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May 11, 2016

ConAgra Workers Join Local 700

ConAgra Workers Join Local 700

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

Main & Vine Workers Join Local 367

Main & Vine Workers

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

Cannabis Workers in Santa Ana Join Local 324

can1 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.

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February 19, 2016

SLS Car Wash Workers Latest to Vote to Join RWDSU

RWDSUThe 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.

February 19, 2016

SLS Car Wash Workers Latest to Vote to Join RWDSU/UFCW

RWDSUThe 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/UFCW. 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/UFCW 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/UFCW, have been advocating on behalf of workers in New York City’s largely unregulated car wash industry for nearly four years.

February 18, 2016

Quest Diagnostics Workers Vote to Join UFCW Locals 135 and 1167

Quest Erica TorresQuest Diagnostics workers across 10 different locations around the San Diego area voted to join UFCW Locals 135 and 1167. Workers from four locations will be UFCW Local 135 members and workers at the other six locations will be part of UFCW Local 1167. Better wages and respect on the job are some of the top priorities for workers. The workers join a growing movement of phlebotomist and lab technicians who have come together from the Northwest to the Southwest to raise standards in the health care industry.

“I voted yes because I wanted fairness and peace of mind in the workplace. The company tried to misinform us with false information about joining a union in an attempt to confuse us and prevent us from following through. Winning the union election felt so surreal. Although I knew we would win, I still couldn’t believe that we had finally acheived something that should have been done long ago. It was definitely a great feeling,” said Erica Torres, a PSR II from the Riverside worksite. Quest Nichole

“I voted to make a better future for myself, my coworkers, and phelbs to come. We are all worth fighting for. It may seem hard or scary, but it will make a brighter future in the long run,” said Nichole Nicholson from the Moreno Valley, Heacock worksite.

“I voted to join a union because we needed to have a voice. For many years I allowed my employer to intimidate and mistreat me. Winning the union election was definitely a life changing experience. Being part of a union has made me realize that we have rights and we have a voice. It makes me feel protected and I now sleep better at night knowing that I’m on the path to have a better quality of life for me and my family,” said Mayra Castillo from the Hemet worksite.

Quest Diagnostics is a leading diagnostics services provider in oncology and genetics. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and has 45,000 employees.  Given the company’s prominence, workers hope that through the growing power of their combined voice, Quest Diagnostics workers will be able to influence and improve standards for workers throughout the industry.

Phlebotomist and lab technicians across the Northwest and Southwest began voting to join the UFCW after a chance encounter with their unionized counterparts in Washington state. With the encouragement and support of their coworkers, these workers are coming together and finding their voice.

Visit LabWorkersUnited.com to learn more.

Quest Mayra

 

January 29, 2016

Quest Diagnostics Workers Vote “Yes” to Join UFCW Local 135

L135 QuestQuest Diagnostics workers in San Diego voted to join UFCW Local 135. The workers join a growing movement of phlebotomist and lab technicians who have come together from the Northwest to the Southwest to raise standards in the health care industry. Workers wanted to join a union in order improve their jobs and workplace. Better wages, respect on the job, stable schedules, and vacation and sick days are some of the top priorities for workers. Negotiations for their first contract begins next month.

Quest Diagnostics is a leading diagnostics services provider in oncology and genetics. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and has 45,000 employees.  Given the company’s prominence, workers hope that through the growing power of their combined voice, Quest Diagnostics workers will be able to influence and improve standards for workers throughout the industry.

L135 Quest SignPhlebotomist and lab technicians across the Northwest and Southwest began voting to join the UFCW after a chance encounter with their unionized counterparts in Washington state. With the encouragement and support of their coworkers, these workers are coming together and finding their voice.

Visit LabWorkersUnited.com to learn more.

December 16, 2015

Workers at Heritage WTI Say Yes to a Union Voice with the ICWUC

Heritage-WTI-2-300x169By a more than 4 to 1 margin, workers at Heritage WTI in East Liverpool, Ohio, have voted to form a union with the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) of the UFCW. Operations workers at the company, who perform hazardous incineration, finally prevailed in their union effort on November 20 after two previous unsuccessful organizing drives.

Jeff Owens, a 14-year veteran of the plant, partially credited recent legal changes that enabled just the operations workers to form a union and a shortened election period that didn’t let the company intimidate workers into voting “no” with their victory.

“We stuck together and knew what the company had done last time. They spread falsehoods and negativity about the union, but when we voted no they proceeded to systematically reduce our benefits and pay, so we knew they weren’t telling the truth,” said Owens. “We just wanted to be treated with respect and be recognized for the extremely dangerous work we do.”

Workers at the plan use a huge incinerator, or kiln, to dispose of chemicals and waste that most people don’t even want to come near.

“By forming our union, we’re going to stand up for better wages and better benefits,” said Owens. “We’re going to be able to support our families better and get the compensation we’ve earned for our hard work.”

December 10, 2015

UFCW Local 400 Applauds Introduction of “Just Hours” Legislation in D.C.

Just-Hours-L400Last week, Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400, which has more than 3,000 members living in Washington, D.C., released the following statement in response to the introduction of the “Hours and Scheduling Stability Act.”

“If you ask anyone who works at a retail store in D.C. how to improve their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Stable hours and predictable scheduling make it easier for people to plan their future and spend time with their families. Unfortunately, in the interest of maximizing their bottom lines, numerous retail stores in D.C. rely on erratic and last minute scheduling that forces people to work harder and longer and be unaware of their shift until the last moment.

“The Hours and Scheduling Stability Act would begin to curb these abusive scheduling practices by giving retail workers advance notice of their schedules, stopping on-call practices, and promoting full-time work opportunities by offering available hours to current employees before new ones are hired.

“The bottom line is that uncertain work schedules are too common in this city and they’re making it increasingly difficult for people who work at retail stores throughout D.C. to make ends meet.

“The legislation introduced today would go a long way towards ensuring retail workers in D.C. are given the consistent hours and schedules they need to create better lives for themselves and their families.

“We urge the D.C. Council to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act as soon as possible.”

Summary of Bill’s Key Provisions:

 Scheduling with advance notice so that people aren’t living day-to-day:

  • Employers must post schedules 21 days in advance.
  • If an employer initiates a schedule change thereafter, the employee will receive one hour of pay as compensation for the change.
  • If the change occurs within 24 hours of a shift, the employee is awarded four hours of pay.

 Promoting full-time work opportunities so that people have enough hours to make ends meet:

  • Employers will offer available hours to qualified current employees before hiring new employees.

 Stopping abusive “on-call” practices so families can plan their lives:

  • If an employer cancels an employee’s shift or declines to call in an “on-call” employee with less than 24 hours’ notice, the employee will receive four hours of pay.
  • The law already guarantees employees a minimum daily pay of four hours when they report to work – this provision would simply close the “on-call” shift loophole.

 Ensuring equal treatment for hourly employees:

  • An employer may not discriminate against employees of the same job qualification with regard to rate of pay, leave and promotion opportunities regardless of hours worked.

 Who does this legislation apply to?

  • Chain retail employers with at least five establishments nationwide; and chain fast-food and full-service restaurants with at least 20 establishments nationwide.

For more information, please visit the DC Just Hours website.

December 1, 2015

Bob’s Tire Company Workforce Votes Union “YES” in Historic Victory

This month, the story of a group of immigrant workers who organized and formed a union with UFCW Local 328 at Bob’s Tires Company in New Bedford, Massachusetts, back in September was highlighted in the November issue of Common Ground.

The following is adapted from Local 328’s website:

On Wednesday September 23rd, 2015, the workers of Bob’s Tire Company in New Bedford, Massachusetts voted 65-5 in favor of having UFCW Local 328 represent them during contract negotiations with the company. This was a significant and historic victory for the city of New Bedford, which maintains a very large Central and South American workforce. The workers of Bob’s Tire belong to the K’iche’ ethnic group from Guatemala, and their decisive victory marked the first time a group of workers from the Mayan community have organized with a union.

12045729_10153558385527557_3645819820551464456_oMeetings with the workers from Bob’s Tire, who are employed by the temporary agency BJ’s Temp Service, began when a delegation of well over half the workforce attended a meeting at CCT, a New Bedford community organization that specializes in fighting for social and economic justice for Latin Americans in the city. Between two meetings held over the course of five days, over 75% of the workers signed union authorization cards, leading us to file a petition shortly thereafter.

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Director of CCT Adrian Ventura (far left) with the worker committee from Bob’s Tire Company.

None of this work could have been possible without the help the Local received from the head of CCT, Adrian Ventura. Adrian’s exhaustive efforts for years in the field of social justice advocacy speak volumes not only of his character, but of his commitment to the workers of New Bedford. Working with Adrian and Jobs with Justice, the Local continued to hold meetings with the workers  Election Day rapidly approached.

aspacioWhen polls finally opened at 6am at the New Bedford facility, and over the next two hours a majority of the workers cast their ballots until the first block of voting concluded at 8am. The polls opened again at 11am, allowing anyone who had yet to cast a vote to do so, and then closed for the last time at 1pm. As one of the committee members, company officials, community group leaders and union organizers looked on, the representative from the National Labor Relations Board in Boston began tallying the ballots. By the end, a very large pile of “YES” ballots sat next to a diminutive pile of “NO” ballots. The results were signed by the company and the Local, and the first step of a long process toward social and economic justice for the workers of Bob’s Tire was over.

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The enormity of this success cannot be understated. A 65-5 vote is not only indicative of the strength of the collective willpower of the workforce at Bob’s Tire, but it is also a reflection of what can be achieved when workers come together to demand a higher quality of life for themselves and for their families. These workers have sent a strong message to the owners of not only this company, but to businesses throughout the city: injustice will not be tolerated, and that workers are willing to stand collectively against it. The workers at Bob’s Tire also sent a message to New Bedford’s K’iche’ community, its Latin American community, and to the city as a whole: the time for worker action is now. The workers at Bob’s Tire are willing to fight to improve their working conditions, their wages, and their benefits. We hope that other workers in the city and beyond take note, and recognize that by working together and speaking as a strong, unified voice, great things can be achieved. In the meantime, congratulations to the workers at Bob’s Tire Company, and we look forward to working with you in the weeks, months, and years to come.

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Tomas Ventura, member of the Bob’s Worker Committee and the union observer for the election, holding the final tally.

To see more photos of the workers from Bob’s, see the photo album. (photo credit to Lisa Maya Knauer)

For more news coverage, click here.