News and Updates
March 20, 2017
Last December, 28 workers at Colonial Parking, Inc. in Wilmington, Del., voted to join UFCW Local 27.
The workers were concerned about low wages, unfair treatment by management, and not having seniority recognized. Even though the company hired union busters, the workers stood strong and were very united.
“I’m glad we won,” said Russell Marshall, a worker at Colonial Parking, Inc.
“These workers fought hard for what they believed in, which was having a brighter future that comes with having a voice on the job,” said Nelson Hill, UFCW Local 27 vice president and director of organizing.
“I am very proud of the organizers and the leadership of their director, Nelson Hill, in this victory,” said UFCW Local 27 President Jason Chorpenning. “This employer employed a union busting law firm, but our organizers were able to overcome the law firm’s lies and threats and educate and empower these workers. After their long, hard fight and victory, we are preparing for negotiations to increase pay, improve their working conditions, provide job protection, and guarantee a future for all of these hard-working folks and their families!”
November 15, 2016
On Nov. 10, 15 maintenance workers employed at Colonnade Apartments in Newark, N.J., voted overwhelmingly to join RWDSU/UFCW Local 108.
The workers were concerned about low pay, health and safety issues, and the lack of retirement benefits. Workers were also concerned about being paid for all of the hours they worked.
“I am happy we voted the union in to represent us,” said Pedro Parada, a porter at Colonnade Apartments. “We need someone to fight for our rights and to be there when we need help. The company has been doing whatever they want to us.”
“I feel happy that we now have a union,” said Elva Rodriguez, who works as a janitor at Colonnade Apartments. “I am thankful for them being there for us. I know they are going to help and care for us.”
“This was truly a needed victory,” said Abraham Asabor, an organizer with RWDSU/UFCW Local 108. “This small group of workers are expected to be Jack-of-all-trades. They not only keep the building clean, they are required to do building and apartment upkeep, painting, plumbing, AC and heating and apartment clean outs.”
“They are required to be on call and they are not properly compensated,” Asabor added. “To add insult to injury, they are treated with disrespect and paid low wages. This is the second building we have organized in the past month and the problems are similar. We will fight hard to make sure these workers receive better working conditions.”
“Most importantly, these workers weren’t being treated with any respect, and they wanted to change that,” said RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr.
November 1, 2016
On Oct. 20, 56 workers at the Hale & Hearty commissary in Brooklyn, N.Y., banded together for a better life by joining UFCW Local 1500. Hale & Hearty is New York-based counter-serve chain that well known for its soups.
Donald Torres, who has worked at the Hale & Hearty factory for two years said, “We all just felt that we deserved better. We want to have a voice and to build a better life working here.”
Tony Speelman, president UFCW Local 1500, said “I want to congratulate the hard-working men and women at Hale & Hearty for joining us at Local 1500. Our entire union is proud of them and admires their courage. We look forward to building a relationship with Hale & Hearty, and working together to find ways to benefit workers and the company together.”
“By working together we will improve their lives and make Hale & Hearty into a better and more successful company. This cannot be done alone, it will be a joint labor-management effort and we look forward to beginning that relationship,” Speelman concluded.
August 10, 2016
On July 28, 75 workers at CTI Foods in King of Prussia, Pa., ratified their first union contract. The CTI workers produce food for fast food restaurants and are members of UFCW Local 1776.
“We feel more united now; we have a better bond,” said Shop Steward Kyle Pendleton, who has worked at CTI Foods for 19 years and was instrumental during the organizing and negotiation process. “The company is working with us now and having a contract has made the company better.”
The new three-year contract guarantees health insurance, safety and labor-management meetings, as well as pay increases. For some workers, this will be the first raise they’ve received in years.
“I would like to congratulate the CTI workers on their first UFCW contract,” said UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV. “This is a huge win for them and their families.”
August 3, 2016
This week, after a majority of the workers at Zara’s eight stores in Manhattan signed cards stating they wanted to be represented by RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, the company agreed to recognize the union. The agreement covers over 1,000 retail workers at all of Zara’s stores in Manhattan. These are the first Zara workers in the United States to be unionized.
Zara, the Spanish fashion chain owned by Inditex, is the world’s largest clothing retailer. The RWDSU/UFCW and Zara reached an agreement earlier this year where the employer agreed to remain neutral and not to oppose the union’s attempt to organize its workforce.
“Zara’s approach to recognize the right of its workers to form a union, without intimidation, is a message to all retailers – you can be successful and still respect the right of your employees,” said Gemma de Leon Lopresti, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102.
This is the largest retail organizing win in New York City in recent years. In 2009, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 organized nearly 1,200 workers at H&M, another fast-fashion global retail chain.
Workers at Zara look forward to working in an environment where they can make their jobs better, and create better lives for themselves and their families.
“Working in retail is extremely fast-paced and hectic,” said Joseph Minton, an associate at Zara’s 59th Street location. “I’m excited that the company is willing to listen to our concerns and work with the union for everyone’s benefit.”
“We applaud Zara for recognizing the rights of its employees to choose to unionize, without interference,” said RWDSU/UFCW President Stuart Appelbaum. “Unfortunately, too many American employers refuse to respect their workers’ right to freedom of association and intimidate and threaten workers who try to organize.”
“This process is a huge step for retail workers in New York. Zara, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, is sending a strong message that you can remain profitable and still recognize your workers’ right to dignity, justice and respect on the job,” said Appelbaum.
May 18, 2016
On May 12, nearly 450 workers at the Mission Foods plant in Mountain Top, Pa., voted to join UFCW Local 1776. Mission Foods workers make a full line of Mexican food products, including tortillas, wraps and salsas used in restaurants and sold in supermarkets on several continents.
“This is one of the greatest moments of my life knowing that we are not going to fend for ourselves anymore, but have representation,” said Nadia Vlavonou, a Mission Foods employee.
“I applaud the workers at Mission Foods for making the decision for union representation on the job,” said Wendell Young, IV, president of UFCW Local 1776. “Having a union will help these workers feel safe and secure on the job – something all workers should feel when they show up and work hard every day.”
The workers’ victory was the successful conclusion of a months-long campaign designed to give a voice to the Mission Foods workers in Mountain Top. This campaign is a piece of the bigger picture that aims to raise wages and benefits for all workers in the meatpacking and poultry industries.
“The goal is to better the lives of working people throughout the country. The Mission Foods workers are a great example of what standing together and making a well informed decision can achieve. These workers will inspire others to speak out for better working conditions and respect,” said Young.
“This is a victory for all of us,” said Benito Tapia, a Mission Foods employee.
The Mission Foods workers will join thousands of UFCW Local 1776 packinghouse and food processing workers in Pennsylvania at plants such as Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Cargill in Hazelton, JBS in Souderton and Citterio USA in Freeland.
May 11, 2016
On May 5, the hard-working men and women at a ConAgra plant in Indianapolis voted to join the UFCW union family and become part of UFCW Local 700.
Nearly 300 workers make Marie Callendar’s pies at the plant, which was formerly owned by another company and purchased by ConAgra about three years ago. Organizers handbilled the plant and learned about the issues most important to this diverse group of workers, including better pay, fair treatment, and respect on the job. UFCW Local 700 represents about 300 workers making Reddi-Wip and margarine at a ConAgra plant less than three miles away from the newly organized facility. At the union plant, workers earn higher wages, have better benefits, and have job security through their union contract.
“We can now join our sister plant with the right to negotiate for a brighter future,” said Kenny Green, a lead organizing committee member. “By forming our union, we’re standing up for better wages and benefits, and most importantly, a voice on the job.”
March 23, 2016
Nearly 150 brothers and sisters at Main & Vine in Gig Harbor, Washington, were granted recognition to be represented by Local 367.
Main & Vine is a new store concept from Kroger that focuses on fresh local produce and high quality prepared foods. The Gig Harbor Main & Vine is the first shop that Kroger has opened under this new brand.
Their contract vote was held on March 17, and passed by an overwhelming majority.
Becoming a part of UFCW Local 367 was exciting to everyone who works at Main & Vine because it meant an instant improvement in both wages and benefits. As Kroger opens more Main & Vine stores throughout the country, this effort by Local 367 will help to reinforce the message that being a part of the UFCW union family really does lead to a better life.
March 15, 2016
Workers at South Coast Safe Access in Santa Ana, California, recently ratified their first contract and joined UFCW Local 324. These 20 workers are the first Orange County cannabis workers to form a union, and are helping set higher standards for the California cannabis industry.
“South Coast Safe Access is a model for what can be achieved when a business owner has a sincere desire to do right by his employees and the community where he does business,” said UFCW Local 324 President Greg Conger.
The workers announced their decision at a press conference attended by Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana). “It’s time for public policy that will allow safe access for medical marijuana patients while protecting our neighborhoods,” said Sanchez. “Let’s protect workers and consumers in an industry that will continue to grow and become a larger part of California’s economy and prosperity.”
“If anybody working in a cannabis dispensary anywhere in the state believes he or she will get a fraction of that without a union, they have to be smoking something a lot stronger than pot,” said Conger, describing the newly union members as a “natural fit” for Local 324’s strong history of improving lives for both retail and healthcare workers.
February 19, 2016
The workers at SLS car wash in Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York, have seen the difference that union membership has made for hundreds of car wash workers in New York City since the Car Wash Campaign began in 2012. Now, they’ve made SLS Car Wash the 11th car wash facility in New York, where workers are represented by the RWDSU. SLS, also known as Atlantis Wash & Lube, has about 50 workers and is the largest car wash in the country to unionize. Nine shops have signed contracts.
Determined workers and RWDSU organizers braved the cold winter during the organizing drive. By handing out information and talking with workers, the organizing leaders were able to rally increasing support. Workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the union. They wanted a change after years of mistreatment.
“Before we organized a union we worked under a lot of stress,” SLS worker Cheik Umat Balde said. “The managers will always yell at us to work faster. Sometimes they will call us stupid. We had to deal with unknown chemicals with no protections. Now, with a union we will be protected – but most importantly, we will have respect and dignity, and that to me is priceless.”
A coworker, Ramon Carcamo, who has been at SLS for six years said, “I decided to organize with my coworkers to change the working conditions at the car wash because I knew that we had rights that we were not getting. Now, with a union, the car wash managers will have to treat all of us with respect. We knew that if we were united, no one could silence our voice for justice and claim our rights at work.”
The Car Wash Campaign, a coalition of New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and the RWDSU, have been advocating on behalf of workers in New York City’s largely unregulated car wash industry for nearly four years.