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August 11, 2016

UFCW Applauds OSHA for Standing Up for Poultry Workers

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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 9, 2016

Enter the 1st Annual UFCW Labor Day Art Contest!

Every year, we celebrate Labor Day to honor working people and all their contributions to our country and its middle class. The UFCW is made up of hard-working men and women who serve in our communities at retail and grocery stores, meatpacking and processing plants, and countless other facilities across multiple industries.

This year, the UFCW International is hosting its first ever Labor Day art contest, to celebrate working people with something made by working people!

UFCW members and their children are eligible to enter an original work of art to be in the running for a $500 Visa gift card AND have their artwork framed and displayed at the DC labor Fest in the fall! The winning piece will also be available for all UFCW locals and members at our online UFCW Store. Two runners up will receive $50 Visa gift cards, as well.

To enter, send us a high resolution photo image of your art at www.ufcw.org/contest. Your submission must have a Labor Day theme.

The deadline to submit is August 25th, and winners will be notified by August 29th.

This is your chance to showcase what you think Labor Day is all about while showing off your creative skills—we can’t wait to see what you can do!labordaycontest

August 8, 2016

Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Deal with Ralphs, Vons/Albertsons

Proposed Contract Goes to Members for Ratification Vote August 8th

Oscar Gonzalez, a Ralphs produce worker in Hollywood, marches with grocery workers and supporters Tuesday to demand a new contract. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Oscar Gonzalez, a Ralphs produce worker in Hollywood, marches with grocery workers and supporters Tuesday to demand a new contract. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

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.

 

 

August 2, 2016

District of Columbia Set to Enact $15 Minimum Wage

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Reposted from UFCW Local 400

 

Nation’s capital will join Seattle and San Francisco to become third major city to enact $15 minimum wage

On Tuesday, July 21, the District of Columbia City Council passed historic legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour in a major victory for the “Fight For $15” movement. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has pledged to sign the bill, which will make the nation’s capital the third major city to pass a $15 minimum wage, along with Seattle and San Francisco.

The $15 hourly wage could impact as many as 114,000 working people in the District, or around 14 percent of the city’s workforce, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.

On July 1st, the city’s minimum wage will increase from $10.50/hour to $11.50/hour under previous legislation championed by Local 400 and others. The new bill will provide annual increases to the minimum wage beginning in 2017 until it reaches $15/hour in 2020. After that, it will be adjusted for inflation each year.

Yearly Minimum Wage Increases in Washington, D.C.

July 2016 – $11.50

July 2017 – $12.50

July 2018 – $13.25

July 2019 – $14.00

July 2020 – $15.00

Local 400 has been leading the Fight for $15 in the District of Columbia and other states where our members live and work. But while we praise the D.C. Council members and Mayor Bowser for enacting the $15 minimum wage, we’ve also called on them to take two other steps essential to improve the lives of D.C. workers:

Pass Just Hours legislation (also known as the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act) to guarantee stable hours and predictable scheduling for  men and women working in chain restaurants and retail stores in the District.

Pass the Universal Paid Leave Act to help low-wage workers safeguard themselves and their families in the event they are without income for an extended period.

“While wage increases are a crucial and necessary step, wages alone are not enough to give every hardworking District resident a fair shot at a better life,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We look forward to seeing the Council demonstrate this same leadership in passing Just Hours legislation, which will guarantee District workers won’t struggle with too few hours on too short notice, as well as Paid Family Leave, which will bring the U.S. up to speed with other developed nations by providing reasonable accommodations to workers who choose to start a family.

“It’s important that all workers earn the income that would allow them to support a family—and that their jobs provide the predictability and flexibility that allow them to actually raise a family,” Federici said. “That’s why paid leave and fair scheduling practices are so essential—because parents must be empowered to both provide for and be present for their children.”

Take Action

Do you live or work in Washington, D.C.?

Call the city council at (202) 724-8000 and Mayor Muriel Bowser at (202) 727-2643 and urge them to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act and the Universal Paid Leave Act.

For the latest information on each bill, visit dcjusthours.org and dcpaidfamilyleave.org.

July 22, 2016

Protecting the Safety and Health of Poultry-Processing Workers

close up of workers processing pieces of chicken in a poultry plant

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 20, 2016

Local 1995 Kroger Workers Ratify New Contract

Local 1995 Kroger workers

On July 1, Kroger workers who are members of UFCW Local 1995 ratified a new contract. The contract covers 12,000 Kroger workers in middle and east Tennessee, north Alabama, and south Kentucky.

The new contract includes wage increases and affordable health care, maintains the employee pension fund, and revises tiers for pay, vacation and holidays.

“The Local 1995 Bargaining Committee and staff did a great job in understanding our members’ needs and effectively communicating those to Kroger,” said UFCW Local 1995 President Gregory Stallings. “Therefore, we were able to reach a Memorandum of Agreement with the company and complete the ratification process prior to July 4th.”

July 19, 2016

New York Child Care Grant Benefits RWDSU/UFCW Members

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(l to r) Local 1102 Rep. Mayra Valladares, Elsa Barrera, and Local 1102 Rep. Jeff Guardado.

The RWDSU/UFCW is part of the New York Union Child Care Coalition, a group of unions that developed and promoted the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project to help provide affordable child care for working families in the state. By working with New York State Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino, the RWDSU/UFCW was instrumental in helping to establish the program.

And RWDSU/UFCW members are starting to benefit. Elsa Barrera is a Local 1102 member and a mother of three. On top of her dedication to raising her three children, Elsa also works full-time at Flying Foods – an airplane food service supplier – at JFK airport. Barrera has received a grant from the program, and will be able to send two of her children to a camp program for the summer at nearly no cost. This support will help Elsa make ends meet and help her children receive the care and security they deserve.

“Workers like Elsa are truly deserving of this kind of grant,” said RWDSU/UFCW Deputy Political Director Jessica Garcia. “This program will help many others provide for their families while ensuring their children get quality care.”

Other RWDSU/UFCW members at Macy’s and H&M have also seen their child care costs drastically reduced thanks to the program.

July 15, 2016

Local 400 Members and Customers Come Together to Save Grocery Stores

13619871_1156147594406141_544955539235430165_nIn 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 14, 2016

UFCW Local 1996 Helps Strike Down Anti-Labor Law

geo2A 2013 Georgia law that negatively impacted workers all across the Peach State was tossed out by a Judge this week for contradicting federal labor laws.

Specifically, the legislation allowed union members to cancel their membership at any time, rather than waiting the usual one-year period. This means that corporations were made to be more powerful as they would be able to easily intimidate workers into leaving their union early. By overturning this law, it will be easier for hard-working families in Georgia to negotiate for better working conditions and wages. Ultimately, more people and communities will now be able to enjoy the financial stability and higher standard of living that comes with being a part of a union.

UFCW Local 1996, which helped to lead the lawsuit, celebrated the good news. “They spent precious legislative time and money in 2013 going after the working families that make our state great,” said UFCW Local 1996 President Steve Lomax of the leaders who pushed for the legislation. “Tens of thousands of taxpayer-funded dollars for a long legal fight gained nothing for Georgia citizens.”

July 13, 2016

Holsum Bakery Workers Ratify New RWDSU Contract

RWDSU UFCW Logo

Last week, members of RWDSU Local 835 who work at Holsum Bakery in Fort Wayne, Indiana, overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract. The 78 RWDSU members at the plant work in maintenance and production of breads under the Lewis Bakeries label.

The new agreement provides many improvements in the areas of seniority and overtime, schedules, funeral leave, paid holidays and sick days, job classifications, and maintenance advancement programs. Along with wage increases, the new contract also maintains employee health coverage and pension benefits.