News and Updates
October 14, 2016
Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it is closing three stores in three different cities (Lamesa, Texas; Brownfield, Texas; and Columbia, Mo.) with very little notice.
“This callous move by Walmart will leave hundreds of workers without jobs and hundreds of families without paychecks,” said Jess Levin, communications director of MCAW. “Walmart has said that people are the most important part of their business. However, this recent news proves that, for Walmart, nothing is more important than profits: not workers, not customers, not anyone. These closings, much like the 269 store closings earlier this year, will not only impact Walmart workers, they will affect these entire communities. ”
In early 2016, Walmart announced that it was closing 154 U.S. stores, which, according to The Washington Post, disproportionately affected lower-income, rural areas.
September 30, 2016
On Sept. 21, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) responded to Walmart’s announcement that it paid over $200 million in quarterly bonuses to over 900,000 of its hourly employees who work in stores that met the retail giant’s goals of cleanliness, faster checkout and better service. The average bonus per Walmart employee was around $200.
“Walmart is happy to boast when they decide to give workers a very small share of one of the world’s largest company’s earnings, but when it comes down to facts, Walmart continues to mislead,” said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW.
“What Walmart doesn’t tell you is that in order to get this bonus, workers must complete amonths-long training program that is often implemented with ‘buggy and outdated technology.’ In fact, in order to also receive the $10 an hour minimum wage that Walmart promotes, completion of this tedious program is required. We hear from Walmart workers every day that have been making less than $10 an hour for months. These workers will also be excluded from the quarterly bonus, and we believe they deserve better.”
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 8, 2016
Proposed Contract Goes to Members for Ratification Vote August 8th
UFCW grocery workers in California reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Kroger Company and Cerberus Capital, the owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons, respectively.
After intense negotiations following the imposition of an August 8th deadline by seven California locals of the UFCW, the federal mediator helped guide the parties to a proposed contract.
“We are happy to say that five months after our previous contract expired, the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons have agreed to a proposed contract,” said Rick Icaza, one of the chief negotiators for the UFCW and the President of one of the largest UFCW locals in the country. “This would not have been possible without the strength and solidarity of all the 50,000 grocery workers throughout central and southern California, the cooperation of the seven California UFCW locals and the UFCW International Union. We also owe deep thanks to the support of consumers and community leaders. Because of the unshakable unity of our membership, we were able to bring these negotiations to a conclusion, and will present the offer to membership for ratification on Monday, August 8th.”
“While we are unable to divulge the details of the agreement until we inform our members, we would like to thank the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh and Commissioner Isael Hermosillo, without whom this agreement would not have been possible,” said John Grant, SecretaryTreasurer of Local 770. “We believe this contract will address our members’ concerns and begin to secure the important role grocery workers play in our community.”
The previous contract covering nearly 50,000 central and southern California grocery workers expired nearly five months ago. Since then, grocery workers have worked without a contract, staging numerous rallies, marches, and events designed to bring attention to their fight and to bring the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons to the table. Last Tuesday, thousands of grocery workers, community members, clergy, and fellow union members marched across Los Angeles to demand a conclusion to negotiations.
UFCW grocery workers across central and southern California will gather to review the details of the contract and vote on the offer. Results of the vote will be released when voting is complete by the seven UFCW locals.
July 22, 2016
Adapted from DOL Blog
For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.
Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.
No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.
Luckily, there are very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.
Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levels,unsafe equipment, and slippery floors.
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.
These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the Midwest, Southern, and Southeast states. Their goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.
With UFCW representation, these workers also have better odds because they have a voice on the job, and can speak up when they see unsafe conditions without fear of retribution. We often work with OSHA to ensure our poultry workers continue to work at safe jobs.
Learn more about their work to protect poultry processing workers.
July 15, 2016
In March, employees at eight Giant stores represented by Local 400 – six in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area and two in Southern Maryland – were told their stores would be put up for sale as part of the merger between Giant’s Netherlands based parent company Ahold and Belgium based grocery store Delhaize. These proposed store sales threatened the better wages, benefits and grocery store experience that the Giant stores provide to the local community.
Which is why Local 400 members who work at Giant, their loyal customers and community leaders banded together to help make people see that selling these stores was a bad idea. Through a series of rallies, public meetings and marches, they sent a clear message that the local community didn’t want these grocery stores and the good jobs they provide to be sold away.
“I’m glad that Giant did the right thing in the end and I’m proud to be a part of a union and a community that would not give up the good jobs and grocery options Giant brings to this area,” said Robyn Wheeler, a Local 400 member who has worked at Giant in Fredericksburg City for 37 years.
In addition to organizing public events that drew attention to the negative aspects of the proposal to sell the local grocery stores, Local 400 members also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and their local elected officials to express concerns about the impact on wages, benefits and competition.
Treesa Shipp, a Local 400 member who works at the Giant in Stafford said, “Because we have a strong union we had a voice in this process and were able to stop our store from being sold. They could not ignore us, the employees who built this company and work hard to make it successful every single day.”
July 6, 2016
On June 29, the Executive Board of UFCW Local 1189 made history by electing Jennifer Christensen as president of Local 1189. She is the first woman to serve as president of Local 1189 and will serve out the remainder of retired President Seaquist’s term.
Other officers elected by the Executive Board were Jim Gleb, secretary treasurer, and Jeanine Owusu, recording secretary. Abraham Wangnoo, Local 1189’s director of organizing, administered the oath of office to the new officers, including Scottie Rotter, the newest vice president who was elected at the board’s May meeting.
Newly elected President Christensen spoke to a room filled to capacity in the Duluth Labor Temple.
“I would like to thank you – the members, for allowing me to work for you – this is the best job in the world,” she said. “I am honored and humbled by the women who blazed the trails before me and beside me – and for the men who opened doors and showed that there are no glass ceilings in this union.”
July 5, 2016
On June 23, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), along with The Black Institute, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, and ColorOfChange.org, sent a letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon that calls on the retail giant to withdraw its sponsorship of the 2016 Republican National Convention due to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s history of racist, misogynistic, anti-veteran, and Islamophobic remarks. A full copy of the letter can be viewed here.
“Walmart cannot afford to stay silent when it comes to Donald Trump,” said Jess Levin, communications director at MCAW. “Throughout his presidential campaign, he has managed to offend men and women of all races and religions and across the political spectrum with his racist, misogynistic, anti-veteran and Islamophobic statements. These are Walmart customers and Walmart employees. Walmart needs to send a message that it will not support bigotry, and join the growing list of companies who are refusing to sponsor this year’s Republican National Convention.”
MCAW has launched an online petition where supporters can sign on to the letter. To date, over 10,000 supporters have signed the petition.
February 17, 2016
Widower Hailed as Hero
by Bruce Kozarsky, Union Leader Editor
It started out as a typical day for Adam Carter Peak, head meat cutter and Local 400 shop steward at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va. But then, all of a sudden, his store manager ran in and told him to get some ice—a truck driver making a delivery had collapsed from heat exhaustion.
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”30%” align=”right” size=”2″ quote=”The look on Mr. Goin’s face was the same look on my wife’s eyes when she passed. I just said, ‘I am not going to let this happen to anyone else.’” cite=”Adam Carter Peak, Local 400 Shop Steward” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
Adam ran out with the ice, but he saw that the driver, whose last name was Goin, wasn’t breathing. “I took my meat coat off, laid him down on his back, put it under his neck and started doing CPR,” Adam recalled. “After about four minutes, which seemed like forever, the paramedics came, but they let me keep doing CPR. A minute or two later, they told me to step away, put paddles on him and gave him a shock, and then they told me to go back to doing CPR. I did it another 20 minutes or so. I kept thinking, ‘Why aren’t the experts doing this?’ but I wasn’t going to stop.”
“Then, the next thing you know, he took a big breath,” Adam said. “He was breathing when they put him in the ambulance and took him to the hospital.” About six hours later, Goin’s surgeon called Adam and told him his CPR had saved Goin’s life. If it wasn’t for Adam, the man would not have survived his heart attack.
Adam was physically exhausted—but also emotionally drained. Just six months earlier, his wife, Laura—the mother of their four-year old daughter Madison and two-year-old son Carter—died suddenly and unexpectedly from an aneurysm. “I just got emotional,” Adam said. “This was the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced since then. The look on Mr. Goin’s face was the same look on my wife’s eyes when she passed. I just said, ‘I am not going to let this happen to anyone else.’” And he didn’t.
The next day, Goin’s son and daughter-in-law came to the store, shook Adam’s hand and said, “My dad’s alive because of you. Thanks to you, his two grandchildren will get to know their grandfather.” Goin’s wife also called to deliver the same message of thanks. Adam didn’t know what to say in response. “I was just doing what I’d want done if the same thing happened to me,” he said.
Ironically, Adam has never been formally trained in CPR. “A buddy of mine in law enforcement told me how to do CPR a few years ago and I’ve seen what they do on TV,” he said. “I guess I must have been doing it right, since the paramedics told me to keep it up.”
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”30%” align=”left” size=”2″ quote=”He saw that a man was dying and jumped in to save his life. That would be a good deed under any circumstances, but the fact that he has been through so much makes it all the more impressive. He has my deepest admiration and respect.” cite=”Mark P. Federici, UFCW Local 400 President ” parallax=”on” direction=”left”]
“Adam will never say this because he’s a very humble guy, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a hero,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “He saw that a man was dying and jumped in to save his life. That would be a good deed under any circumstances, but the fact that he has been through so much makes it all the more impressive. He has my deepest admiration and respect.”
“I’d also note that what Adam did is what shop stewards throughout our union do, only on a much larger scale,” Federici said. “They’re problem solvers. In this case, the problem Adam solved had life or death consequences. And thank God he didn’t hesitate.”
Adam, who has worked at Kroger for 5 and a half years, became a shop steward within just a few weeks of joining the company. “I told my rep I wanted to be steward,” he said. “My dad was a proud union member, and I wanted to help people, too.”
Today, Adam continues to adjust to life without his wife, as a single dad raising two young children. Fortunately, Kroger has been accommodating when he needs flexibility in his work schedule and his wife’s parents help out too. His courage, his perseverance and his attitude of “doing unto others” have earned him the good will of all Local 400 members.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Union Leader, the quarterly magazine of UFCW Local 400.
February 5, 2016
UFCW members provide the leather to make every NFL game ball ever used
CHICAGO – Super Bowl Sunday is an American tradition and the American ideals of hard work, excellent performance and durability under the toughest conditions are exemplified on and off the field. Those same qualities are exemplified by the craftsmanship of the ball used on the field. Manufactured entirely in the United States, these balls are tough to the core and made to precise specifications, starting with the Horween leather crafted by dedicated UFCW 1546 members at the historic Horween Leather Company, Chicago’s last remaining tannery.
The 150 workers at Horween have been UFCW members since the 1960s, marking half a century of good-paying jobs in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The plant itself was founded in 1905 and has been producing top-quality football leather there for the last 60 years.
“I’ll be watching the Super Bowl knowing that we helped craft every football,” said Earl Ferguson, a machine operator and chief steward at the tannery. “Whether it’s Denver or Carolina, my union brothers at the National Football League Players Association will take the field knowing they’ve reached the pinnacle of their career. For us, we can take pride in that when that foot hits the leather that I made, it’s a sign that our union family is best at what we do.”
In addition to making the leather for every NFL football and NBA basketball, workers at Horween make some of the most sought-after leathers for shoes and clothing the world over, including genuine shell cordovan. The expertise and skill required to build this reputation can only happen with the highly-trained workers that value the stability provided by their union contract.
“I’ve been proud to be a union member at Horween for 26 years,” said Ferguson. “We’re a family here. We take care of each other. The union, that’s just another part of that. Having the UFCW at my back means I have good wages and benefits to care for my loved ones. It means I feel a sense of ownership of my own job, which is important because I take pride in what I do.”
For more photos of the long-time tannery employees, check out Horween’s company blog.
We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.