News and Updates
February 5, 2018
Black History Month dates back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans dedicated the second week in February as “Negro History Week” to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, the celebration was officially recognized and expanded and every U.S. president since then has celebrated Black History Month during the month of February.
This month, the UFCW will highlight milestones in the civil rights movement on our website—including the 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation strike. We will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UFCW’s Black History Month program, and pay tribute to African American labor leaders who fought for fair wages, dignity in the workplace, and the freedom to organize in spite of considerable barriers.
February 5, 2018
UFCW OUTreach scholarship winners who are members of UFCW Locals 23, 367, 400 and 653 attended the Creating Change Conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24 to 28. The conference was organized by the national LGBTQ Task Force and is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement.
UFCW OUTreach Executive Board members have served as a key voice for working class and labor issues at the Creating Change Conference during the past two years, and providing scholarships to UFCW members so that they can attend this conference is a critical step in recruiting and developing new leaders within our union and in the broader LGBTQ movement.
The UFCW OUTreach scholarships were awarded to: UFCW Local 23 member David Byrd, who works at a Giant Eagle supermarket in the Pittsburgh area; UFCW Local 367 member Denise Anderson, a union steward at Safeway in Hoquiam, Washington; UFCW Local 400 member Felicia Miller, a union steward at Safeway in Warrington, Virginia; and UFCW Local 653 member Mark McGraw, a union steward at Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis.
Here are some excerpts from their essays, which were part of the scholarship application process:
From Denise Anderson:
“I believe what I can learn at this conference will not only help to mentor LGBTQ youth in my community, but will give me the skills I need to help LGBTQ union members realize how being a union member means they have support and are equal to and have the same rights as all other union members.”
From Mark McGraw:
“Contract language is only one part of the equation. It’s only effective if workers are actively and consistently engaged in creating a culture of inclusion, respect and accountability to one another and holding ourselves to a standard that promotes a just and affirming workplace. That’s why I organized a union in the first place and striving to make that vision everyday practice is what keeps me invested in this ongoing project!”
From Felicia Miller:
“I feel I could help our Sisters & Brothers here in Virginia who are LGBT because we are sometime on the margins in fear of protecting our jobs here in Virginia because we fear repercussions from being LGBT.”
From David Byrd:
“I would like to attend the Creating Change conference to acquire skills and tools to help such workers in the Pittsburgh area, as well as to assist in building political power in our quest for social and economic justice.”
“I hope this scholarship program will continue because it will give other LGBT and all the letters of Rainbow Union members an opportunity to know we are not in this fight alone,” said Miller, after attending the conference. “I also hope that we, as union members, can have a booth there next year to catch the nonunion members and explain how important unions are for our fellow community—like with our written contracts that say we cannot be discriminated against just because of our gender preference.”
February 5, 2018
On Jan. 22 to 28, the ICWUC led a team of senior trainers and worker educators at the Universidad de Puerto Rico in San Juan to help protect workers on the island from preventable illnesses, injuries and possible fatalities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, millions of island residents still face daily threats to their safety and health. More than two million people live in areas at risk of water contamination, large parts of the island are still without electricity, and 60,000 homes are without roofs.
The week-long “Disaster Train-the-Trainers” event was presented in Spanish with the goal of developing trainers to protect day laborers, construction workers, and others who are at risk of exposure to mold, toxic chemicals, damaged buildings and other hazards.
Trainers from Fe Y Justicia Worker Center in Houston, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the Cincinnati-based ICWUC Center conducted in-depth sessions with graduate students in public health from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, as well as AFSCME members from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“This program is possible now because we’ve already conducted Spanish-language “Disaster Train the Trainer” events with our partners,” said Luis Vazquez, an education coordinator at ICWUC, who coordinated and conducted the San Juan program to train students and workers. “The work we’re doing in disaster areas makes a real difference, giving workers the tools they need to stay safe. This event is personal for me; I have many family and friends in Puerto Rico. There are all kinds of dangers lurking in homes and buildings after a hurricane.”
Topics at the training included how to recognize disaster-related workplace hazards, safe clean up procedures and workers’ rights to a safe workplace. New trainers practiced these modules and presented them to their fellow new trainers. These graduate students and workers, in turn, will soon be out in the field to share this information at temporary shelters, recovery worksites, and other locations where workers are affected by hazards associated with disaster recovery.
This “Train-the-Trainers” session builds on similar programs conducted by the ICWUC in Cincinnati with many of their 10 partners, and with National COSH in Houston last September after Hurricane Harvey devastated that city. The training was made possible, in part, by support from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences. For more information, contact John Morawetz of the ICWUC’s Center for Worker Health & Safety Education at email@example.com.
February 5, 2018
On Jan. 30, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to deny the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) petition to eliminate line speed limits at poultry plants.
Thousands of UFCW members who work in poultry plants sent comments to the USDA about the dangers of this petition. The UFCW also sent letters in October and December of 2017 to the USDA that highlighted how risky the NCC petition to eliminate line speeds would be for both workers and consumers.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This decision is a victory for hard-working poultry workers who hold one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America, and the consumers who depend upon them to provide chicken that is safe to eat. However, we remain concerned that poultry companies can request line speed waivers for individual plants.
“In addition to putting poultry workers at greater risk of injury, eliminating line speeds puts consumers at risk by making it more difficult for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination.
“It was unbelievable to see major poultry industry groups ignore these well-known risks and lobby the USDA to eliminate line speeds.”
January 30, 2018
Did you know the leather for every single NFL football, including the ones that will be used in Sunday’s Super Bowl, is crafted in Chicago by members of UFCW Local 1546 at the Horween Leather Company? The hard-working men and women of Horween have been making the leather for every official National Football League ball since the early 1940s. Almost every leather football you see — Wilson, Spalding, Nike, Rawlings, Adidas — began its journey to the field in the hands of a UFCW Local 1546 member.
The company takes pride in the talented workers whose skills are evident in the quality of the final product. Despite the leather’s sheen, which can give the appearance of being slippery, the proprietary “tanned in tack” finish actually means the ball gets stickier after being buffed a few times, making it easier to grip. A 1,000-ton press with special German-made embossing plates gives the leather its distinctive pebbling.
Horween Leather Company was founded in 1905 in Chicago and for five generations has been producing a wide range of top quality leathers ever since. During World War II, it was Horween who supplied Chromexcel for shoes worn by the Marine Corps. Chromexcel is a labor-intensive leather that undergoes at least 89 separate processes, taking 28 working days and utilizing all five floors of the facility. The formula has had very few changes since it was developed, with a few minor necessary exceptions like swapping out whale oil for a more modern-day equivalent.
Horween is also one of the world’s last remaining producers of shell cordovan, a durable equine leather. Shell cordovan is unique for its durability and tendency to form attractive rolls in the leather as it ages rather than creasing. Allen Edmonds, a 92-year-old shoemaker based in Wisconsin, uses this leather in its Park Avenue Cordovan Oxfords, which Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush wore for their inaugurations. The leather in a properly maintained pair of shell cordovan shoes can last 20 years to a lifetime.
January 29, 2018
On Jan. 24, UFCW Local 400 and allies called on Virginia legislators to expand Medicaid and increase the state’s minimum wage to $15. Participants at the rally also called on state legislators to provide access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants working in Virginia.
The rally, which took place in Richmond, was organized by Take Action Virginia, an alliance of organizations that includes UFCW Local 400, as well as 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Virginia 512, CASA in Action, LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic, NAKASEC Action Fund, UNITE HERE Local 23, and UNITE HERE Local 25. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Senators Scott Surovell and Rosalyn Dance, and Delegates Jennifer Boysko and Marcus Simon also attended the rally.
“The federal minimum wage has been frozen for nearly 10 years,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “We have a president who has never had to work a day in his life – but somehow thinks $7.25 an hour is too high – and a Republican-controlled Congress that is only interested in giving tax breaks to the wealthiest few. It’s up Virginia lawmakers to do the right thing and boost the wage floor for hard-working men and women, like so many other states and local municipalities have done.”
January 29, 2018
UFCW Local 1000, alongside the Legislative and Political Action Department, hosted a political conference in Oklahoma City on Jan. 24. This is the first time UFCW Local 1000 sponsored such a event in Oklahoma.
Almost a dozen elected members of the Oklahoma Legislature met with Local 1000 members and staff to discuss the issues affecting the working men and women of the UFCW across Oklahoma, including country of origin labeling, paid sick days, cannabis, and health care. The state representatives and senators in attendance included two newly elected members of the legislature, Rep. Jacob Rosencrans and Sen. Alison Ikley-Freeman, who were elected in special elections where UFCW support was key.
January 29, 2018
On Jan. 19, workers at Presbyterian Home for Central New York in New Hartford, New York, voted in favor of joining UFCW Local One’s Professional and Health Care Division. The unit consists of licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, as well as housekeepers, secretaries, and service, maintenance, and dietary workers.
“We are delighted to welcome our newest members from the Presbyterian Home,” said UFCW Local One President Frank DeRiso. “This organizing committee had to endure an onslaught of anti-union efforts, unfair labor practice charges, illegal captive audience meetings, benefit promises and more. It’s nice to see that they stuck together and worked so hard for this.”
January 22, 2018
UFCW Local 1149 and JBS USA gave back to the Marshalltown, Iowa, community by providing $1,000 donations to six local elementary schools on Jan. 3. This is the second year that UFCW Local 1149 and JBS USA have donated to elementary schools in the Marshalltown Community School District.
The donations, which come from a multicultural fund created by the UFCW and JBS USA, will be used to fund technology, literacy curriculum, playground equipment and other items for local elementary school children.
Mike Graves, UFCW Local 1149 vice president and walking steward at JBS, and Stacey Santillan, director of Human Resources at JBS USA, delivered the checks to all six elementary school principals.
“It’s something we wanted to do for the community,” Graves said.
“We’re proud that our good union jobs allow us to partner with JBS to help kids in our community,” said UFCW Local 1149 President Roger Kail.
January 22, 2018
The UFCW’s Civil Rights and Community Action Department (CRCA), along with UFCW Locals 455 and 540, played a significant role in shaping the agenda of the AFL-CIO’s 2018 MLK Conference, which took place on Jan. 12 to 15 in Houston.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone, Vice President and CRCA Director Robin Williams, CRCA Field Programs Coordinator Karina Lopez and CRCA Field Campaign Coordinator and Trainer Angel Gonzalez attended the conference, which revolved around the theme of “Reclaiming the Dream: Strategize, Organize, Mobilize.” Williams spoke at the conference and Lopez and Gonzalez helped to lead workshops around the issues of immigration reform, equity and inclusion, as well as right to work and the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME case. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas 18th District), Al Green (D-Texas 9th District), Gene Green (D-Texas 29th District) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also attended.
“We’ve seen people rise up in new ways against corporate greed, poverty wages, racial injustice, illegal travel bans, bathroom bills and attacks on our free press,” Williams said. “These uprisings are happening all over the nation. They relate to our lives both at work and in our communities. But is all of this enough to reclaim the dream that Dr. King and countless others fought and died for? We must strategize, organize and mobilize. It is then and only then that we can say we have done our part to reclaim the dream.”
International Vice President and Director of Region 5 Milton Jones, International Vice President and President of UFCW Local 455 William Hopkins, and members and representatives from UFCW Locals 455 and 540 also attended the conference. The conference featured a day of service in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, and UFCW Local 455 coordinated with local Kroger stores to provide the over 800 conference participants with lunch boxes, which were delivered by members UFCW Locals 455 and 540 to the various volunteer sites, including the Hudson Food Bank, Buckner Family Hope Center and Bethel Church.