News and Updates
September 3, 2019
Equal pay for hard-working women across the country is long overdue and this month, members can make their voices heard to support Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, which will take place on Monday, September 23. This is the day when Native American women’s pay finally catches up to what white men were paid last year. Together, members can help us draw attention to the wage disparities these workers face.
Native American women earn approximately 58 cents for every dollar that white men earn, and women in indigenous communities are more likely to experience poverty, high levels of unemployment and other challenges in their lives.
On September 23, locals are encouraged to help members make their voices heard on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time using the hashtags #NativeWomensEqualPay to #DemandMore #Equity for Native American women at work, in society and at the ballot box.
You can get additional information about Native Women’s Equal Pay Day here.
September 3, 2019
Highlights of the agreement include guaranteed raises in every year of the contract; accrued vacation time for part-time workers (previously only full-timers accrued vacation time); and significant improvements in workplace protocols and procedures for workers who are threatened or harassed by members of the public, including the right to close the store and remain on paid-time until the threatening individual(s) have left the premises. This part of the contract addresses one of the main issues brought up by Pleasure Chest workers, who sell adult toys, during their organizing campaign.
The agreement also creates minimum staffing requirements for busier times, and new trainings for management and staff. These trainings help employees to address boundaries, safety, and security for conflict de-escalation, as well as reimbursement for self-defense classes. The contract also contains strong language around non-discrimination and respect for workers’ gender identity/expression and pronouns.
September 3, 2019
The UFCW has been a proud partner of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for decades, supporting the work of the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to discovering breakthrough therapies and cures for people suffering from blood cancers.
In the past 37 years, our union has raised over $86 million for people suffering from blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma. One of the key ways many of our members raise critical funds to support advances in blood cancer treatments is through LLS’s Light the Night walks, which will occur at locations across the country starting in September.
“We all know someone who’s been impacted by blood cancer,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht. “Together, we have the power to bring us closer to ending cancer. Participating in your local Light the Night event is a great way to continue our efforts as a union family to care for our communities. I encourage each and every local to get involved.”
Kenny Newsom, a UFCW Local 1059 member who works nights as a building maintenance electrician at the General Mills plant in Wellston, Ohio, has been setting aside time during the day to use his carpentry skills to build furniture that he donates for the yearly UFCW Local 1059 auction to benefit his local’s Light the Night event.
“It’s been four years now,” said Newsom. “One year, I was making an Ohio State table – it’s got the block “O” and buckeye leaf and all that in it. My union rep. stopped by one day while I was working on it in my workshop and I said, ‘Hey, would Randy (the President of Local 1059) like to have this to auction off for Light the Night?’ And that’s how it got started.”
“Supporting LLS is close to my heart as I lost my stepfather to lymphoma,” said UFCW Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen. “There wasn’t a cure for his cancer, but through the efforts of my union – the UFCW – and their fundraising efforts and the research work that LLS does and has done, we have found cures for others. LLS continues to save lives every day. People like my friend Dean Nelson, a member of our Union’s Executive Board (and my coworker when I worked in the grocery stores) is alive today because of the miracles achieved through research, and the discovery of his life-saving medication.”
You can find information about a LLS Light the Night walk near you, register your local’s Light the Night team or set up your own team of walkers here.
August 26, 2019
On August 16, Processing Technicians at Yanfeng in Louisville, Ky., voted “yes” and won their election to be represented by UFCW Local 227. Yanfeng is a leading manufacturer of automotive interiors, and Local 227 has represented 650 workers at the company since 2007. The Processing Technicians were part of the original bargaining unit until the company outsourced that work. The company later decided to bring those jobs back, but did not initially allow those workers to join Local 227.
The Processing Technicians had to file a wage and hour lawsuit when they weren’t paid for overtime and recently, everyone was forced to take a 10 percent pay cut. The workers’ supervisor often reminded them that they could be treated like that because they weren’t part of the union. The workers approached Chief Steward Chuck Darius to find out what it would take for them to join our union, and it didn’t take long for Darius and UFCW 227 Organizer Dave Villegas to get all of them to sign authorization cards.
“We’re really proud to welcome the Processing Techs at Yanfeng to our union family,” said UFCW 227 President Bob Blair. “We’re also grateful to our Chief Steward Chuck who was able to tell his nonunion co-workers about all the benefits you get by joining our union. Without stewards like Chuck, the important work that we do couldn’t happen.”
August 26, 2019
UFCW Local 152 Union Representative and Organizer Hugh Giordano spoke in support of the plan to build a new facility to grow and sell medical cannabis products, saying that it would bring good, high-paying jobs to the Middle Township area. UFCW Local 152’s support of the medical cannabis facility helped to influence the Middle Township Committee to unanimously approve issuing a letter of support for the proposal. The committee meeting and Giordano’s remarks were covered by the The Press of Atlantic City.
UFCW Local 152’s support of the medical cannabis facility in Middle Township is part of their Cannabis Campaign—a larger effort to build a successful cannabis industry and grow our union family wherever cannabis is legalized.
UFCW Local 152 is committed to standing with cannabis workers to not only create good jobs, but to also represent them so that their employers provide the good wages and benefits they have earned, and the fair treatment in a safe work environment they deserve. You can learn more about UFCW Local 152’s effort to support cannabis workers in their area here.
August 19, 2019
These hard-working men and women joined UFCW Local 2013 through a card check and neutrality agreement to strengthen wages, benefits, paid leave and working conditions. L&R Distributors is a leading national distributor within the supermarket, drug, independent and mass classes trade across the U.S.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” said L& R Distributors worker Maria Lucas, who served on the organizing committee. “We just have to convince other people that they have the power. This is what they can do by participating to make change. It is important to stand up for your rights, and regardless of who you are and where you come from, to hold your head up high with dignity and respect.”
“We are extremely happy that the workers of L&R Distributors have chosen to join us and be represented by UFCW Local 2013,” said UFCW Local 2013 President Louis Mark Carotenuto. “Now, more than ever, is the time for workers to pull together and take on employers who would otherwise attempt to take advantage of what they perceive as a helpless class of workers – regardless of whether it’s because of race, ethnicity or sex.”
“Issues such as dignity and respect in the workplace; a livable wage with affordable benefits; and safe working conditions and reasonable work schedules are things that all workers should be afforded,” Carotenuto added. “Pay equality for female workers and the ability to achieve an opportunity for affordable retirement for all after years of dedication and service to a company that is a leader in their industry… these are not too much to strive for or achieve. The American dream is for all people and together we will work hard to achieve that for these members!”
August 19, 2019
The 75 certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, kitchen, dietary, aid, housekeeping, laundry, activities and maintenance workers joined our union family by a vote of 68 to 0. These workers came together because they were concerned about job security, lack of respect from new managers, and no pay raises for the last five years.
“Fairness in our workplace is the reason why we voted for the UFCW,” said one of the Mattapan Health and Rehabilitation Center workers.
August 19, 2019
On June 25, Cottonseed Co-op Corporation workers in Jonestown, Miss., joined the ICWUC. Cottonseed Co-op was previously known as Delta Oil Mill and was represented by the ICWUC until its bankruptcy and closing approximately five years ago. The cottonseed processing facility reopened approximately two years ago under the name Cottonseed Co-op, and the company rehired many of the previous employees from Delta Oil Mill.
When the workers came back to work without a union contract, they found that many of the benefits and protections they once had when they were members of the ICWUC were now gone.
These hard-working men and women knew they had earned and deserved better, so they reached out to their former union representative, Regional Director Ricky Lawrence, in early May. Lawrence sent them cards to sign to see how much interest there was at the facility and in a couple of weeks they had mailed him back signed cards for approximately 80 percent of the current employees. Organizer Ernest Perkins visited with the workers, and then contacted his organizing colleague, Lance Heasley, to come assist in the NLRB petition process.
During the petition process, the organizing team gave the company the option of having a neutral third party count the cards rather than go through with the NLRB election process. The company agreed to have a neutral third party and on June 25, the neutral party determined that 47 of the 57 employees had signed cards. The company then voluntarily recognized the ICWUC as the bargaining agent for the Cottonseed Co-op employees and agreed on a date to begin negotiating a contract.
The ICWUC is proud to welcome back these workers and looks forward to working with them in negotiating their first contract.
August 12, 2019
On July 31, Sodexo food service workers at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ky., joined UFCW Local 227 for better wages and a voice in the workplace. These workers joined our union family because they were concerned about low staffing levels, favoritism, little to no wage increases and new hires receiving higher rates of pay than workers who have been there for 10 years or longer.
Sodexo is one of the world’s largest multinational corporations, with headquarters in France. The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) has an agreement with Sodexo regarding the right of workers to unionize. Section 3.3 of the agreement with IUF addresses the right of Sodexo employees to establish and join labor organizations without fear of retaliation, repression or any other form of discrimination and Section 5 addresses freedom of association, union recognition and collective bargaining. Showing the workers that their employer had publicly agreed to their right to join a union was one of the factors that made this organizing campaign a success.
“We’re excited to welcome the newest members of our union family,” said UFCW Local 227 President Bob Blair. “Their vote to join our union makes Local 227 stronger and gives these hard-working men and women the incredible benefits of union membership.”
August 12, 2019
When Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va., brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side that is willing to back you up.
For Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.
Dickerson’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to the store in Appomattox. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.
In Richmond, Dickerson worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Dickerson worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Dickerson was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Dickerson in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Dickerson stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.
Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Dickerson was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.
Eventually, Dickerson became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”
When Pete raised concerns, months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Dickerson’s issues, he filed a grievance.
After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Dickerson for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” Dickerson said. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”