News and Updates
May 1, 2015
Celebrating UFCW Moms: Local 655 Member Fights Right To Work; Stands Up for Union Rights that Gave Her and Her Daughter Better Life
One such union mom, Theresa Hester of UFCW Local 655, recently shared her story of how the union has changed her life in a testimony before the Missouri State Senate to explain why Right to Work laws are wrong:
In 1998, Theresa moved to St. Louis after graduating from high school. That year, she established three goals her herself: continue her education, provide a better living for herself and her young daughter, and get off government assistance.
For a few years, she moved from job to job, but none allowed her to be able to support her daughter the way she wanted – until 2003 when she started working at Shop ‘n Save and became a member of UFCW Local 655.
Unfortunately, that same year, she and her co-workers were forced to go on strike in order to save their healthcare and benefits. Theresa experienced union solidarity first-hand, saying “we were out there, walking day and night, fighting for the things we needed to support our families. The thing that stood out to me was how united we were on our common issues during that period. I realized the real power of a union is how people come together.”
Theresa has come a long way since that first eye-opening experience and has now been a Local 655 member for 12 years. She says that being a union member has allowed her to raise her daughter in a good environment, and have the flexible scheduling she needs to attend PTA meetings or participate in after school activities with her daughter. “There’s no greater feeling than knowing you can tell your child that you’ll be at their performance, or Christmas party, or whatever the case may be,” she says.
Additionally, Theresa’s union job has enabled her to meet the goals she set for herself years ago. She now lives in North St. Louis in a home she owns and is able to afford. Not only does she no longer need government assistance, she was able to pay for and attend accounting school.
“I know personally the benefits of having a union job and what it does for hardworking families,” Theresa told the state Senate during her testimony. “I’m free to work any place I choose.”
That’s why Theresa has been speaking out about Right to Work laws in her state. When she talks to her co-workers and friends about the legislation, they are very concerned because the proposed law is so confusing, deceptive, and has such potential to hurt hard-working families.
Theresa argues that legislators should be discussing raising the minimum wage, creating jobs that pay living wages, and investing in education and infrastructure. She knows that Right to Work laws create unsafe workplaces, weaken worker power, and diminish the likelihood of workers having a pension or healthcare.
“Because I have a union job, I sleep easier at night knowing I have great benefits, better working conditions, great healthcare, and a voice that someone will hear,” Theresa says. She gives credit to her local union (UFCW Local 655) and the contract she and her co-workers help to negotiate for making that possible.
Our union family wouldn’t be what it is without your brave, strong, and united voices. Are you a UFCW mom, or a member with a story to share? Tell us at http://www.ufcw.org/resources/members/share-your-story/.
March 17, 2015
We asked UFCW members across the country to share stories about women in their union as part of our ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month.
Denise Ward, a passionate Local 5 steward working at Safeway in Soquel, California, was eager to tell us about her coworker Joanne Murtha, who has worked at her store for close to 25 years.
“Joanne is the go-to person in the store,” says Denise. “She’s not an official manager because she’s chosen to remain a UFCW member, but she does all managerial duties and more. She interviews and orients the new hires. She does payroll . She works at the cash register, she helps customers find things in the store. She wears many hats and is great with all of them.”
Not only does she do all of this while still making time for her family at home, says Denise, but she does it all with a strong sense of compassion for all the people she works with. “She’s so sweet, and she makes everyone at the store feel comfortable and capable in their jobs.”
“If you’re having trouble at the register, and it’s broken or something, Joanne can come help and take over. She’s the hub of the wheel. If she doesn’t know how to help you, she’ll find someone who will. Everyone loves her–everyone’s a fan of Joanne,” Denise exclaims.
But Joanne’s compassion extends beyond the workplace.
Denise adds that when one of their elderly coworkers became sick and was ailing, Joanne and another coworker took care of him–buying his groceries, and becoming his caregivers.
Women like Joanne and Denise know that belonging to a union gives them greater opportunity and job protections than their non-union counterparts, creates a level playing field for female workers, and enables them to have a united voice on the job.
According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), women are a large and growing portion of the union workforce, currently comprising 45% of union members. Women are on track to become a majority of the union workforce by 2023.
On average, union membership increases a woman’s wages by 12.9%, or $2.50 an hour. Also, studies have shown that being in a union raises a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does. Unionized women of color earn almost 35% percent more than non-union women of color.
CEPR also found that “the union impact on the probability that a female worker has health insurance or a retirement plan through her employer was even larger than the impact on wages. At every education level, unionized women are more likely to have employee benefits than their non-union counterparts with similar characteristics. In fact, for a women worker with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would.”
Additionally, employer-provided retirements are one of the largest advantages that union-women have, when compared to non-union women, CEPR shows.
Denise herself has worked at Safeway for 21 years, and will retire at the end of the month.
“I’m retiring a little early at age 61,” she says. “My union benefits enabled me to do that. And I could have been unfairly fired several times over the years, but because my workplace is union, I am protected against that–our union establishes rules that the employer must follow. I’m about to retire now but I will always be a union member, for the rest of my life. I will always be pro-union.”
Do you know a strong woman in your life and your union that’d you’d like to share with us? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 30, 2015
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to Safeway’s merger with Albertsons:
“More than 250,000 Safeway and Albertsons workers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). UFCW members also work for several other Cerberus Capital Management-operated supermarkets across the country, including Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s.
“UFCW members have a history of negotiating union contracts with Safeway, Albertsons and Cerberus Capital Management. Together in their union, these workers have been able to ensure that union grocery jobs are the best jobs in the industry with fair pay, decent benefits, and job security – all the while ensuring that their companies are able to be profitable and successful.
“UFCW members in California stores that were divested by Albertsons are pleased to learn that the grocery store chain Haggen will acquire many Albertsons stores in California. Haggen workers in the Pacific Northwest are also members of the UFCW. UFCW members across the country are looking forward to working with Safeway, Cerberus, and Haggen on issues that pertain to the members and industry. Our members plan to continue to serve their customers and their communities with pride.”
January 30, 2015
Originally posted by the AFL-CIO
On Super Bowl Sunday next week, some of our larger and faster union brothers—members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA)—will be battling it out in Glendale, Ariz., at Super Bowl XLIX (49 for those of us who are shaky on Roman numerals). While the Super Bowl carries a union label, from players to broadcast crews to stadium workers—your Super Bowl party spread can too, with union-made in America food and drinks.
Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters (IBT).
Beck’s, Budweiser, Busch. Goose Island, Hoegaarden, Land Shark Lager, Leffe Blond, Michelob, Natural, O’Doul’s (non alcoholic), Shock Top, Stella Artois, Iron City, Rolling Rock, Red Stripe, Kirin, Labatt Blue, Stegmaier, Lionshead, Steelhead, Butte Creek, Red Tail Ale, Blue Moon, Henry Weinhard’s, Killian’s, Mickey’s, Molson Canadian, Olde English 800,
Steel Reserve, Miller, Keystone Light, 1845 Pils, Bass Pale Ale, Moosehead, Schlitz, Pabst,
Sam Adams, Hamm’s and Kingfisher Premium Lager.
Alexander & Hornung, Always Tender, Ball Park, Banquet, Butterball, Dearborn Sausage Co., Farmer John, Farmland, Hebrew National, Hormel, Omaha Steaks, Oscar Meyer, Thumann’s and Tyson.
Act II Popcorn, Bagel Bites, Lay’s, Cheetos, Cheez-It, Chex Mix, Chips Ahoy, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, Rice Krispies Treats, Rold Gold Pretzels, Ruffle, Triscuit and Wheat Thins.
Chips and Salsa
Mission Chips, Old El Paso Chips, Dips and Salsa, Pace Salsa, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Sun Chips
Tostitos Chips and Salsa.
January 27, 2015
Originally posted on Labor Press
In her 25 years with UFCW Local 1500, Barbara Balos, 48, has helped run several major chain supermarkets throughout the city. For the last several years, the Long Island mom has been the non-foods manager at a bustling Bronx Pathmark, overseeing ordering, deliveries and more. Balos has a knack for getting things done – and that steady determination has not only helped her employers succeed, it’s also helped win better conditions for co-workers; raise a ton of money for numerous charitable organizations, and even change the way New York State protects its children.
“I have been a shop steward for Local 1500 for about 8 years, and have many wonderful opportunities with the union,” Balos says.
Many times, Balos is called upon to help correct unsafe working conditions like an overflowed grease pit or wonky loading dock – the kinds of things that could land an unlucky employee in the hospital.
Lately, however, Balos’ problem-solving skills have been tested trying to help co-workers reclaim lost hours guaranteed under their union contract, and securing new apartments for hard-pressed employees who’ve been reduced to part-time status as an unintended consequence of the Affordable Healthcare Act, and no longer able to make the rent.
One co-worker was forced to flee an abusive home environment and actually ended up on the street, while another had his Brooklyn apartment sold beneath his feet.
“Believe it or not, it happens a lot,” Balos says. “Unfortunately, a lot of the people I work with are part-timers. They’re getting 16-hours a week, and it’s tough to make ends meet. With the Obama care law, we’ve had problems with part-timers not getting enough hours, because they can’t go over that 30-hour threshold, so a lot of times, management will cut back on hours. But we help out our own.”
Over the course her union career, Balos has repeatedly met with members of the New York City Council, to make sure they understand just how important labor unions continue to be for workers like her.
“People are afraid to talk to management and stand up for their rights, or even to ask a question,” says Balos. “Many times, management will try to get away with things they shouldn’t.”
Just this past Christmas, Balos says the nicest present she received was a phone call from an older co-worker who faced the very real possibility of losing his job after arbitrarily being reassigned to a position he was not well-suited.
“I became a shop steward because I truly enjoy helping people and consider the other members as my family,” Balos says. “We rally around each other.”
Balos initially became politically active about 11 years ago, following a devastating incident which compelled her to try and convince the New York State Legislature to toughen the laws concerning convicted sex offenders.
“At the time, anyone who was a level 2 or 3 sex offender got off their probation period, and were off the sex offense registry,” Balos says. “There was talk from some senators about passing a bill to keep those offenders on the registry for life. So, I wrote to my local senator, told my story, and got a few thousand petitions signed to change the law.”
Not long after that, the Local 1500 shop steward was shocked to learn that her moving appeal would be heard on the floor of the New York State Senate.
“It was a great honor to help out,” Balos said. “We won that battle and got the laws changed. It was wonderful to know that I was a part of that.”
Balos continues to be passionate about activism, especially union activism.
“I think people are trying to cut corners and cut costs,” Balos says. “But our union can be tough. And management, no matter where they are, doesn’t want that.”
For the last few years, Balos’ daughter has been working at a non-union shop while attending college. For the Balos household, the enduring importance of organized labor is not some abstract ideological question to batted around endlessly by elites. Its efficacy is demonstrated daily in real life.
“When [my daughter] first started there, literally ever day, she should would come home saying, ‘I’m going to get fired. My boss is going to fire me because I asked for this day off. He just fired another person for no reason,’” Balos says. “There have been a lot of things that she goes through where I tell her – if you were union, that would not happen.”
September 23, 2014
Although grocery stores have been trying to convince us it’s been fall for weeks now, today marks the official start of fall, or the Autumnal Equinox.
You may have noticed that there’s been a craze for Pumpkin Spice this, and pumpkin-flavored that in stores everywhere–with new pumpkin and fall-flavored or scented products popping up left and right.
Why not embrace the trend by finding union-made stuff? Below, we’ve provided a fun fall list of ideas to help satisfy your pumpkin product cravings:
-Use Food Club canned pumpkin (UFCW product) or buy Kroger brand pumpkin puree from UFCW members at Kroger for all your fall baking needs!
-Bake a union-made pumpkin recipe, like Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake!
- 2 (8 ounce) packages of Horizon or President Choice cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup of Domino Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Kroger or other union lable vanilla extract
- 2 union-label eggs, like Horizon
- 9 in. prepared graham cracker crust from union-label grocery store
- 1/2 cup Kroger brand pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Giant brand or other union-label frozen whipped topping, thawed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
1) In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
2) Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
3) Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.
September 23, 2014
Susan Richardson, a grocery store worker and UFCW Local 21 executive board member, had an op-ed published in the Cascadia Weekly (scroll down to page 6) regarding Labor Day and her support of the Employee Empowerment Act, new legislation that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to give victims of labor discrimination the same protections available under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Narrowing the gap between rich and poor is essential to rebuilding our economy, but that can’t happen if workers lack the power and protection to bargain for better wages and benefits.”
Michael Pajewski, a member of UFCW Local 23, had a letter to the editor published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding Labor Day and how all workers have benefited from unions.
“Whether you are a union worker or not, you have enjoyed the benefits of union negotiations: the 40-hour work week, holiday pay, vacation time, overtime pay and safety standards where you work.”
And Jeff Goldhaber, a Stop & Shop worker and UFCW Local 1445 shop steward, had an op-ed published in Labor Notes regarding Market Basket workers and the benefits of having a union voice on the job.
“Customers boycotted Market Basket not because of loyalty to a CEO they’ve never met. They boycotted because they wanted to support the store workers they know and preserve the community that’s been built up around these stores. If we really want to save Market Basket, we need to address the workers’ concerns.”
These are just a few examples of how UFCW members are making their voices heard in their local newspapers. We look forward to highlighting additional op-eds and letters to the editor by UFCW members throughout the year.
August 28, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, Richard Charette, UFCW International Vice President and President of UFCW Local 1445, and Dave Fleming, President of UFCW Local 328, today released the following joint statement in response to the sale of Market Basket.
“Market Basket workers have secured the return of their preferred corporate leader by standing together in unprecedented collective actions. These workers showed that the real value of any company is not held in stocks, but in the dedication and hard work of its workforce.
“Market Basket workers and their families have made tremendous sacrifices, and proved that when they stand together, they have the power to move mountains.
“The members of our union have stood in solidarity with Market Basket workers, from rallies to raising a solidarity fund to help laid-off workers. As Market Basket workers negotiate the terms of their return to work, we will continue to offer our solidarity and our support.”
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.
August 27, 2014
Every year, we celebrate Labor Day as a reminder and tribute to all the men and women who work to make our economy and our country strong, and to provide for their families. Whether you have the day off, or are getting in one last cookout of the summer in after work, help support your brothers and sisters of labor by buying and shopping union!
Here’s a great list compiled by the AFL-CIO of some union-made food and drink to get your barbecue off to a great start. Even if you favorite products aren’t on the list, you can still shop union by looking for the union (especially UFCW!) label on the outside of grocery stores.
This list comes courtesy of Union Plus, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s website Labor 411.
- Ball Park
- Boar’s Head
- Dearborn Sausage Co.
- Fischer Meats
- Hebrew National
- Oscar Mayer
- French’s Mustard
- Gulden’s Mustard
- Heinz Ketchup
- Hidden Valley Ranch
- Lucky Whip
Buns and Bread
- Sara Lee
- Vie de France Bakery
- American Springs
- Pocono Springs
- Poland Spring
- Bud Light
- Mad River
- Rolling Rock
Ice Cream and Frozen Treats
• Del Monte Fruit Chillers
• Good Humor
• Hiland Dairy
• Labelle Ice Cream
• Laura Secord
• Orchard Harvest
• Prairie Farms
• President’s Choice
- Flips Pretzels
- Frito-Lay Chips
- Wheat Thins
July 28, 2014
Keith has been a UFCW member for two years now, but has been a member of various unions over the years–so he knows the value of belonging to one, especially in a right-to-work state, he notes.
“I want to call it something else,” he adds slyly, alluding to the many more fitting terms for the legislation that does anything but protect someone’s actual right to work.
Before going to the United States Merchant Marine Academy as a young man, Keith attended the National School of Meat Cutting and became a journeyman meat cutter. He worked for Packer Foods in Flint, Michigan where he joined the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America in 1967 and 1968. It was during these times, Keith notes, that unions were very strong and more people were “union-minded.”
For most of Keith’s professional career, he was an environmental engineer and belonged to the Maritime Engineers Union, where he was very involved and served as a union steward and chapter president. He is also a retired U.S. Navy Commander.
After his retirement, Keith wanted to do work as a meat cutter again and was hired by Meijer, joining UFCW Local 951. Right now, Keith works as a part time meat and seafood clerk.
“I enjoy helping customers,” says Keith of his job. He enjoys to “chit-chat” with them and his coworkers, many of them veterans like him. “It’s really a social experience!” He also does volunteer work in his spare time.
Right now, Keith says he is planning to reach out to his union steward at work, because his manager tried to move him to a non-union position, which Keith refused to let happen. Now, Keith wants to file a grievance because his supervisor has not scheduled him to work for a week. “I know that my steward meat-cutter friend will help me out,” he notes.
“With a union, you have a degree of protection,” he says after refusing to switch to a non-union job.
Share your story about being a UFCW member by filling out our online form here. We may get in touch with you to share it on our blog!