News and Updates
February 5, 2018
On Jan. 22 to 28, the ICWUC led a team of senior trainers and worker educators at the Universidad de Puerto Rico in San Juan to help protect workers on the island from preventable illnesses, injuries and possible fatalities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, millions of island residents still face daily threats to their safety and health. More than two million people live in areas at risk of water contamination, large parts of the island are still without electricity, and 60,000 homes are without roofs.
The week-long “Disaster Train-the-Trainers” event was presented in Spanish with the goal of developing trainers to protect day laborers, construction workers, and others who are at risk of exposure to mold, toxic chemicals, damaged buildings and other hazards.
Trainers from Fe Y Justicia Worker Center in Houston, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the Cincinnati-based ICWUC Center conducted in-depth sessions with graduate students in public health from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, as well as AFSCME members from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“This program is possible now because we’ve already conducted Spanish-language “Disaster Train the Trainer” events with our partners,” said Luis Vazquez, an education coordinator at ICWUC, who coordinated and conducted the San Juan program to train students and workers. “The work we’re doing in disaster areas makes a real difference, giving workers the tools they need to stay safe. This event is personal for me; I have many family and friends in Puerto Rico. There are all kinds of dangers lurking in homes and buildings after a hurricane.”
Topics at the training included how to recognize disaster-related workplace hazards, safe clean up procedures and workers’ rights to a safe workplace. New trainers practiced these modules and presented them to their fellow new trainers. These graduate students and workers, in turn, will soon be out in the field to share this information at temporary shelters, recovery worksites, and other locations where workers are affected by hazards associated with disaster recovery.
This “Train-the-Trainers” session builds on similar programs conducted by the ICWUC in Cincinnati with many of their 10 partners, and with National COSH in Houston last September after Hurricane Harvey devastated that city. The training was made possible, in part, by support from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences. For more information, contact John Morawetz of the ICWUC’s Center for Worker Health & Safety Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 30, 2018
Did you know the leather for every single NFL football, including the ones that will be used in Sunday’s Super Bowl, is crafted in Chicago by members of UFCW Local 1546 at the Horween Leather Company? The hard-working men and women of Horween have been making the leather for every official National Football League ball since the early 1940s. Almost every leather football you see — Wilson, Spalding, Nike, Rawlings, Adidas — began its journey to the field in the hands of a UFCW Local 1546 member.
The company takes pride in the talented workers whose skills are evident in the quality of the final product. Despite the leather’s sheen, which can give the appearance of being slippery, the proprietary “tanned in tack” finish actually means the ball gets stickier after being buffed a few times, making it easier to grip. A 1,000-ton press with special German-made embossing plates gives the leather its distinctive pebbling.
Horween Leather Company was founded in 1905 in Chicago and for five generations has been producing a wide range of top quality leathers ever since. During World War II, it was Horween who supplied Chromexcel for shoes worn by the Marine Corps. Chromexcel is a labor-intensive leather that undergoes at least 89 separate processes, taking 28 working days and utilizing all five floors of the facility. The formula has had very few changes since it was developed, with a few minor necessary exceptions like swapping out whale oil for a more modern-day equivalent.
Horween is also one of the world’s last remaining producers of shell cordovan, a durable equine leather. Shell cordovan is unique for its durability and tendency to form attractive rolls in the leather as it ages rather than creasing. Allen Edmonds, a 92-year-old shoemaker based in Wisconsin, uses this leather in its Park Avenue Cordovan Oxfords, which Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush wore for their inaugurations. The leather in a properly maintained pair of shell cordovan shoes can last 20 years to a lifetime.
January 22, 2018
The UFCW’s Civil Rights and Community Action Department (CRCA), along with UFCW Locals 455 and 540, played a significant role in shaping the agenda of the AFL-CIO’s 2018 MLK Conference, which took place on Jan. 12 to 15 in Houston.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone, Vice President and CRCA Director Robin Williams, CRCA Field Programs Coordinator Karina Lopez and CRCA Field Campaign Coordinator and Trainer Angel Gonzalez attended the conference, which revolved around the theme of “Reclaiming the Dream: Strategize, Organize, Mobilize.” Williams spoke at the conference and Lopez and Gonzalez helped to lead workshops around the issues of immigration reform, equity and inclusion, as well as right to work and the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME case. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas 18th District), Al Green (D-Texas 9th District), Gene Green (D-Texas 29th District) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also attended.
“We’ve seen people rise up in new ways against corporate greed, poverty wages, racial injustice, illegal travel bans, bathroom bills and attacks on our free press,” Williams said. “These uprisings are happening all over the nation. They relate to our lives both at work and in our communities. But is all of this enough to reclaim the dream that Dr. King and countless others fought and died for? We must strategize, organize and mobilize. It is then and only then that we can say we have done our part to reclaim the dream.”
International Vice President and Director of Region 5 Milton Jones, International Vice President and President of UFCW Local 455 William Hopkins, and members and representatives from UFCW Locals 455 and 540 also attended the conference. The conference featured a day of service in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, and UFCW Local 455 coordinated with local Kroger stores to provide the over 800 conference participants with lunch boxes, which were delivered by members UFCW Locals 455 and 540 to the various volunteer sites, including the Hudson Food Bank, Buckner Family Hope Center and Bethel Church.
January 22, 2018
On Jan. 5, 40 workers at Wild Oats Market Co-op in Williamstown, Massachusetts, ratified their first contract with UFCW Local 1459.
The three-year contract includes vacation accrual for all workers, new health and safety protections, annual wage increases, and a labor management committee to increase transparency and strengthen the voices of the workers.
“We came together to improve conditions for all workers at Wild Oats Market,” said Karen Kane, a Wild Oats Market Co-op worker and negotiating team member. “This contract provides a solid foundation to give workers a voice and a better life working at our community-owned grocery store.”
January 16, 2018
The statement reads as follows:
“This is a particularly important time to reflect on Dr. King’s pursuit of inclusivity and allow it to inspire our enthusiasm for the same ideals. He showed that change for the better and compassion for others starts with all of us. When we stand up for our values and become actively involved in positive action, we can build a better nation and a better life for the many, not just the few.”
“It would be a fitting tribute to Dr. King and his legacy in 2018 if our country and those who lead us could begin moving beyond divisions, and towards an America that is defined by justice, dignity, and respect.”
January 2, 2018
UFCW Local 1428 purchased 100 pairs of shoes for children at four local schools in Montclair and Pomona, California, with money raised from staff, members and community partners. UFCW Local 1428 has coordinated with “Shoes That Fit,” a local nonprofit, for over 20 years to provide shoes to local children.
RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 donated toys to the John Theissen Children’s Foundation for children in the New York area. They also donated to several local food pantries that provide hot holiday meals to families in need. You can see the full impact of their work to make the holidays a little brighter for members of their community here.
UFCW Local 8GS collected donations for members who lost everything in the wild fire in Northern California. Their office in Santa Rosa, California, has been set up for donation collection and distributions to members and the have raised over $120,000 online through YouCaring.com.
UFCW Local 23 held its annual “Stuff the Bus” toy drive for UFCW members in crisis, as well as other union members throughout the region, through the central labor council – where a festively decorated bus is stuffed with gifts and gift cards to make holiday dinners happen. The toy drive is organized by members of UFCW Local 23, who solicit the Christmas “wish lists” from kids of members who are in crisis, and pack boxes with some of the collected toys, as well as some clothing and a gift card for groceries. The gifts and gift cards are delivered to the member parents, who are then able to put something under the tree. There are always a lot of toys left, and these are delivered to other union and community members.
December 18, 2017
The UFCW’s Free College Benefit helped our members and their families go back to school this year with no out-of-pocket costs or need for loans.
Launched this year, this amazing benefit makes it possible for UFCW members and their families to earn an Associate Degree online through Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) with no out-of-pocket costs for tuition, fees or e-books. Registration for the next semester at EGCC is open until January 12.
The UFCW’s Free College Benefit is designed to help UFCW members and their families balance work and home life. You can attend school part-time or full-time – whichever fits your schedule. All you need to get started is a high school degree or GED, and there are no entrance exams to worry about. Available programs at EGCC include Business Management, Accounting, Paralegal, and Early Childhood Education.
This benefit is available exclusively to UFCW members, retired members, and family members, including children, spouses, grandchildren, domestic partners, and dependents. You can learn more about this amazing benefit here.
December 18, 2017
The UFCW launched a “how to” video series this year to pay tribute to our members, who are trusted experts in their fields and take pride in their ability to produce quality products and provide exceptional service at stores across the country.
The “how to” series features expert advice from Carolyn, a cake decorator in Pennsylvania; Jon, a meat cutter at Cub Foods in Minnesota; Michelle, a florist at Kroger in Texas; Maia, a produce clerk at Stop and Shop in Connecticut; Chardonnay, a prep cook at the Marketplace at Kroger in Ohio; and Jasmin, a makeup artist at Macy’s in New York City.
These videos demonstrate our members’ commitment to excellence, and each video was viewed on YouTube thousands of times. You can view yhis year’s “how to” video series here.
December 18, 2017
The UFCW made a positive impact on thousands of lives this year through its effort to address hunger in America and find a cure for blood cancers.
For the second year, the UFCW served as a national partner of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the largest food drive in the nation. In the weeks and days leading up to Saturday, May 13, the day of the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, UFCW members and locals volunteered at events and helped to “stamp out hunger” by collecting thousands of pounds of food.
In partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the UFCW launched the “Labor Against Cancer” initiative in the battle to end blood cancers in September. This new initiative builds on our 30-year partnership with LLS to fund and support some of the world’s best and brightest blood cancer researchers to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Our decades-long partnership with LLS has raised $83 million so far to help fund research that has advanced treatments such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and smart drugs, which have become the standard for many other cancers.
In addition to addressing national issues, the UFCW also donated time, money and resources to help members in need and spread a little cheer during the holiday season.
In September, UFCW locals banded together to help raise funds for members impacted by Hurricane Harvey. This fundraising drive helped to provide vital assistance to over 15,000 UFCW members who were affected by the hurricane.
And this holiday season, UFCW locals kicked into high gear to help make the holidays a little brighter by holding “turkey drives” and donating turkey dinners to food pantries for Thanksgiving. UFCW locals also collected toys and held holiday events that benefited various charities.
December 11, 2017
The UFCW Minority Coalition recently hosted another successful educational conference and awards gala in Washington, D.C.
The educational conference took place on Nov. 17, and featured a workshop on Right to Work, as well as a conversation about the current political climate and the future of the labor movement. Facilitators Tiffany Loftin, senior program specialist in community with the NEA, and Jamal Watkins, national outreach director of campaigns with the AFL-CIO, presented the Right to Work session. This session highlighted the roots of this policy, as well as the racial divisions among working people and the impact that Right to Work legislation has had on working communities for 70-plus years. This session also outlined ways to frame messaging when addressing the issue of Right to Work.
The conference also featured Bill Fletcher, Jr., an activist, syndicated columnist and regular media commentator on television, radio and the web, who led a conversation about the tumultuous state of our current political climate as it relates to the future of the labor movement. This engaging conversation brought to the forefront the difficulties working people face in the time of Trump and right-wing populism.
On the evening of Nov. 18, the UFCW Minority Coalition hosted its 19th Annual Awards Gala and Fundraiser. The gala honored individuals who champion diversity and equality among men and women in the labor movement, as well as special humanitarians who are committed to the fight against sickle cell disease.
Executive Vice President and Organizing Department Director Shaun Barclay received the Person of the Year Award. Other honorees included International Vice President and UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin, who received the Local Union of the Year Award; UFCW District Council of New York and New Jersey, which received the Roland B. Scott Sickle Cell Award; Tonya McCoy of UFCW Local 75, who received the Addie Wyatt Award; International Vice President and UFCW Region 5 Director Milton Jones, who received the Robert Vaughn Award; and International Vice President and UFCW Local 21 President Todd Crosby, who received the Wendell W. Young III Award.