News and Updates
September 25, 2017
On Sept. 14, about 100 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 who work in the women’s shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue’s iconic flagship store in New York City ratified a new contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. This hard-fought victory is not only a win for members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that because of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously planned nationwide implementation.
Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.
“I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, a Saks sales representative and Local 1102 shop steward and executive board member. “In all my years at Saks, never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”
“I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members, and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”
September 19, 2017
On Sept. 18, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) hosted a day of campus outreach at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., as part of the “2017 Trump and Walmart Make America Worse” tour. The Notre Dame event was organized in partnership with Students for Worker Justice, Notre Dame College Democrats, and Human Rights Notre Dame, and featured educational activities and ways students can stand up for a better America against the Trump and Walmart agenda.
MCAW’s “2017 Trump and Walmart Make America Worse” tour includes stops at over 25 college campuses throughout September to expose the shared agenda of Trump and Walmart, which promotes the privatization of our public education, profits from a low-wage, debt economy, and divides our country.
August 22, 2017
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.
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
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
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 stores; falsely 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
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
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
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
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 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.