July, 2011

H&M Workers at Six New York Stores Say Union Yes with UFCW

QUEENS, NY – Two hundred forty New York City-area H&M workers at six stores have formed a new union at their workplace with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 888. These workers join more than 1,200 other New York H&M workers that stood together and formed a union as part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Council of the UFCW.


“I love my job and I’ve worked there a long time,” said Natasha King, a four-year Sales Associate at the H&M in Staten Island, New York, “but there was room for change.”


H&M recognized the workers’ choice for a real voice on the job after an overwhelming majority of workers at the stores signed cards to show their desire for UFCW representation.


“This shows, once again, that when the process is fair and free that retail workers want to and will choose to form a union,” said Tom Plumb, Director of the Retail Stores Division of the UFCW International Union. “Together, retail workers across the country are making retail jobs into good long-term retail careers in union stores like H&M.”


“Retail workers, especially part-time workers like me, need a union for fair treatment, fair pay, affordable health care and equality in the workplace,” said King. “We’ll stand together and protect each other as a team, as a union.”


The six newly unionized stores are located in Queens, Brooklyn, West Nyack, White Plains, Yonkers and Staten Island, New York. They join the union for retail workers, the UFCW, and are part of a group of workers at major retailers across the country including Macy’s, Syms, RiteAid and more. The UFCW is working across America to build a movement of retail workers that raises standards and ensures that America’s fastest-growing profession is also the source of millions of good jobs.


Hundreds of NAACP delegates from National Convention to march in downtown L.A. to support SoCal grocery workers

Today hundreds of delegates of the National NAACP Convention  marched from the NAACP Convention to the downtown Ralphs grocery store in support of 62,000 grocery workers in Southern California whose contract has expired and who are trying to maintain healthcare for themselves and their families. The NAACP delegates and leaders were joined by hundreds of grocery workers, community supporters, and elected officials.

“The issue here is that Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons made $5 billion in profits last year, and they are trying to force cashiers, butchers, and baggers to pay 50% of their salary in order to maintain their health care,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

“L.A. labor will join the delegates of the National NAACP Convention to march in the streets of downtown L.A. tomorrow to show our support for grocery workers and their families because if a person works hard in this country, he or she should be able to take a sick child to the doctor,” Durazo said.

Cargill Workers in Dodge City Say New Union Contract is Already Making a Difference in Their Lives

Cargill workers and UFCW Local 2 Members Carmen Lopez, Julian Estrada, Irene Salinas, and Clemente Torres

Cargill workers and members of UFCW Local 2 in Dodge City, Kansas have begun working under their newly ratified contract. Workers were able to negotiate some creative new policies that are already making a real difference in their family lives – and in their paychecks.

Wage increases total $1.60 per hour over the next four years, including an immediate 55 cents per hour raise. Workers also negotiated job upgrades for more than 300 workers. For those workers, the contract means an additional and immediate raise of anywhere from 55 cents to $1.20 per hour. The new contract has four ways workers can earn overtime. In addition to earning time and a half after 40 hours per week, overtime is also paid after 8 hours a day, and after six consecutive work days. If there’s a holiday during the week, Saturdays are counted as overtime. A new leave of absence policy guarantees workers’ jobs if they need to leave for an extended period of time because of a family emergency like a child’s or parent’s illness. Workers can take up to a year and a half off and return to the job (or similar job) and rate of pay they were earning beforehand.

The contract maintains affordable family health benefits, and for about a third of the workers, depending on the type of plan, premiums went down between $8 and $12 per week.  But, now in the case of a serious illness where someone might miss several days of work at a time, that worker is eligible for sick benefits of up to $300 per week without any extra cost—a real safety net for single parents, or for families struggling to get by in this economy.

“It is only because we are united in our union that we were able to negotiate these pay and benefit improvements,” says Clemente Torres a member of UFCW Local 2.

“Our new contract gives peace of mind,” says Carmen Lopez, another UFCW Local 2 member and Cargill worker. “Dodge City is a small place, and with the economy the way it is, people are lucky to have a union job here. Once you get it, you really want to keep it. Because of the union contract, I know if I get very sick, my family can still get by, and the job will be there. Sometimes in your life, you have an emergency where you have to focus on something else – maybe your parents’ health or you have some kind of other emergency. With this contract, God forbid, if an emergency happens, you don’t have to pick between your job and your family. I can focus on my family and take the time I need, knowing I can count on my job being there when I’m ready.”