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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

 

 

 

May 19, 2015

Local 23 Member Who Served in Army Now Fights Against Privatization, Volunteers In His Community, and Isn’t Slowing Down

Bill SchwartzTo continue honoring those who have fallen defending our country and its freedom as we approach Memorial Day, here is another Member profile, this time of Local 23 member Bill Swartz, who served in the Army:

For some folks, service to others – whether through the military or charitable endeavors – is just a way of life.

Local 23 member Bill Swartz is just that kind of guy.

At 76 years young, Bill is employed as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) and still has the energy and makes the time to look out for other people.

In his earlier years, Bill began a career with GTE/Verizon and then answered President Kennedy’s call to service when he joined the army during the Cuban Blockade in 1961.  He attained the rank of Sergeant and was part of the Defense Atomic Support Agency which handled communications for all branches of the armed forces.  “When I was stationed in Arlington, I worked next to the National Cemetery,” he remembered fondly.

Bill returned to enjoy a 36-year career at GTE/Verizon, where he was a steward, an executive board member and served on the bargaining committee with IBEW Local 1637.  After retiring, he went to work for the PLCB “to make a little extra money.”   Under their contract with UFCW, the PLCB provides preferred hiring practices to veterans.  As a member of UFCW Local 23, Bill has been politically active in fighting against the privatization of that valuable state asset.  He really likes the job and recently decided to accept full-time hours.

Bill has a genuine love of working with people and volunteered at the Salvation Army, where he was assigned to the warehouse.  “That wasn’t what I had in mind,” he laughed, “I wanted to work WITH people,” so he went to work for his church, Our Lady of Mercy in Harbor Creek, PA.

“My wife and I have led the bereavement ministry in our church for over 20 years,” he said.  “They were so good to me after I lost my father that I wanted to give back.”

“Upon the death of a parishioner or family member, we assess their needs for the funeral, provide counseling for the ceremony, and arrange for the lector, greeters, altar servers and whatever else is required,” he explained.  With a kind, compassionate demeanor, he is exactly the right person to reach out to grieving families.

Until very recently, Bill was also the Church’s volunteer groundskeeper, maintaining 13 acres that includes a ball field, pond and picnic area. “I had to give that up when I went full-time at the store,” he laughed.

He has also been a regular volunteer at the Harbor Creek Food Pantry for many years.

With energy that belies his age, Bill shows no signs of slowing down.

“I’ve been a union man all my life,” he said, “and it’s been good.”

 

 

May 19, 2015

Walmart Worker-Shareholder Reacts to Q1 Earnings Report

Overview of Walmart’s first quarter sales report:

  • WMT reports 1st quarter results below expectations
  • EPS was $1.03 vs an expected $1.05; revenue was $114 billion vs an expected $116.2 billion
  • Same store sales of 1.1% at WMT US and just 0.4% at Sam’s Club were below the 1.5% gain expected for both segments
  • Promised investments in labor were disappointing, and amounted to less than analysts had expected for the quarter

OUR Walmart member and Walmart shareholder Teresa Adams of Pico Rivera, Calif., today, issued the following statement in response to Walmart’s Q1 earnings report:

“Walmart’s weak earnings report this morning is telling, but it’s nothing new for the countless number of associates nationwide who have been calling for a change to the company’s low-road, low-wage business model over the past few years. When workers who are committed to the company’s success can’t secure much-neeWM RUS_Fotorded pay and hours, they aren’t the only ones who suffer. Customers lose, and so do shareholders. Shelves aren’t properly stocked. Check-out lines are long. And the company’s reputation takes a hit when its employees don’t make enough money to stay off government assistance programs, At a time when Walmart needs to be investing more in its employees and stores, it closes four apparently profitable stores and lays off a reported 2,200 workers, while grasping at straws to justify the move. I think it’s no coincidence that OUR Walmart members were active in one of those stores.

“My fellow OUR Walmart members, like Shannon Henderson who made about $13,000 last year working as many hours as Walmart would let her, and I have been working to offer solutions to the problems that plague the company and its operations. CEO Doug McMillon has responded to one of our demands by raising wages for those of us at the bottom of the ladder, but it’s not enough. We all need higher wages and, even more importantly, we need more hours for ourselves and for our customers.

 “OUR Walmart Associate-shareholders are going to the upcoming Walmart annual shareholder meeting, where we have submitted two shareholder proposals. We are encouraging shareholders to use their votes to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and more hours for workers.

 “It’s long past time for Walmart and the Waltons to take an honest and candid look at the concerns raised by investors, shareholders and customers. Treating associates with respect and providing adequate staffing and hours are fundamental to putting Walmart on the path to strong sales and success. And that’s the direction Walmart needs to go.”

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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 publically 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 18, 2015

After Serving Our Country in the Marines, Local 227 Member Continues to Serve in His Union

Jeff, center, pictured with fellow Local 227 members and UFCW 227's 2015 endorsed candidate for Governor Jack Conway

Jeff, center, pictured with fellow Local 227 members and UFCW 227’s 2015 endorsed candidate for Governor Jack Conway

This week, as Memorial Day approaches, we are honoring the memory of those who have fallen defending our country and its freedom. By spotlighting UFCW members who have served in our country’s military or who give their time to help those who have, we hope to continue the legacy of the heroes who have passed on.

Below is the story of Local 227 member Jeff Pleasant:

Jeff Pleasant always looked up to his uncle who was a marine. So, when he turned 16 he signed the papers to join and went to boot camp at 17 years old. Looking back on his 12 years of service to our country, Jeff explains, “The marines taught me to look after one another. Even though we always strived for success, it was important to reach back and pull someone else along too.”

After the marines Jeff had various law enforcement jobs where he had a union, but he never really got involved. Jeff became a member of UFCW 227 in 2006 when he went to work for JBS in Louisville, KY.

One day, frustrated with a co-worker, Jeff brought his complaint to the Chief Union Steward Kevin Diale. Jeff remembers Kevin explaining to him that as union members we look out for each other and if we have a problem we resolve it together. Jeff remembers, “That was the day I made the connection. The values that I learned in the marines were the same values of the labor movement. We’re always looking out for each other.”

After being a member for 4 years, Jeff decided he wanted to become a Steward because of his shared values with our union. He served as a Steward for 3 years before being elected by his fellow union member to become Assistant Chief Steward. A year later he was elected Chief Steward.

During his time as a Steward, Jeff got involved in his local union’s political program and signed hundreds of members up for the Active Ballot Club. He also traveled across the state of Kentucky supporting Wal-mart workers in their courageous fight to stand up for their rights. No matter what Jeff was doing he was always looking out for not just union members, but everyone around him in general.

Around 18 months ago, Jeff became a Union Representative for UFCW 227. Now, he uses the values the marines taught him to make our union strong, “For our union to be stronger we have to band together.”

 

May 14, 2015

CEO Pay Continues to Rise; Walmart Workers Prepare to Call for Change at Shareholders Meeting

CEOs paid 373 times average worker pay, according to 2015 Executive PayWatch

ceopayWASHINGTON, DC—As Americans rally behind initiatives to raise pay for working families, CEO pay for major U.S. companies has skyrocketed. According to new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, CEO pay increased nearly 16 percent in 2014, while Walmart and the Walton family continue to drive inequality nationwide.

The Executive PayWatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database that tracks CEO pay, showed that in 2014, the average production and nonsupervisory worker made approximately $36,000 per year, while S&P 500 company CEO pay averaged $13.5 million per year – a ratio which has grown to 373-to-1. Meanwhile, a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage is paid just $15,080 a year, well below the poverty level for a family.

 Mega-retailer Walmart, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. CEO Douglas McMillon is paid $9,323 an hour. A new Walmart employee making $9 an hour would have to work 1036 hours to earn what McMillon makes just 60 minutes. PayWatch also notes that six Walton family members have more wealth than 43 percent of America’s families combined.

“I made about $13,000 last year, working as many hours as the company would let me,” said Shannon Henderson, a Walmart employee and mother of two in Sacramento, California. “I work for the richest company in the world, and I can’t support my family without public assistance. That’s not right, and that’s why I’m not going to stop fighting for $15 and full time.”

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.” Among the stores Walmart closed is the Pico Rivera, California Supercenter, the first store to go on strike in 2012, as well as the site of the first sit-down strike prior to last Black Friday. Walmart has failed to offer any evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores.

In light of the data released by Executive PayWatch, Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer. As Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting approaches, workers have announced their intention to propose a shareholder resolution that would rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

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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 13, 2015

OK Foods Fires Maintenance Workers Illegally

UFCW Alleges Company Fired Workers for Union Activity in Unfair Labor Practice Charges

OKfoodsnewsletter-300x160Heavener, OK: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 is formally filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that two UFCW organizing committee members were illegally fired last week by OK Foods in Heavener, OK.

Local 1000 President Ricky Burris said, “Joshua Deases and Jason Muller were fired illegally last week. These two have been leaders in the organizing campaign at OK Foods to help maintenance workers get a voice at work. Both of them testified on behalf of the union in front of an NLRB Hearing Officer last year and served as official observers in the May 1st, 2014 election. The NLRB set the May 1st election aside because of repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act and now OK Foods is again violating the Act by firing these workers. I strongly condemn these terminations.”

Maintenance worker Jason Muller said, “I’m not discouraged. The more they harass pro-union workers, the harder we will fight. OK Foods won’t intimidate us. OK Foods is persecuting Josh Deases and myself because of our union activities. This company, and specifically the CEO Trent Goins, should be ashamed.”

UFCW Local 1000 represents 11,000 workers across Oklahoma and North Texas including people who work at grocery stores and food production facilities. UFCW Local 1000 is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 250,000 poultry production workers across the United States and Canada.

 

 

May 12, 2015

New Charge Against Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society Alleges Unlawful Anti-Worker Conduct

Co-op Charged with Intimidating and Interfering with its Workers’ Rights

nlrb-638x430Last week, the UFCW filed a federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that management at the Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society in New Hampshire unlawfully stifled workers’ rights to organize – including preventing them from talking about unions inside the store and intimidating workers who were discussing organizing a union. The Hanover-Lebanon Cooperative Society employs over 400 workers out of five retail locations and a commissary kitchen and does business locally as The Co-op Food Stores.

“Unions and co-ops are like peas and pods – they stem from the same core, they share the same values,” said co-op Member Len Ziefert. “It is antithetical for co-ops to oppose unionization, unions are employees working cooperatively.”

The member-owned co-op has been in the spotlight over the last year following the termination of two well-regarded employees. The fired workers sued co-op management, claiming they were fired as retaliation for speaking out about workplace conditions and for talking with union representatives. After the fallout from this lawsuit, members elected three new directors to the board who are focused on making the co-op more worker-friendly. While the wrongful termination case is currently still being litigated, this unrelated NLRB charge raises the question if anything has changed at The Co-op Food Stores or if co-op management continues to engage in anti-worker practices.

“By standing together in union, workers preserve their voice and true co-op principles,” said Reid Kotlas, a regular shopper. “The Co-op Food Stores should live up to the values of its member-owners and of the co-op movement and respect its workers’ rights to organize a union.”