News and Updates
September 29, 2015
11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce to Keep in Mind During Hispanic Heritage Month
Originally posted by AFL-CIO
In a new report released this week, Latino Workers and Unions: A Strategic Partnership for America’s Progress, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement details the work environment for Latinos in the U.S. workforce. The picture the report paints isn’t a pretty one. Here are 11 important facts about Latino workers in the United States:
1. The Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States, currently at more than 55.4 million (17% of the overall population).
2. More than 26 million Latinos represent about 15% of the workforce, a number expected to nearly double by 2050.
3. In 2013, nearly one in four Latino families lived below the poverty line, nearly twice the national poverty rate.
4. Nearly one-fourth of Latinos work in low-wage jobs.
5. In 2014, the Latino unemployment rate was 6.7%, above the national rate of 5.5%.
6. In 2014, the average nonunion Latino made just $547 a week.
7. More than two-thirds of Latinos lack retirement accounts, and more than 80% of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.
8. Nearly 30% of Latinos lack health insurance.
9. More than three-fourths of Latino workers work in jobs where they face minimum wage or overtime pay violations.
10. In 2013, nearly 800 Latinos died at U.S. workplaces, the highest total since 2008.
11. Latinas on the job earn only 56% of what a white man earns and more than 75% of Latinas in the southern part of the United States report sexual assault being an issue in the workplace.
The report says that the key way for Latinos to improve this situation is through unions, a partnership that will yield many benefits for unions, too. The report concludes:
Although the current outlook for Latinos is uncertain, their potential for growth is impressive. Wielding over $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making huge gains in the workforce and electorate, it’s no surprise that the future for Latinos can be drastically different and positive. But in order to realize this potential, Latinos must harness their strengths and exert their voice in the workplace.
Gaining access to a union will be an essential step for Latino workers and their families. Through union representation, Latinos can achieve higher wages that will help them fight poverty and gain access to health and retirement benefits.
September 1, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, International President of the largest private sector union in the nation, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), released the following statement in response to news that the number of people struggling to survive on just $2 per day has more than doubled since 1996, placing 1.5 million American households into extreme poverty.
“The idea that there are 1.5 million families in America, the wealthiest nation on Earth, living on just $2 per day is beyond shocking and should be a wakeup call to all our political leaders – especially those running for President – that real change is needed now.
“This dire situation has only been worsened by irresponsible corporations like Walmart who rely on scheduling techniques that too often provide workers with unpredictable schedules and pay. These erratic scheduling practices make it clear that Walmart and many other bad employers are ok with making work hurt rather than pay.
“It is time for elected leaders, of both parties, to understand that a living wage, reliable work schedules, and the ability of all workers to organize and negotiate better lives, are keys to reducing poverty and strengthening our nation’s economic future.
“We can’t continue down a path where the jobs that are created only serve to perpetuate low wages, poverty and despair. We must do better, and our union family is committed to fighting these economic injustices in every way possible.”
July 22, 2015
Workers at Stoney Brothers, a marijuana dispensary in Portland, Ore., have approved the first-ever union contract for cannabis workers in Oregon and have joined UFCW Local 555. The vote to approve the contract was unanimous and sets a new standard for cannabis workers in Oregon.
“With our new contract, I am excited to have paid holidays and vacation time,” said Kyle Maestra, a site manager at Stoney Brothers. “That is unusual in the cannabis industry.”
The three-year contract includes salaries starting at $15/hour with some making as high as $34/hour, regular raises, affordable health insurance through a multi-employer fund, pension contributions, paid vacations and sick leave, as well as seniority and grievance protections.
“All workers deserve the benefits of a union contract,” said Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555, “and workers in the cannabis industry are no different. Starting with the workers at Stoney Brothers, we can build a home-grown Oregon cannabis industry that respects workers and provides good, family-supporting jobs.”
Workers at Stoney Brothers have expressed excitement about their industry-leading compensation package.
“Health insurance is important to me,” said Hannah Poole, a patient consultant at Stoney Brothers. “My union health insurance plan is comprehensive and gives me real peace of mind.”
Stoney Brothers and UFCW Local 555 look forward to growing together as the company plans to open several new retail and growing facilities in the near future.
June 17, 2015
Adrianna Beltran, a LabCorp worker from Covina, California spoke about gaining a voice on the job:
“I am very happy to join my coworkers who voted in May! It was very disrespectful that LabCorp fought us so hard during our election. We are forming a union because we want to better our working conditions. I want to address retirement so that we can have a better future. For my coworkers who are voting next, if we stick together we can achieve much more!”
Veronica Beltran, a UFCW LabCorp worker who won her election back in May, had a message for her new union brothers and sisters:
“Congratulations on winning your election! We are all working really hard to make our workplace better. Because we are forming a union, LabCorp is making fast promises of changes that they had said ‘no’ to for many years! This is exactly why having a union works! Now, let’s keep winning the elections so that we can get our contract!”
Local 1428 hopes to begin discussing contact negotiations in July.
June 3, 2015
Workers at Food Front Co-op stores have voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 555. After an overwhelming vote in favor of joining the union, 91 workers will become members of UFCW Local 555.
Food Front Co-op has two stores in the Northwest and Hillsdale neighborhoods of Portland. With more than 10,000 member-owners, democratic governance is a foundational value at Food Front. As union members, store workers will now have their own democratic voice in the co-op.
“We are the union at Food Front,” said Russell Kwong. “Our union will help assure customers that we are treated fairly and that the co-op is run democratically. Improving our standards at the co-op benefits employees, customers and owners — and subsequently the whole community.”
For Food Front workers, a union voice on the job reinforces the collaborative values that brought them to the co-op. In the coming weeks, workers will sit down with management to negotiate a first contract that solves existing problems and improves working conditions.
“The bottom line is that we wish to be respected, heard, treated equally and most of all supported,” said Kira Davis, a store worker. “I believe that creating our union can help strengthen us. As a union, we will empower everyone through education, communication and action.”
May 28, 2015
Last week, LabCorp phlebotomists voted to join UFCW Locals 1167 and 1428. The 40 workers are located in seven locations across Southern California. The phlebotomists work in either off-site lab testing facilities, clinics, or doctor offices. LabCorp workers decided to come together and join a union for better wages, working conditions, and improved safety measures. Negotiations are expected to begin in July or August.
“I voted yes to join the union to improve working conditions at LabCorp and to lift the standard of living for my fellow coworkers,” said Leon Gutierrez, a LabCorp phlembotomist. I have been in the phlebotomy for more than 24 years and the conditions for non-union phlebotomists at companies like LabCorp have only gotten worse. It’s time that LabCorp values us like the professionals we are and gives us the respect and dignity we deserve.”
During the campaign, both local unions hosted several union meetings with the workers and collectively they organized phone trees for organizing calls. In response to the campaign, the company hired anti-union consultants to try to convince the workers not to join the UFCW. Workers pushed back during those meetings though and continued to stay united to have a voice on the job.
“I am very proud of my coworkers and myself. Despite how hard LabCorp tried to convince us otherwise, we stuck together in order to make sure that we have the opportunity to better our working conditions. I am excited to become a member of the UFCW,” said LabCorp phlembotomist Veronica Beltran.
This first LabCorp election is the beginning of a larger organizing campaign for LabCorps workers. There are upcoming LabCorp organizing elections scheduled in June for both locals.
May 20, 2015
On May 11-13, all four of the UFCW constituency groups held a summit to lay out goals and strategize new organizational plans for the next few years. More than 20 members attended the summit to represent the different groups which include the UFCW Women’s Network, United Latinos, UFCW Minority Coalition, and UFCW OUTreach.
During the summit, members worked together to identify ways the constituency groups can help the UFCW grow along with recommitting to support locals unions by assisting in organizing campaigns, mentoring workers, and helping to amplify the voices of minorities and women in the workplace. Members also came together to create a civil rights agenda to better serve UFCW members. Another priority from the summit was for the constituency groups to strive to have a more geographically diverse board leadership with a focus in the South.
The constituency groups left the summit with four specific goals that reflect the larger goals of the UFCW set by International President Marc Perrone. For the next few years, the constituency groups agreed to create transformational change within their organizations by:
-Recommitting to better tracking and organizing constituency membership information
-Creating new relationships with community allies
-Serving as a resource for local unions by supporting their members and helping to grow their membership
-Playing an active role leading up to, and during, the 2016 election and supporting “Get Out the Vote” efforts
The constituency groups left the summit as a united force ready to empower their group members and serve as a resource for all UFCW members.
Kathy Finn from UFCW Local 770 attended the summit on behalf of the UFCW Women’s Network.
“The constituency group summit gave us the time and space to look critically at how the constituency groups can more effectively further the overall goals of the UFCW. One of the most important things to come out of the summit was a commitment from all of the constituency groups to work together on developing a broad civil rights agenda for the UFCW. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop our agenda further and present it the rest of the UFCW,”said Finn.
Pete Maturino is from UFCW Local 5 and is the president of the United Latinos.
“For me, the highlight of the constituency group summit was that the four constituency groups were able to come together and come up with a unified agenda that highlights the valuable role that these constituency groups play in our union. During the summit, I was surprised to learn from the UFCW political department about the lack of voting among UFCW members in the 17-35 age range. 2016 will be a very important year in politics and we came together to map out a plan on what we can do this election cycle,” said Maturino.
Tonya McCoy has been a part of UFCW Local 75 for more than 20 years and attended the summit as a member of the UFCW Minority Coalition.
“I’m excited that all four constituency groups came together to create a robust civil rights agenda and committed to promoting diversity within the UFCW. Following the summit, I was excited to come back to my local and inspire members to take an active role in our union. The constituency groups are a vital part of the UFCW because they are another tool that will help the UFCW to grow,” McCoy said.
Laura Kelley is an organizer for UFCW Local 655 and is the Vice Chair for UFCW OUTreach.
“It was a “think tank” of brilliant minds for one common goal, making the UFCW the best, most diverse, and powerful union possible! The in-depth discussions, ideas, and open dialogue were very interesting, and everyone who attended added to the dynamic of the energy of the summit. It was a great opportunity to share our needs and set expectations for the future of our great union. Working together as one group instead of four individual groups will help push the agenda of becoming an all-inclusive union. Politically, our members and our communities can be a powerful force, and we talked about how to build coalitions around our issues and educate voters for the 2016 elections,” Kelley said.
May 13, 2015
UFCW Alleges Company Fired Workers for Union Activity in Unfair Labor Practice Charges
Heavener, OK: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 is formally filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that two UFCW organizing committee members were illegally fired last week by OK Foods in Heavener, OK.
Local 1000 President Ricky Burris said, “Joshua Deases and Jason Muller were fired illegally last week. These two have been leaders in the organizing campaign at OK Foods to help maintenance workers get a voice at work. Both of them testified on behalf of the union in front of an NLRB Hearing Officer last year and served as official observers in the May 1st, 2014 election. The NLRB set the May 1st election aside because of repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act and now OK Foods is again violating the Act by firing these workers. I strongly condemn these terminations.”
Maintenance worker Jason Muller said, “I’m not discouraged. The more they harass pro-union workers, the harder we will fight. OK Foods won’t intimidate us. OK Foods is persecuting Josh Deases and myself because of our union activities. This company, and specifically the CEO Trent Goins, should be ashamed.”
UFCW Local 1000 represents 11,000 workers across Oklahoma and North Texas including people who work at grocery stores and food production facilities. UFCW Local 1000 is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 250,000 poultry production workers across the United States and Canada.
April 2, 2015
UFCW Local 655 members and staff in Saint Louis, Mo., attended the first Equity and Inclusion Diversity Leadership Training put together by the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department. Over the course of two and a half days, about a dozen UFCW Local 655 leaders from a variety of backgrounds participated in the first session of the three-part diversity training series. The training was developed to help increase staff and members’ knowledge and awareness of diversity issues and elevate the importance of inclusiveness in local unions. The program focuses on local union leaders developing cultural competence with a new set of attitudes, skills, and behaviors in order to have themselves and their organizations work effectively in cross-cultural situations and workplace diversity. Ultimately, the trainings are designed to empower participants to take action and help steer their local union to develop and promote organizational equity and focus on fairness in order to create change in a local union’s culture.
“Stepping outside of my comfort zone may be uncomfortable, but it can be a stepping stone for my future responsibilities as a leader in my local union. Thanks to the diversity training, I am ready to go back to work and start taking action to build relationships with other members to empower us to stand united for justice and equality in our union and in our communities,” said UFCW Local 655 member Amy Nichols.
UFCW Local 655 hosted their diversity training for local union leaders in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and the impact that the Ferguson events have had on the labor movement in the state. The first session in the diversity training is titled “Why Diversity Matters.” During this session, participants were involved in an open dialogue about the origin of racism, and the history of racial inequality and its roots in economic injustice. They examined different identities and how they relate to people in the workplace and society. Participants discussed the ways people experience or observe different forms of discrimination at work and in the community. They also learned about what being an ally and having solidarity means in a labor context.
“We need to have the difficult conversations with our coworkers, members, and the community about why this fight for equality is so important. We need to take the conversations from the trainings out to our workplaces and communities if we want to start taking real action to create change and an environment of inclusiveness,” said UFCW Local 655 staffer Theresa Hester.
During the first session, participants were later joined by young activists from Missouri, who are fighting for social and economic justice in Ferguson and throughout the state. Participants will follow up the training with recruiting members and coworkers for the April 15 Workers’ Day of Action activities.
“In today’s America where we are more diverse as a country than ever, it is incumbent on current labor to develop future leaders that act and look like our society. If our current labor leaders do not provide the needed training to a young diverse workforce our labor leaders tomorrow will not reflect the make-up of our society. On a broader spectrum, I would hope all leaders not just labor leaders would be training for a more diverse leadership team in the future. I believe the best possibility to end the wealth disparity in America is to have diverse leaders in the future and the only way to achieve this is to provide leadership training today to a diverse group of workers,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook.
“The training for new UFCW leaders is critical at this juncture of the union movement. Union leaders will need to have new skills to recruit and engage members in a changing workforce demographic. I’m encouraged to see union leaders such as UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook, taking the initiative to embrace this challenge of diversity and racial equity and getting leaders in the local involved. Unions must take on the dual fight against the various “isms” both inside and outside the union. Unions are a critical part of the social justice movement that’s building power for all workers,” said Jamala Rogers, one of the diversity program trainers, a retired teacher and member of AFT.
UFCW Local 655 will complete the other two parts of the diversity program in the coming months. The second session will be “Race and Politics,” which will take place in July, and the third session “New Generation Diversity: I Am Today’s Leader,” will take place in November.
To see some great discussion and other highlights from this training session, click here.
To learn more about the diversity trainings and hosting a training at your local, contact the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 25, 2015
Vote Overwhelmingly to Join UFCW Local 1625
St. Petersburg, Fla. — Last night, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) at the Allegro Nursing Home in St. Petersburg, Fla., voted ‘Union Yes’ to join the 7,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1625. Thirty CNAs on staff came together to form a union in order to improve working conditions at Allegro.
“I am so proud of my team today. We stood up to management’s efforts to intimidate and divide us, and together, we won,” said Eleanor Mitchell, CNA, who has worked for Allegro for 25 years. “With a union, we now have the power to shape a better future at Allegro.”
An election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board showed strong support for a union, with more than 90 percent of votes returned in favor of the union.
“The courage shown by these workers is extraordinary. These Certified Nursing Assistants are standing up for the dignity of all workers in the caretaking professions,” said Ed Chambers, President of UFCW Local 1625 headquartered in Lakeland, Fla.
The 30 CNAs were able to form a unit made up of a single job classification following a 2011 decision by the National Labor Relations Board in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation of Mobile. This decision permitted CNAs to form union bargaining units by ruling that CNAs as “readily identifiable as a group” and as sharing a “community of interest.”
The workers will now begin negotiating with Allegro for their first union contract and seek to establish a more fair and transparent schedule for raises and better working conditions.
Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org
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