News and Updates
August 12, 2019
The Power of Being a Member of Our Union Family
UFCW Local 400 member Clarence “Pete” Dickerson’s experience correcting a clerical error involving his pension shows the value of being a member of our union family.
When Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va., brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side that is willing to back you up.
For Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.
Dickerson’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to the store in Appomattox. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.
In Richmond, Dickerson worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Dickerson worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Dickerson was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Dickerson in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Dickerson stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.
Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Dickerson was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.
Eventually, Dickerson became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”
When Pete raised concerns, months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Dickerson’s issues, he filed a grievance.
After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Dickerson for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” Dickerson said. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”
July 15, 2019
UFCW supports striking Amazon Prime Day workers
Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis went out on strike at about 3 p.m. on Prime Day to address working conditions at the plant.
There have been protests on Prime Day in Europe in past years, but the action in Minnesota is the first major Prime Day strike for workers in the United States.
In June, Amazon announced it would provide one-day shipping on select items to Prime members, a move that has reportedly pushed many workers past their breaking point.
“With the recent move to one-day Prime shipping, Amazon workers are being forced to meet impossible demands at increasingly unsafe speeds,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone in a statement on the strikes. “We are proud to stand with these brave Amazon workers on Prime Day as they fight for what’s right.”
May 13, 2019
UFCW Helps to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country
On May 11, UFCW locals turned out in full force to collect non-perishable food made by union members for local food banks as part of the 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This is the fourth year that the UFCW has partnered with the National Association of Letter Carriers to sponsor this campaign, which is the largest single-day food drive in the country.
In the last 25 years with support from UFCW and other organizations, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected 1.5 billion pounds of food that was donated to local food banks and other organizations, helping to feed the more than 46 million Americans who struggle with hunger.
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has been an inspiring way for our union family to make a positive difference in the lives of our friends, neighbors and the communities we serve.
Here are a few images, including a video, from this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive:
May 6, 2019
A Victory for Stop & Shop Workers in New England
Across New England, 31,000 UFCW members at Stop & Shop grocery stores won a powerful victory by successfully approving strong new contracts following a historic 11-day walkout to protest cuts to health care, take-home pay, and other benefits.
Members of UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island ratified the new contracts by an overwhelming margin in votes held April 24 through May 1. The new agreements preserve health care and retirement benefits, provide wage increases, and maintain time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
Negotiations with Stop & Shop received national attention for being one of the most important work stoppages in the grocery industry in recent memory and a powerful win to protect good jobs.
UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 worked together throughout negotiations with the company and issued the following joint statement: “We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop.”
“It’s exciting to be back to normal, but it’s also exciting to know how much our community cares about good jobs,” said Nicole, a UFCW member who works at Stop & Shop. “We’re all a lot stronger now.”
May 6, 2019
Grocery Workers in Colorado and Wyoming Protect Good Pay and Health Care in New Contracts
On May 2, more than 20,000 members of UFCW Local 7 who work at King Soopers, City Market, Safeway and Albertsons in Colorado and Wyoming ratified new contracts that strengthen pay and protect health care benefits.
The three-year contracts include better wages, including pay raises retroactive to the end of the previous contract; good health care benefits, including better dental benefits; and pension protections for 12,000 retirees and those still working. The contracts also include significant language gains, including safety and protections pertaining to automation and the advancement of technology; credit for military service as work experience; more time off to ensure the safety of victims of domestic abuse or stalking; and easier access to first-day sick leave so food workers can stay healthy on the job. Safeway meat warehouse workers also won significant wage increases, double time on all holidays and the elimination of the entire two-tier system.
“These hard-working women and men stood together for better lives and a better place to work,” said UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova. “Together, our new contracts will provide pay raises for every worker, good health care and retirement benefits, and a safer workplace. Making each store a better place to work also makes it a better place to shop. Strong customer service is what made these companies successful and we are pleased these contracts invest in the workers who proudly serve our communities every day.”
May 6, 2019
Dallas UFCW Members Host Local Candidates for Kroger Tour
UFCW Local 1000 members recently hosted eight endorsed Dallas candidates for city council and mayor at local Kroger stores for tours and one-on-one discussions with workers ahead of the city’s May 4 election.
Each candidate spent an hour walking through a store and talking with UFCW Local 1000 members one-on-one about the issues affecting their lives. Candidates learned about the issues our members care about, as well as how critical our union is in representing those members at the workplace and why it’s so important to have a union grocery store in their communities. The events were a way to make sure that local elected officials heard directly from the workers they hope to represent.
Anthony Elmo, political and communications director for UFCW Local 1000, asked that any candidate seeking the union’s endorsement take the time to visit an area worksite so they could hear directly from their membership.
“Elected officials should campaign for votes where hard-working families bring home the bacon,” Elmo said. “They need to meet us on the shop floor and understand our issues.”
Chad West, who won the open seat in Dallas City Council District 1, left the visit with a deeper understanding of our union and the workers we represent.
“It was great getting to talk with people in my district who live and work in this community. The majority of the people in my district are working people and it’s good to know that they have a union like UFCW Local 1000 looking out for their best interests and engaging them in the political process,” West said. “I look forward to working with Local 1000 and representing your membership as a member of the Dallas City Council for years to come.”
One of the most important issues was the paid sick leave ordinance that the Dallas City Council passed by a 10 to 4 vote on April 24, which requires employers to credit their employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. Members at every stop let the candidates know how they felt about this important issue in advance of the election, and UFCW Local 1000 member Candice Oglesby, who works full-time as a florist at Kroger in Oak Cliff, was interviewed by ABC News 8 about the ordinance.
Local 1000 members played an integral role in pushing for the Dallas ordinance over the last year, working with coalition partners from local unions and community groups. The ordinance is likely to face legal challenges, as well as an attempt by the state legislature to nullify the law, but the hard-fought victory was a huge win for working people in Dallas.
“Paid sick time in Dallas is an amazing victory for grocery workers. Our members will directly benefit from this policy as the new floor for future contract negotiations,” said Elmo.
March 25, 2019
New England Rally: Stop & Shop Must Put Customers and Community First
A rally in western Massachusetts on March 20 united customers, local leaders, teachers, and community members in support of Stop & Shop workers in the push for a new contract that honors the hard-working women and men who have made the grocery chain one of the most successful in the country.
Hundreds of members of Local 1459 helped lead the rally outside of the Stop & Shop store in Chicopee, Mass. They were joined by Springfield City Council Member Jesse Lederman, a representative from the office of Senator Eric Lesser, and members of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, SEIU and Jobs With Justice.
UFCW Local 1459, along UFCW Locals 371, 328, 919 and 1445, have been united in working to secure a new contract with Stop & Shop that invests in workers and strengthens our commitment to delivering the very best service to the communities we serve. Negotiations began on January 14. Together, all five locals represent over 31,000 Stop & Shop workers.
New England communities know that Stop & Shop’s plan to drastically cut the number of full-time jobs will mean less customer service in the aisles, fewer products on the shelves, and longer lines at checkout. Our members want to be able to provide the very best service for their customers while still being able to provide for their families
“Stop & Shop is a neighborhood store and it is our members who provide quality service and food every day that keep our friends, families, and neighbors coming back,” said UFCW Local 1459 President Tyrone Housey. “Today’s event makes it clear that the community also values good service and wants Stop & Shop jobs to be jobs where people can work hard and build a better life.”
The Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island AFL-CIO organizations recently sent a letter in support of the five locals’ pursuit of a fair contract. The letter states: “Together, we represent approximately 700,000 union members across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. You have the full weight of the labor movement behind you in your struggle for as long as it takes.”
Jobs With Justice and other community allies held another rally in support of Stop & Shop workers in Somerville, Mass., on March 23.
March 11, 2019
UFCW Responds to Whole Foods Cutting Worker Hours
UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement on March 6 in response to news that Whole Foods cut workers’ hours after its parent company, Amazon, enacted a wage increase for employees.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“The reports of Amazon’s Whole Foods cutting worker hours is the worst case of bait and switch I’ve ever seen. Just months ago, they told the American people and their workers that they were raising their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. But now it appears that this was all a public relations stunt as they are now cutting worker hours – which is a cruel pay cut, plain and simple.
“More than ever, it is clear Jeff Bezos’s retail vision is focused on driving up profits at any cost by cutting hours and replacing good jobs and skilled hard-working employees with automation. It is time for the American people to wake up to the fact that Amazon’s vision, left unchecked, will cost us millions of good retail jobs. The men and women of Whole Foods have earned the right to a better life, and they deserve so much better than the treatment they are receiving from Amazon.”
March 5, 2019
UFCW Responds to Amazon’s Plan to Open New Grocery Chain
UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement on March 1 in response to news that Amazon will be launching a new grocery chain.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.
“Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.
“It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”
January 4, 2019
A Better Contract for Local 663 Grocery Workers in Minnesota
Members of UFCW Local 663 who work at grocery stores in the Brainerd Lakes area in Minnesota ratified a new contract on Dec. 6 that builds better lives for more than 400 families. The three-year contract covers UFCW Local 663 members who work at Quisberg’s Cub Foods in Baxter and Brainerd, Super One in Baxter, and at Miner’s Super One in Crosby.
The new contract includes a Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAPP), which is a defined benefit pension design where the accumulated benefit accrual is adjusted up or down each year based on an investment hurdle rate of 5.5 percent. Members will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAPP beginning in January 2019. A VAPP is attractive to workers because it reduces investment risk and offers an upside in terms of benefit improvements. Employers like VAPP because the design limits their liability.
“Securing the pension was a priority for me because it secures the future for everybody in this industry. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mike Insley, who is a member of UFCW Local 663 and is employed as a grocery manager at Cub Foods in Brainerd. Insley has been in the industry for 35 years.
The new contract also improves wage scales for all members and includes increased wages for full- and part-time positions for top of scale and over scale each year of the contract.
“It’s important to me that we fought for and won higher wages, as my family and I depend on it,” said Sandra Livingston, who is a member of UFCW Local 663 and is employed as a cashier at Super One in Baxter.
Under the agreement, all eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the health and welfare plan, as well as improved treatment and new and improved language to protect workers in the workplace. The new and improved language includes respect and dignity in the workplace; victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave; and two-week schedules that give members more established expectations and opportunities to better plan out their lives.
“Our members lead the way to better benefits for their families and a higher quality of life for all,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht. “A rising tide lifts all boats. We’re proud to work side by side with our Brainerd Lakes retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so.”