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 21, 2017
Pearl Sawyer, pictured on right, speaking at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women parellel event sponsored by the Scottish Women’s Convention in New York City.
On March 17, Pearl Sawyer, executive vice president of UFCW Canada Local 1006A, served as the keynote speaker at a U.N. Commission on the Status of Women parallel event sponsored by the Scottish Women’s Convention in New York City. Sawyer presented a paper on behalf of UNI Global Union and UNI Equal Opportunities on the digitalization of work and the effect on gender.
One of the key findings presented was that 47 percent of current jobs being performed across the globe are amenable to being potentially computerized. The types of jobs that will be affected by digitalization will have a direct impact on positions held by women.
The effects of this will require workers to invest in further training and lifelong learning. Unfortunately, this can pose a challenge for women as they can neither afford it due social, cultural and economic barriers, or they cannot fit this need with their family duties and their need to work.
Digitalization of work will also lead to a widening of the technology gap. However, a study from the World Bank predicts that if we double the pace at which women become frequent users of digital technologies, the workplace could reach gender equality by 2040 in developed nations, and by 2060 in developing nations.
After outlining the effects of digitalization on work and gender, Sawyer then addressed the need for solutions: “So what can we do? At UNI Equal Opportunities, we want to be prepared for what lies ahead. We know that it is a daunting, and sometimes frightening scenario, but if we are ready, this challenge can become an excellent opportunity to grow and learn. And to be ready, we need a strategy, a plan. We need to be resourceful, we need to be prepared.”
With the right skills and education, people, particularly women, can use technology to create and capture value. Creative, problem-solving, and social skills will be key skills in the 21st century, especially in those areas where computers are still challenged to match human proficiency.
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.
February 16, 2017
On Feb. 16, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to the thousands of employees and employers across the country who stood together during “A Day Without Immigrants” to call attention to the vital role immigrants play in every community.
“Immigrants make incredible contributions to our lives, communities, and country each day. Today, we are asking Americans to honor that contribution and pay attention to what is at stake.
“From the beginning of this nation, immigrant workers from all over the world have come to this country to work hard and build a better life. Yet, many workers, and many UFCW members continue to suffer from the effects of our broken immigration system.
“Our union family has seen firsthand the damage that irresponsible employers can cause through exploitative labor practices that hurt immigrants, and drive down wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers. It is time for Congressional leaders to finally see and hear the calls for change and put forth common-sense immigration reform that will end this crisis.”
February 16, 2017
On Feb. 16, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to President Trump’s selection of Alexander Acosta as his next choice for Secretary of Labor.
“If confirmed as Secretary of Labor, Mr. Acosta’s top priority will be protecting the rights of all men and women. Hard-working families need and deserve a labor secretary who will push for and implement policies that will turn the tide against declining wages and rising income inequality.
“It’s critical for the person running the Department of Labor to be willing and able to be a champion for all workers, including our members, who deserve and have earned a better life. In the coming days and weeks, we will be reviewing Mr. Acosta’s positions and past statements to see how they’ve impacted UFCW members, their families and all hard-working men and women.”
January 24, 2017
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:
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.”
December 14, 2016
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
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.”