News and Updates
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 20, 2016
Earlier this month, the hard-working employees in the catering department at the Settler’s Ridge Giant Eagle Market District store in Pittsburgh voted to join UFCW Local 23.
The Giant Eagle workers were concerned about respect and fairness on the job, and wanted to join the hundreds of coworkers in the same store who are members of UFCW Local 23 who are striving for a better life.
“We know that there are many nonunion Giant Eagle workers that would love to be part of the UFCW, but due to fear and bully tactics by Giant Eagle, it takes strong workers to stand up to such an anti-union company,” said UFCW Local 23 President Anthony Helfer. “Our stewards were key in helping to organize these workers and we look forward to more activities at Giant Eagle, even in the face of this anti-union company.”
October 17, 2016
A rapidly changing, knowledge-based economy is influencing the way U.S. workers are looking at training and job security, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
The report, titled The State of American Jobs, shows that occupations requiring skills and education has increased by 68 percent since 1980. American workers are well aware of shifting economic trends, and believe they will need continuous training to keep pace with a rise in jobs requiring social and analytical skills. According to the report, about 63 percent of Americans believe they have less job security than they did decades ago due to several factors, including an increased outsourcing of jobs and imports of foreign products; an increased use of temporary or contract workers; and the decline of union membership.
The report was conducted in association with the Markle Foundation, and was based on a national survey conducted among 5,006 U.S. adults between May 25 and June 29, 2016. A full copy of the report can be found here.
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 22, 2016
[aesop_image img=”http://www.ufcw.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/56/files/2016/09/Vireo-Health-Workers-RWDSU-Local-338.jpg” align=”left” lightbox=”on” captionposition=”left”]
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#ffffff” text=”#808080″ width=”30%” align=”right” size=”3″ quote=”As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract.” cite=”-Vireo Cultivator Matt Denten” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
In September, two years after medical marijuana was passed into law in New York, workers at Vireo Health ratified their first RWDSU contract. The Vireo Health workers are members of RWDSU Local 338, and this union contract is the first in the history of New York state’s new medical cannabis industry.
The new three-year contract covers workers at Vireo Health’s cultivation and manufacturing facility in Fulton County and at all four of its dispensaries located in Albany, Johnson City (Binghamton), Queens and White Plains. The contract will provide workers with paid time off for holidays, sick days, and vacation, as well as bereavement leave. Workers will receive retirement benefits through an annuity fund that the company is paying for. Full-time workers will also be receiving medical coverage for themselves and their families under the contract. The agreement also includes “profitability milestones” for workers that will kick in as the patient base increases and the company becomes more successful.
“As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract,” said Vireo Cultivator Matt Denten. “I’m proud to be working in the medical cannabis industry and know that my work is helping patients live meaningful lives. My coworkers and I all agreed that we wanted to be represented by Local 338 to make sure that we were protected as workers and had good benefits and wages.”
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#ffffff” text=”#808080″ width=”30%” align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”This agreement provides these dedicated workers peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.” cite=”- RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
“The strong union contract approved by the workers at Vireo will ensure that they have secure, middle class jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” said RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso. “This agreement provides these dedicated workers peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.”
RWDSU Local 338 was at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement in New York state, working with legislators to craft legislation that would help patients and protect workers in the new industry. A bill legalizing the production and sale of marijuana for medical purposes was signed into law in New York in 2014, and in part due to the efforts of Local 338, the medical marijuana companies were required to have labor peace agreements where they wouldn’t interfere with workers’ efforts to join a union.
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 11, 2016
On July 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Pilgrim’s Pride for nearly two dozen safety and health hazards, including the failure to make medical referrals for workers with workplace injuries in a timely manner. This is the first time a poultry company has been cited for medical mismanagement of work-related injuries.
The UFCW issued the following statement in response to the citations:
“We are disappointed to see yet another example of poultry workers being mistreated and forced to endure harsh working conditions,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Unions provide poultry workers with one of the best ways to improve their safety on the job because we create an environment where people know their rights and feel empowered to speak up. We make sure that workers can advocate for their well-being without the fear of being fired. As we strive to improve poultry industry jobs, we applaud OSHA for actively supporting the right of every worker to have a safe workplace.”
August 10, 2016
On July 28, 75 workers at CTI Foods in King of Prussia, Pa., ratified their first union contract. The CTI workers produce food for fast food restaurants and are members of UFCW Local 1776.
“We feel more united now; we have a better bond,” said Shop Steward Kyle Pendleton, who has worked at CTI Foods for 19 years and was instrumental during the organizing and negotiation process. “The company is working with us now and having a contract has made the company better.”
The new three-year contract guarantees health insurance, safety and labor-management meetings, as well as pay increases. For some workers, this will be the first raise they’ve received in years.
“I would like to congratulate the CTI workers on their first UFCW contract,” said UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV. “This is a huge win for them and their families.”
August 4, 2016
On July 21, members of UFCW Local 21 working at Providence Centralia Hospital in Centralia, Wash., overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract. The 240 Providence Centralia Hospital workers work in various divisions within the hospital, including the Emergency Department, and Critical Care, PCU, Surgical Unit, Medical Unit, Family Birth Center, and Outpatient Surgery divisions.
The new contract provides annual wage increases, caps on healthcare costs, daily overtime that includes the calculation of missed meals and rest periods, and other contractual improvements.