News and Updates
October 14, 2016
Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it is closing three stores in three different cities (Lamesa, Texas; Brownfield, Texas; and Columbia, Mo.) with very little notice.
“This callous move by Walmart will leave hundreds of workers without jobs and hundreds of families without paychecks,” said Jess Levin, communications director of MCAW. “Walmart has said that people are the most important part of their business. However, this recent news proves that, for Walmart, nothing is more important than profits: not workers, not customers, not anyone. These closings, much like the 269 store closings earlier this year, will not only impact Walmart workers, they will affect these entire communities. ”
In early 2016, Walmart announced that it was closing 154 U.S. stores, which, according to The Washington Post, disproportionately affected lower-income, rural areas.
September 30, 2016
On Sept. 21, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it paid over $200 million in quarterly bonuses to over 900,000 of its hourly employees who work in stores that met the retail giant’s goals of cleanliness, faster checkout and better service. The average bonus per Walmart employee was around $200.
“Walmart is happy to boast when they decide to give workers a very small share of one of the world’s largest company’s earnings, but when it comes down to facts, Walmart continues to mislead,” said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW.
“What Walmart doesn’t tell you is that in order to get this bonus, workers must complete amonths-long training program that is often implemented with ‘buggy and outdated technology.’ In fact, in order to also receive the $10 an hour minimum wage that Walmart promotes, completion of this tedious program is required. We hear from Walmart workers every day that have been making less than $10 an hour for months. These workers will also be excluded from the quarterly bonus, and we believe they deserve better.”
September 28, 2016
Sixteen Aramark workers at Beaver Area School District Food Services in Beaver, Pa., voted overwhelmingly to join UFCW Local 23 on Sept. 15. Aramark is a global food service, facilities, and uniform services provider.
These new members stood up to Aramark’s anti-union campaign, including captive audience meetings and literature that used intimidating language, and formed their union. Issues of concern to the workers included the need for respect on the job, fair wages, seniority rights, proper staffing, and retirement benefits.
“Workers are winning,” said UFCW Local 23 Organizer Julie Curry.
“These workers know that if they work together, they can make their jobs great jobs,” said UFCW Local 23 Director of Organizing Richard Granger. “We’re glad they’ve joined the Local 23 family and we’ll be working with them as they make the change they want to see.”
August 11, 2016
On July 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Pilgrim’s Pride for nearly two dozen safety and health hazards, including the failure to make medical referrals for workers with workplace injuries in a timely manner. This is the first time a poultry company has been cited for medical mismanagement of work-related injuries.
The UFCW issued the following statement in response to the citations:
“We are disappointed to see yet another example of poultry workers being mistreated and forced to endure harsh working conditions,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Unions provide poultry workers with one of the best ways to improve their safety on the job because we create an environment where people know their rights and feel empowered to speak up. We make sure that workers can advocate for their well-being without the fear of being fired. As we strive to improve poultry industry jobs, we applaud OSHA for actively supporting the right of every worker to have a safe workplace.”
August 8, 2016
Proposed Contract Goes to Members for Ratification Vote August 8th
UFCW grocery workers in California reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Kroger Company and Cerberus Capital, the owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons, respectively.
After intense negotiations following the imposition of an August 8th deadline by seven California locals of the UFCW, the federal mediator helped guide the parties to a proposed contract.
“We are happy to say that five months after our previous contract expired, the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons have agreed to a proposed contract,” said Rick Icaza, one of the chief negotiators for the UFCW and the President of one of the largest UFCW locals in the country. “This would not have been possible without the strength and solidarity of all the 50,000 grocery workers throughout central and southern California, the cooperation of the seven California UFCW locals and the UFCW International Union. We also owe deep thanks to the support of consumers and community leaders. Because of the unshakable unity of our membership, we were able to bring these negotiations to a conclusion, and will present the offer to membership for ratification on Monday, August 8th.”
“While we are unable to divulge the details of the agreement until we inform our members, we would like to thank the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh and Commissioner Isael Hermosillo, without whom this agreement would not have been possible,” said John Grant, SecretaryTreasurer of Local 770. “We believe this contract will address our members’ concerns and begin to secure the important role grocery workers play in our community.”
The previous contract covering nearly 50,000 central and southern California grocery workers expired nearly five months ago. Since then, grocery workers have worked without a contract, staging numerous rallies, marches, and events designed to bring attention to their fight and to bring the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons to the table. Last Tuesday, thousands of grocery workers, community members, clergy, and fellow union members marched across Los Angeles to demand a conclusion to negotiations.
UFCW grocery workers across central and southern California will gather to review the details of the contract and vote on the offer. Results of the vote will be released when voting is complete by the seven UFCW locals.
July 22, 2016
Adapted from DOL Blog
For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.
Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.
No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.
Luckily, there are very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.
Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levels,unsafe equipment, and slippery floors.
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.
These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the Midwest, Southern, and Southeast states. Their goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.
With UFCW representation, these workers also have better odds because they have a voice on the job, and can speak up when they see unsafe conditions without fear of retribution. We often work with OSHA to ensure our poultry workers continue to work at safe jobs.
Learn more about their work to protect poultry processing workers.
July 15, 2016
In March, employees at eight Giant stores represented by Local 400 – six in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area and two in Southern Maryland – were told their stores would be put up for sale as part of the merger between Giant’s Netherlands based parent company Ahold and Belgium based grocery store Delhaize. These proposed store sales threatened the better wages, benefits and grocery store experience that the Giant stores provide to the local community.
Which is why Local 400 members who work at Giant, their loyal customers and community leaders banded together to help make people see that selling these stores was a bad idea. Through a series of rallies, public meetings and marches, they sent a clear message that the local community didn’t want these grocery stores and the good jobs they provide to be sold away.
“I’m glad that Giant did the right thing in the end and I’m proud to be a part of a union and a community that would not give up the good jobs and grocery options Giant brings to this area,” said Robyn Wheeler, a Local 400 member who has worked at Giant in Fredericksburg City for 37 years.
In addition to organizing public events that drew attention to the negative aspects of the proposal to sell the local grocery stores, Local 400 members also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and their local elected officials to express concerns about the impact on wages, benefits and competition.
Treesa Shipp, a Local 400 member who works at the Giant in Stafford said, “Because we have a strong union we had a voice in this process and were able to stop our store from being sold. They could not ignore us, the employees who built this company and work hard to make it successful every single day.”
July 5, 2016
On June 23, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), along with The Black Institute, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, and ColorOfChange.org, sent a letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon that calls on the retail giant to withdraw its sponsorship of the 2016 Republican National Convention due to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s history of racist, misogynistic, anti-veteran, and Islamophobic remarks. A full copy of the letter can be viewed here.
“Walmart cannot afford to stay silent when it comes to Donald Trump,” said Jess Levin, communications director at MCAW. “Throughout his presidential campaign, he has managed to offend men and women of all races and religions and across the political spectrum with his racist, misogynistic, anti-veteran and Islamophobic statements. These are Walmart customers and Walmart employees. Walmart needs to send a message that it will not support bigotry, and join the growing list of companies who are refusing to sponsor this year’s Republican National Convention.”
MCAW has launched an online petition where supporters can sign on to the letter. To date, over 10,000 supporters have signed the petition.
May 24, 2016
Last week, dozens of Stop & Shop union members, staff, and community members from New England UFCW locals went out to Stop & Shop stores as part of a Customer Appreciation Day to celebrate the customers whose support helped win a strong union contract for over 35,000 Stop & Shop union members throughout New England and the over 1,500 members in western Massachusetts.
Stop & Shop union members worked without a contract for over two months. During this period, thousands of customers signed petitions in support of a fair contract, made countless calls to the company asking them to offer a fair deal to hard working union members, and made their opinions known in the stores in favor of a good contract.
With their support, our bargaining committee was able to negotiate collectively for:
• 480 New Full-Time Jobs
• Fair & Predictable Scheduling so that we can spend time with our families and provide for our families
• Fair Pay and a path to $15 for all full-time employees
• Affordable Healthcare for our families
Matt Szulborski, Organizing Director of UFCW Local 1459 said, in gratitude to customers, “Working families coming together on the job and in the community helped win a better life for Stop & Shop union members. Thank you for all your support and help. I believe with a voice at work and communities coming together, all working people can gain a better life.”
May 13, 2016
Oxfam reports unionized poultry workers have better workplace protection; non-unionized poultry workers in Pampers
– Yesterday’s Washington Post Wonk Blog post “I had to wear Pampers’: The cruel reality the people who bring you cheap chicken allegedly endure,” highlighted inhuman working conditions within the poultry industry, as documented by a new Oxfam report.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), represents thousands of workers in the poultry industry. UFCWreleased the following statement today in response to the story and subsequent news coverage:
“The indignity with which poultry workers are being treated in America has to stop. Workers need to know they have a right to organize and that organized workers have more opportunities to protect themselves from this type of abuse.
“The headline is salacious, but the heart of the matter is that unionized workers can speak freely about dangerous working conditions without fear of retaliation. This leads to a healthier and more productive work environment and a safer product for consumers.”
From the Oxfam Report No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in the Poultry Industry (page 3):
In the course of hundreds of interviews, only a handful of workers reported that their bathroom needs are respected. These exceptions are primarily in plants that have unions, which offer important protections, inform workers of their rights, and ensure they have a voice on the job. Unionized workers report that they feel comfortable leaving or stopping the line when their requests are denied for too long. Roughly a third of the poultry workforce is unionized, leaving most workers without these crucial protections.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.