News and Updates
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 email@example.com.
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
We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.
March 24, 2015
Workers meet to discuss future of co-ops and the food industry
Charlemont, Mass. – Dozens of co-op workers from three states and representing six both worker- and member-owned co-ops met Saturday at the first-ever regional co-op workers summit. The event, hosted by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1459, was the first of its kind.
“Co-ops have a unique place in our economy,” said Dan Clifford, President of Local 1459. “They are businesses that have the higher purpose of serving the communities in which they operate. As the co-op movement grows, sometimes the voice of co-op workers get lost. This summit was an important step to ensure those voices are heard and that co-ops live up to their highest aspirations.”
Workers from co-ops in Western Massachusetts, New York and Vermont gathered for panels on the future of the co-op movement and their role in improving their workplaces, their communities and the food we all eat. They also heard from Frances Moore Lappé, best-selling author of Diet for a Small Planet, who spoke about the important role that co-ops and co-op workers can have in building a more sustainable global economy.
“It’s critically important that the co-op movement doesn’t leave the workers’ voice behind,” said John Cevasco, a grocery worker from Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield, Mass. and a UFCW Local 1459 member. “We found our voice at Greenfield’s by forming a union, and I know our co-op is stronger because of it.”
“Our communities need high quality, local food and good family-supporting jobs,” said Russell Ziemba, a worker from the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, N.Y. “Co-ops can play a critical role in meeting those needs if they listen to the voice of their workers. That’s why I’m glad I had the opportunity to be here and learn from other co-op workers in my region.”
The co-op workers also issued a series of collective recommendations to the regional and state food system plans, re-envisioning how the food system could serve the needs of citizens even better. They hope by injecting the voice of ground level workers and co-ops into the plan that they can make the plans both more ecologically and economically more sustainable.
March 10, 2015
Healthcare workers at United Pioneer Home in Luck, Wis., voted “Union Yes” in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Workers showed their strong support for having a union voice and joined UFCW Local 1189. Dignity, respect, and a voice on the job were among the reasons the workers felt they needed to belong to a union.
United Pioneer Home workers Rachael Schmid and Heidi Swanson said, “We’re excited to have a voice. When we tried to speak up to make our workplace better, our voices would go unheard and the home’s board of directors would speak for us. This was a problem because they wouldn’t listen to us and they didn’t understand the changes we needed.”
“I’m looking forward to having respect and dignity on the job,” said Sam Everson, who also works at United Pioneer Home.
United Pioneer Home is a retirement home that provides long-term care and housing to senior citizens in the Luck, Wis., community.
February 25, 2015
In June 2014, the UFCW accepted 36 promising young members from across the country into the first-ever session of the UFCW GOLD Internship program, which launched in Chicago.
Now, after a wildly successful first year, the GOLD program is preparing for its 2015 session. The UFCW GOLD Internship Program provides growth opportunities for learning and development in order to raise up future union leaders and activists.
The 2015 program will select 36 rank-and-file members in the United States to participate in a seven-week program. The program will run from June 21 – August 5, 2015. Interns are required to participate in the entire length of the program. All interns should have a valid driver’s license and be flexible with travel outside of their home area.
During the program, there will be a four-week action project that interns will be individually assigned. Action projects will be assigned within one of five areas: Legislative and Political Action; Organizing; Collective Bargaining; Civil Rights; and Health and Safety. Last year’s action projects included working on a earned sick leave ordinance in the city of Chicago; working on a Retail Bill of Rights in San Francisco; participating in the Summer for Respect alongside Walmart workers fighting for justice on the job; and many other important projects relating to the welfare of working people.
You can learn much more about the upcoming session, and what previous GOLD participants learned from their experiences by visiting the updated website: http://gold.ufcw.org/.
Be sure to also check out the video recap of the 2014 session, where participants share their experiences and talk about what service projects they worked on.
“Getting the chance to come out to Chicago, meeting different people from different locals—it’s been an eye opener,” said 2014 UFCW Local 21 participant Bruce Le.
Fellow participant Samantha Christian also noted that after completing the program she felt like “we are all related—we are all brothers and sisters. I’ve never been as comfortable with people as I have been with the people I met here.”
Melissa Berry said she applied to become a GOLD participant because she felt that “a lot of people don’t know the role of their union, or what part they can play in it. I was eager to meet new people and learn about how we can spread the message.”
Tracy Officer, who worked on a service project in the Seattle area, said that “this internship builds us up—it gives us the knowledge to go back to our locals and give them the inspiration to say, ‘We are one. If you have an issue, we are fighting it together, and you don’t have to do it alone.’ I’ve been in the union for almost twelve years and I didn’t know that until this program.”
The deadline to apply to the 2015 session is April 1, 2015. You can find both the English and Spanish applications at http://gold.ufcw.org/application/.
February 9, 2015
One of the greatest moments of the Civil Rights era was the March on Washington in 1963–one of the largest non-violent protests to ever occur in America. The March on Washington brought thousands of people of all races together, in the name of equal rights for everyone–whether they were black or white, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. made one of his most inspiring and famous speeches at the march, which culminated on the National mall.
But history has often overlooked the man who was the driving force behind this monumental event–a man named Bayard Rustin. Rustin was the one who organized the march, bringing methods used by Gandhi as well as the Quaker religion to Washington to ensure peace, but also impact. It was Rustin who helped shape Dr. King into the iconic symbol of peace he is remembered as.
As a young adult, Rustin worked with many kinds of people who influenced his activism, including ministers and labor organizers. During World War II, Rustin fought against racial discrimination in war-related hiring, and was later jailed for two years after refusing to enter the draft. Then, after protesting segregated transit systems, he was sentenced to work on a chain gang for several weeks.
Despite being punished for his beliefs, Rustin continued to work towards changing things for the better. In 1953, Bayard Rustin arrived in Montgomery, Alabama to partake in the famous bus boycott that kicked off after Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. The boycott brought many civil rights leaders to the area, including a young Dr. Martin Luther King, who had not yet embraced non-violence. But Rustin taught many who were partaking in the boycott how Gandhi had used peaceful tactics to bring change in India, and people saw the importance of these tactics, and began to embrace them, focusing on direct protest.
Rustin was also a champion of workers rights. In 1965, Rustin and his mentor A. Philip Randolph co-founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a labor organization for African-American trade union members. Much of his work emphasized that labor rights were an integral part of the civil rights movement.
Although Bayard Rustin was a tireless activist, his life achievements are unknown to many, and he has even been called the “lost prophet” of the civil rights movement. This is largely because not only was Rustin silenced and threatened like many others were for being a black man speaking out for equal rights, but also because he was openly gay in a time when homophobia and bigotry was rampant. Rustin continued his life as an openly gay man, even after being incarcerated for it, and is seen as a champion of the LGBT movement still today. Despite being beaten, arrested, jailed, and fired from various leadership positions, Rustin overcame and made a huge impact on the civil and economic rights movements.
America has a long way to go before Rustin’s dreams of equal human rights for all are achieved, but without him, we perhaps would not be where we are today. Today, we have a black president, more women in leadership positions, and more of legislation in the states overturning old and outdated laws barring gay couples from marrying. These are just a few examples of the progress our country has made since Rustin’s time, and working people will continue to work so that ALL people have equal rights–at work and at home.
January 13, 2015
Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Training Program Provides Great Opportunity for Union Leaders and Staff, Community Activists
Adapted from the AFL-CIO
The AFL-CIO Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Training Program (BLUS) 2015 classes are now open for registration.
The program is designed for union leaders, staff and community activists and offers intensive hands-on training around the areas of collective bargaining; organizing; arbitration and grievance handling; leadership for new union officers; strategic campaigns for contracts; teaching techniques; and best financial practices.
Taught by a group of experienced instructors, the BLUS program brings together rising union activists and community allies with the end goal of helping participants to better serve their unions and communities.
The classes cover many aspects of union training, such as writing contract language, arbitration, and organizing.
Most classes are held at the MITAGS training center in Linthicum, MD. MITAGS is close to BWI Airport, Amtrak, and I-95. Free shuttle service is offered to and from the airport and train station.
For more information, visit aflcio.org/union-skills.
This is a great opportunity for UFCW Locals and members to get more involved in their union, workplace, and community.
January 8, 2015
Last month, service and maintenance workers at Providence Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, Wash., voted ‘Union Yes’ to join UFCW Local 21. More than 240 workers at the hospital won union representation.
UFCW Local 21 members from the nearby Providence Sacred Heart hospital were an active part of the campaign, reaching out to Holy Family workers with stories of their own organizing drive and first contract.
“Several years ago, we organized a union because we wanted job security and protection from management. Since we formed our union, we have had significant pay increases, rights at work, and peace of mind,” recounted Colette O’Harra, a housekeeper at Providence Sacred Heart. “I am proud to stand with the workers at Holy Family as they join our union family.”
Workers at Providence Holy Family look forward to using their new voice on the job to improve patient care and to negotiate a contract that provides better job security and fairness in the workplace.