June 27, 2014
originally posted by the AFL-CIO
A week from today, we’ll be gathering with families and friends for the nation’s birthday, July 4. Many of us will celebrate with a barbecue. We can keep the red, white and blue in the holiday with this made-in-America, union label backyard barbecue checklist, compiled from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the LA Labor 411’s website, Union Plus and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Before we get into the menu, if you want to wave that flag wide and high, American flags from Annin Flagmakers and Artflag carry the union label. In the photo above, UFCW members Tanya Mounts and Jackie Darr add the grommets to a large American flag at Annin’s Coshocton, Ohio, plant. Check out the other union-made products below!
Weber Q series grill, coolers by Igloo and Rubbermaid, red Solo cups and don’t forget the sunscreen by Coppertone and Bain de Soleil.
Hot Dogs, Sausages and Other Grill Meats
Ball Park, Boar’s Head, Calumet, Dearborn Sausage Co., Fischer Meats, Hebrew National, Hofmann, Johnsonville, Oscar Mayer. See more.
French’s Mustard, Guldens Mustard, Heinz Ketchup, Hidden Valley Ranch, Lucky Whip, Vlasic. See more.
Buns and Bread
Ottenbergs, Sara Lee, Vie de France Bakery. See more.
Sodas and Bottled Water
Bart’s, Coke, Diet Sprite, Pepsi, Sprite, American Springs, Pocono Northern Fall’s, Poland Spring. See more.
Budweiser, Bud Light, Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, Lionshead, Mad River, Michelob, Miller, Rolling Rock. See more.
Snacks and Dessert
Breyers Ice Cream, Flips Pretzels, Frito-Lay Chips, Good Humor Ice Cream. See more .
June 17, 2014
Adapted from Local 400
Jacqueline Midence, a fast food industry worker, spoke out about her experience being in the industry for four years and still making minimum wage. Photo by Bill Burke.
After a decade of frozen salaries across the country, states are taking initiative, and pulling working families out of poverty by raising wages. However, the laws only benefit constituents when the community is part of putting them into practice and when the public is educated about their rights as workers regardless of immigration status. UFCW Local 400 and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) joined together Monday morning in Maryland with elected officials and community supporters at a local Safeway to kick off a week-long (June 16-20) education campaign aimed at bringing awareness to area employees on the new minimum wage laws, set to take effect Oct. 1, 2014.
“These new laws will provide a vital boost to hundreds of thousands of workers struggling with how to make ends meet,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “The Prince George’s and Montgomery county governments did their part to pass the laws, but it’s our job, starting today, to raise awareness to hold employers accountable and prevent wage theft in the future.”
November 2013, Prince George’s County was able to achieve a way overdue victory and set the tone, along with Montgomery County, for minimum wage increase statewide. The first increase to $8.40 per hour will be implemented by October 1, 2014 and steadily increase every year reaching $11.50 per hour by 2017. The implementation of the wage increases in these counties is higher than the state’s minimum wage, which is set to gradually increase to $10.10 by July 2018.
“Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty,” said Executive Director of LCLAA Hector E. Sanchez. “While we celebrate this important victory, we recognize that Latino workers suffer more minimum wage and overtime pay violations than any other ethnic group,” That is why we have joined this critical tour to ensure Latinos are not robbed of their hard earned wages. We want to make it clear to employees and employers that paying what the law requires is not negotiable.”
“I’ve worked my entire life, so I know how hard it is to try and make ends meet, especially off minimum wage,” said Jacqueline Midence (pictured), a four-year fast food industry worker. “When you’re supporting your family, every cent helps you survive.”
“The new law will help people like me live better, it will give us more hope for the future.”
June 6, 2014
Agreement Sets New Standards, Raises Floor for Cannabis Industry Workers
Oakland,CA –Workers at Bhang Chocolate, a cannabis chocolate company in Oakland, Calif., voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ratify their first union contract, becoming members of the 33,000 member-strong United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, which is based in San Jose, Calif.
“We’re working towards a better future and this new contract is just the beginning,” said Beny Valencio, a chocolatier who has worked at Bhang Chocolate for more than two years.
Among other significant gains and protections for workers in the cannabis industry, the newly ratified contract provides for wage increases, employer health care contributions, paid sick leave and vacation benefits.
UFCW Local 5 members work primarily in retail grocery and meat processing with growing numbers employed in department stores, retail drug stores, candy stores, jewelry stores, agriculture and food processing, wholesale meat, seafood processing, financial services, education and the cannabis industry among others.
“This union contract means everyone at Bhang Chocolate has a voice and everyone will be heard,” said Becky Strider who has worked as a packer at Bhang Chocolate for the past four years.
In the United States and Canada, UFCW is the union for workers in the cannabis and hemp industries. UFCW members in the cannabis industry work predominantly in dispensaries, coffee shops, bakeries, patient identification centers, hydroponics stores, and growing and training facilities.
Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., Bhang Chocolate, an award-winning cannabis chocolate company, is the premier medically infused chocolate company.
UFCW Local 5 is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. Visit cannabisworkers.org or Facebook.com/CannabisWorkers to learn more about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights in the cannabis and hemp industries.
May 23, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 60,000 grocery workers in Southern California, represented by UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442, have reached a tentative contract agreement with Ralph’s, Albertsons and Vons.
The agreement was reached after 4 months of negotiations. Workers from across Southern California took action to show their solidarity and earn the support of their customers by wearing “Stand Together” buttons at work.
UFCW members from across the region will vote on the proposal in meetings scheduled over the coming weeks. Details of the agreement will not be released until members have had an opportunity to read, discuss, and vote on the tentative agreement.
The current contract expired in early March, and workers are currently on a day to day extension. Private hedge fund Cerberus, which owns Albertsons, recently made a tentative purchase of Safeway, the corporations that owns Vons and Pavilions. That sale could take as long as a year to finalize because it is subject to Federal anti-trust approval.
May 12, 2014
Luis Manzaneres served as a union election observer for his fellow Bestway workers.
Last week, workers at a Bestway Supermarket in Mt. Vernon, Va., voted UFCW Yes, becoming the third Bestway store in the region to join UFCW Local 400. The workers’ activism began when the workers stood in solidarity this past October with coworkers at a Falls Church Bestway store who were illegally fired in retaliation for forming a union. The Falls Church workers picketed the store for nine days, uniting customers and other area Bestway workers in their cause before successfully reaching an agreement with Bestway to reinstate the workers and set guidelines to begin negotiations for their first contract.
Despite previous union victories, the Mt. Vernon workers are facing an employer that continues to fight its workers. Bestway management has challenged the results of the NLRB election, an action that has only served to strengthen the solidarity of workers within the store.
“We are very happy with our victory here at Bestway, Mt. Vernon and I thank all my coworkers who showed unity through the election process,” said Luis Manzaneres, a worker at the Mt. Vernon store who served as an election observer on behalf of his coworkers. “We hope to God to sit at the bargaining table very soon to start negotiating our first contract. We are ready!”
April 30, 2014
Adapted from Local 75
Jack Leyendecker retired from Kroger 420 in 2013 after 60 years as a Kroger employee and UFCW member. Jack is among the members with the most years of service with UFCW Local 75 (and former Local 1099); he is proud of his long history with the Kroger Company and his union membership throughout his career.
Leyendecker was first hired by Kroger as a Meat Cutter in 1952 at the Walnut Hills store in Cincinnati. He transferred to the Maysville store and became Head Meat Cutter in 1968. After retiring for the first time in 2000, Jack returned to work at Kroger in 2001, and retired again last year.
Jack married his wife, Bergard, in 1965. His son, Jack Jr., works as an Assistant Produce Manager at Kroger 420 in Maysville. Since retiring, Jack enjoys hunting and fishing.
Thank you for all you do Jack, your many years of service are quite the accomplishment and greatly appreciated!
April 28, 2014
Today 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.
March 6, 2014
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following in response to Safeway’s announced sale to Cerberus Capital Management:
“Safeway announced today that it has reached an agreement to be purchased by Cerberus Capital Management which currently operates supermarkets across the country under the Albertson’s, Acme, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s banners, among other stores.
“The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents tens of thousands of workers within these two companies. Through ups and downs, the UFCW has maintained good relationships with both Safeway and Cerberus.”
“The UFCW will work closely with Safeway and Cerberus through the acquisition process and beyond so that these major supermarket companies can maintain strong market share and that our members can continue to serve customers and their communities.”
March 4, 2014
Last month, during UFCW Local 555’s Oregon Lobby Day, shop steward Sarah DeMerritt testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of legislation that would ease penalties for those who unknowingly or inadvertently sell alcohol to a minor for the first time.
UFCW Local 555 shop steward Sarah DeMerritt (center) testified before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that would ease the penalties for those who unknowingly or inadvertently sell alcohol to a minor for the first time.
In June of 2013, while working as a checker at Safeway in Lake Oswego, Oregon, she sold a six-pack of beer to someone she believed was of legal drinking age. But instead the customer was part of an Oregon Liquor Control Commission sting. A police officer interviewed and cited DeMerritt in her check stand as customers looked on.
“It was very humiliating,” she said. Despite having more than 12 years on the job and no previous offenses, DeMerritt was fired and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. “Why would I risk my health benefits, my job, my seniority, my life?” she told the committee. “I thought the customer looked old enough to purchase alcohol and was a familiar neighbor that I had carded and sold to in the past.”
DeMerritt stressed that she takes her responsibility to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors very seriously and had passed all previous stings. Senate Bill 1546 would make penalties for first time offenders more proportional.
The Oregon House passed this legislation, joining the Senate in giving it overwhelming support. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said he will sign it into law.
“I do not want other employees to have this experience,” DeMerritt said. “I do not want them to have to fight so hard.” By having the courage to share her story, DeMerritt is helping make the system fairer for all grocery workers in Oregon.
February 7, 2014
For this week’s member spotlight, we chatted with Local 75 member and steward Mike Dillard. Mike has worked at Kroger stores in Cincinnati, Ohio and in nearby Kentucky for 25 years now, and has seen how being a union member truly makes a difference in the workplace. Today, he is an assistant meat manager.
In honor of Black History Month, he also shared with us some stories of his his grandfather and father, who lived during the height of the civil rights movement.
Local 75 member and steward Mike Dillard
His father, a retired one star general and doctor, was the second black general in Ohio, and was a participant in several marches for equality in the 60’s. His grandfather, Mike tells us, was a doctor during World War I. However, when Mike’s grandfather Charles served during the war in the army, they refused to recognize his M.D., and made him scrub latrines instead. Although Mike remembers this story of his grandfather’s with sadness, he notes that he went on to later found a radiology center at the University of Michigan, with pride.
Mike also shares that he recently discovered that he and his family are direct descendants of a unit in the Civil War called the Black Brigade. Mike explains that during the Civil War, many African Americans living in Kentucky moved slightly further north into Ohio because it was less hostile towards them, and to escape the Confederacy which had moved up into Kentucky. When the confederates were on the verge of attacking the Cincinnati area, Union troops began taking black men against their will and put them to work to fortify the city and build trenches. But upon hearing this, one of the Union generals was outraged that these men had been forced to work, and demanded their release and an apology. Once the group of African American men returned to their homes, they were then asked if they would be willing to volunteer their time helping build defenses and fortifications for the city. Despite the previous gross violation of their human rights–being made to work against their will–nearly 1,000 African American men from the area agreed to help the Union troops. This group of men was dubbed the Black brigade, and became the first of many such groups to form throughout the country–building bridges and trenches, hauling cannons, and assisting the cause in many other ways. Mike notes that thanks to the help of this Black Brigade, the Confederacy was effectively kept out of Ohio and they saw no bloodshed. There is even a memorial statue in a nearby park that commemorates the group, Mike says.
Unfortunately, Mike has experienced some conflict in his own experiences too, having dealt with a verbally and at one point physically abusive manager for a time. Thankfully, being a union member meant that Mike had the support he needed to get out of the situation. Mike says he tries to use what he has learned as a union worker, as well as his family’s rich history dealing with fighting for civil rights, to help his fellow union members.
“I’m a nice guy and I try to keep an open mind and good rapport with managers and my fellow associates,” say Mike. When Mike tells us that it is “better to get more bees with honey than it is with vinegar”, we are reminded of the teachings and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin, both Civil Rights leaders who valued peaceful protest rather than violence.
As Mike reflects, he notes that the fight for equal civil rights and the fight for equal workers rights often have the same goal. When telling someone about the union at work, Mike explains that “you have a stronger voice with more people, just like with civil rights, you know if you have one person yellin’, you’re not going to be heard as much as 10,000 people yelling” for the same cause. “With both the union and with the civil rights movement, you have solidarity. It’s about being fair, and everyone having the rights that they should have.”
Do you have a story to share about being a union member, or about participating in the civil rights movement? Let us know here!