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June 23, 2014

UFCW Member Attends White House Summit on Working Families

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C.—Kim Mitchell, who works at Macy’s in Washington D.C. and is a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400, today attended the White House Summit on Working Families to bring attention to the union difference in the retail industry.

As a result of the strong union contract between Macy’s and its workers, Mitchell has been able to live comfortably and support her family. Mitchell, who is a single mother, earns $20 an hour and benefits from “predictive scheduling” which helps ensure her hours are both adequate and predictable.

“I am here with a simple message—union jobs are the best jobs,” she said. “My membership in the UFCW has allowed me to achieve my dream of financial security and peace of mind. Our contract is more than a document—it’s my family’s livelihood.”

Also attending the summit were a group of “Walmart Moms” who are speaking out for fair wages and respect on the job. “Millions of workers, especially working women, have stories similar to mine,” said Bene’t Holmes, a Walmart worker and single mother from Chicago. “They are trapped in a cycle of low wage jobs with unpredictable hours that make it so difficult to raise a family. My hope is this event will help elevate the ongoing national conversation about making today’s workplaces better for everyone, including working mothers like me.”

Detailing the widespread problems retail moms face on low-pay and erratic scheduling, national public policy organization Demos released a report earlier this month showing how these conditions keep millions of hard-working women and families near poverty. The report also concluded that if large retailers established a new wage equivalent to $25,000 per year for full time work it would improve the lives of more than 3.2 million female retail workers and lift 900,000 women and their families directly out of poverty or near poverty.

The summit convened businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families. Last Tuesday while at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, President Obama credited the labor movement with building the middle class and said the United States “should do everything we can to strengthen unions in this country.”

“I am glad the President is focusing on these important issues,” Mitchell said. “I am here to tell the White House that the best way to lift up working families is to make sure everyone who wants to join a union is able to do so freely and fairly.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

May 7, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on President Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Walmart

UFCWnewsJoe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s visit to a California Walmart to discuss energy efficiency.

“On Friday, President Obama will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and yes, environmental degradation. Despite promising to be a leader on climate, Walmart’s greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise. According to its own Global Responsibility Report, the company’s emissions grew 2 percent, nearly half a million metric tons, in the last year alone. In addition, Walmart still lags badly behind other large companies when it comes to renewable power, with its projects and purchases deriving only 3 percent of electricity from these sources.

“More than anything, the President’s visit sends a terrible message to workers across America. He is lending credibility to a bad actor when he should be joining the calls for Walmart to change. A federal agency—the National Labor Relations Board—is prosecuting Walmart for retaliating against workers who stand up and speak out. Taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart which pays many of its own workers so little that they must rely on food stamps and Medicaid. And at a time when there is a renewed conversation about addressing income inequality, Walmart’s business model is making the problem worse.

“After the pep rally in California, I invite the President to meet with Walmart workers who can tell him firsthand about their struggles.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

April 28, 2014

On Workers’ Memorial Day, UFCW Continues to Fight for Workplace Safety

workermemorialday3Today on April 28—Workers’ Memorial Day—the UFCW will join workers in the U.S. and around the world to honor the thousands of workers who have been killed on the job and the millions of workers who have suffered from injuries, sickness or diseases in their places of work.

While decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions, too many workers here in the U.S. and around the world are suffering or dying on the job.  Last April, our sisters and brothers who worked at the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh were told to report to work in a building that had severe structural cracks and over 1,100 workers lost their lives when the building collapsed. A year later, thousands of workers in Bangladesh continue to work in dangerous conditions and for meager wages, and survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy are still suffering from their injuries and loss of income. Here in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,000 workers lost their lives on the job in 2012 alone.

Workers everywhere deserve a safe place to work, and those corporations that exploit workers for profit and put them in danger must be held accountable.  As we observe Workers’ Memorial Day, the UFCW takes to heart the words of activist Mother Jones to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” by reaffirming our dedication to supporting workers here in the U.S. and around the world who are fighting to uphold their basic rights – including safe jobs, workplace fairness and collective bargaining.

February 19, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Gap’s Decision to Raise Wages

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C.-Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following in response to the Gap’s announcement that it would raise wages for its workers.

“Today’s announcement by the Gap that the retail chain is raising hourly wages for its 65,000 hourly retail workers serves as a challenge to Walmart.  The Gap realizes that paying its hourly workers enough to support themselves is an investment in their business and in our economy.

“It is time for Walmart to stand up and lead by investing back into its 1.4 million U.S. workers with hourly pay increases. Academics at the University of California-Berkeley estimated that Walmart could well-afford a wage increase to at least $12.00 an hour for workers with minimal impact on consumer prices. DEMOS researchers outlined a clear plan for Walmart to cut back on its stock buy back program and raise wages in a way that benefits workers and shareholders alike.

“The time is now for Walmart to show leadership and responsibility to its workers and our communities-follow the Gap’s example and raise wages for every hourly Walmart worker.”

 

February 12, 2014

Bob’s Furniture Workers Say “Yes” to a Union Voice and Join UFCW Local 328

Bob’s Furniture workers in Attleboro, Mass., voted to join UFCW Local 328.

Bob’s Furniture workers in Attleboro, Mass., voted to join UFCW Local 328.

Last week, more than a dozen workers at Bob’s Furniture in Attleboro, Mass., came together for a union voice at work and voted to join UFCW Local 328.

The Bob’s Furniture workers were focused on job security during their campaign to become part of UFCW Local 328. Job security will also be a key element in their contract when negotiations begin.

January 15, 2014

Walmart Illegally Retaliated Against Workers Speaking Out For Higher Wages, Against Income Inequality

Sweeping decision by labor board is largest ever complaint against employer

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON —The National Labor Relations Board issued the largest-ever complaint against Walmart today for breaking federal labor law by violating workers’ rights. The complaint alleges Walmart illegally fired and disciplined more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June to speak out for better jobs.

The NLRB asserts illegal activities in 14 states at 34 stores and shows that company executives conceived—and oversaw implementation—of an unlawful retaliation policy for store managers to execute. The complaint—the largest ever against Walmart in both size and scale—names 63 individual store managers and company spokesperson and vice president of communication David Tovar’s illegal threats made to employees.

Walmart workers, part of the national organization OUR Walmart, have been taking the country’s income inequality head on by standing up for better wages at the country’s largest employer. While the majority of Walmart associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart makes $17 billion in annual profits and the Waltons—the richest family in the country—have a combined wealth of $144.7 billion.

“Walmart thinks it can scare us with attacks to keep us from having a real conversation about the poverty wages we’re paid,” said Barbara Collins a fired Walmart worker from Placerville, CA, who is one of the 117 workers named in the complaint. “But too much is at stake—the strength of our economy and the security of our families—to stay silent about why Walmart needs to improve jobs. Now the federal government is confirming what we already know: we have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my coworkers illegally. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, we hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs.”

The complaint details the Board’s decision to prosecute the company for its illegal firings and disciplinary actions against workers standing up for better jobs.

The Board’s action will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are calling for Walmart to publicly commit to paying workers a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work. The complaint addresses threats by managers and the company’s national spokesperson for discouraging workers from striking and for taking illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes.

If Walmart is found liable, workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights. While historic, the complaint alone is not enough to stop Walmart from violating the law. Since the start of the year, Walmart has continued to retaliate against workers who speak out for better jobs.

“Shoppers, workers and activists all stand with Walmart workers calling for a decent day’s pay so they can support their families and contribute to the economy. We’ve never seen a complaint against Walmart of this size or scope, and we’re glad the NLRB is taking action. Walmart’s attacks on its own employees and cannot go unchecked,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice. “We are proud to stand with workers calling for respect from Walmart.”

“Walmart workers are bravely leading the national movement to end low wage work,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., chairman of the Retail Justice Alliance. “Walmart is a major driver of the widening income inequality gap with its low wages that set the standard for retail jobs. We cannot get our economy moving again when the largest employer breaks federal law in an effort to keep wages down. Walmart needs to start following the law and improve jobs by paying workers a living wage.”

Today’s complaint addresses charges filed one year ago in advance of Black Friday 2012, when Walmart managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, spokesperson for the company, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.

“Walmart workers like me are calling for better jobs for all Americans,” said Colby Harris, a fired worker from Lancaster, TX. “It’s not right that so many of us are struggling to get by on less than $25,000 a year while the Waltons have more wealth than 42% of American families combined. Today the federal government confirmed that Walmart is not above the law, will be held accountable, and I have rights.”

Additionally, the complaint covers the illegal firings and disciplinary actions that occurred after 100 striking Walmart workers took their concerns to the company’s June shareholder meeting in Bentonville. Support from investors, Walmart workers and the general public continued to grow after tens of thousands of shareholders heard from workers who are OUR Walmart members at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

When these workers returned to work, Walmart systematically fired and disciplined them despite their legally recognized, protected absences. This included disciplinary action against at least 43 workers and the firing of at least another 23 worker-leaders.

Prior to the extended strike in June, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice released a white paper documenting Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates. At that time, there were more than 150 incidents in stores across the country, with few signs that Walmart would soon stop targeting those who speak out and act collectively.

In other labor charges against Walmart, workers have been winning. In California alone, the National Labor Relations Board recently decided to prosecute Walmart for 11 violations of federal labor law from some threats made around Black Friday in 2012.

In Kentucky, one settlement was reached between Walmart and Aaron Lawson in which Walmart fired Lawson after he distributed flyers and spoke out against the company’s attempts to silence those who called for better wages and consistent hours. As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to rehire Lawson and provide full back wages for the time that he was out of work.

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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.

 

 

November 18, 2013

FEDERAL LABOR BOARD: Walmart Violated Workers’ Rights Nationwide

UFCWnewsNational Labor Relations Board Decides to Prosecute Nationwide Violations at Country’s Largest Employer

Workers, Supporters Vow to Increase their Calls for Walmart to End Illegal Retaliation, Create Better Jobs

WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board General Counsel is issuing a decision today to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs at the country’s largest employer.

The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June, according to the decision.

The decision addresses threats by managers and the company’s national spokesperson for discouraging workers from striking and for taking illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes. Workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights.

“The Board’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work. “Americans believe that we have the responsibility – and the right – to speak out against corporate abuses of workers, and this proves we’re finally being heard, and making kinks in Walmart’s armor. Customers, clergy and community members from across the country are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for better jobs and a stronger economy for all of us.”

Today’s decision addresses charges filed one year ago in advance of Black Friday 2012, when Walmart managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, spokesperson for the company, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.

Additionally, the decisional covers the illegal firings and disciplinary actions that occurred after 100 striking Walmart workers took their concerns to the company’s June shareholder meeting in Bentonville. Support from investors, Walmart workers and the general public continued to grow after tens of thousands of shareholders heard from OUR Walmart members at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

When these workers returned to work, Walmart systematically fired and disciplined them despite their legally recognized, protected absences. This included disciplinary action against at least 43 workers and the firing of at least another 23 worker-leaders.

“Working at the largest employer in the country should mean making a decent living. Those days are long gone,” said Tiffany Beroid, a Walmart worker from Laurel, MD. “Walmart continues to show that it’s afraid to have real conversations about creating better jobs, but would rather scare us into silence. But change at Walmart is too important to our economy and for our families for us to stop speaking out.”

Prior to the extended strike in June, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice released a white paper documenting Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates. At that time, there were more than 150 incidents in stores across the country, with few signs that Walmart would soon stop targeting those who speak out and act collectively.

In other labor charges against Walmart, workers have been winning. In California alone, the National Labor Relations Board recently decided to prosecute Walmart for 11 violations of federal labor law from some threats made around Black Friday last year.

In Kentucky, one settlement was reached between Walmart and Aaron Lawson in which Walmart fired Lawson after he distributed flyers and spoke out against the company’s attempts to silence those who called for better wages and consistent hours. As part of the settlement, Walmart agreed to rehire Lawson and provide full back wages for the time that he was out of work.

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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.

 

November 7, 2013

Walmart Workers, Community Supporters Announce Increase in Activity, Support for Better Jobs, End to Illegal Retaliation

Workers Launch Petition to President Obama, Online Portal to Sign-Up for Community Support

L.A. Workers Begin Second Day of Strike, Community Members Vow to Commit Largest Civil Disobedience in Company History

LOS ANGELES – As Black Friday approaches, Walmart workers are standing up to the country’s largest employer – even in the face of widespread illegal retaliation against them.  Workers and community supporters announced today increased activity and calls for change, launching a petition to President Obama and unveiling an online portal that lets associates sign-up for community support. Workers are part of the national organization OUR Walmart, which is calling on the company to use its $17 billion in profits to pay a minimum of $25,000 a year for full time work and to end its illegal retaliation against its workers.

More than 100 unfair labor practice allegations have been filed against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for illegal firings and disciplinary actions against workers who have participated in legally protected strikes and to deter them from speaking out.

Walmart workers demonstrateDuring a press call as a two-day strike and civil disobedience is underway in Los Angeles, workers, community supporters and economic policy experts outlined the growing nationwide movement to demand Walmart end illegal retaliation and improve jobs. On the call, Anthony Goytia, one of many L.A.-based Walmart workers taking part in the two-day strike, discussed why he is risking his job to end the retaliation that Walmart workers face when speaking out.

“I know that I may be fired for speaking out today, but Walmart executives and the country need to hear about what’s really going on at our largest employer,” said Goytia. “I’m on strike today because Walmart’s retaliation against workers is illegal and it’s wrong.  We won’t be silenced.  Change at Walmart is too important to our families, our co-workers and our country.”

Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart employee from Colorado, pointed to a new website, www.associatevoices.com, which allows associates to step forward with their stories about the reality of working at Walmart and ask customers and community members to support them by holding Black Friday events at their stores. In less than 24 hours after beginning to promote the site, requests from associates across the country have poured in. Already, workers in more than 90 cities have requested a Black Friday rally at their store.

“Associatevoices.org provides a space for associates to raise their concerns and see that they are not alone. OUR Walmart and our supporters are standing up for 1.3 million associates in this country who aren’t getting the hours they need and are nervous about Walmart’s aggressive retaliation,” said Gertz. “The fact that the website has taken off as it has, in such a short period, is a clear sign: whether online or on the picket line, our concerns are widespread and our voices and support are only growing louder and stronger.”

Workers, supported by various organizations, also announced the launch of a petition calling on President Obama to meet with courageous workers risking their jobs by protesting against Walmart. Inspired by the activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream of good jobs and freedom, workers like Charmaine Givens-Thomas noted that Walmart’s low-wage business model, erratic scheduling and illegal retaliation hold America back from realizing Dr. King’s dream.

“As a 60-year-old African American woman who marched with Martin Luther King Jr., I want to promise my grandchildren that they will have a brighter future than I had. I can’t do that,” said Givens-Thomas in the petition. “More and more of us are struggling to nourish our children and pay our bills. It’s time the president met with Walmart workers like me who are standing up to Walmart and hear about the reality of scraping by on Main Street.”

The call took place as more than 80 community leaders and clergy members prepared to join workers at a rally at the Chinatown Walmart, in what is slated to be the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against the mega-retailer. Dozens, including Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson, pastor at Fairview Community Church, are prepared to be arrested in response to Walmart’s illegal retaliation and low wages.

“I stand in solidarity with the brave Walmart workers who have walked out and gone on strike as well as those who have been intimidated, fearful they’ll lose their jobs if they speak up,” said Rev. Dr. Halverson. “They are not alone for they stand with thousands of clergy and interfaith communities across the country as we pray for their strength and find inspiration in their actions. I am thankful for these workers and I pray that Walmart will respect its employees and show them the dignity they deserve with fair pay and a commitment to refrain from intimidation.”

Recently, Walmart US CEO Bill Simon disclosed in a presentation that 475,000 Walmart workers are paid more than $25,000 a year; meaning that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers are paid less.

Throughout much of the recovery to date, the vast majority of jobs being created pay low wages, according to research by the National Employment Law Project. To make matters worse, lower-wage and middle-wage jobs have seen significantly larger declines in their real wages during the recovery than higher-wage occupations, a separate report by NELP shows. Another study shows that improving retail wages to a minimum of $25,000 would lift tens of thousands of families out of poverty, add to economic growth, increase Walmart’s retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.

“The research on raising retail wages is clear – employers benefit from taking the high road, workers and families spend the additional money in their pockets and our economy as a whole strengthens,” said Jack Temple, policy analyst at NELP. “Walmart has a choice. It can take steps to improve the lives of its workers, customers and economy, or continue to force U.S. taxpayers to bankroll its low-wage business model.”

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For more information on Black Friday protests, photos and live-streams of events, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and changewalmart.tumblr.com.

 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. 

 

November 4, 2013

Cannabis Workers Rising: A Voice for Medical Marijuana and Hemp Workers

DSC_0175UFCW has a brand new website dedicated to the growing number of workers and UFCW members who are employed at medical marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis industry-related workplaces around the country.

Together these members are raising standards and professional stature for all marijuana and hemp workers. They are helping to build a legitimate industry that provides safe jobs for its workers.

Check out cannabisworkers.org to hear from workers in the industry, and how the union difference ensures their jobs are good, secure jobs.

Be sure to check the site for organizing resources and the latest industry updates, including how these union members are improving the lives of patients.

For more information, check out the Cannabis Workers Rising facebook page.

October 30, 2013

Costco an Example of the “Union Difference”

This week, during a speech about poverty, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez praised Costco, a union store, for its business practices, which continually pay its employees living wages, and continue to yield profits.  According the Huffington Post, Perez joined the long list of Costco admirers when he stated that Costco proves the notion of the service industry having to adhere to a minimum-wage business model to be wrong, and “phooey”.

Secretary Perez is right–in an industry that employs millions of working poor, whom struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis, Costco is a shining light. The wholesale retailer is known for low employee turnover, thanks to its wages that allow people to actually make a living, and its health benefits. Costco values its workers–without them, the company couldn’t be the success that it is. These ideals are embodied in Costco cofounder Jim Sinegal and former CEO. In his speech, Secretary Perez remembered:

“I went to a [Costco] grand opening in Northern Virginia. The woman who was the manager at that store, she started out pushing carts, to use her term. And the remarkable loyalty that they have to Jim is a function of the fact that he categorically rejects the notion that, ‘I either take care of my shareholders or my workers’. That is a false choice.”

But part of the reason Costco’s workers are making good wages and receive benefits is due to the fact that over 15,000 of its workers are unionized. Organized by the Teamsters, Costco is union-friendly and meets workers on an even playing field when it comes to bargaining, and as union members, they have a say in the terms and conditions of their employment. For more than 20 years, they have stood together to ensure their rights as workers are protected.

The union-difference is huge. UFCW members work at grocery stores, retailers, and packing and processing plants all across the country. As union members, they are able to stand together and bargain for decent wages that allow them to feed their families and pay their bills, unlike Walmart, which pays such low wages that many of its associates must choose between shelter or food. Union jobs are good, middle class jobs, that provide healthcare, sick-leave, and retirement benefits. When workers stand together, like at Costco, or at UFCW shops like Kroger and Macy’s, they have a powerful voice that can stand up to that of the company.