News and Updates
June 18, 2018
Whole Foods has changed for the worse since Amazon purchased the grocery chain for $13.7 billion last June, said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement issued on June 15.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“Slowly but surely, Amazon is making Whole Foods a much worse place to work and shop.
“This is unsurprising. Amazon’s retail vision replaces good jobs and talented employees with automation.
“Political leaders must realize now, before it’s too late, that the massive job loss this business model leads to could cripple our entire economy.
“The dedicated men and women who work at Whole Foods have earned and deserve better than the treatment they are receiving from Amazon.”
June 18, 2018
Hundreds of Kroger associates and supporters rallied outside of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia, on June 12 to protest a possible store closing in Norfolk and demand more information about the company’s recent acquisition of eight Farm Fresh stores in the Hampton Roads region.
In March, Kroger announced plans to renovate the Farm Fresh locations and reopen them as Kroger stores. However, one of the Farm Fresh stores is directly across the street from an existing Kroger store at 205 East Little Creek Road in Norfolk. The workers at the Kroger store, who are members of UFCW Local 400, have asked if they will be allowed to transfer to the new store across the street; however, Kroger has refused to give them straight answers.
At the rally, the workers delivered petitions signed by thousands of Kroger employees and customers in five shopping carts to Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division President Jerry Clontz, asking for Kroger officials to meet with them and let them know that they will have the opportunity to transfer to the new store across the street without losing the benefits they have earned.
“I think they know what is going to happen and we want an answer,” said Kroger florist Marjorie Mathena in an interview with WVTF, Virginia’s public radio station. “And our question is we all want to go in one store. We are one family. We have been there all this time, more than 20 years.”
June 4, 2018
Approximately 350 King Soopers Marketplace workers in Arvada, Colorado, joined UFCW Local 7 on May 9. Employees at the newly opened store are excited to have a voice in the workplace, union insurance and a pension. As members of UFCW Local 7, they will also receive credit for prior experience within the company and in other retail stores, which will help them reach journeyman status.
May 21, 2018
On May 15, UFCW International President Marc Perrone responded to news that Amazon Go stores, which replace cashiers with technology, would be opening in Chicago and San Francisco. According to Bloomberg, the Amazon Go store concept saves customers just 50 seconds and employs up to three fewer people compared with the average U.S. convenience store.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“This isn’t about technology or convenience, this is about Amazon’s and Jeff Bezos’ greed.
“Amazon’s unchecked expansion of this job-killing store concept should be of great concern to everyone who lives and works in America.
“It is time for elected leaders to stop being fooled by Amazon’s HQ2 search and see this company for what it really is – a monopoly that threatens millions of American jobs and hard-working families.”
May 21, 2018
On May 11, 13 King Soopers deli workers in Broomfield, Colorado, voted to join UFCW Local 7 by an overwhelming margin. King Soopers is a supermarket brand of Kroger. The workers organized for better wages and health insurance, as well as credit for prior retail experience. Despite the company’s delays and tactics since October 2017, including trying to block the election less than 40 hours before voting began, these workers held strong.
On April 22, 80 workers at six former Loaf ‘N Jug convenience stores in Denver, which are now under the King Soopers banner, joined UFCW Local 7. Kroger recently sold their convenience stores to the England-based EG Group, including the Loaf ‘N Jug brand. However, Kroger kept and rebranded the Denver area Loaf ‘N Jug stores to King Soopers convenience stores. By joining UFCW Local 7 as King Soopers workers, the workers gained pay increases, union health care and a union pension.
March 12, 2018
Local 653 Members at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s and Independent Grocers in Minnesota Ratify New Contracts
On March 4, members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s Markets and independent grocers approved multi-year contracts with their employers that build better lives for more than 4,000 families in the Twin Cities.
Benefit highlights include the creation of an industry-wide groundbreaking Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAP). Employees from Supervalu and the independent grocers will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAP beginning in January 2019.
Workers at Kowalski’s who qualify for the 401(k)-retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and the company. These include full-time contributions from $1.85-$4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Employees at Supervalu Cub Foods have agreed to a five-year contract. Employees at Kowalski’s have agreed to a three-year contract, as well as employees from Haug’s (Cub), Radermacher’s (Cub), King’s Andover, Jubilee Foods in Mound, Oxendale’s and Driskill’s. Employees at Almsted’s Fresh Market and Knowlan’s Festival Foods have agreed to a two-year agreement.
All of the contracts provide wage increases for all workers. Both part-time and full-time workers at Supervalu Cub will receive raises each year of the five-year contract. The average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers at Supervalu is $8,582.03.
Additional economic highlights of the contract include improved quality of part-time positions at Supervalu and Kowalski’s, including three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six paid national holidays, paid bereavement, and Jury Duty leave. Additionally, Supervalu will provide ancillary benefits to all part-time workers that include dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
All eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increase true cost of the Health & Welfare plan across contracts.
The total worker compensation of the Supervalu contract is over $102 million in the first year alone.
All workers covered under the approved contracts will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved language, including respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“One of the things that sticks with me is that all of the agreements added respect and dignity in the workplace language. That language levels the playing field for workers, and affirms we are the most valuable asset. I’m proud of that,” said Elizabeth Johnson of Kowalski’s in Uptown.
“I’m inspired by our members today who said yes to improving the quality of their livelihoods and future. We’re continuing to build better lives for our retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “The Variable Annuity Pension Plan is the vehicle to reach the retirement security that our members earn and deserve. Together, we’re leading the industry in pension solutions that establish the goal of a dignified retirement.”
March 12, 2018
The three-year and four-month agreement raises starting wages to at least $10 per hour and accelerates wage progressions to $11 per hour after one year of service. The agreement also includes affordable health care, and continued investments in the workers’ pension fund.
“UFCW Local 75 strives to negotiate contracts that secure better wages and affordable benefits, providing a voice for hard-working men and women and strengthening our communities, and this contract does those important things,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey.
March 5, 2018
On Feb. 25, 1,600 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Jerry’s Enterprises, Inc. grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new three-year contract that includes better wages and benefits. Jerry’s Enterprises operates 13 Cub Foods, two Jerry’s Foods, and Richfield Rainbow Foods stores.
Melanie Millner, a deli manager at Minneapolis Lake Street Jerry’s Cub said, “I’m proud of the working relationship we have as a union with Jerry’s. I’m excited to see the results of higher wages with my coworkers. I know it will bring better morale and retention in our stores and it is going to make a difference in families’ wallets.”
Both part-time and full-time workers at Jerry’s will receive raises each year of the contract.
The contract improves the quality of part-time positions, and includes increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
Workers will also enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the Health & Welfare plan.
“The Health & Welfare we negotiated is a substantial savings to our families, especially the way health insurance costs are rising nowadays,” said Bill Jensen, a meat cutter at Elk River Cub Foods.
Employers will contribute a union negotiated rate into a 401(k) for eligible employees. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 and part-time is $1.35 an hour. UFCW Local 653 has also secured two plan trustees.
Workers will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved contract language that addresses respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“I’m really happy that language around respect and dignity is now a part of our agreement. Hard working families come first, and I’m glad that language reflects our shared values,” said Nate McClerin, part-time Deli worker at West Broadway Cub Foods.
“I’m proud our members with Jerry’s voted yes to building better lives for themselves and their families. A sincere thank you to our union bargaining committee who worked together with Jerry’s. Together with the recent Lunds & Byerlys contract, we continue to improve the quality of life for working families in Minnesota,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht.
February 20, 2018
More than 2,100 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Lunds & Byerlys grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new contract on Feb. 11. The three-year agreement includes an increase in wages and better benefits, and the total economic value of the contract is over $60 million over the first year alone.
The new agreement raises wages for part-time and full-time workers during each year of the contract, and the average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers is $3,708.89.
“This raise will provide more financial stability and economic independence for myself and my family. Since I’m part-time, making more money and only having to work one job makes me worry less each month. It means a lot,” said Taddeo Balma, who works in the produce department of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnetonka.
The contract increases the number and security of full-time positions, and improves the quality of part-time positions. Five hundred and fifteen workers will become regular part-time, which guarantees them increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave for domestic partners, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
“When you are part-time, it comes down to the bottom line. I’m on Medicare, and the dental ancillary benefit is huge. It adds a tremendous value to my life,” said Mary Heintz of the Burnsville Lunds & Byerlys, who will now become a regular part-time employee.
Workers who qualify for the 401(k) retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and Lunds & Byerlys. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Workers will also enjoy expanded non-discrimination language that covers gender, gender identification, pregnancy, veterans, and criminal record after employment. Employees who return on breaks from high school and college will retain seniority. New to the contract is automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology is implemented in the store.
“I applaud our members for saying ‘yes’ by voting in this new three-year contract,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “In the 37 years that I have been with Local 653, this contract brings the most dramatic improvements to the most workers that I’ve ever seen. I’m proud that our union bargaining committee worked together with Lunds & Byerlys to make so many working families’ lives better.”
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.”