News and Updates
Legislation and Politics
November 6, 2017
The “Better Deal” proposal on collective bargaining seeks to create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract. The proposal strengthens penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combats misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors. The proposal also strengthens the right of workers to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions, bans state laws that undermine worker freedoms to join together and negotiate, and provides millions of public employees with the freedom to join a union and collectively bargain with their employers.
The proposal also seeks to streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations, protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings, and use federal purchasing power and policy to help expand opportunities to negotiate.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“We must build an economy that works for all – not just those at the top. By strengthening the collective voice and negotiating rights of workers, the better deal proposal on collective bargaining begins to do just that.
“Our hope is that every member of Congress will support these more modern workplace policies because this is about more than unions, this is about helping their constituents and all hard-working men and women who have earned the right to a better life.”
October 30, 2017
On Oct. 26, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092), which puts American jobs and the safety of our food at risk. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 17-16 on October 25.
This bill will allow 450,000 visa holders to work in agriculture and meat processing jobs, and encourage irresponsible employers to displace American workers. Rather than require that new H-2C workers be paid at similar rates so that they cannot be used to displace workers and drive down wages, the bill simply requires that employers attempt to recruit workers at $10.88 per hour. If U.S. workers don’t apply at that wage rate, the employer would be authorized to bring in hundreds, or even thousands, of guestworkers at the $10.88 figure—a fraction of what meat and poultry workers in America currently earn.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“The Agricultural Guestworker Act is a direct threat to American jobs, wages, and food safety.
“It will flood the meat processing sector with hundreds of thousands of untrained visa holders, effectively destroying middle class jobs that are currently held by hard-working American families who play a critical role in the safety of our food.
“This bill will also make it easier for guestworkers to be exploited and encourages them to take on work that is demonstrably unsafe without years of training.
“Any member of the House who cares about protecting good American jobs and wages will do the right thing and oppose the Agricultural Guestworker Act.”
October 2, 2017
On Sept. 23, UFCW Local 770, in partnership with the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and Central American Resource Center, held a workshop to assist members with the the two-year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal application process. The workshop, which was held at the Ricardo F. Icaza Workers Center in Huntington Park, California, is part of UFCW Local 770’s effort to provide financial assistance so that qualified union members can renew their DACA applications before the October 5, 2017 deadline.
“I feel very happy and very appreciative for this opportunity,” said Silvia, a young DACA recipient and daughter of a UFCW Local 770 member, who attended the workshop. “It relieves me of a lot of stress because the renewal was pretty expensive.”
“They helped us with the immigration fee and completing the application process. They pretty much helped with everything,” she added.
After renewing her work permit through DACA, Silvia plans to attend medical school. “I’m very excited about being able to renew my status, to continue working and try to go back to school,” she said.
According to President Trump’s announcement on Sept. 5, the Department of Homeland Security will stop accepting new DACA applications from people who don’t already have DACA. People who already have DACA, and whose work permits expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, will be able to apply for a two-year renewal if their application is received by October 5, 2017.
Additional information about UFCW Local 770’s DACA program is available here.
September 11, 2017
On September 7, 15 members of the UFCW Women’s Network from 11 different states visited with members of Congress to discuss issues that impact hard-working families. One member flew in from as far as California, and Valencia, a member from Florida, made the trip despite the chaos created by Hurricane Irma.
Women make up nearly half of the workforce, and many families need two incomes to make ends meet. With the responsibilities of taking care of kids or helping sick family members, having all the support women can get is critical to helping them and their families build the better lives they’ve earned and deserve.
The Women’s Network discussed the FAMILY Act, The Schedules That Work Act, and the importance of affordable health care with members of Congress.
The FAMILY Act would provide paid family leave to all Americans, and will make sure that hard-working people are able to take care of themselves and their loved ones no matter where they live, what job they have, or who they work for.
The Schedules That Work Act provides retail, food service, and cleaning workers with two weeks advanced notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they’re sent home from work before completing their entire shift.
It’s essential for women to have affordable health care options. High health care costs are an especially large burden for low-income women who regularly need health services, but who struggle to pay premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Making sure that all women have access to quality, affordable care will strengthen millions of American families.
Having women’s voices at the table is critical to building a better workforce that works for all.
Valencia, from UFCW Local 1625 in Florida, explained the power of showing up to speak face-to-face with members of Congress. “I’m a mother of three, and I understand that twelve weeks of unpaid leave is unreasonable for a single-income household,” she said. “That’s why I’m here to talk to my Congress member. It’s important to speak out about these issues and for them to hear directly from us.”
September 5, 2017
On Sept. 5, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the Trump Administration’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.
The statement reads as follows:
“President Trump’s decision to end DACA is cold-hearted, cruel, and a betrayal of what America stands for.
“Hundreds of thousands of young, hard-working men and women who love America will now be needlessly punished for childhood circumstances. These young people have grown up in this country, passed background checks, pay taxes, go to school, and have worked hard to build a better America. They have earned and deserve fair treatment, but instead their lives are being thrown into chaos with this announcement.
“President Trump’s decision will not make America great again; rather, it will tear families apart, damage communities, and further fuel a terrible divide that is already hurting the nation we all love.
“On behalf of the 1.3 million members of our union family, we urge all Members of Congress to immediately do what is right and protect these Dreamers.”
On Sept. 6, the UFCW distributed a memo to UFCW Locals regarding the status of DACA.
The memo reads as follows:
TO: ALL UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS LOCAL UNIONS
As many of you know, on September 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a phased ending to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The following outlines important details and information for our locals to discuss with affected members.
What will end immediately?
No new DACA applications will be accepted as of September 5, 2017.
No new applications for employment authorization will be accepted after September 5, 2017.
There will be no approval of advance parole, which allows temporary leave from the U.S. and lawful reentry into U.S., for DACA recipients as of September 5, 2017.
What about DACA will continue to be processed?
Initial DACA applications and employment authorization requests that are already filed as of September 5, 2017 will be processed.
Applications for renewal of DACA and work authorization for current beneficiaries whose status expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 will be processed if they are received by DHS within the next 30 days by October 5, 2017. If granted, the recipient will remain in status for the validity period which typically has been two years.
Applications for DACA renewal and work authorization filed after October 5, 2017 shall be rejected.
What is the status of current DACA recipients?
Current DACA recipients and Employment Authorization Document holders will continue in the DACA status with work authorization for the duration of the two-year validity periods.
DACA recipients with currently approved advance parole will be allowed to temporarily leave for the validity period granted. However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) still retains discretion to deny reentry at the border.
What is the current status of enforcement when DACA expires?
DACA information provided to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process DACA applications will not be proactively shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or CBP.
For more information, contact the UFCW Legal Department at (202) 466-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.