April 3, 2017
More than 70 members from UFCW Locals 75 and 1059 went to Columbus, Ohio, on March 29 to speak with state legislators about the harmful effects of “work for less” laws.
A “work for less” bill was introduced in Ohio in February of this year, but so far it hasn’t gained any traction and legislative leaders in both parties have openly questioned the need for it. UFCW members like Bill Finnegan, who works at Campbell’s Soup in Napoleon, Ohio, are a big reason why “work for less” legislation hasn’t had enough support to pass.
“This is my second lobby day and I chose to come here today to speak with my representatives and senators about the issues that impact the lives of my family and friends,” said Finnegan. “The top concern on that list right now is ‘work for less’ legislation because it would weaken the power and voice of workers all across Ohio.”
In meetings throughout the day with state legislators, UFCW members explained how “work for less” legislation directly threatens every hard-working family, whether they’re part of a union or not. Multiple representatives and senators remarked afterwards that hearing personal stories from people about why they’re so concerned about “work for less” legislation was much more effective than simply showing them the usual facts and graphs.
After the last meeting wrapped up, Finnegan talked about why he enjoyed participating in lobby days and other similar events.
“Getting to do stuff like this and meeting other members of our union are why I really enjoy being a part of UFCW,” he said. “Oftentimes after we hold events like this people will come up to me at work and ask how they can be a steward or become even more involved. Days like today make us realize that we have numbers and with that comes power.”
April 3, 2017
On March 28, UFCW Local 1625 held a lobby day in Tallahassee, Fla., with members who work in hospitals and nursing homes as nurses and nursing assistants. The day gave UFCW Local 1625 members the opportunity to speak with state legislators about SB 676 and HB 7, harmful bills in both chambers that would eliminate Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. The CON program requires health care facilities to have state approval before offering new or expanded services. This process ensures all communities have equal access to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other facilities.
Gloria Rainey, a UFCW Local 1625 member who works at a nursing home in Jacksonville, Fla., spoke passionately about why she chose to attend the lobby day.
“More than anything, I wanted to be here to give the residents we care for a voice,” said Rainey. “These bad bills won’t just hurt our jobs, they would also give patients less of a chance to find high quality health care.”
One of the biggest concerns about eliminating the CON review process is that it would allow the opening of new facilities who would only accept private insurance. The result would be a two-tiered health system in Florida – one for wealthy patients and one for everyone else – that would raise costs and lower the quality of care.
As the day came to a close, Rainey reflected on how much she enjoyed participating in the lobby day.
“The UFCW allows me and my coworkers to have a stronger voice,” she said. “I love being a part of a team of people who have each other’s backs and supports one another. Being a member has helped me find my voice. Today I got to speak with my state senator and give my input on issues that will affect my livelihood and community. I was nervous at first, but once I started speaking about the issues how I saw them, I realized that my senator was listening and really taking in my opinion. We were taken seriously today and it felt good.”
March 27, 2017
Last week, more than 35 UFCW Local 400 members went to the U.S. Capitol to discuss the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, immigration raids, and national “work for less” legislation with members of Congress from Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Isoline Pistolessi, a UFCW Local 400 shop steward at Kaiser Permanente’s Falls Church Care Center, brought her firsthand experience with the Affordable Care Act directly to lawmakers.
“I’ve seen patients who just got health insurance for the first time; that’s what enabled them to come in and get care,” Pistolessi said. “We can’t take that away from them. We need to make health care more affordable, not less.”
Pistolessi also offered a personal account about why immigration raids are so damaging.
“My family came to this country from the Dominican Republic when I was six years old,” she said. “My father was going to be assassinated and came here as a political exile. Before we left, our neighbors were raided and it was very scary—I could hear the screaming. No one should ever have to go through that—especially here in the U.S.”
“I became a U.S. citizen eight years ago,” she noted. “I had to work really hard to get my citizenship. We need to make it possible for others to follow the same path.”
Andy Keeney, who works at Kroger in West Virginia, spoke with several senators and representatives about why a national “work for less” law would be such a bad idea. “In my meetings, I just explained how strong unions help every community in America,” Keeney said. “We bring people a voice in their workplace, better wages, better working conditions, better health care – a national “work for less” law would only make it more difficult for people to earn those good things.”
As the day came to a close, UFCW Local 400 members were happy with how their meetings went and were excited that they were able to bring a big crowd in UFCW blue and gold to the halls of power.
“My favorite part about today was showing senators and representatives that we’re a strong, unified group,” said Anita Carpenter, who works at Kroger in West Virginia. “When we come here all together, it gives us a larger voice to speak about the issues we care about – like better wages and better working conditions. Participating in opportunities like this are really important.”
March 6, 2017
On March 3, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum spoke at a rally in front of New York City Hall in support of Intro. 1387, legislation that will ban on-call scheduling practices in the retail industry. On-call scheduling disrupts workers’ lives by requiring them to be available to work certain hours even if they are not scheduled to work and won’t get paid. Appelbaum also testified at the New York City Council’s hearing in support of the ban.
“On-call scheduling is a pervasive and exploitive employment practice where workers do not find out until just before a scheduled shift if they will be required to work or not,” Appelbaum said. “On-call scheduling is devastating for retail workers. You need to put your life on hold and be available for work – regardless of whether you will be called-in or paid. If you are a part-time worker, the uncertainty of your schedule means you can’t arrange for a needed second job. If you are a parent, you don’t know if you are going to need child care. If you want to continue your schooling, you can’t sign up for classes without knowing your availability.”
“Today’s hearings are a critical first step in helping workers gain more control over their own lives and their ability to earn a living,” Appelbaum added. “I urge the city council to pass Intro. 1387 swiftly.”
February 24, 2017
As the DNC prepares to elect new leadership, UFCW International President Marc Perrone penned an op-ed in U.S. News & World Report that explains why Tom Perez is the best candidate for hard-working men and women. A key excerpt is below:
The success of the Democratic Party will come down to its ability to do one thing: put hard-working families first.
Tom Perez understands the realities faced by hard-working men and women across America who deserve and have earned a better life. Our union family experienced this firsthand when he was Secretary of Labor during the Obama administration. We saw his passion and commitment to improving the lives of workers when he joined with us to push for better working conditions at our nation’s poultry plants, where workplace safety and health is a key concern.
The truth is that too many good people, from all backgrounds, are struggling to make ends meet and they’re tired of it.
In order for the Democratic Party to help these families and connect with these voters, their message and how they communicate must change. They must do a better job of speaking to voters’ economic needs and social wants, and they must mobilize people who do not see the clear difference between political parties. We believe Tom Perez can do that.
You can read the full op-ed online on the U.S. News & World Report website.
December 20, 2016
This year, UFCW locals played a major role in passing legislation that helps working families.
In June, UFCW Local 881 helped to pass the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance by 48-0, which will extend earned sick leave to over 450,000 workers in Chicago. The ordinance will most dramatically benefit 42 percent of Chicago’s private sector workforce who currently lack paid sick leave.“On behalf of the 8,000 hardworking members of Local 881 UFCW who live and work in every neighborhood of Chicago, I commend the 48 supportive voting members of the Chicago City Council for passing the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance,” said UFCW Local 881 President Ron Powell. “In 2015, voters in every ward of Chicago overwhelmingly supported extending earned sick leave to working families who are one flu season away from losing their job and economic hardship. We are pleased today that the City Council listened to the working people of Chicago! This is a historic step for our city and a victory for workers and our communities.”
UFCW Local 881 was the founding member of the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, a partnership of community, public health, faith, women’s advocacy, and labor organizations that worked together to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick Leave Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017.
Also in June, San Diego passed legislation that will immediately increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and then to $11.50 an hour in January. This bill also provides five days of annual paid sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 135 played an important role in the fight for this legislation, which will help hard-working men, women and their families in the San Diego area and improve public health.
This legislation immediately gives a boost to 170,000 workers in the city of San Diego, where many minimum wage employees work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
This new minimum wage increase was a long time coming. Back in 2014, the San Diego City Council voted in favor of raising the minimum wage. However, shortly thereafter, the mayor vetoed it, the city council overrode it and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce stepped in with petitions for a ballot initiative, which halted raises for the working poor for more than two years.
UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian spoke before the San Diego City Council in favor of raising the minimum wage, and UFCW Local 135 staff phone banked and knocked on doors to get the ballot initiative passed. This victory is the result of an effort, by a diverse coalition led by RaiseUp San Diego, to ensure that no one who works full-time in San Diego is forced to live in poverty.
“The historic passage of an increase in minimum wage and earned sick days for San Diego workers signals a clear turning of the tide in San Diego,” said UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian. “In the end, a million dollar campaign from out-of-town hotel and restaurant lobbyists and a veto from Mayor Faulconer could not stop San Diegans from voting their conscience. Hopefully, this will alleviate the struggles for workers who make tough decisions like whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.”
In September, the St. Paul City Council passed the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance by a vote of 7-0, joining Minneapolis and dozens of other cities nationwide that mandate earned sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 1189 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
“The ability to earn and use sick time in the city of St. Paul is a huge step toward creating healthier workplaces and healthier lives,” said UFCW Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen. “I am proud of the tireless work done by our state’s unions. Bennie Hesse, Local 1189 legislative and political director, was a leader in the crusade, working with Union Steward (and Executive Board Member) Dennis Reeves to provide important testimony to the city council on the need for paid sick and safe time for grocery workers.”
Members of UFCW Local 1189 served on a task force put together by the city council and mayor for a year and worked with a coalition of advocates and other labor groups to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017 for businesses in St. Paul with at least 24 employees. Smaller businesses will have to comply by Jan. 1, 2018.
Also in September, Seattle’s City Council passed a historic Secure Scheduling Ordinance by a vote of 9-0. The new scheduling law will require all retail, grocery and food businesses in Seattle with 500 or more employees to provide their employees with their work schedules two weeks in advance and offer existing part-time employees more hours before hiring more workers. The law will also provide workers with a right to request desired shifts, compensation for last minute scheduling changes, and prohibit back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Members of UFCW Local 21 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
UFCW Local 21 members testified at every city council hearing, lobbied their elected officials, made hundreds of phone calls, and participated in numerous actions. Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017.
“Now that we won secure scheduling, I’ll have basic economic security and good workplace scheduling practices,” said Christiano Steele, a UFCW Local 21 grocery worker. “It will allow me to not have to struggle to make ends meet and have a reasonable work-life balance.”
November 7, 2016
RWDSU/UFCW members traveled from New York City to Philadelphia to help get out the vote on Nov. 5. RWDSU/UFCW members reminded voters in the City of Brotherly Love that Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and helped them find their polling places. The activists reminded voters about the importance of this election, and how crucial it is that workers have a president who shares their concerns in the White House.
You can watch a video about the get out the vote effort here.
November 7, 2016
On Oct. 18, during their annual shop steward conference in Tacoma, Wash., UFCW Local 367 members took the time to write postcards encouraging members to vote for Michelle Chatterton for the State House of Representatives for the 25th Legislative District. Twenty members were able to collectively write nearly 200 post cards in 20 minutes for the UFCW-endorsed candidate.
November 7, 2016
On Nov. 2, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement in response to the filing of North Carolina NAACP vs. North Carolina Board of Elections, the latest in a long line of lawsuits seeking to preserve access to voting for all Americans. The NAACP filed the lawsuit which argues that state officials have removed a disproportionate number of African American voter registrations in at least three counties in North Carolina.
“Every American has the right to vote, and access to the ballot box is the foundation of our democracy. Efforts to deny that right disproportionately affect hard-working Americans who are too busy caring for their families and earning a living to fight cheap, vote-suppressing tactics.
“We’re passionate about ensuring every voter has their voice heard in our election, no matter who they support. If you want to win an election – go out and persuade people to support you. Don’t try to use dirty tricks to prevent those who disagree with you from voting. That’s un-American.”
The UFCW has stood up for the civil rights of all Americans throughout the union’s 125 year history, and is a frequent participant in civil rights litigation. Most recently, the UFCW was a plaintiff in Valle del Sol vs. Arizona, in which we fought to preserve the rights of immigrants.
November 1, 2016
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) kicked off the “Trump’s Values Are Walmart’s Values” National Week of Action on Oct. 22 with a rally in Cincinnati, and events in Washington, D.C, Anaheim, St. Paul, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, and New York City, to call on Walmart to stop selling Trump products. The rallies were held in partnership with UFCW Locals 75, 99, 324, 400, 540, 653, 1000, 1189 and 1546, as well as Walmart-Free NYC. Additionally, MCAW sent a letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon asking the world’s largest retailer to break its silence on Trump’s hateful rhetoric.
“Walmart refused to denounce Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to the Republican convention, and since then, he’s only gotten worse,” said Jess Levin, communications director at MCAW. “First there was the inexcusable and vile Access Hollywood tape, and now there is a growing list of women accusing Trump of sexual assault. Walmart cannot stay silent any longer. They need to send a message to their customers and employees that it does not support this candidate, and it does not support his behavior. Walmart should stop selling products that promote Trump online and in stores.”
You can view photos from each rally here. A full copy of MCAW’s letter to Doug McMillon can be viewed here.