News and Updates
September 21, 2016
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report showing that incomes increased for middle- and low-income families in 2015—the biggest increase in decades since the agency began tracking this measure in 1968. According to the report, real median household income was $56,500 in 2015, up from $53,700 in 2014, an increase of 5.2 percent.
The increases were seen in households on all ends of the economic spectrum, but the biggest raises were for families led by those in the 35 to 44 age range. While this is good news for workers in cities that saw an income increase of 7.3 percent, median incomes did not grow significantly in rural areas. In addition, the South had weaker income growth than the West.
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 18, 2016
Hundreds of UFCW Local 770 members at Farmer John packinghouse in Vernon, California this week used their collective voice to ensure respect for their rights on the job and preserve the protections that being part of union family provides, such as improved safety enforcement.
The men and women at Farmer John work hard to produce bacon, sausage, ham, and hot dogs, including the famous “Dodger Dog”, among other pork products. Their expertise and dedication is a driving force behind the success of Hormel Foods, which Farmer John is a subsidiary of.
July 20, 2016
On July 1, Kroger workers who are members of UFCW Local 1995 ratified a new contract. The contract covers 12,000 Kroger workers in middle and east Tennessee, north Alabama, and south Kentucky.
The new contract includes wage increases and affordable health care, maintains the employee pension fund, and revises tiers for pay, vacation and holidays.
“The Local 1995 Bargaining Committee and staff did a great job in understanding our members’ needs and effectively communicating those to Kroger,” said UFCW Local 1995 President Gregory Stallings. “Therefore, we were able to reach a Memorandum of Agreement with the company and complete the ratification process prior to July 4th.”
July 14, 2016
Specifically, the legislation allowed union members to cancel their membership at any time, rather than waiting the usual one-year period. This means that corporations were made to be more powerful as they would be able to easily intimidate workers into leaving their union early. By overturning this law, it will be easier for hard-working families in Georgia to negotiate for better working conditions and wages. Ultimately, more people and communities will now be able to enjoy the financial stability and higher standard of living that comes with being a part of a union.
UFCW Local 1996, which helped to lead the lawsuit, celebrated the good news. “They spent precious legislative time and money in 2013 going after the working families that make our state great,” said UFCW Local 1996 President Steve Lomax of the leaders who pushed for the legislation. “Tens of thousands of taxpayer-funded dollars for a long legal fight gained nothing for Georgia citizens.”
July 7, 2016
On June 28, workers at Chemtrade Solutions in Odem, Texas, voted unanimously to join the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) of the UFCW. The workers wanted better wages, a safer work environment and a voice in their workplace. Chemtrade Solutions is a supplier of water treatment chemicals for municipalities. This is the second election the ICWUC has won unanimously in the last ten months since the DuBois Chemicals victory.
“The ICWUC organizing department is an organizing machine, and we’re working hard to make the lives of our members and soon to be members better,” said ICWUC President Frank Cyphers. “We welcome the Chemtrade Solutions workers to our union family.”
May 19, 2016
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Last week, members of Congress from across the country, together with members of the UFCW, joined together to help launch the National Association of Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.
“Stamp Out Hunger,” the largest single-day food drive, invited Americans to leave food by their mailboxes on Saturday, May 14 for collection by their neighborhood letter carriers for delivery to local food pantries.
This year, the UFCW, as a national title sponsor, invited Congressional offices and members from both sides of the aisle to participate. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and their staff participated in helping us to promote this worthy cause.
UFCW Locals from all across the country also hosted their own events, making this year’s food drive one of the biggest and best that anyone had ever seen.
UFCW members see the effects of hunger in America every single day. Every time someone has to turn back and put something away in one of our checkout lines because they don’t have enough money, we feel for them. For millions of families, this year’s food drive was a small, but important, step towards fixing that problem.
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May 10, 2016
The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their positive contributions to our country and communities.
The origins of this celebration date back to 1977, when Representatives Frank Horton (R-NY) and Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA) introduced a resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Spark Matsunaga (D-HI). The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant milestones: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and the contributions of Chinese workers to the construction of the transcontinental railroad, which was completed on May 10, 1869.
President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration in 1978, and President George H.W. Bush signed a bill to extend the celebration to the entire month of May in 1990.
Throughout the month, the UFCW will pay tribute to the culture and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their positive impact on the labor movement. Do you have a story to share about your heritage and how the labor movement has played a role in your life during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? Let us know here and we might share it on our blog and social media!
May 9, 2016
A new report by the Center for American Progress underscores the uneven access to paid leave and fair schedules in the American workforce and the need for legislation to address these issues.
Titled Who Gets Time Off? Predicting Access to Paid Leave and Workplace Flexibility, the report examines the schism between workers in higher paid jobs, who are more likely to have benefits such as paid leave and workplace flexibility, to lower- and middle-income workers, who are less likely to have access to these benefits. According to the report, nearly 40 million workers, or 39 percent of the workforce, still lack access to even a single paid sick day. In particular, hourly workers, workers with jobs in the service industry, and Latino workers are less likely to have access to paid sick days and other workplace benefits. Conversely, older workers, full-time workers, and workers with higher earnings are more likely to have access to employer provided paid sick days, workplace flexibility and predictable schedules.
More needs to be done to address the huge swath of American workers who are at the mercy of their employers and at risk of losing wages or being fired if they need time off to recover from an illness or care for a family member. While legislation has been introduced to address access to paid leave and workplace flexibility, it is still too slow and uneven to affect the majority of working families. Since 2002, only three states have passed laws to provide workers with access to paid family leave; 23 cities and five states have guaranteed workers the right to earned sick leave; and one city and one state have implemented policies to ensure that workers have access to fair schedules.
A full copy of the report can be found here.
May 5, 2016
As we celebrate Mother’s Day throughout this week, we’re sharing the stories of #UFCWMoms, and of the mothers of members who want to share how great they are!
Today, Kathy Tarka, a member of UFCW Local 23, shared with us about her “Mummy.” Here’s what she had to say:
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”30%” align=”right” size=”2″ quote=”Our family meant the world to my father and Mum. We weren’t wealthy by any means, but so very rich in love, discipline and respect. ” cite=”Kathy Tarka, UFCW Local 23 member” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
“Meet my mother, Mary Julia Teslovich Tarka. Mummy was in her early 20s when this picture was taken in 1930 at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa. Mummy was the oldest of eight children and also a first generation American. Born in Donora, Pa., her parents both immigrated from the old Czech Republic. She married my father when she was 25 and he was 28. Considered and “old maid” in those days, Mum worked in the Brownsville (Pa.) Hospital for several years before being pulled to work in a private practice for a general surgeon. She worked for Dr. Vesely for almost five decades. Mum taught us the love of life, respect for all people, tremendous work ethics, and to persevere against all odds. Our family meant the world to my father and Mum. We weren’t wealthy by any means, but so very rich in love, discipline and respect. Mum passed away at 92. Her legacy lives on through their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She continues to give me strength daily. To have such a strong, loving, funny Mummy is the greatest gift I could ever want. How I love her.”
Kathy herself has a great story too. In her 60s, she was excited to finally become a union member as she accepted a part-time position at Giant Eagle supermarket. She enthusiastically embraced her union membership by participating in actions, community service projects and by working with the local as a SPUR to elect three union-endorsed Supreme Court Justices in Pennsylvania last fall. Kathy’s brother, John Tarka, also retired as president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers in 2011 after a 43-year career as a teacher and union leader.