that is often implemented with ‘buggy and outdated technology.’ In fact, in order to also receive the $10 an hour minimum wage that Walmart promotes, completion of this tedious program is required. We hear from Walmart workers every day that have been making less than $10 an hour for months. These workers will also be excluded from the quarterly bonus, and we believe they deserve better.”
September 28, 2016
Sixteen Aramark workers at Beaver Area School District Food Services in Beaver, Pa., voted overwhelmingly to join UFCW Local 23 on Sept. 15. Aramark is a global food service, facilities, and uniform services provider.
These new members stood up to Aramark’s anti-union campaign, including captive audience meetings and literature that used intimidating language, and formed their union. Issues of concern to the workers included the need for respect on the job, fair wages, seniority rights, proper staffing, and retirement benefits.
“Workers are winning,” said UFCW Local 23 Organizer Julie Curry.
“These workers know that if they work together, they can make their jobs great jobs,” said UFCW Local 23 Director of Organizing Richard Granger. “We’re glad they’ve joined the Local 23 family and we’ll be working with them as they make the change they want to see.”
September 22, 2016
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[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#ffffff” text=”#808080″ width=”30%” align=”right” size=”3″ quote=”As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract.” cite=”-Vireo Cultivator Matt Denten” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
In September, two years after medical marijuana was passed into law in New York, workers at Vireo Health ratified their first RWDSU contract. The Vireo Health workers are members of RWDSU Local 338, and this union contract is the first in the history of New York state’s new medical cannabis industry.
The new three-year contract covers workers at Vireo Health’s cultivation and manufacturing facility in Fulton County and at all four of its dispensaries located in Albany, Johnson City (Binghamton), Queens and White Plains. The contract will provide workers with paid time off for holidays, sick days, and vacation, as well as bereavement leave. Workers will receive retirement benefits through an annuity fund that the company is paying for. Full-time workers will also be receiving medical coverage for themselves and their families under the contract. The agreement also includes “profitability milestones” for workers that will kick in as the patient base increases and the company becomes more successful.
“As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract,” said Vireo Cultivator Matt Denten. “I’m proud to be working in the medical cannabis industry and know that my work is helping patients live meaningful lives. My coworkers and I all agreed that we wanted to be represented by Local 338 to make sure that we were protected as workers and had good benefits and wages.”
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#ffffff” text=”#808080″ width=”30%” align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”This agreement provides these dedicated workers peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.” cite=”- RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
“The strong union contract approved by the workers at Vireo will ensure that they have secure, middle class jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” said RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso. “This agreement provides these dedicated workers peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.”
RWDSU Local 338 was at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement in New York state, working with legislators to craft legislation that would help patients and protect workers in the new industry. A bill legalizing the production and sale of marijuana for medical purposes was signed into law in New York in 2014, and in part due to the efforts of Local 338, the medical marijuana companies were required to have labor peace agreements where they wouldn’t interfere with workers’ efforts to join a union.
August 19, 2016
Perma, a recreational cannabis producer-processer in Tacoma, Wash., is proudly declaring that their products are union made with a new a UFCW label. The workers at Perma are members of UFCW Local 367, and made history in June of this year as the first recreational cannabis producer-processor in Washington state to join a union. The UFCW union label will be attached to Perma’s AK-47 and Gorilla Glu products.
“This label will help customers choose a quality product that is made by my hard-working coworkers with the quality of jobs we want in the state,” said Janie Wallace, one of the processors at Perma. “My grandfather was a longshoreman and I’m proud to continue in the UFCW family in this emerging industry.”
This label will be used nationwide as workers in the cannabis business choose to help level the playing field within the industry.