April 10, 2017
On March 16 and 17, UFCW Local 653 hosted a Stewards Conference in Brooklyn Center, Minn., for 90 members who work in a variety of industries. At the conference, participants attended workshops about labor history; understanding union contracts and rights; organizing to build worker power; challenges and threats to worker prosperity; and how to build a broader workers’ movement with partners.
The number of stewards at UFCW Local 653 has grown from 40 to 90 in five months, and includes workers from retail, health care, meat processing, food production and other industries. Conference participants found the workshops and the ability to meet their fellow stewards positive and uplifting.
“A strong union will help improve worker relationships. It will teach us to always look out for the little guy and stand up for our rights,” said Willis Olive, a UFCW Local 653 steward who has worked at Cub Foods for 18 years.
“I love being with the residents and am a steward because I want to have a voice for what is right!” said Casey Pangburn, a UFCW Local 653 steward and nursing assistant who has been with Benedictine Health Center for one year.
“I enjoy the high pace work as well as the great people that I have worked with throughout my career,” said Paul Swanson, a UFCW Local 653 steward who has worked in the retail industry for 26 years. “I am a steward because I want to actively work to improve my work experience and that of my coworkers.”
November 3, 2016
On Oct. 22, UFCW Local 648, in partnership with Californians for Safety and Justice and the San Francisco Labor Council, hosted a Proposition 47 Live Scan, record change and job fair clinic in San Francisco to help people with prior nonviolent felonies to petition to get their records changed.
At the event, attorneys volunteered their time and met with each attendee, one on one. The San Francisco Labor Council, City College of San Francisco, Up Vote and the San Francisco Airport Office of Employment all had informational booths, as well. Union members that attended the Proposition 47 Live Scan event and attorney meetings said they were thankful for the opportunity to change their records and move forward with their lives.
In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, a measure that reduces certain low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors. The savings from reduced incarceration costs are invested in drug and mental health treatment, programs for at-risk students in K-12 schools, and victim services. Over one million Californians quality for Proposition 47, but only about 250,000 people have petitioned to have their records changed. Proposition 47 was due to sunset in November 2017, but Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 2757 to extend the time to petition for another five years.
The UFCW has partnered with a number of local and national organizations in an effort to bring to light the issues that are plaguing our communities and transform the criminal justice system.
UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Robin Williams believes restorative rights are especially important for workers. “When you get out of jail, how do you take care of your family if you can’t get a job?” Williams said.
Together with our allies, the UFCW is dedicated to shifting the focus away from punishment and toward educational opportunities that help people change their lives and get back on track.
November 1, 2016
Last month, UFCW Local 1208 partnered with United Way of Robeson County to distribute much needed food to members across southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. The event, which was held at the Family Dollar in Lumberton, provided assistance to over 150 workers and their families. Members of UFCW Local 204, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and corporate partners like Kroger and Kellogg’s, also donated items to help Local 1208 members and their families.
Stephanie Franklin, a member of Local 1208 who has worked at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel for more than 11 years and lives in Lumberton, was one of the recipients.
“The whole area was affected by Hurricane Matthew,” Franklin said. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and this was one of the worst storms I’ve seen. My son is four years old, and we were stuck in our trailer for two days during the storm and we didn’t have enough food or water. Our trailer is up high, but the bathroom ceiling caved in a little bit and the water was still up to my waist.”
“The relief effort meant a lot and shows that Local 1208 is there for you. I appreciate everything they gave me and my son,” Franklin said. “We’re slowly getting back to normal.”
“Hurricane Matthew brought incredible hardship to our friends and neighbors, and it is times like these that we must come together to help those in need” said Ella Ellerbe, who has worked in packaging at Smithfield for ten years. “Our union family, working with our partners, are proud to help our local members and their families get the food assistance they need. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our members recover from this storm because no hard-working family should ever have to struggle alone.”
UFCW Local 1208 worked with Smithfield Foods to ensure that everyone at the plant in Tar Heel received a full week’s pay when Hurricane Matthew struck, regardless of actual time on the job. Members of Local 1208 have contributed more than $10,000 to United Way of Robeson County to help their community recover from Hurricane Matthew.
October 27, 2016
This month, after standing together to improve working conditions, Jim Beam workers in Clermont and Boston, Ky., ratified a new contract by a vote of 204 to 19. The workers are members of UFCW Local 111D.
UFCW Local 111D President Janelle Mudd released the following statement regarding the new two-year contract:
“Today’s vote is the culmination of the efforts of many to reach a compromise that will, ultimately, benefit everyone. After months of negotiation and feeling like the voice of UFCW 111D was not being heard, we had hoped that we would not have to go on strike to reach an agreement with Beam Suntory management. In the end, we made a strong statement and we were heard.
“The final proposal includes many of the key elements that we felt so strongly about, such as equal pay for equal work, a cap on temporary employees and the hiring of more full-time employees. We appreciate management’s diligence to reach an agreement with the union. They met with employees from a cross section of departments from both the Clermont and Boston plants, and representatives talked to employees on the picket line to clarify the areas of greatest need.
“We would also like to thank all the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported us with donations of money, supplies, food and beverages; those who honked, waved and stopped to give words of encouragement; those who picketed with us; and those who refused to cross the picket line.”
October 13, 2016
With so much at stake in this election, not voting is simply not an option. Which is why our UFCW union family is helping to ensure everyone who wants to vote on November 8th will be able to.
There’s still time to register in many states, but deadlines are approaching quickly. Anyone who wants to register to vote should visit VOTE.ORG or HELLO.VOTE as soon as possible. It only takes one minute to register to vote and you can do it from your phone.
Our vote is our voice – let’s use it. By voting, we can raise up the issues that matter the most and secure the better America all of us have earned and deserve.
Register today by visiting VOTE.ORG or HELLO.VOTE on your mobile phone.
October 7, 2016
Last month, UFCW Locals 27, 227, 400, 655 and 888 partnered with Faces of Our Children and Howard University during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
The locals held actions to help raise awareness, support and funding for the fight against sickle cell disease, and also helped families who are coping with the disease with bills and food. Faces of Our Children is active in 12 states.
Together, our union family is working to create a better life in our communities.
For more information about Faces of Our Children, visit http://www.facesofourchildren.org.
September 29, 2016
On Sept. 19, Seattle’s City Council passed a historic Secure Scheduling Ordinance by a vote of 9-0. The new scheduling law will require all retail, grocery and food businesses in Seattle with 500 or more employees to provide their employees with their work schedules two weeks in advance and offer existing part-time employees more hours before hiring more workers. The law will also provide workers with a right to request desired shifts, compensation for last minute scheduling changes, and prohibit back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Members of UFCW Local 21 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
UFCW Local 21 members testified at every city council hearing, lobbied their elected officials, made hundreds of phone calls, and participated in numerous actions. Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017.
“Now that we won secure scheduling, I’ll have basic economic security and good workplace scheduling practices,” said Christiano Steele, a UFCW Local 21 grocery worker. “It will allow me to not have to struggle to make ends meet and have a reasonable work-life balance”
September 14, 2016
On September 7, the St. Paul City Council passed the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance by a vote of 7-0, joining Minneapolis and dozens of other cities nationwide that mandate earned sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 1189 played a big role in the passage of this legislation.
“The ability to earn and use sick time in the city of St. Paul is a huge step toward creating healthier workplaces and healthier lives,” said UFCW Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen. “I am proud of the tireless work done by our state’s unions. Bennie Hesse, Local 1189 legislative and political director, was a leader in the crusade, working with Union Steward (and Executive Board Member) Dennis Reeves to provide important testimony to the city council on the need for paid sick and safe time for grocery workers.”
Members of UFCW Local 1189 served on a task force put together by the city council and mayor for a year and worked with a coalition of advocates and other labor groups to raise awareness about this issue. The Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017 for businesses in St. Paul with at least 24 employees. Smaller businesses will have to comply by Jan. 1, 2018.
August 9, 2016
Every year, we celebrate Labor Day to honor working people and all their contributions to our country and its middle class. The UFCW is made up of hard-working men and women who serve in our communities at retail and grocery stores, meatpacking and processing plants, and countless other facilities across multiple industries.
This year, the UFCW International is hosting its first ever Labor Day art contest, to celebrate working people with something made by working people!
UFCW members and their children are eligible to enter an original work of art to be in the running for a $500 Visa gift card AND have their artwork framed and displayed at the DC labor Fest in the fall! The winning piece will also be available for all UFCW locals and members at our online UFCW Store. Two runners up will receive $50 Visa gift cards, as well.
To enter, send us a high resolution photo image of your art at www.ufcw.org/contest. Your submission must have a Labor Day theme.
The deadline to submit is August 25th, and winners will be notified by August 29th.
This is your chance to showcase what you think Labor Day is all about while showing off your creative skills—we can’t wait to see what you can do!
August 2, 2016
Reposted from UFCW Local 400
Nation’s capital will join Seattle and San Francisco to become third major city to enact $15 minimum wage
On Tuesday, July 21, the District of Columbia City Council passed historic legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour in a major victory for the “Fight For $15” movement. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has pledged to sign the bill, which will make the nation’s capital the third major city to pass a $15 minimum wage, along with Seattle and San Francisco.
The $15 hourly wage could impact as many as 114,000 working people in the District, or around 14 percent of the city’s workforce, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.
On July 1st, the city’s minimum wage will increase from $10.50/hour to $11.50/hour under previous legislation championed by Local 400 and others. The new bill will provide annual increases to the minimum wage beginning in 2017 until it reaches $15/hour in 2020. After that, it will be adjusted for inflation each year.
Yearly Minimum Wage Increases in Washington, D.C.
July 2016 – $11.50
July 2017 – $12.50
July 2018 – $13.25
July 2019 – $14.00
July 2020 – $15.00
Local 400 has been leading the Fight for $15 in the District of Columbia and other states where our members live and work. But while we praise the D.C. Council members and Mayor Bowser for enacting the $15 minimum wage, we’ve also called on them to take two other steps essential to improve the lives of D.C. workers:
Pass Just Hours legislation (also known as the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act) to guarantee stable hours and predictable scheduling for men and women working in chain restaurants and retail stores in the District.
Pass the Universal Paid Leave Act to help low-wage workers safeguard themselves and their families in the event they are without income for an extended period.
“While wage increases are a crucial and necessary step, wages alone are not enough to give every hardworking District resident a fair shot at a better life,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We look forward to seeing the Council demonstrate this same leadership in passing Just Hours legislation, which will guarantee District workers won’t struggle with too few hours on too short notice, as well as Paid Family Leave, which will bring the U.S. up to speed with other developed nations by providing reasonable accommodations to workers who choose to start a family.
“It’s important that all workers earn the income that would allow them to support a family—and that their jobs provide the predictability and flexibility that allow them to actually raise a family,” Federici said. “That’s why paid leave and fair scheduling practices are so essential—because parents must be empowered to both provide for and be present for their children.”
Do you live or work in Washington, D.C.?
Call the city council at (202) 724-8000 and Mayor Muriel Bowser at (202) 727-2643 and urge them to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act and the Universal Paid Leave Act.
For the latest information on each bill, visit dcjusthours.org and dcpaidfamilyleave.org.