• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

December 18, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry, Union-Made Holiday

Support union workers this holiday by buying union-made and made-in-America products this year! There are plenty of sources out there to help you stick to union made stocking stuffers, gifts, and yummy holiday treats to serve at whatever celebration you are hosting or attending.  Here are just a few:

Made in America Holiday Gift and Stocking Stuffer Guide from the AFL-CIO (features products from the UFCW as well as Unite Here, USW, IAM, UAW, RWDSU/UFCW, and many more)

Union-Made Holiday Sweet Treats from BCTGM

Make it a union-made holiday from the UAW is a guide to union-made toys and electronics, plus other lists of union-made products

The Union-made Holiday Shopping List from Labor 411 features a variety of products from multiple unions, and even has price listings.

Also, check out our UFCW Pinterest board of union-made products for more ideas! The AFL-CIO has one too.

image source: http://www.homesteadcards.com/ , where you can buy union-made holiday cards!

December 14, 2012

Walmart Worker Protests Spread Globally

Workers in 10 Countries Call for an End to the Silencing of Workers at Walmart

OUR Walmart and Community Supporters Commit to Continued Protests in 2013 

Follow the conversation and see photos on Twitter: #WalmartStrikers and @ForRespect and @ChangeWalmart

MIAMI—US Walmart workers were joined by Walmart workers in nine countries on Friday to call for an end to Walmart’s attempts to silence workers for speaking out for changes at the world’s largest employer.  As Walmart workers and community supporters marched in front of a Walmart store in Miami, workers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Zambia and India held their own rallies, marches, and other actions at Walmart and Walmart subsidiary stores.  During the protests, workers cited the negative impacts that the silencing is having on their families, the economy and the company’s bottom-line.  

At the protests across the globe, workers held a moment of silence to honor the victims of the factory fire in Bangladesh that tragically claimed the lives of 112 workers. Recent reports show that Walmart “played a leading role in blocking an effort” to improve electrical and fire safety systems in factories in the country.

“Walmart must stop its attempts to silence those who speak out.  We are standing up for what is right for our families and the global economy,” said Elaine Rozie, an OUR Walmart member from the Hialeah store in Miami Gardens, Fl.  Rozie is a seven-year associate who despite works full-time at Walmart still has to depend on public assistance to make ends meet. “As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart should be setting a standard for good, safe jobs. The benefits of having steady, well-trained workers in stores and along the supply chain will help Walmart improve customer service ratings and its reputation, which is good business.”

“We are inspired by OUR Walmart members who are standing up for a better future for all of our families,” said Louisa Plaatjies, a worker from South Africa. In October, workers from seven countries – where workers all have union representation – launched the UNI Walmart Global Union Alliance to fight for fairness, decent working conditions, and the fundamental human right of freedom of association.  “We are will continue to stand up with our brothers and sisters in the United States until Walmart starts listening to the workers that keep the store running.”

The global protests held today build on the ongoing calls for change at Walmart. In November, community members and Walmart workers held more than 1,000 demonstrations, including strikes in 100 cities, during the Black Friday shopping rush in protest of the company’s illegal attempts to silence workers for speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and its discrimination against women and people of color.  The Black Friday strike wave came a little more than a month after OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. In just one year, OUR Walmart has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates across 43 states.

“The Walmart workers may come from different cultures and continents but they are united in their opposition to Walmart’s cynical and systematic squeezing of its employees to maximize profit, be it the US dollar, the South African rand, the Indian rupee, the Argentine peso or any other currency,” said the International UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings. “Walmart has gone too far. US Walmart workers have had enough and they are fighting back as we saw on Black Friday and every day since. The Alliance is standing with them not just in solidarity but in strength and in action.”

Workers like Jesus Vargas, who have been illegally fired, targeted by management or other retaliation for speaking out, are also raising their voices.  More than 30 federal charges against Walmart have already been filed, with another 60 allegations against Walmart’s illegal threats currently under investigation.

“Walmart, we will not be silenced,” Vargas said. Vargas, who was unjustly fired for speaking out at his store in California, has filed a federal charge against Walmart. “We are coming together to be heard and to create good jobs that workers in America and across the globe need.”

With so many Americans struggling to make ends meet and Walmart taking in $16 billion in profits and compensating its executives $10 million each, workers and community leaders have been calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address the wage gap the company is creating.  At the same time frontline Walmart workers are facing financial hardships, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.

Workers’ concerns about wages and staffing have been affirmed by newly uncovered company pay-plans exposed by the Huffington Post, recent poor sales reports and a new study on wage trends in the retail industry. Huffington Post uncovered what reporters call “a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.”  Meanwhile, last week’s sales reports show that understaffing, which affects workers’ scheduling and take-home pay, is also having an impact on company sales. Last week’s sales report showed that Walmart’s comp store sales are about half what competitors like Target reported in the same quarter, continuing a pattern of underperformance by the world’s largest retailer.

As workers and community supporters call for changes at Walmart, a new report by the national public policy center Demos, shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would have an impact on our economy. A wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs. The findings in the study prove there is a flaw in the conventional thinking by companies like Walmart that profits, low prices, and decent wages cannot coexist.

###

Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), Making Change at Walmart is a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.

December 14, 2012

No Rest for Macy’s Workers this Holiday Season

Macy’s recently announced that most of its stores will be open continuously in the 48 hours leading up to Christmas Eve for its last “One Day Sale” of the season. While this is good news for shoppers, it’s not so great for the many retail workers who are struggling this holiday season.

The UFCW represents thousands of Macy’s workers throughout the country who have a voice in their scheduling and earn premium pay on holidays thanks to a union contract that they negotiated with their employers. That contract is the difference between a Macy’s worker with no union representation being forced to work undesirable hours on a holiday and a union Macy’s worker who wants to pick up an additional shift.

The retail sector is the largest employment industry in the United States, and retail jobs are increasingly setting the working and living standards for American workers.  That’s why it’s critically important that all employers in this industry compensate workers with the kind of pay and benefits that allow them to live in the middle class.

Academic studies, including a recent report by Demos, provide quantitative evidence that retailers, workers, and the U.S. economy stands to benefit greatly if retail companies invest in their workforce.  According to the Demos report, raising wages for full-time retail workers at the nation’s largest retail companies (those employing at least 1,000 workers) would result in improving the lives of more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families who are currently living in poverty or hovering just above the poverty line.

The entire UFCW family is proud of the courage that Macy’s workers show every day — in the face of retaliation from management and in some instances, heroic actions in the face of violence, as was the case of the Macy’s worker who selflessly looked after others when a gunman opened fire at a mall in Oregon.  We wish our members and all Macy’s workers around the country a safe and peaceful holiday season.

December 11, 2012

President Hansen Speaks Out on Michigan’s Sham Right to Work Law

Washington, DC –Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today released the following statement regarding the passage of a right to work law in Michigan.

“I am deeply disappointed that Michigan has gone over to the dark side. Right to work is a sham that provides no new rights and no new work. It is designed for a single purpose: to give more money and power to CEOs at the expense of their workers. This is particularly poor timing for Michigan, which is in the midst of a truly remarkable comeback story, led by the resurgence of the auto industry and made possible by unsung heroes in retail and meatpacking. But make no mistake—we will use this moment to build a stronger union, ramp up communication and outreach, and help our members continue to bargain for a better life.

“The people of Michigan spoke loud and clear on Election Day, supporting pro-worker candidates like Senator Debbie Stabenow and President Obama by wide margins. But instead of listening to his constituents, Governor Snyder is bending to the big-moneyed interests behind right to work. This is truly a sad day for Michigan.”

# # #

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, join our online community on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

December 11, 2012

Fresh & Easy Flops While CEO Walks with Golden Parachute

CEO Secures Severance Package Worth Over $9 Million as 5,000 Workers Likely to Lose Jobs

(Washington, DC) – Even though Tim Mason ran Fresh & Easy into the ground, the former CEO will still be getting his Christmas bonus. Tim Mason has proved more successful at lining his own pockets than at running a grocery chain. Although Mason has resigned following the failure of Fresh & Easy, he will still walk away with a severance package of more than $9 million.

But the company’s 5,000 workers are more likely to see pink slips than bonuses in their stockings this holiday season.

This pattern of putting C-suite interests above the needs of workers and customers contributed to the failure of Fresh & Easy. Now those workers and customers will likely pay the price, with lost jobs and communities blighted by empty storefronts.

Under Mason’s watch, Fresh & Easy lost over $1.6 billion since opening its doors five years ago. Fresh & Easy repeatedly missed its benchmarks for both performance and growth. A June 2012 field research study by Change to Win, a labor federation with which UFCW is affiliated, found that a number of Fresh & Easy stores had execution problems such as product out of stocks, cleanliness and/or product freshness issues, and problems with the ease of self-checkout.

Despite this record, Mason was consistently one of the highest paid executives at Tesco. But compensation for the workers stagnated, with the most senior workers going three years without a pay raise. Now, Mason will walk away from Fresh & Easy with a generous severance package that includes 2 million shares of company stock, and a year’s severance pay, with an additional $14.5 million in pension money.

Mason’s shocking compensation package had been a thorn with investors as they watched Mason become the most highly-paid executive at Tesco, out-earning his own boss, Tesco International CEO Phil Clarke. In 2011, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union engaged with investors and triggered a revolt in which nearly half of Tesco’s investors refused to approve the remuneration package, pushing the company to overhaul its pay policy for top executives.

# # #

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, go to ufcw.org and join us on Facebook: UFCWinternational and follow us on Twitter @UFCW.

December 11, 2012

Fresh & Easy Flops While CEO Walks with Golden Parachute

CEO Secures Severance Package Worth Over $9 Million as 5,000 Workers Likely to Lose Jobs

(Washington, DC) – Even though Tim Mason ran Fresh & Easy into the ground, the former CEO will still be getting his Christmas bonus. Tim Mason has proved more successful at lining his own pockets than at running a grocery chain. Although Mason has resigned following the failure of Fresh & Easy, he will still walk away with a severance package of more than $9 million.

But the company’s 5,000 workers are more likely to see pink slips than bonuses in their stockings this holiday season.

This pattern of putting C-suite interests above the needs of workers and customers contributed to the failure of Fresh & Easy. Now those workers and customers will likely pay the price, with lost jobs and communities blighted by empty storefronts.

Under Mason’s watch, Fresh & Easy lost over $1.6 billion since opening its doors five years ago. Fresh & Easy repeatedly missed its benchmarks for both performance and growth. A June 2012 field research study by Change to Win, a labor federation with which UFCW is affiliated, found that a number of Fresh & Easy stores had execution problems such as product out of stocks, cleanliness and/or product freshness issues, and problems with the ease of self-checkout.

Despite this record, Mason was consistently one of the highest paid executives at Tesco. But compensation for the workers stagnated, with the most senior workers going three years without a pay raise. Now, Mason will walk away from Fresh & Easy with a generous severance package that includes 2 million shares of company stock, and a year’s severance pay, with an additional $14.5 million in pension money.

Mason’s shocking compensation package had been a thorn with investors as they watched Mason become the most highly-paid executive at Tesco, out-earning his own boss, Tesco International CEO Phil Clarke. In 2011, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union engaged with investors and triggered a revolt in which nearly half of Tesco’s investors refused to approve the remuneration package, pushing the company to overhaul its pay policy for top executives.

# # #

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, go to ufcw.org and join us on Facebook: UFCWinternational and follow us on Twitter @UFCW.

December 5, 2012

UFCW Statement on Tesco’s Fresh & Easy

Statement by UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill Regarding Tesco’s Announcement on US Venture, Fresh & Easy


“Tesco’s announcement today forces thousands of Fresh & Easy workers in California, Arizona, and Nevada to face a holiday season filled with uncertainty and fear if their jobs and stores will still be there in the new year. These job losses could have been avoided if Tesco had chosen to engage with community stakeholders and its customers to address the many underlying problems and warning signs of the troubled Fresh & Easy model.

“We call on Tesco and Fresh & Easy executives to include all community and labor stakeholders as the company undergoes this review process.”

# # #

The United Food & Commercial The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, go to ufcw.org and join us on Facebook: UFCWinternational and follow us on Twitter @UFCW.

December 5, 2012

UFCW Statement on Tesco’s Fresh & Easy

Statement by UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill Regarding Tesco’s Announcement on US Venture, Fresh & Easy


“Tesco’s announcement today forces thousands of Fresh & Easy workers in California, Arizona, and Nevada to face a holiday season filled with uncertainty and fear if their jobs and stores will still be there in the new year. These job losses could have been avoided if Tesco had chosen to engage with community stakeholders and its customers to address the many underlying problems and warning signs of the troubled Fresh & Easy model.

“We call on Tesco and Fresh & Easy executives to include all community and labor stakeholders as the company undergoes this review process.”

# # #

The United Food & Commercial The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, go to ufcw.org and join us on Facebook: UFCWinternational and follow us on Twitter @UFCW.