News and Updates
December 6, 2016
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
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 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
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.
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.”
November 1, 2016
On Oct. 22, UFCW Local 648, in partnership with Californians for Safety and Justice and the San Francisco Labor Council, hosted a Proposition 47 Live Scan, record change and job fair clinic in San Francisco to help people with prior nonviolent felonies to petition to get their records changed.
At the event, attorneys volunteered their time and met with each attendee, one on one. The San Francisco Labor Council, City College of San Francisco, Up Vote and the San Francisco Airport Office of Employment all had informational booths, as well. Union members that attended the Proposition 47 Live Scan event and attorney meetings said they were thankful for the opportunity to change their records and move forward with their lives.
In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, a measure that reduces certain low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors. The savings from reduced incarceration costs are invested in drug and mental health treatment, programs for at-risk students in K-12 schools, and victim services. Over one million Californians quality for Proposition 47, but only about 250,000 people have petitioned to have their records changed. Proposition 47 was due to sunset in November 2017, but Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 2757 to extend the time to petition for another five years.
The UFCW has partnered with a number of local and national organizations in an effort to bring to light the issues that are plaguing our communities and transform the criminal justice system.
UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Robin Williams believes restorative rights are especially important for workers. “When you get out of jail, how do you take care of your family if you can’t get a job?” Williams said.
Together with our allies, the UFCW is dedicated to shifting the focus away from punishment and toward educational opportunities that help people change their lives and get back on track.
November 1, 2016
As part of our election year push to get out the vote, the UFCW International hosted a tele-town hall on Oct. 27 with members in key battleground states that featured Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of Hillary Clinton’s top national surrogates.
The purpose of this event was to discuss the issues that matter most to UFCW members and show people that the stakes of this election are too high for anyone to stay home and not vote. Members asked Senator Booker questions about healthcare, retirement security, education, paid leave and equal pay. His answers reinforced the fact that Hillary Clinton has real plans in place to address the real challenges of hard-working men and women.
One of the biggest themes to come out of this event was that a lot more needs to be done for families who are struggling and young people trying to get a start. We’re all tired of an election season that has been filled with toxicity and divisiveness and are hoping the next president will be more focused on solutions. In just one week, people all across America will have the chance to cast their ballot. The UFCW is proud to have members in every battleground state canvassing, making phone calls and having worksite discussions so that our votes are counted and our voices heard on Election Day and beyond.
To listen to a recording of the event, visit www.ufcwaction.org/2016townhall.
October 14, 2016
Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it is closing three stores in three different cities (Lamesa, Texas; Brownfield, Texas; and Columbia, Mo.) with very little notice.
“This callous move by Walmart will leave hundreds of workers without jobs and hundreds of families without paychecks,” said Jess Levin, communications director of MCAW. “Walmart has said that people are the most important part of their business. However, this recent news proves that, for Walmart, nothing is more important than profits: not workers, not customers, not anyone. These closings, much like the 269 store closings earlier this year, will not only impact Walmart workers, they will affect these entire communities. ”
In early 2016, Walmart announced that it was closing 154 U.S. stores, which, according to The Washington Post, disproportionately affected lower-income, rural areas.