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May 7, 2018

UFCW Locals Honor Injured and Fallen Workers on Workers’ Memorial Day

UFCW locals participated in Workers’ Memorial Day events during the last week of April to remember workers who have been injured or killed in the workplace in the U.S. and around the world. Officially, Workers’ Memorial Day is April 28, and is a day to renew the fight for strong workplace safety and health protections.

Members of UFCW Local 1473 participated in Workers’ Memorial Day events in Madison and Milwaukee. At both events, members stood in honor of their fellow workers who lost their lives on the job.  In Madison, Recording Secretary Chad Whiteside read the names of the workers that had most recently lost their lives in Wisconsin.

Members of UFCW Local 324 joined the Orange County Labor Federation for a march and rally in Anaheim, California. UFCW Local 555 members participated in a Workers’ Memorial Day event in Portland, Oregon, which was sponsored by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. Members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 participated in the Long Island Workers’ Memorial ceremony, and attended a mass at St. Patrick’s church in Long Island to honor working men and women who have been killed due to workplace injuries or illnesses.

If your local participated in a Workers’ Memorial Day event, please send photos and a brief description of the event to janderson@ufcw.org.

 

 

May 7, 2018

MCAW Highlights Walmart’s Cost to Taxpayers on Tax Day

Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) held events in Missouri and Wisconsin on April 17 to draw attention to Walmart’s practice of shifting the cost of dealing with crime in its stores to taxpayers and using a tax loophole to avoid paying property taxes.

In Missouri, MCAW held a press conference with the residents of Raytown and Independence in front of Raytown’s City Hall to highlight Walmart’s reliance on local police officers to address theft and other petty crimes at its stores, draining much-needed police resources away from the rest of the community. MCAW also announced the creation of a new citizen-led task force in Raytown, “Citizens Against Walmart Taxpayer Abuse of Police Resources,” to address this problem.

The Walmart store in Raytown has been responsible for more than 2,500 calls for police service over the last three years, including 812 calls from Nov. 1, 2016 to Oct. 31, 2017. Walmart’s Supercenter in Independence was responsible for 609 calls for police service from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017, and Walmart’s Neighborhood Market in Independence added another 160 calls for police service during that time.

“Given Walmart’s refusal to address the problem of offloading it anti-theft security costs onto communities like Raytown and Independence, citizens have decided to take action,” said Randy Parraz, national director for MCAW.

“Over 200 members of the Raytown and Independence communities have spoken on who they think should pay for police at Walmart. But since Walmart refuses to hire enough anti-theft personnel to meet what it wants and continues to drain taxpayer resources, leaving Raytown in a budget and police resource crisis, it’s time for the citizens of Raytown to take matters into our own hands,” said Raytown taxpayer and homeowner Katie Phelan.

In Wisconsin, MCAW joined Wisconsin State Senators Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Assembly member Tod Ohnstad (D- Kenosha), and homeowners Rob and Barb Pifer at the state capitol in Madison to draw attention to Walmart’s use of the “dark store” tax loophole to avoid paying its full share of property taxes. MCAW also called on Wisconsin state leadership to revisit Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, which attempts to close this loophole.

Big box retailers like Walmart have been using the “dark store” tax loophole to reduce their property tax rates by insisting that the assessed value of their properties is comparable to that of nearby vacant, abandoned, or “dark” big box stores. This tax loophole unfairly shifts the property tax burden to homeowners and reduces the amount of funding available for public schools.

After the event, MCAW and other members of the group delivered the “Rotten Apple Award” to Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for continuing to deny public school funding by allowing Walmart and other retailers to get away without paying their fair share in property taxes.

May 7, 2018

RWDSU/UFCW Local 220 Mott’s Workers in New York Ratify New Contract

 

Over 300 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 220 who work at Mott’s in Williamson, New York, ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin in April. The Mott’s workers produce iconic household products, including Mott’s applesauce, apple juice, and the Clamato beverage, among others.

The hard-fought contract includes strong hourly wage increases over the next five years, reduced health care costs and job security provisions that will protect the members well into the future. In 2010, Mott’s workers went on strike in the face of unacceptable contract provisions offered by the company. Despite it all, they were able to win a fair contract. This time, negotiations lasted just seven weeks and workers were able to secure one of the strongest contracts in their history.

“The workers at Mott’s proved years ago that if you stand up for what you believe in and you stand united that you can protect and advance the needs of working people,” said RWDSU/UFCW President Stuart Appelbaum. “This contract is one of the best that we have ever negotiated at Mott’s and we are proud of the members for sticking together. Once again, they have set an example for workers everywhere.”

“Our member-driven negotiations team worked tirelessly to secure a strong contract for all 300-plus Mott’s workers,” said President of RWDSU/UFCW Local 220 Jerome Camp. “I am proud of our team, our work and our new contract. To see how far we’ve come in just under a decade to secure one of our strongest contracts shows the real power of RWDSU Local 220 and I couldn’t be happier to return to work shoulder to shoulder with our team under this new contract.”

May 7, 2018

UFCW Pork Plant Workers Tell USDA to Keep Line Speeds Safe

Over 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in opposition to a proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve. On May 3, UFCW International President Marc Perrone released a statement as the comment period for this rule ended.

Perrone’s statement reads as follows:

“The American people and our members are clear – faster line speeds in pork plants will lead to more workplace injuries and less safe food.

“The hard-working professionals employed in America’s pork plants are united in opposition to this proposed rule because they know better than anyone the harmful effects of increasing production speeds.

“We urge the USDA to hear their voices and rewrite this rule so that the people who work in pork plants and the millions they serve can all be kept safe.”

March 12, 2018

MCAW’s Oscars Campaign Highlights Walmart’s Treatment of Women

Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) held actions in Los Angeles a few days before the Academy Awards to highlight Walmart’s treatment of women.

The actions included a human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala on Feb. 28, as well as a press conference on March 1 at the office of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Yvonne Gonzales, a former Walmart who told her story of being denied light duty at work while pregnant.

The actions were preceded with a joint letter from MCAW and UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart. MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, and lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers.

In addition, MCAW launched a petition asking McCarthy, Rees and Meyers to stand with women and denounce Walmart. The petition has generated over 9,800 signatures. You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.

 

March 12, 2018

Local 700 Maple Leaf Farms Workers in Indiana Win Health and Safety Improvement

Members of UFCW Local 700 who work at Maple Leaf Farms in Milford, Indiana, recently won a health and safety improvement in their plant. The workers, who process ducks at the plant, began to report health related issues, including eye irritation and respiratory problems, as a result of exposure to Microtox, a disinfectant commonly used in the poultry industry.

UFCW Local 700 Union Rep Juan Garcia and Executive Assistant to the President Scott Barnett immediately began an investigation, including a visit from Robyn Robbins, the director of the UFCW’s Occupational Safety and Health Office. Representatives from UFCW Local 700 and the company also met to address worker safety concerns around the use of Microtox.

As a result of the labor-management meeting, the company temporarily discontinued the use of Microtox, took steps to reduce splashing, dripping and spillage, and ordered a new air monitoring system to monitor the levels of Microtox. UFCW Local 700 has created a new workplace survey regarding the impact of this chemical.

Thanks to the quick action of UFCW Local 700 staff and assistance from the International, we were able to effectively address issues regarding the health and safety of our members.

March 12, 2018

Local 653 Members at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s and Independent Grocers in Minnesota Ratify New Contracts

On March 4, members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s Markets and independent grocers approved multi-year contracts with their employers that build better lives for more than 4,000 families in the Twin Cities.

Benefit highlights include the creation of an industry-wide groundbreaking Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAP). Employees from Supervalu and the independent grocers will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAP beginning in January 2019.

Workers at Kowalski’s who qualify for the 401(k)-retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and the company. These include full-time contributions from $1.85-$4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.

Employees at Supervalu Cub Foods have agreed to a five-year contract. Employees at Kowalski’s have agreed to a three-year contract, as well as employees from Haug’s (Cub), Radermacher’s (Cub), King’s Andover, Jubilee Foods in Mound, Oxendale’s and Driskill’s. Employees at Almsted’s Fresh Market and Knowlan’s Festival Foods have agreed to a two-year agreement.

All of the contracts provide wage increases for all workers. Both part-time and full-time workers at Supervalu Cub will receive raises each year of the five-year contract. The average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers at Supervalu is $8,582.03.

Additional economic highlights of the contract include improved quality of part-time positions at Supervalu and Kowalski’s, including three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six paid national holidays, paid bereavement, and Jury Duty leave. Additionally, Supervalu will provide ancillary benefits to all part-time workers that include dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

All eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increase true cost of the Health & Welfare plan across contracts.

The total worker compensation of the Supervalu contract is over $102 million in the first year alone.

All workers covered under the approved contracts will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved language, including respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.

“One of the things that sticks with me is that all of the agreements added respect and dignity in the workplace language. That language levels the playing field for workers, and affirms we are the most valuable asset. I’m proud of that,” said Elizabeth Johnson of Kowalski’s in Uptown.

“I’m inspired by our members today who said yes to improving the quality of their livelihoods and future. We’re continuing to build better lives for our retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “The Variable Annuity Pension Plan is the vehicle to reach the retirement security that our members earn and deserve. Together, we’re leading the industry in pension solutions that establish the goal of a dignified retirement.”

March 12, 2018

Local 75 Kroger Workers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Ratify New Contract

On March 8, nearly 20,000 members of UFCW Local 75 who work at 109 Kroger stores in Cincinnati, Dayton, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana ratified a new contract.

The three-year and four-month agreement raises starting wages to at least $10 per hour and accelerates wage progressions to $11 per hour after one year of service. The agreement also includes affordable health care, and continued investments in the workers’ pension fund.

“UFCW Local 75 strives to negotiate contracts that secure better wages and affordable benefits, providing a voice for hard-working men and women and strengthening our communities, and this contract does those important things,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey.

 

March 5, 2018

Local 653 Jerry’s Enterprises Workers in Minnesota Ratify New Contract

On Feb. 25, 1,600 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Jerry’s Enterprises, Inc. grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new three-year contract that includes better wages and benefits. Jerry’s Enterprises operates 13 Cub Foods, two Jerry’s Foods, and Richfield Rainbow Foods stores.

Melanie Millner, a deli manager at Minneapolis Lake Street Jerry’s Cub said, “I’m proud of the working relationship we have as a union with Jerry’s. I’m excited to see the results of higher wages with my coworkers. I know it will bring better morale and retention in our stores and it is going to make a difference in families’ wallets.”

Both part-time and full-time workers at Jerry’s will receive raises each year of the contract.

The contract improves the quality of part-time positions, and includes increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

Workers will also enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the Health & Welfare plan.

“The Health & Welfare we negotiated is a substantial savings to our families, especially the way health insurance costs are rising nowadays,” said Bill Jensen, a meat cutter at Elk River Cub Foods.

Employers will contribute a union negotiated rate into a 401(k) for eligible employees. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 and part-time is $1.35 an hour. UFCW Local 653 has also secured two plan trustees.

Workers will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved contract language that addresses respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.

“I’m really happy that language around respect and dignity is now a part of our agreement. Hard working families come first, and I’m glad that language reflects our shared values,” said Nate McClerin, part-time Deli worker at West Broadway Cub Foods.

“I’m proud our members with Jerry’s voted yes to building better lives for themselves and their families. A sincere thank you to our union bargaining committee who worked together with Jerry’s. Together with the recent Lunds & Byerlys contract, we continue to improve the quality of life for working families in Minnesota,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht.

March 5, 2018

UFCW Advocates COOL During Seventh Round of NAFTA Talks

As renegotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) reach their seventh round, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement regarding the importance of reinstating country of origin labeling (COOL) in any final agreement.

Perrone’s statement reads as follows:

“Right now, consumers have no way of knowing which country their meat is from and it puts them at risk of purchasing less safe products.

“The return of COOL would ensure families are able to see exactly where their food comes from and bring hard-working farmers, ranchers, meat processing workers, and communities the better life they’ve earned and deserve.

“Reinstating COOL would immediately make NAFTA better for hard-working families across the continent and we urge negotiators to include it in any agreement.”