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January 24, 2017

UFCW Women’s Network Joins Thousands of Women and Supporters for the Women’s March on Washington

On Jan. 21, members of the UFCW Women’s Network, along with women and men from UFCW locals across the country and Canada, took to the streets in the nation’s capital and many other cities large and small to stand united and show dedication to protecting our rights and the rights of our fellow citizens, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation and identity.

Click the photo below for a slideshow of just a few of the many photos of UFCW members in action:

Women's March on Washington4

December 20, 2016

UFCW Locals Help Pass Minimum Wage, Sick Leave and Scheduling Legislation

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.”

December 14, 2016

UFCW Responds to the Nomination of Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor

 

On Dec. 9, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to the nomination of Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., which is the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food chains.

“The Secretary of Labor’s top priority must be protecting America’s hard-working men and women, not increasing corporate profits. Andy Puzder has been critical of raising the minimum wage and advocated for replacing workers with automated technology. If he is confirmed, the American people will expect him to protect American jobs and most importantly, all workers who have earned and deserve better wages, better benefits, and a better life.”

December 6, 2016

Local 27 Safeway and Giant Workers Raise Starting Pay, Protect Health Care

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Over 7,000 UFCW Local 27 members who work at over 80 Safeway and Giant stores in the Baltimore area ratified new contracts on Nov. 16. Both three-year contracts include higher starting pay, wage progression improvements, no cost increases to employee health insurance, and a plan to secure pensions.

For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with UFCW Local 27; but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, UFCW Local 27 members who work at Safeway and Giant stuck together and engaged with customers and community members for a better contract.

“As always, Giant and Safeway bargaining presents unique challenges that, coupled with the cost of health and pensions, along with increased competition in retail food, made these negotiations more challenging than ever,” said UFCW Local 27 President George Murphy. “But with the hard work and cooperation of the staff of both Local 27 and Local 400, we were able to come up with an agreement that protects and improves our contract, as well as keeping the employer competitive in an ever-changing market.”  

 

December 6, 2016

Local 23 Giant Eagle Workers Join the Fight for $15 National Day of Action

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Members of UFCW Local 23 who work at Giant Eagle joined the Fight for $15 National Day of Action in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. The Giant Eagle workers are calling on the company to give all workers at all Giant Eagle stores merit raises so that their wages can be brought up to a $15 per hour minimum, chain-wide. The workers are also asking Giant Eagle to give those employees who already make more than $15 per hour an additional $1.50 pay raise.

Three UFCW Local 23 members who work at Giant Eagle were arrested for civil disobedience during the rally.

“When I started working at Giant Eagle in 1970, I made the equivalent of $15.80 per hour,” said Sonny Linden, one of the Giant Eagle workers who was arrested. “Workers made living wages and we could support our families. Employees hired today can’t possibly raise a family on the starting rate of $8.25. Successful employers all over the country—including some here in Pittsburgh—are already committed to $15 per hour. Giant Eagle can do better.”

You can watch UFCW Local 23 members at the Fight for $15 National Day of Action here.

November 24, 2016

President Perrone Calls for Unity in Thanksgiving Op-Ed

UFCW International President Marc Perrone spoke out on behalf of America’s workers in an op-ed featured in The Hill on Thanksgiving. The following is an except. To read the whole piece, please go to The Hill:

Through hard work and dedication, our 1.3 million members help millions of Americans celebrate the special moments in their lives. Our members are also able to earn a better life for their families with the help of valuable contracts that honor their hard work and dedication. By being part of a union family and standing together, our members earn better wages, benefits and schedules.

Their training and devotion offer real value to employers and the customers they serve. And when they work on holidays, like Thanksgiving, it is not under threat or duress, but with the realization that such sacrifice deserves something extra, like holiday pay.

Sadly, there are those in the political world and corporate America who may see the right to earn a better life, or to spend time with family even on one of our most sacred holidays, as a threat to their businesses. Truth be told, such thinking is a symptom of what is so fundamentally wrong and unfair in America’s economy.

Over the last 16 years, as inequality has grown and wages have stagnated, the wealthiest few have become wealthier. At a time when America needs good jobs, it is nonunion companies like Walmart that buy more Chinese goods than any other company in this nation. They even try to fool our elected leaders into thinking they care about creating American jobs.

The fact is that millions of hard-working Americans, especially those in retail, endure low wages, schedules that make it impossible to go to school or take care of a family, and the risk that one sickness or injury will send them to financial ruin because of their lack of health benefits.

America’s workers and families deserve better.

November 7, 2016

RWDSU/UFCW Members Help Get Out the Vote in Philadelphia

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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

Local 367 Members Show Support for UFCW-Endorsed Candidate for State Legislature

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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

UFCW Joins Efforts to Preserve Hard-Working Americans’ Basic Rights

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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

Local 1208 and United Way Partner to Provide Hurricane Matthew Relief to Members and Their Families

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Last month, UFCW Local 1208 partnered with United Way of Robeson County to distribute much needed food to members across southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. The event, which was held at the Family Dollar in Lumberton, provided assistance to over 150 workers and their families. Members of UFCW Local 204, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and corporate partners like Kroger and Kellogg’s, also donated items to help Local 1208 members and their families.

Stephanie Franklin, a member of Local 1208 who has worked at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel for more than 11 years and lives in Lumberton, was one of the recipients.

“The whole area was affected by Hurricane Matthew,” Franklin said. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and this was one of the worst storms I’ve seen. My son is four years old, and we were stuck in our trailer for two days during the storm and we didn’t have enough food or water. Our trailer is up high, but the bathroom ceiling caved in a little bit and the water was still up to my waist.”

“The relief effort meant a lot and shows that Local 1208 is there for you. I appreciate everything they gave me and my son,” Franklin said. “We’re slowly getting back to normal.”

“Hurricane Matthew brought incredible hardship to our friends and neighbors, and it is times like these that we must come together to help those in need” said Ella Ellerbe, who has worked in packaging at Smithfield for ten years. “Our union family, working with our partners, are proud to help our local members and their families get the food assistance they need. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our members recover from this storm because no hard-working family should ever have to struggle alone.”

UFCW Local 1208 worked with Smithfield Foods to ensure that everyone at the plant in Tar Heel received a full week’s pay when Hurricane Matthew struck, regardless of actual time on the job. Members of Local 1208 have contributed more than $10,000 to United Way of Robeson County to help their community recover from Hurricane Matthew.