News and Updates
February 25, 2011
Indianapolis, In—Grocery workers and members of the United Food and Commercial Union (UFCW) across Indiana and part of Ohio, yesterday, began wearing stickers to work, with messages of solidarity in support of their union brothers and sisters fighting for workers’ right in the public sector. The UFCW is the largest private sector union in those states and the first to take the fight for workers’ rights inside the workplace.
The union members and grocery workers are wearing the stickers because they understand that all workers nationwide are under attack right now by Wall Street and the politicians they have in their pocket—most of all workers in unions. They know that unions are defenders of good jobs, and that where unions are strong they bring wages and working standards up for everyone. And they want their customers and the public to know that, too.
UFCW members know that most Americans are tired of the political rhetoric, and the media’s attempt to create false conflict by pitting private sector worker against public sector worker.
“”My customers know we’re union and they support us. By wearing these stickers we’re standing up as a community against these attacks on working families,” said Carrie Frye, 20-year food service manager and UFCW Local 700 member at the Kroger in Speedway, Indiana.
Images of Kroger workers fighting for good jobs in Indiana can be found online here. To learn more about the UFCW’s efforts fighting for Indiana workers and how you can help, go to www.voteufcw.org and click on “Indiana.”
January 14, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2011) Citing the need to grow a supply chain that protects public health, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ensures good jobs, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) today announced that the union — whose 1.3 million members work in the retail food, meatpacking and poultry, food processing and manufacturing, and retail industries — would join the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.
“”From farm to dinner table, we must have a food supply chain that benefits consumers, improves public health, improves the environment, and creates good jobs at living wages,”” said UFCW International President Joseph T. Hansen. “”The BlueGreen Alliance is leading the way to a green economy, and UFCW is proud to be on board.””
“”We are pleased to welcome the UFCW to the ranks of union members and environmentalists working to build a green economy and create good jobs,”” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “”We cannot build this green economy — one that creates good jobs and protects public health — without creating a stronger, greener food and retail supply chain, and we are excited to get to work with the UFCW to make it happen.””
The 1.3-million member UFCW has long supported strong food safety and nutrition policy and is committed to ensuring that our nation’s food and retail supply chain is safe and sustainable — from the factory to the warehouse to the store — and to holding suppliers accountable for their efforts to green up their supply chain.
“”Supporting the development of a greener supply chain is an important factor in protecting the health and safety of American consumers and the quality of life for workers,”” said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. “”We also have to work together to ensure the jobs created and supported are good, family supporting union jobs. We are pleased that the UFCW has joined this unique partnership in our effort to build a truly green economy.””
“”Creating a sustainable food supply will protect the environment while providing healthy safe food for all Americans,”” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “”With the UFCW joining the BlueGreen Alliance, our on-going effort to green America’s supply chain and create good, clean, and safe jobs is a million members stronger today.””
The BlueGreen Alliance was launched by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club in 2006, and has since expanded to include the Communications Workers of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Service
Employees International Union, National Wildlife Federation, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, United Auto Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers — all dedicated to creating good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.
“”The effort to create good, green jobs reaches every corner of our economy — from investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency to building more efficient vehicles to ensuring a safe, sustainable food supply,”” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard, a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “”The health and safety of workers, our public health and the health of our communities depend on our ability to build a prosperous green economy in the United States.””
“”We can only protect the planet for the next generation if we make our economy cleaner and more sustainable, and a key part of that accomplishment will be greening our food and retail supply chain,”” said Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club and a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “”From the field to the grocery store, from the factory to retail, ensuring that the products we buy are sustainable will protect the environment and create good jobs, plain and simple.””
October 29, 2010
When: Wednesday Oct. 27th 1:30 p.m.
Where: March begins at 111 Zeta Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15238
After several months of feeling intimidated and threatened by managers, Giant Eagle employees have had enough. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 23, joined by a number of community organizations, will march on the corporate headquarters, to deliver support post cards signed by fellow employees at 36 stores, to say enough is enough.
“”We have the right to talk about our union, with our co-workers, with other Giant Eagle employees, with anyone we want to. This is America and we don’t check our free speech rights at the door when we take a job with Giant Eagle” said Deborah Wieloch, an employee at the Shady Side Market District Store.
Weiloch was arrested in September when she, on her day off work, went to the Waterfront Giant Eagle to talk to employees on break about their contract and other union issues. UFCW Local 23 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the incident.
Weiloch’s arrest came as part of what employees see as a wave of anti-unionism on the part of Giant Eagle.
“We’ve been told we can’t wear buttons, we’ve been told not to talk about our union, we’ve been threatened with arrest or worse, being fired,” explained Jim D’Alessandro. “It isn’t right. They are infringing on our right to free speech and violating our nation’s laws that ensure we have a right to organize and be organized. Our contract even gives us the right to talk about our union during work.”
The members of UFCW got tired of harassment from management and started a postcard campaign to tell Giant Eagle they are tired of it.
While corporate Giant Eagle has pressured workers to remain silent and tried to keep their actions out of the press, workers have received tremendous support from allies and the public.
Along with a delegation of several dozen UFCW Local 23 members taking the cards to the corporate headquarters, community groups will be on hand to show support, including ACTION United, NAACP, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh UNITED, and others. A number of UFCW Local 23 members will be dressed as the Founding Fathers, complete with wigs and costumes, to reinforce the message that free speech rights are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
July 9, 2010
Metheun, Mass. – Associates at the Shaw’s Methuen (Mass.) distribution center have ratified a mediator-recommended settlement agreement, ending the strike that began March 7. The four-year contract continues Shaw’s long-standing history of providing good wages, comprehensive and affordable health care and a generous retirement plan. It also allows the company to operate more efficiently and address changing business conditions in a very competitive marketplace. Both sides are committed to working together to meet the needs of the business and its customers.
June 28, 2010
(Pittsburgh, Penn.) – Late last Friday, thousands of Giant Eagle supermarket workers from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia ratified a new contract with Giant Eagle. Highlights of the agreements between the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23 and Giant Eagle include:
- Substantial hourly wage increases over the four-year contract;
- Higher pay rates and vacation benefits for newly hired workers;
- Increased quality and access to affordable health benefits; and
- Strengthening of retirement security for all workers.
Ratification of the contract stands to benefit Giant Eagle, the workers that have made the company a market-leading success, and communities around Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.
“UFCW Local 23 members were facing a number of issues in these negotiations but our membership came together. The new contract is a testament to our solidarity and union spirit,” said Tony Helfer, UFCW Local 23 President.
UFCW Local 23 members mobilized like never before to inspire customers to support Giant Eagle, a local supermarket company, and to stand with its workers. With a number of Giant Eagle franchise stores in the area where workers are not afforded the same rights and benefits as the UFCW Local 23 members, workers plan to take the energy and momentum from this bargaining process to work toward raising standards across the company.
The contract covers approximately 5,800 employees at 36 Giant Eagle Stores in Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia and will be in effect until June 28th 2014. UFCW Local 23 represents a total of over 13,000 members in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
May 11, 2010
With rising temperatures and increased consumer demand, grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and the warehouses that supply them are moving and selling ever-increasing volumes of bottled water. When palletized, these products can pose significant risks to workers in our industry as a recent deadly tragedy illustrates.
In mid-March, a Kroger employee working in the back room of a store in Franklin, Ind. was crushed by falling pallets of water. Five days after the accident, the employee died. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the accident and fined Kroger $17,000 for unsafe working conditions. This tragic incident and others like it are preventable – especially if UFCW members and locals take action for safety today.
When you are at work or a worksite, here are some things to look for:
- Don’t transport double stacked pallets beyond the distance necessary to remove them from a truck. Double-stacked pallets are inherently unstable, and when they have liquids (like bottled water) as cargo, they often exceed the safe weight limits for forklifts.
- Avoid double stacking pallets when storing them.
- Carefully monitor the stability of pallets at all times.
- Don’t attempt to straighten pallets that have begun to shift. Unload the pallet instead.
- Maintain a clear safety area around pallets when they are being moved.
- All forklift operators or other powered-equipment operators must be trained and certified. This is an OSHA requirement – check for proper recordkeeping.
Palletized bottled water is especially dangerous because of the high volume moved, the heavy weight involved, and increasingly thin plastic causing cases to be unstable. In addition, the limited amount of floor space in the back of grocery stores often leads to water or other heavy unstable products, being stacked higher than safety permits.
Kroger and UFCW Indiana locals have learned from the tragic accident in Franklin and are actively working to prevent future injuries or deaths. We urge you to do the same before something similar happens in your stores.
April 12, 2010
FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS JOIN NATIONAL EFFORT TO BRING FRESH FOOD AND GOOD JOBS TO FOOD DESERT NEIGHBORHOODS
(NEW YORK, NY) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) proudly announces its support for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative legislation introduced today by New York legislators Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez (D-NY).
The legislation will provide $1 billion through loans and grants to help build approximately 2,100 new grocery stores in high need areas across the country, including an estimated 273 stores in New York City. The initiative would create an estimated 200,000 new jobs nationally.
The Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a critical part of rejuvenating and revitalizing underserved neighborhoods both in terms of food quality and quality jobs that can support a family.
New York-based UFCW Local 1500 is a leading partner in the New York FRESH Initiative which serves as a model for the national legislation and has successfully launched two major supermarkets into previously underserved areas in the Bronx. Those supermarkets also added hundreds of new jobs and subsequent income to area residents.
Supermarkets act as anchors for economic development in a neighborhood. In community after community, good supermarket jobs provide workers with good wages, career opportunities and most importantly, quality health care coverage that is key to a healthy lifestyle. UFCW members in New York and across the U.S. take pride in serving their customers with good food. This national legislation will provide needed funding to expand those opportunities into even more markets.
The UFCW applauds Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Velasquez for their vision in bringing worker organizations together with the economic development leaders and health policy advocates to ensure that new food outlets also provide good career jobs and training opportunities for new employees.
We believe that working together works. With the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, we will:
- Create new jobs from building new supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods;
- Create new jobs from operating those stores; and
- Create new jobs from related development which will grow up and around the new stores.
All the while, providing millions of residents with access to good, healthy, affordable food.
March 11, 2010
(BOSTON, MA) – On March 7, thousands of Stop & Shop supermarket workers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut ratified new contracts with Ahold, the Dutch-owned parent company. Highlights of the agreements between the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers and Stop & Shop include:
- Immediate bonus pay and hourly raises over the three-year contract;
- increased access to affordable health benefits for part-time workers; and
- strengthening of retirement security for all workers.
Ratification of the contracts stands to benefit Stop & Shop, the workers that have made the company a market-leading success, and communities around New England. When UFCW members unanimously authorized a strike in the event an agreement could not be reached, communities around the region spoke out to keep middle-class jobs in their neighborhoods. While negotiations of this size and complexity are rarely quick or easy, the resulting agreements have secured the future of thousands of New England families as well as the region’s leading grocer.
Stop & Shop workers are represented by UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1459, and 1445.
March 4, 2010
(Washington, D.C.) – When Whole Foods shareholders meet on March 8, 2010, investors will consider actions that would bring greater accountability from Board members. The actions, supported by the most influential investor advisory group, Risk Metrics/ISS, also include a proposal to require a majority vote for shareholder proposals, rather than the current supermajority.
Investors have lost 30% or more by investing in Whole Foods over the last five years. It’s time for a change. The hard work of Whole Foods’ front line workers has been continually undermined by a CEO who is out of touch with customers and is unaccountable to investors. It’s time to reform how Whole Foods is managed and supporting shareholder proposals 3-6, as recommended by Risk Metrics/ISS, will help restore confidence in this troubled company.
Whole Foods sales are lagging in part due to the antics of its CEO who, in the past year, denounced President Obama’s health care reform efforts and publicly denied the science of climate change.
If Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey spent a little less time antagonizing his best customers and more time growing the company, all of Whole Foods’ stakeholders would be better off. The company nearly doubled the number of part-time workers this year. Why is Mackey reducing full-time workers, the very people who add value to the shopping experience.
The proposals supported by the world’s largest shareholder advisory company include proposals to require a majority vote for shareholder proposals, rather than the current supermajority and the reversal of bylaw changes which the Board passed to make it harder for shareholders to hold Board members accountable.
Proposals 3-6 would establish much needed board accountability. The path forward for Whole Foods must involve all its stakeholders, most importantly its customers, investors and associates. Passing these proposals at the March 8th shareholder will move management in a more accountable direction, and that’s what’s needed to help turn around this troubled management.
October 16, 2009
(HILLSBORO, OR) – Fred Meyer, one of the most profitable and popular grocery stores in Oregon, seems intent on damaging its relationship with the employees who make it so successful. According to charges filed by the workers’ union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, the company has interfered with workers while they have been seeking a fair contract at the bargaining table. And yesterday, the Hillsboro store manager at Fred Meyer created a scene when he called police to arrest three union representatives for talking with workers—a right guaranteed to workers under federal law.
One representative was leaving the store when he was arrested, and another, Local 555 President Dan Clay, was driving into the parking lot to find out what was going on when police arrested him.
Union workers at other stores were baffled to hear of the company’s behavior. “We meet with our reps in the store all the time,” said Anne Lilley, a Hillsboro Safeway worker and UFCW Local 555 member. “If we’re not busy, it’s easy to just step aside and take care of an issue quickly with our reps—it’s something that workers in grocery stores do every day, all across the country. I can’t believe that Fred Meyer management would raise a fuss about something so routine.”
Fred Meyer workers feel the company’s behavior has been undeserved and unacceptable. “I just don’t understand Fred Meyer’s actions right now,” said Fred Meyer employee and UFCW Local 555 member Charlotte Hardin. “I mean, we have a right to meet with our union at our workplace, and Fred Meyer knows that. Why this hostile attitude towards our union? It’s just plain disrespectful to Fred Meyer’s employees and customers.”
Hillsboro resident Linda Sears was shopping at Fred Meyer when the disruption occurred. She called the manager’s behavior “unprofessional and unnerving.”
“”Yelling at workers and their union reps,” added Fred Meyer employee and Local 555 member Karyl Feliciano, “and calling the police on our union? Why would Fred Meyer behave like that? That kind of behavior is totally disruptive to our customers, and to their shopping experience. It’s just bad for business.””