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August 22, 2017

UFCW Makes Case for Amazon’s Growth to Face More Scrutiny

Photo by Simone Brunozzi titled “Amazon” via Creative Commons.

On August 21, UFCW International President Marc Perrone wrote an op-ed for The Hill that details how Amazon’s growing monopoly over the retail sector has negative impacts for American workers.

EXCERPTS FROM THE OP-ED:

All of us, no matter what political leanings we have, will be impacted by Amazon’s monopolistic desire to control the retail market and replace good jobs with automation. This isn’t hyperbole.

In 2016, 43 percent of all online sales went through Amazon; the online retailer also accounted for more than half of all online sales growth last year.

Amazon controls a huge swath of the steadily growing online marketplace and it gives them a distinct advantage over regional and national competitors – which results in job cuts. Public filings show that Amazon played a large role in eliminating more than 50,000 jobs from Staples, Office Depot, and Best Buy. And in March, MarketWatch estimated that Amazon’s dominant growth could remove as many as 1.5 million retail jobs within five years.

All of this begs the question, if Amazon forces millions of service and retail sector jobs to be lost, if they squeeze suppliers to the bone, if they devastate commercial construction because much fewer retail spaces are built, and if they make it impossible for grocery or retail workers to earn a better life because they can no longer find work, where do elected leaders think “good American jobs” are going to come from?

You can read the full op-ed here.

August 22, 2017

CVS Workers in Southern California Ratify New Contract

After months of negotiations, over 5,000 members of UFCW Locals 5, 135, 324, 648, 770, 1167, 1428, and 1442 who work at over 350 CVS stores in Southern California ratified a new contract last week.

The four-year contract includes wage increases and better access to more affordable health care in the newly organized stores. The new agreement also includes improved scheduling practices, more protections during layoffs, and a process for part-time employees to become full-time based on seniority.

 

August 21, 2017

MCAW Calls on Walmart to Stop Using Justice Program Found Unlawful by California Court

On August 18, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) Director Randy Parraz issued a statement in response to a California court ruling that a shoplifter diversion program used by Walmart constitutes “false imprisonment and extortion.” The program used by Walmart and other California retailers is provided by Corrective Education Company (CEC).

The statement reads as follows:

“While we are glad that real justice has been served to California shoppers who have been victimized by Walmart’s use of Corrective Education Company’s program, the problem remains that the ruling does not stop Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., from using the offensive CEC program in other states.

“The fact that Walmart allowed a private company like CEC to embed itself inside its storesfalsely imprison; fingerprint, and document suspected shoplifters in a backroom; and then extort them for money, is beyond disgraceful.

“Walmart shoppers nationwide deserve assurance that they will not be victimized by a program that subjects them to false imprisonment and extortion if they are suspected of shoplifting. This isn’t the Wild West anymore, and its time Walmart immediately stops using the offensive CEC or similar programs in all its stores nationwide.”

In California, Walmart has put more people through CEC’s program than any other retailer in the state. According to documents filed in the case, Walmart enrolled 3,597 people in the program—a third of all CEC participants in California—as of April 2017. The court found that California retailers using the CEC program, like Walmart, were “acting in concert and are jointly liable for the extortionate conduct.”

MCAW has been closely following and speaking out against Walmart’s Restorative Justice program, which utilizes pre-charge companies like CEC in 1,500 Walmart locations nationwide. MCAW has also been working with state legislators to further investigate and take legislative action against this controversial practice.

June 26, 2017

Supreme Court Sides with Macy’s Workers

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Macy’s challenge to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding cosmetics and fragrances workers at a Macy’s store in Saugus, Mass., who are members of UFCW Local 1445. The Supreme Court decision recognizes that the Macy’s departments are appropriate bargaining units under well-established legal standards, and is a victory for the UFCW and other labor unions who organize segments of workers at companies, rather than the entire company.

The Macy’s cosmetics and fragrances workers joined UFCW Local 1445 in 2014 after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a 3-1 ruling that the group of over 40 workers was large enough to unionize. The NLRB’s ruling was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016. The Macy’s store in Saugus employs over 100 workers.

“We are thrilled with the decision by the Supreme Court, and it is about time the workers in Saugus prevailed,” said Local 1445 President Jeff Bollen. “Our intention is to bring them a contract and use this victory as a tool to organize more workers at Macy’s.”

April 18, 2017

MCAW Sheds Light on How Walmart Costs Taxpayers

This month, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) launched a campaign to highlight the “hidden tax” every taxpayer has been paying for years to Walmart. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the retail giant receives an estimated $6.2 billion in subsidies every year, primarily from the federal government.

An op-ed titled “The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays” by UFCW Local 1529 President Lonnie Sheppard was published in USA Today on April 8, and highlights many of the key facts that Walmart refuses to acknowledge, like the high cost and hidden tax that every American taxpayer pays every single day.

Among the key facts:

  • Walmart, a company that generates almost $500 billion in revenue every year with annual profits averaging $15.5 billion over the last five years, is also one of the nation’s largest welfare recipients.
  • According to a 2014 report by Americans for Tax Fairness, Walmart receives an estimated $6.2 billion in subsidies every year, primarily from the federal government.
  • Even though Walmart claims that it spent $500 million on hourly associate bonuses and recently boosted employee wages, it still has thousands of employees who rely on public assistance programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing.
  • A single Walmart Super Center is estimated to cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.74 million per year in public assistance money.
  • Logically, if Walmart increased employee wages, and/or provided better benefits, much of this $6.2 billion dollar burden would be lifted off the taxpayers.

MCAW also ran digital ads targeting shoppers and workers inside stores across the U.S., and MCAW organizers have been exposing the Walmart tax to shoppers and workers across the country. Thank you to all UFCW local and regional staff that worked on this project.

 

March 20, 2017

RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 Members Thank Bloomingdale’s Shoppers

RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 members hand out fliers at Bloomingdale’s

In March, RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 members who work at Bloomingdale’s in New York City thanked customers for shopping at the store. RWDSU/UFCW Local 3 members handed out fliers to remind Bloomingdale’s shoppers that when they shop at the store, they are supporting good jobs in New York City. They also let Bloomingdale’s shoppers know that negotiations for a new contract are coming up soon.

November 1, 2016

MCAW Calls on Walmart to Stop Selling Trump Products

MCAW-Logo

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.”

You can view photos from each rally here. A full copy of MCAW’s letter to Doug McMillon can be viewed here.

October 14, 2016

MCAW Responds to Walmart Store Closings in Texas and Missouri

MCAW-Logo

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

MCAW Responds to Walmart’s Quarterly Bonus Announcement

MCAW-Logo

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.”

August 3, 2016

Zara Workers Join RWDSU/UFCW

Zara Workers--RWDSU

This week, after a majority of the workers at Zara’s eight stores in Manhattan signed cards stating they wanted to be represented by RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, the company agreed to recognize the union.  The agreement covers over 1,000 retail workers at all of Zara’s stores in Manhattan.  These are the first Zara workers in the United States to be unionized.

Zara, the Spanish fashion chain owned by Inditex, is the world’s largest clothing retailer.  The RWDSU/UFCW and Zara reached an agreement earlier this year where the employer agreed to remain neutral and not to oppose the union’s attempt to organize its workforce.

“Zara’s approach to recognize the right of its workers to form a union, without intimidation, is a message to all retailers – you can be successful and still respect the right of your employees,” said Gemma de Leon Lopresti, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102.

This is the largest retail organizing win in New York City in recent years. In 2009, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 organized nearly 1,200 workers at H&M, another fast-fashion global retail chain.

Workers at Zara look forward to working in an environment where they can make their jobs better, and create better lives for themselves and their families.

“Working in retail is extremely fast-paced and hectic,” said Joseph Minton, an associate at Zara’s 59th Street location.  “I’m excited that the company is willing to listen to our concerns and work with the union for everyone’s benefit.”

“We applaud Zara for recognizing the rights of its employees to choose to unionize, without interference,” said RWDSU/UFCW President Stuart Appelbaum. “Unfortunately, too many American employers refuse to respect their workers’ right to freedom of association and intimidate and threaten workers who try to organize.”

“This process is a huge step for retail workers in New York. Zara, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, is sending a strong message that you can remain profitable and still recognize your workers’ right to dignity, justice and respect on the job,” said Appelbaum.