News and Updates
January 22, 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
May 29, 2018
The workers were concerned about harsh treatment by management, unsafe working conditions, poor wages, and forced overtime, and wanted a voice in the workplace. Two years ago, these workers attempted to join UFCW Local 919, but were thwarted by an aggressive anti-union campaign. This time, they were determined and unwilling to listen to the company’s anti-union rhetoric and tactics, and are looking forward to negotiating their first union contract.
May 7, 2018
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) held events in Missouri and Wisconsin on April 17 to draw attention to Walmart’s practice of shifting the cost of dealing with crime in its stores to taxpayers and using a tax loophole to avoid paying property taxes.
In Missouri, MCAW held a press conference with the residents of Raytown and Independence in front of Raytown’s City Hall to highlight Walmart’s reliance on local police officers to address theft and other petty crimes at its stores, draining much-needed police resources away from the rest of the community. MCAW also announced the creation of a new citizen-led task force in Raytown, “Citizens Against Walmart Taxpayer Abuse of Police Resources,” to address this problem.
The Walmart store in Raytown has been responsible for more than 2,500 calls for police service over the last three years, including 812 calls from Nov. 1, 2016 to Oct. 31, 2017. Walmart’s Supercenter in Independence was responsible for 609 calls for police service from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017, and Walmart’s Neighborhood Market in Independence added another 160 calls for police service during that time.
“Given Walmart’s refusal to address the problem of offloading it anti-theft security costs onto communities like Raytown and Independence, citizens have decided to take action,” said Randy Parraz, national director for MCAW.
“Over 200 members of the Raytown and Independence communities have spoken on who they think should pay for police at Walmart. But since Walmart refuses to hire enough anti-theft personnel to meet what it wants and continues to drain taxpayer resources, leaving Raytown in a budget and police resource crisis, it’s time for the citizens of Raytown to take matters into our own hands,” said Raytown taxpayer and homeowner Katie Phelan.
In Wisconsin, MCAW joined Wisconsin State Senators Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Assembly member Tod Ohnstad (D- Kenosha), and homeowners Rob and Barb Pifer at the state capitol in Madison to draw attention to Walmart’s use of the “dark store” tax loophole to avoid paying its full share of property taxes. MCAW also called on Wisconsin state leadership to revisit Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, which attempts to close this loophole.
Big box retailers like Walmart have been using the “dark store” tax loophole to reduce their property tax rates by insisting that the assessed value of their properties is comparable to that of nearby vacant, abandoned, or “dark” big box stores. This tax loophole unfairly shifts the property tax burden to homeowners and reduces the amount of funding available for public schools.
After the event, MCAW and other members of the group delivered the “Rotten Apple Award” to Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for continuing to deny public school funding by allowing Walmart and other retailers to get away without paying their fair share in property taxes.
March 12, 2018
The actions included a human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala on Feb. 28, as well as a press conference on March 1 at the office of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Yvonne Gonzales, a former Walmart who told her story of being denied light duty at work while pregnant.
The actions were preceded with a joint letter from MCAW and UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart. MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, and lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers.
In addition, MCAW launched a petition asking McCarthy, Rees and Meyers to stand with women and denounce Walmart. The petition has generated over 9,800 signatures. You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
February 26, 2018
On Feb. 7, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) and UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López sent a joint letter to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart.
The letter was in response to the three prominent female celebrities’ partnership with Walmart to produce the company’s television commercials that will air during the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4. As part of the effort to highlight Walmart’s track record, MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine.
“While at face value this would seem to represent a positive campaign, we urge to you look at the facts about Walmart’s past actions that reflect on its values. Values that have had a negative impact on countless women and their families, and that send a terrible message as to what behavior is acceptable if we are serious about social equality and justice,” said López in the letter to the three Hollywood filmmakers.
The Variety ad, which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers, and details Walmart’s scrutiny towards some women of color shoppers and mistreatment of some LGBTQ employees.
Starting this week, MCAW will begin a series of on the ground actions in Los Angeles, including human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala Wednesday evening and a press conference on Thursday with a former Walmart worker who was mistreated while pregnant and working at Walmart.
You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.