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    News and Updates

    Retail Food

September 11, 2012

A Star Steward

Penny Gibson

Penny Gibson is a meat-cutter at Kroger, a union member, a political activist, and definitely a star steward for UFCW Local 876.

One of the great things Penny is doing to help her coworkers and her community is helping people to register for this year’s election.  With the help of her local union’s Voter Registration Toolkit, Penny working hard to make sure all her coworkers, friends, and neighbors, have a voice in November.

Penny has also dedicated her time and energy to the Protect Our Jobs effort, a drive to put a measure on the November ballot allowing voters to decide on a proposal to add the right to collective bargaining to the Michigan constitution. She secured over 50 signatures, the most of any Local 876 steward. With collective bargaining under attack in so many states across the country, Michigan has a chance to lead the charge for the basic freedoms of speech and association that collective bargaining represents.

Penny says she’s dedicated herself to protecting collective bargaining in part because “many young workers do not realize it is their union contract that provided that raise, that $3 prescription refill, and that week-long paid vacation up north. It is not the company that provided these benefits, it was the union who negotiated these on our behalf.”

With Penny on the case, those young workers will be activists in no time! UFCW member activists and stewards keep their union running. To learn more about how to get involved with your local union, email submissions@ufcw.org or send us a message on Facebook.


August 31, 2012


Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW):

“The UFCW is shocked and saddened at the news of a shooting at the Pathmark supermarket in Old Bridge, New Jersey, early this morning. The full details of this tragedy are still being investigated, and UFCW is working to assist our members, Pathmark, and local authorities in any way we can. While the investigation continues, UFCW will be offering professional counseling services to Old Bridge Pathmark workers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the workers who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. We will continue to monitor the situation and offer our support to our members, Pathmark, law enforcement, and the Old Bridge community.”

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. UFCW Local unions 464A and 1262 represent workers at the Old Bridge, N.J. Pathmark.


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 18, 2012

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Releases Official App for Smartphones

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the nation’s largest grocery workers union, today announced the release of its first ever-smartphone app, designed to highlight worker voices and connect consumers with union grocery stores across the country. The app is a major development for consumers seeking to make informed choices about where they spend their shopping dollars by highlighting stores where workers are sticking together to preserve good, family-supporting jobs in our communities.

A major highlight of the app is its “Shop Union” feature, which allows anyone in the United States or Canada to locate and secure driving directions to their nearest union grocery store. If UFCW members work at a grocery store near you, the app will be able to get you there. The release of the smartphone app is just the latest element of UFCW’s ongoing program to connect with the next generation of workers.

The UFCW app also lets users receive the latest updates from UFCW members and working people everywhere, see breaking news and original video, and get information about how to take action for working families.

Already, the app is receiving positive reviews from early adopters:

“What a great app! Now I can easily stay informed on the latest union news, and always find the closest union store even when I am on the go.”

“Love the feature where I can search for the nearest union grocery store!”

“Works well and smoothly. Quick download and installation.”

“This is great for finding union grocery stores! We need to support good jobs.”

The app can be accessed from any smartphone at http://ufcwaction.org/app.

May 18, 2012

Raley’s Nob Hill Division UFCW Local 5 Members Authorize Strike by 96%

(San Jose, CA) – United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 5 membersworking for Raley’s Nob Hill division have voted by a 96% margin toauthorize a strike.

Coming on the heels of Raley’s threat to submit a last, best and final offerto the union on April 30, Local 5 immediately set up meetings throughout itsjurisdiction to hold strike vote meetings. Members attended in large numbersand authorized the union’s bargaining committee to call a strike.

Subsequent to Raley’s move to scuttle bargaining the parties agreed to enterfederal mediation.

“”Raley’s actions led the union to call a strike vote in the Nob Hilldivision. When a company threatens to submit a last, best and final offer itsets off a sequence of events that inevitably lead to either accepting aterrible offer or a strike. Both options are bad, but since we alreadycancelled one strike vote in a sign of good faith to further bargaining, weweren’t going to cancel this one. This overwhelming vote will send a strongmessage to the company and hopefully move negotiations to a successfulconclusion,”” stated Ron Lind, President UFCW Local 5.

Negotiations resume with Raley’s-Nob Hill on May 18 under the auspices ofthe Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Oakland.

January 3, 2012

UFCW and Kroger Strengthen and Improve Pension Plans for Kroger Workers

Washington, D.C. – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions and Kroger Company have announced today an agreement to improve and secure pension funds, or defined benefit pension plans, for over 170,000 retired and active Kroger workers. The pension plan, which will result from the merger of four plans, includes a ten-year review and will affect Kroger workers who are members of 14 UFCW local unions in 15 states, primarily in the Midwest and South.The combined plan will protect the current benefits of vested employees and enhance the benefits of new hires. The plan will also include automatic benefit increases as pay increases, with benefits proportionately pegged to salary levels, and will provide a more secure and stable pension fund in an unstable financial environment. The combined plan also includes a commitment by Kroger to pay off all of the unfunded liability in the markets covered by the 14 UFCW local unions. “In a volatile financial environment, this plan represents a long term solution for a secure retirement for our hard working members who have chosen a career in the retail food industry,” said UFCW International President Joseph T. Hansen. “The UFCW is proud of our local union leaders and Kroger for working together toward an innovative solution for workers’ retirement security.” Defined benefit pension plans are the most secure retirement system for workers. While many workers are forced to rely on their own investments, like 401 (k) plans, or have no retirement at all, UFCW members have retirement security through their pension benefits that provide for a monthly payment for their lifetime after they retire. Members of the 14 UFCW local unions are in the process of ratifying the new plan. Those members who have already met have overwhelmingly approved the proposal. More than 197,000 UFCW members work in Kroger stores across the country.

September 19, 2011


(Los Angeles, Calif.) – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union working at Ralphs (Kroger), Vons (Safeway) and Albertsons (Supervalu) in Southern California reached a tentative agreement today with the companies.

The tentative agreement was reached after 8 months of negotiating and strong involvement and activism by the 62,000 grocery workers and widespread support of customers and allies across the region.  The UFCW is grateful to Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, for his guidance through the bargaining process.

UFCW members will vote on the proposals in meetings over the coming week. The agreement increases wages, protects health care and pension benefits throughout the life of the 3-year contract.

The new contract, once ratified, will cover 62,000 UFCW grocery workers, the largest bargaining unit in the UFCW.  An additional 28,000 grocery workers at regional chains like Stater Brothers, Food 4 Less, Gelson’s Market and other markets are covered by the successful resolution of the Southern California contract.  The contract covering 45,000 grocery workers in Northern California expires in October.

August 23, 2011

Southern California Bargaining Will Resume August 29

More than 65,000 grocery workers represented by seven UFCW local unions in Southern California have been in bargaining for over five months over core issues for the membership. Following an overwhelming vote by the members to authorize a strike, both parties – the UFCW local union leadership and the leaders of Safeway, Kroger and Supervalu – have agreed to schedule continuous negotiations beginning next Monday, August 29, 2011, in a final effort to reach a fair settlement.

July 20, 2011


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The following statement was issued today by Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), in advance of an event in the White House in which First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes retailers who are willing to expand their business into under served areas.   Walmart is among the attendees.

“The First Lady’s commitment to addressing childhood obesity in the U.S. is laudable and the UFCW commends her for her enthusiasm for such a worthy endeavor. But with income disparity between the rich and the poor at more extreme levels than during the Great Depression, Walmart must be held accountable for its track record of lower standards for millions of retail workers.

“Walmart is more responsible than any other private employer in our country for creating poverty-level jobs that leave workers unable to purchase healthy food or provide a good life for their families.

“I met Walmart Associate Girshreila Green last month who told me that she got her job at the inner-city Crenshaw Walmart in Los Angeles through the welfare-to-work program. And after three years of work and an excellent employment record at what she calls the ‘ghetto Walmart,’ Girshreila still has a welfare card in her pocket, right along with her Walmart I.D. and Walmart discount card.

“There is no economic justification that our nation’s largest private employer should pay wages so low that any of its employees qualify for public assistance.  But the fact that tens of thousands of Walmart associates qualify and utilize food stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid is reason enough that the White House should join with our union and tell Walmart – enough is enough.

“Our national economic crisis is made worse by companies like Walmart suppressing wages for its 1.4 million hourly workers who live and work in communities across the country.

“Walmart claims it wants to open stores in urban markets like Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other major cities.  Workers, community leaders and consumers in each of those cities have called on Walmart to commit to providing good jobs that pay wages high enough to improve the lives of workers in those cities. The fact is, when Walmart opens in a community, it replaces what were good jobs with poverty-level ones.  Walmart continues to drive the cycle of poverty by lowering wage rates and preventing associates from lifting themselves out of economic insecurity.

“Millions of grocery workers serve communities of every income level and hold good jobs with fair wages, affordable health care, and a voice on the job.  The White House should laud employers who are fueling economic recovery by creating good jobs where workers can afford to take care of their families and buy the healthy food their children deserve.”


Videos of Girshreila Green speaking out about her experience as a Walmart associate can be found at: http://vimeo.com/26640913 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTEuBHSvfFg

Making Change at Walmart seeks to promote the American values of equality, dignity and respect in the workplace. The campaign is making change by working directly with Walmart Associates to claim the respect on the job they deserve, holding Walmart corporate managers accountable to hourly employees and the public for their practices and joining with community leaders in major cities across America to make sure that any new jobs offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.

July 19, 2011

Statement by UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill on Proposed NLRB Rule to Modernize Union Election Process

Washington, D.C. –  The following remarks were delivered by UFCW Executive Vice President and Organizing Director Pat O’Neill, who testified at the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) public meeting on July 19, 2011 regarding the NLRB’s proposed rule changes to the union election process:

“American workers are struggling to make ends meet during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Workers in the grocery, retail, meatpacking and food processing industries are no exception.  Union contracts offer the best opportunity for stable, middle class jobs. While the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the fundamental right to join a union and achieve the benefits of collective bargaining, the NLRB’s current rules are seriously outdated, needlessly complex, and foster frivolous litigation.  The current process creates barriers to workers exercising their fundamental right to form a union. It’s time to return the process to its original intent – which is to give workers a clear path to making the choice when they want collective bargaining.

“We view the proposed election rule changes as a modest but important first step toward modernizing and streamlining an outmoded process that encourages unnecessary, time-consuming and wasteful litigation.

“The proposal to defer resolution of most voter eligibility issues until after the election, including all bargaining unit disputes affecting less than 20 percent of the unit, would make the current process more efficient and worker-friendly. Just ask the employees of Home Market Foods in Norwood, Mass., who sought representation by UFCW Local 1445. Workers petitioned for an election in a unit of all production, maintenance, shipping, receiving and housekeeping employees, including 11 quality assurance (Q.A.) technicians but excluding nine Q.A. technologists, who the technicians consider to be their supervisors. However, the company argued that none of the Q.A. workers should be in the unit – or if they were included, that the technologists were not supervisors and should vote in the election.  By disputing the Q.A. workers’ status, the company delayed the election until 79 days after the petition was filed.  And during this delay, management used the time to further threaten workers with job loss and plant closure if they won in the election. The workers lost the election 104-114. If the Q.A. employees’ eligibility to vote had been deferred until after the election, the election would have taken place before the employer’s scare tactics had their intended effect. In that case, the workers would have won the election by a big enough margin that their votes would not have affected the outcome.

“This is exactly why the proposed changes are needed.  Workers go to work to earn a living, not to get engaged in a protracted lawyer-driven tug of war with their employer. When workers want to organize a union, they want to do it immediately.

“The proposed rule changes will not interfere with employers’ free speech rights. Workers know their employers’ views on unionization.  And if workers are unclear about their employers’ position, it doesn’t take long for them to find out.  Nor will this rule change lead to “ambush” elections, as claimed by employer-funded lawyers.  Almost all union election campaigns are well underway and well known to employers long before an election petition is filed. In virtually all instances, employers have ample time to communicate with their workers.

“This fact is supported by a recent study by Professors Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell and Dorian Warren of Columbia, both of whom will address this panel later today.  Their research shows that “Thirty-one percent of serious [unfair labor practice] violations occurred 30 days before the petition was filed and 47 percent of all serious allegations occurred before the petition was filed.” The data support their conclusion that employer “opposition starts long before the filing of the petition.”  UFCW organizers have long known and experienced this first-hand many times.

“The UFCW is optimistic that the proposed rule changes will begin to restore the NLRB election process back to what it was intended to do – give workers a clear process to organizing a union.  We are, however, concerned about the possible elimination of the blocking charge policy.  Strong employer opposition to union organizing campaigns is the rule rather than the exception. Workers and their unions, when faced with serious employer unfair labor practices during the critical period, may need temporary postponement of the election to try to counter the employer’s illegal conduct. The blocking charge policy is needed to help attempt to prevent that from happening.

“The UFCW will make a more detailed response to the Board’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the written comments it plans to file. Again, thank you for this opportunity to speak in support of the proposed rule.”

April 26, 2011

Food & Commercial Workers Leader to Co-Chair Council of Institutional Investors

Washington, DC – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill has been named by his peers as co-head of the Board of North America’s largest institutional investor trade group, the Council of Institutional Investors (CII). O’Neill was unanimously elected as Co-Chair with Joseph Dear, Chief Investment Officer of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, at the CII semi-annual conference last week.

O’Neill is a leader for greater accountability and transparency from the investment managers of pension plans that are entrusted with the retirements of millions of Americans. He has also is a prominent union trustee himself, safeguarding the retirements of people across North America who have worked in the retail, grocery and food processing industries.

“CII is a place where union pension funds, public fund trustees and corporate plans all find common ground,” said O’Neill. “We all work together to demand accountability from irresponsible corporations and protect the retirements earned by decades of hard work by millions of people.”

CII is a nonprofit association of public, union and corporate employee benefit funds along with foundations and endowments that have combined assets worth more than $3 trillion. CII is a leading voice for good corporate governance and strong shareowner rights.