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September 22, 2015

Why Unions Matter: Helping Families Through Times of Need

Richard with his mom and dad

Richard with his mom and dad

A year and a half ago, when Richard Kern was 18, he was diagnosed with malignant Melanoma.

While going through treatment, his medical bills soared to exceed $100,000. Thankfully, Richard’s mom is a member of UFCW Local 1059. Because of the collective bargaining agreement UFCW Local 1059 fought for at Kroger where Mrs. Kern works, her health insurance covered a vast majority of Richard’s overwhelming medical costs.

“My bill was in the triple digits instead of the sextuple digits,” said Richard. “Without her union, I would not be going to college. We would have sold at least one of our cars. I’d be working a full-time job or two part-time jobs. And we likely would have had to cash in retirement funds and all the life insurance policies we have. We would have had to give up nearly everything just to pay for a surgery to keep me alive. If it wasn’t for my mother’s union, my family would have been finished.”

Richard can now say he is a cancer survivor. But tragedy very recently struck his family again, when his father had a stroke. Richard’s father was airlifted from his local hospital in Lacaster, Ohio, to the facilities at Ohio State University where doctors fought to keep him from having another stroke.

“Again, the UFCW came to the rescue,” says Richard. “We haven’t yet gotten all the medical bills but the life flight alone was thousands upon thousands. He had two procedures done, saw neurologists, vascular surgeons, cardiologists, and neuro vascular surgeons, along with spending five days in arguably the best hospital in Ohio. The bills will be astronomical. But again, without my mom’s health insurance that the UFCW bargained for at the table, we would have had to pay for it all out of pocket. Which, to be blunt, never would have happened. We would have never been able to pay it all off. Ever.”

“Ever since my battle against cancer”, said Richard, “I’ve been on a mission. And after my dad’s medical troubles, the fire in my heart was set all over again. My goal is to make a speech at the Democratic National Convention. I want to send the message that without unions, the middle class is beyond screwed. I want to send the message that every single person in this country deserves a living wage, not the minimum wage. And I want to send a message that everyone is entitled to quality health insurance. I am living, breathing proof that unions save lives, as is my father.”

Richard says that by fighting for workers’ rights, the union “literally kept me and my dad alive.” Help Richard spread his message, by posting on social media, shopping union-made, or simply telling a worker in your local grocery store or in your favorite retail shop thank you for their service.

Together, unions and the millions of hard-working Americans they represent will continue fighting for workers’ rights and improving the quality of life for the middle class.

 

September 1, 2015

Celebrate Labor by Shopping Union-Made

labor day2Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer for many, but as always, it’s a holiday to honor hardworking men and women who make our country great. Many of our UFCW members will be working on Labor Day, but for those who get to take the day off and enjoy time with family and BBQ, we can continue to support each other by buying and shopping union-made.

Here’s your UFCW-made shopping list:

Meat:

-butterball burgers and franks

-ball park franks

-hebrew national franks

-hormel beef franks

Buns and Toppings

-Wonder Bread buns

-Heinz ketchup

– Open Pit BBQ Sauce

-Vlasic Pickles

Sides and Drinks:

-Frito-Lay Chips and snacks

-Doritos

-Minute Maid beverages

-Hawaiian Punch

-Mott’s Apple Juice

-V8 beverages

-Sprite

-Pepsi

-Coke

August 11, 2015

On the Ground with a GOLD Intern

ATL JWJMyron Coguox works at Food 4 Less and is a member of UFCW Local 324.

I spent my GOLD internship working alongside Jobs with Justice in Atlanta. The overall goal of the summer was to help motivate people to organize and have a union voice on the job to help them improve their jobs and lives.

When I arrived, I knew very little about the South and it was sometimes difficult for me to reach people within the community. I come from California and found Georgia to be quite different from home. This experience has opened up my eyes to how difficult organizing can be inside a right to work state.

I spent a lot of my time canvassing a community called East Point and it was challenging. Beyond being perceived as the “new” person in town, what made my job particulary difficult was the fact that East Point is an exceptionally conservative community. The people I met weren’t always so receptive to labor unions. To overcome this, I would always share my personal experiences to help establish trust. If they trusted me, they would be more likely to talk with me about how together we can stand up for more jobs and better wages.

Working in Georgia made me realize how much working people suffer. Areas with low incomes and few jobs are in desperate need of change. This summer taught me that the best way to bring that is for people to band together both inside and outside of their workplaces.

I’m looking forward to going home and sharing everything I’ve learned with my local union. Most importantly, I won’t take the strength of our solidarity for granted.

July 24, 2015

UFCW Statement on A&P Bankruptcy Developments

A&PFor Immediate Release: July 24, 2015

Contact: press@ufcw.org

Montvale, N.J. – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union International President Marc Perrone, released the following statement on behalf of UFCW Locals 27, 100R, 152, 342, 371, 400, 464-A, 1245, 1262, 1360, 1500, 1776 and RWDSU Locals 338 and 1034, after meeting with A&P executives to discuss the future of A&P and its proposed sale.

“For years, the hard-working men and women of A&P not only did their jobs, they personally and financially sacrificed to invest in A&P’s success. These sacrifices were made for the sake of their families, their co-workers, and the customers and communities that they deeply care about. Now, at this critical time, after repeated mismanagement and strategic mistakes made by company executives, A&P is asking for even more. Enough is enough!

“Instead of asking for more sacrifices to pay-off a select group of executives and corporate investors, A&P should be focusing on their workers and their families during this challenging time.

“We want to be very clear, our members and their families sacrificed. They invested financially and personally in the success of these stores and they remain committed to working hard to make these stores a success for any responsible buyers. But make no mistake, we will not take part in any effort that asks them to give up what they have earned and deserve.

“Looking ahead, we will work cooperatively and constructively with anyone, but we will fight back with everything we have if A&P or its financial backers attempt to further exploit our members. For A&P to ask our members to give up their rights and benefits is simply unacceptable. Moreover, it is an insult given that it is our hard-working members who have and will make these stores a success. In fact, what will make these stores a true financial success is new and responsible management, not more sacrifices by A&P’s hard-working men and women.

“If A&P, its executive team, or its investors want to play the blame game, they should all look in the mirror.

“Now is the time for A&P to do what is right and we fully expect that they will honor their responsibilities to its employees, our members, and their families.”

July 8, 2015

UFCW and JBS Partner Together for Joint Safety Trainings

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#084e93″ text=”#ffffff” align=”center” size=”2″ quote=”It was great to see everybody working together in the setting to make our plant safer. During our walk-through, it was good to have a new set of eyes to help spot hazards that might have otherwise been overlooked.” cite=”Darin Rehnelt, representative for UFCW Local 1161″ parallax=”on” direction=”left”]

JBSTraining 3The UFCW has initiated a new health and safety program for workers in UFCW JBS plants. The program is a new joint effort with JBS to establish a uniform safety program for workers and management throughout the chain. This is the first time JBS and the UFCW have come together to create a program that is specific to keeping workers safe.

The first part of the program focuses on training union reps, workers, staff, and JBS management to learn about identifying the underlying causes of workplace injuries, illness, and fatalities. The second part trains participants on how to correct, control, and prevent those workplace hazards. The ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable system where people in the plant know how to prevent hazards, how to identify them, and how to follow the correct procedures to efficiently correct hazards.

The health and safety program came about when UFCW staff initiated a meeting with JBS corporate safety staff out of concern for the safety and well-being of workers. During the meeting, both sides agreed that there was room for improvement in the health and safety protocols at the plants. A year later, UFCW and JBS finalized a plan to work jointly to address safety issues and develop the new health and safety program.JBS Training 1

[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”30%” align=”left” size=”2″ quote=”The joint training has been a very positive experience for all parties involved.” cite=”Marvin Spidle, corporate safety manager from the Federal Business Unit at JBS.” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]

“The joint training has been a very positive experience for all parties involved. It has provided some different ways of looking at the hazards in the workplace that most people overlook. I am excited to continue with this training in our facilities and providing our employees a safer environment to work in,” said Marvin Spidle, corporate safety manager from the Federal Business Unit at JBS.

The program began in January, and JBS workers at UFCW Locals 540, 1161, 293, and 435 have already gone through the first phase of the training. During the first phase of the program, workers and staff learned how to identify workplace hazards in their plant. Following the classroom training, participants then walked together through their plant to apply their new knowledge and identify any hazards that they learned about in the training. Some common safety hazards that workers are trained to spot include unguarded shafts and belts, slippery floors, narrow aisles, and unlabeled exposed pipes and electrical wires.

JBS Training 2“It was great to see everybody working together in the setting to make our plant safer. During our walk-through, it was good to have a new set of eyes to help spot hazards that might have otherwise been overlooked,” said Darin Rehnelt, a representative for UFCW Local 1161.

The trainings last about six hours and are conducted in English and Spanish. Following the JBS plant trainings, the plan is to take the health and safety program to workers in the poultry industry, including those who work in JBS’s Pilgrim’s Pride plants.

If you are interested in having a health and safety training in your local plant contact Kurt Brandt at kbrandt@ufcw.org.

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2015

Support #UFCWDads by Shopping Union-Made This Father’s Day!

IMG_0184Haven’t got a gift for dad yet? No worries! We’ve put together some great UFCW-made ideas for your Father’s Day shopping list!

When you buy union, you’re supporting the men and women who work hard every day to make and sell these quality goods. You’re also supporting good union jobs, that enable working parents to support their families with good pay and benefits. Unions are also on the forefront of legislative pushes for policies that benefit working families, like parental leave. Together, union families are working to make jobs work for all families.

Spirits:

Jim Beam

Knob Creek Whiskey

Personal Care:

Old Spice products

Pierre Cardin Cologne

Shoes:

Naturalizer Shoes

Red Wing Shoes

The Union Boot Pro Boots

June 3, 2015

Food Front Co-Op Workers Vote Union Yes

Food Front Victory PhotoWorkers at Food Front Co-op stores have voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 555. After an overwhelming vote in favor of joining the union, 91 workers will become members of UFCW Local 555.

Food Front Co-op has two stores in the Northwest and Hillsdale neighborhoods of Portland. With more than 10,000 member-owners, democratic governance is a foundational value at Food Front. As union members, store workers will now have their own democratic voice in the co-op.

“We are the union at Food Front,” said Russell Kwong. “Our union will help assure customers that we are treated fairly and that the co-op is run democratically. Improving our standards at the co-op benefits employees, customers and owners — and subsequently the whole community.”

For Food Front workers, a union voice on the job reinforces the collaborative values that brought them to the co-op. In the coming weeks, workers will sit down with management to negotiate a first contract that solves existing problems and improves working conditions.

“The bottom line is that we wish to be respected, heard, treated equally and most of all supported,” said Kira Davis, a store worker. “I believe that creating our union can help strengthen us. As a union, we will empower everyone through education, communication and action.”

June 2, 2015

IKEA USA Charged with Violating Federal Labor Law

Labor Board Complaint Alleges IKEA Manager Interrogated Workers, Violated Freedom of Association

Participants in today's Day of Global Solidarity with IKEA workers show their support in Dublin, Ireland.

BOSTON — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against IKEA USA alleging unfair labor practices at the company’s store in Stoughton, Mass. The complaint alleges that the company violated federal law by unlawfully interrogating employees about their support for a union. The complaint further finds fault with the company’s social media policy, finding the policy to be overly broad and infringing on the right of workers to engage in protected activity.

“My coworkers and I came together to make IKEA better because we love our jobs and we believed in the company’s values,” said Nancy Goetz, a worker in the Stoughton IKEA. “In other countries, IKEA works collaboratively with the workers’ unions to solve problems. I never thought that IKEA would allow supervisors to intimidate and interrogate us. I expected more from IKEA. I expected that my rights would be respected.”

IKEA Group is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), an international compact that prohibits companies from interfering with workers’ freedom of association. IKEA has incorporated Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, into the company’s internal code of conduct. Conventions 87 and 98 relate to freedom of association and the right of collective bargaining.

Freedom of association for American workers is protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a law that protects workers’ rights to take collective action, form unions and bargain collectively. The Act also prohibits employers from engaging in certain coercive or intimidating tactics for the purpose of preventing workers from freely exercising their rights under the Act. Prohibited tactics are considered Unfair Labor Practices and are prosecuted by the NLRB.

“This complaint sadly shows that IKEA does not treat hard-working American families with the same respect that the company shows to workers in other parts of the world,” said Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). “Every American worker has a fundamental right to come together and take collective action to improve their jobs. The UFCW stands with these workers, and together we will hold IKEA to a higher standard.”

The full complaint filed by the NLRB can be obtained by contacting Moira Bulloch at mbulloch@ufcw.org.

 

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Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational   @UFCW

May 27, 2015

Workers in LA begin 24-Hour fast & will rally for an end to retaliation and call for $15 an hour and full-time hours

While Walmart continues to dodge questions about the recent sudden layoff of 2,200 workers ahead of upcoming shareholder meeting

DSC_6643LOS ANGELES – Ahead of the company’s June 5 shareholder meeting, Walmart workers in major cities across the country are holding rallies and marches this week, calling for CEO Doug McMillon and the Walton family to end the retaliation against workers who speak out for change, and to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 and provide access to full-time hours. Here in Los Angeles, two dozen Walmart workers will begin a 24-hour fast today to highlight the hunger many Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages and insufficient hours.

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Walmart has failed to offer any conclusive evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Workers at the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, Calif., one of the stores closed for alleged plumbing issues, are calling on the company to commit publicly to reinstating all laid off workers when the store reopens for business and to allow all workers, for the time being, to be transferred to one of the nearby 45 Walmart stores.

Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. Worker shareholders will present two resolutions intended to reign in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

 

              WHAT:   Walmart workers rally against retaliation and for $15 and full-time

              WHEN:   Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

              WHERE:   Cesar Chavez & Broadway Blvds in Chinatown, Los Angeles

              WHO:       Fasting Walmart workers, community leaders, members of the clergy, elected  officials

              RSVP/FOR MORE INFORMATION: Marc Goumbri, 202-257-8771,mgoumbri@ufcw.org

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

May 21, 2015

Local 1776 and Its Members Give a Helping Hand to Our Veterans

(From left:) Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, WMGK radio personality Jen Posner, WMGK radio host John DeBella, Acme member Jim McClosky, Local 1776 Executive Vice President Don McGrogan, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Mary Owens, WMGK radio personality Dave Gibson and Local 1776 Director of Communications Tara Innamorato.  After an initial commitment to donate $3,000, Local President Young pledged to contribute an additional $2,000 to the VMC – making Local 1776 the largest donor among other sponsors.

(From left:) Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, WMGK radio personality Jen Posner, WMGK radio host John DeBella, Acme member Jim McClosky, Local 1776 Executive Vice President Don McGrogan, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Mary Owens, WMGK radio personality Dave Gibson and Local 1776 Director of Communications Tara Innamorato. After an initial commitment to donate $3,000, Local President Young pledged to contribute an additional $2,000 to the VMC – making Local 1776 the largest donor among other sponsors.

This Memorial Day, Local 1776 will be sponsoring a local radio station’s Veteran’s Marathon, which assists veterans who have bravely served our country.

The WMGK 201.9 Radiothon lasts for 12 hours to raise money for the area’s Veterans’ Multiservice Center (VMC).

As a sponsor of last year’s Radiothon, Local 1776 directly donated $3,000 to the VMC, and ran radio commercials recorded by Local members to promote the event to raise awareness.

One of the Local 1776 members helping with the commercials named Bill Jillard was a vet himself. For the commercial, he shared his story about serving our country in the Army during Vietnam, and how he continues that service by helping out in his community today. One way Bill serves as a union member is by urging Big Box companies to not just hire vets, but to ensure they provide good jobs and safe workplaces for them, as well as contribute to a better economy for vets to come home to after serving. To hear Bill’s commercial, click here. After 47 years of service at Acme markets, Bill is now enjoying retirement.

(From left): Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Jim McClosky, Acme member Mary Owens

(From left): Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Jim McClosky, Acme member Mary Owens