News and Updates
January 2, 2018
On Dec. 21, the UFCW called on the National Chicken Council (NCC), the voice of the poultry industry, to set higher industry standards and stop the use of incarcerated and exploited labor by their member companies. In a letter to the NCC, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on the NCC to take the lead in establishing a clear industry standard and give consumers confidence that their chicken is produced without these inhumane practices.
“This is not responsible or moral behavior,” said Perrone in the letter, “and as a leading voice of the poultry industry, it would make a difference if the National Chicken Council condemned these practices publicly and insisted on all of your member companies to do the same by agreeing to a code of conduct that puts an end to this reprehensible behavior.”
While more than 70,000 hard-working members of the UFCW family work in the poultry industry and earn better wages and benefits, the conditions in nonunion plants are far worse. A recent Oxfam report highlighted the struggles faced by nonunion poultry workers, including wearing diapers at work because they are routinely denied bathroom breaks. In addition, the industry has repeated problems with the use of incarcerated labor, underage workers and workers with disabilities being paid less than a minimum wage.
“The fact that some of your member companies have continued to operate in such an irresponsible manner is bringing shame upon the entire poultry industry and devaluing the skilled work of hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women,” said Perrone. “This disgraceful practice also damages the reputation of responsible companies and our members who have good jobs working in poultry plants.”
You can read the entire letter here.
January 2, 2018
UFCW Local 1428 purchased 100 pairs of shoes for children at four local schools in Montclair and Pomona, California, with money raised from staff, members and community partners. UFCW Local 1428 has coordinated with “Shoes That Fit,” a local nonprofit, for over 20 years to provide shoes to local children.
RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 donated toys to the John Theissen Children’s Foundation for children in the New York area. They also donated to several local food pantries that provide hot holiday meals to families in need. You can see the full impact of their work to make the holidays a little brighter for members of their community here.
UFCW Local 8GS collected donations for members who lost everything in the wild fire in Northern California. Their office in Santa Rosa, California, has been set up for donation collection and distributions to members and the have raised over $120,000 online through YouCaring.com.
UFCW Local 23 held its annual “Stuff the Bus” toy drive for UFCW members in crisis, as well as other union members throughout the region, through the central labor council – where a festively decorated bus is stuffed with gifts and gift cards to make holiday dinners happen. The toy drive is organized by members of UFCW Local 23, who solicit the Christmas “wish lists” from kids of members who are in crisis, and pack boxes with some of the collected toys, as well as some clothing and a gift card for groceries. The gifts and gift cards are delivered to the member parents, who are then able to put something under the tree. There are always a lot of toys left, and these are delivered to other union and community members.
January 2, 2018
On Dec. 7, 35 members of UFCW Local 919 who work at Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford, Connecticut, unanimously ratified a new contract. The CRT workers are employed as general kitchen workers, food preparation workers, cooks and drivers. CRT works with local officials, providers, private funders and the public to address challenges such as hunger, homelessness and unemployment, and helps individuals and families in Hartford take steps toward a healthy and economically stable future.
The three-year contract guaranteed raises for each of the three years for all employees, including the higher paid members that were “redlined” in their previous contract, and allows more members to take advantage of 401(k) benefits. The contract also includes sick leave improvements, a more efficient grievance procedure, as well as improved supplied uniforms for the drivers.
January 2, 2018
Members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis ratified their first union contract on Dec. 14. The three-year contract includes raises for all employees and establishes a just cause discipline procedure. The Eastside Food Co-op employees voted to join UFCW Local 653 last April.
Eastside Co-op workers were excited about their first union contract.
“With this agreement, we won a stronger voice in the everyday conditions that impact our work environment and our experience working at Eastside—more equitable wages, adequate staffing and training, and timely addressing labor and safety concerns,” said Seth Kuhl-Stennes.
“I’m excited that we’re going to be paid based on our experience, our knowledge and the time we’ve been working here making Eastside successful,” said D.K. Prince.
“I know that we’re leaving a better co-op for future employees and for the community. I think it’s important to work at a place that values workers’ voices,” said M.J. Banken.
Community support for Eastside Food Co-op workers has been steady throughout the bargaining process. “As a longtime member of Eastside Food Co-op, a former EFC board member, and a union member, I am very excited that the workers here will be ratifying their first contract. The success of our co-op is due in large part to the workers’ dedication and hard work, and this contract will ensure that they are treated fairly and with respect. This is truly co-op values in action,” said Joy Anderson.
“I am inspired by the Eastside Food Co-op workers courage to stand up,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “Our union family is proud to help everyone at Eastside to improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”
December 18, 2017
The UFCW’s Free College Benefit helped our members and their families go back to school this year with no out-of-pocket costs or need for loans.
Launched this year, this amazing benefit makes it possible for UFCW members and their families to earn an Associate Degree online through Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) with no out-of-pocket costs for tuition, fees or e-books. Registration for the next semester at EGCC is open until January 12.
The UFCW’s Free College Benefit is designed to help UFCW members and their families balance work and home life. You can attend school part-time or full-time – whichever fits your schedule. All you need to get started is a high school degree or GED, and there are no entrance exams to worry about. Available programs at EGCC include Business Management, Accounting, Paralegal, and Early Childhood Education.
This benefit is available exclusively to UFCW members, retired members, and family members, including children, spouses, grandchildren, domestic partners, and dependents. You can learn more about this amazing benefit here.
December 18, 2017
The UFCW launched a “how to” video series this year to pay tribute to our members, who are trusted experts in their fields and take pride in their ability to produce quality products and provide exceptional service at stores across the country.
The “how to” series features expert advice from Carolyn, a cake decorator in Pennsylvania; Jon, a meat cutter at Cub Foods in Minnesota; Michelle, a florist at Kroger in Texas; Maia, a produce clerk at Stop and Shop in Connecticut; Chardonnay, a prep cook at the Marketplace at Kroger in Ohio; and Jasmin, a makeup artist at Macy’s in New York City.
These videos demonstrate our members’ commitment to excellence, and each video was viewed on YouTube thousands of times. You can view yhis year’s “how to” video series here.
December 18, 2017
The UFCW made a positive impact on thousands of lives this year through its effort to address hunger in America and find a cure for blood cancers.
For the second year, the UFCW served as a national partner of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the largest food drive in the nation. In the weeks and days leading up to Saturday, May 13, the day of the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, UFCW members and locals volunteered at events and helped to “stamp out hunger” by collecting thousands of pounds of food.
In partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the UFCW launched the “Labor Against Cancer” initiative in the battle to end blood cancers in September. This new initiative builds on our 30-year partnership with LLS to fund and support some of the world’s best and brightest blood cancer researchers to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Our decades-long partnership with LLS has raised $83 million so far to help fund research that has advanced treatments such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and smart drugs, which have become the standard for many other cancers.
In addition to addressing national issues, the UFCW also donated time, money and resources to help members in need and spread a little cheer during the holiday season.
In September, UFCW locals banded together to help raise funds for members impacted by Hurricane Harvey. This fundraising drive helped to provide vital assistance to over 15,000 UFCW members who were affected by the hurricane.
And this holiday season, UFCW locals kicked into high gear to help make the holidays a little brighter by holding “turkey drives” and donating turkey dinners to food pantries for Thanksgiving. UFCW locals also collected toys and held holiday events that benefited various charities.
December 18, 2017
UFCW members stood together to negotiate strong contracts this year, and many new members celebrated the benefits of having a first union contract.
The ratification represented the first time in the history of the plant when workers were given the opportunity to vote on the terms and conditions of their employment. The four-year contract includes significant improvements to working conditions and health care benefits, and places strict limits on when management can require employees to work overtime. The contract also provides workers with four days per year to opt out of mandatory overtime, in addition to two weekends off each month in which they can’t be forced to work overtime.
“For the last 10 years, we saw so many of our benefits taken away,” said Garrison. “But now that we have a union, we’re getting them back again.”
Evan Adams-Hanson, a member of UFCW Local 653 who works as a front end floor coordinator at Linden Hills Co-op workers in Minneapolis joined his colleagues in ratifying a first union contract in September. The three-year agreement includes raises for all employees and paid time off.
“By standing together and voting to approve this contract, we’ve improved our lives and jobs. We chose to do this because we’re committed to strengthening our co-op and community because no one deserves to be left behind or struggle alone,” said Adams-Hanson.
Gilbert Grigsby, a food service workers for the Bon Appétit Management Company in St. Louis was one of 300 members of UFCW Local 655 who ratified a first union contract in November. The workers serve the students of Washington University, and negotiated a three-year contract that includes wage increases, additional vacation days, more funeral leave, improvements to overtime rules, and guaranteed “show up” pay. The contract also gives workers access to the union’s health care and retirement packages.
“This is why we voted to form a union,” said Grigsby. “We wanted better pay and working conditions that we’ve worked hard for, and this contract is the result of a lot of hard work. I’m thrilled to be joining this union with this new contract.”
Here’s a list of the negotiating victories that appeared in OnPoint this year:
December 18, 2017
In 2017, workers from around the country who work in a variety of industries ranging from food and non-food retail to health care stood together for a better life by joining our union family.
Max Storey, who works a Seward Community Co-op store on Franklin Ave. in south Minneapolis joined his colleagues at two other Seward Co-op stores in the area and voted to join UFCW Local 653 in June. Earlier in June, the workers at the three stores, including the Creamery Café, the Seward Franklin store on Franklin Ave., and the Seward Friendship store at 38th St. and Clinton Ave., held a rally for a voice in the workplace after submitting cards authorizing representation by UFCW Local 653 to the National Labor Relations Board.
“Workers have come together to say yes to UFCW 653, yes to fair wages, yes to negotiating better benefits, and yes to respect and dignity in the workplace,” said Storey.
Tierra Griffith, a Certified Nursing Assistants at Delmar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Delmar, Delaware, voted to join UFCW Local 27 in September along with 89 of her coworkers.
Griffith and her colleagues were concerned about not receiving any raises over the last several years, unfair treatment by management, not having a voice on the job, understaffing, and questionable PTO calculations. Even though the company hired union busters and tried to intimidate some workers using fear tactics, the workers stood strong and formed a powerful organizing committee.
“It feels awesome to have Local 27 be our representatives. We all feel like it will make a positive difference here at work. We’re now ready for the next step, which is to get a contract that we’re happy with,” said Griffith.
Here’s a list of the organizing victories that appeared in OnPoint this year:
December 11, 2017
The UFCW Minority Coalition recently hosted another successful educational conference and awards gala in Washington, D.C.
The educational conference took place on Nov. 17, and featured a workshop on Right to Work, as well as a conversation about the current political climate and the future of the labor movement. Facilitators Tiffany Loftin, senior program specialist in community with the NEA, and Jamal Watkins, national outreach director of campaigns with the AFL-CIO, presented the Right to Work session. This session highlighted the roots of this policy, as well as the racial divisions among working people and the impact that Right to Work legislation has had on working communities for 70-plus years. This session also outlined ways to frame messaging when addressing the issue of Right to Work.
The conference also featured Bill Fletcher, Jr., an activist, syndicated columnist and regular media commentator on television, radio and the web, who led a conversation about the tumultuous state of our current political climate as it relates to the future of the labor movement. This engaging conversation brought to the forefront the difficulties working people face in the time of Trump and right-wing populism.
On the evening of Nov. 18, the UFCW Minority Coalition hosted its 19th Annual Awards Gala and Fundraiser. The gala honored individuals who champion diversity and equality among men and women in the labor movement, as well as special humanitarians who are committed to the fight against sickle cell disease.
Executive Vice President and Organizing Department Director Shaun Barclay received the Person of the Year Award. Other honorees included International Vice President and UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin, who received the Local Union of the Year Award; UFCW District Council of New York and New Jersey, which received the Roland B. Scott Sickle Cell Award; Tonya McCoy of UFCW Local 75, who received the Addie Wyatt Award; International Vice President and UFCW Region 5 Director Milton Jones, who received the Robert Vaughn Award; and International Vice President and UFCW Local 21 President Todd Crosby, who received the Wendell W. Young III Award.