• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

February 15, 2019

Organizing Is “InStyle” With Local 770 Member

More than 7,000 pork ribs are cut in a 4-hour shift –about 30 ribs per minute– at the Farmer John’s pork processing plant in Vernon, California. UFCW 770 member, Rina Chavarria, and her co-workers in the rib conversion department work diligently to meet the production’s fast-paced demand. Despite performing a physical taxing job, Rina still finds energy and extra time to organize and represent her co-workers as a union shop steward. She was recently featured in the “badass women” series of InStyle magazine.

Roughly 1,200 UFCW 770 union members work at the Vernon Farmer John hog slaughterhouse, which is owned by Smithfield Foods. They produce bacon and other pork products, including the famous “Dodger Dog” hot dog that many people enjoy. Rina Chavarria has worked at Farmer John for 5 years.  She shares her thoughts about her experience:

“I feel good that I was considered for this story. Very often, people don’t realize that as working women we are on our own working to provide for our children and to be able to help them succeed in life,” says Rina who has two children Cynthia,18 and Marco, 10. “I teach my children to be fighters. I tell them to dream big and fight for those dreams. And to be good people,” she says. For her, being featured in an InStyle article was “an acknowledgment of us women who are hardworking people and who don’t chicken out,” she points out laughing.

“I really enjoyed the experience of doing the photo shoot and the interview. It was a very nice, new experience. I also liked it because I had the opportunity to meet other women from different industries such as farm workers, caregivers, and hotel workers.”

Rina Chavarria has been a member of the UFCW 770 bargaining committee since 2016 when she was actively engaged in contract negotiations. Last year, she became a shop steward within the plant. She was also involved in the bargaining sessions of 2018 when union members won a union contract that included wage increases, affordable healthcare, and union security. The contract also secures protections and other benefits.

“Being a UFCW 770 member represents a great value to me because I have the opportunity to be a voice for my co-workers. I’m involved in the Union to help my co-workers as much as I can. As a shop steward I’m more aware of the problems that my co-workers face in the plant, so I to try to find a way to resolve them. I love helping my co-workers. That’s why I enjoy being a Union steward. And I really like defending my rights and the rights of my co-workers.”

“Being a shop steward empowers me because the bosses look at me differently, and people in the plant look at me differently. I don’t know, you feel kind of important when your co-worker comes to you and asks you for advice or asks you for help. When I’m able to help them, I feel great satisfaction,” she adds.

Last year, Rina completed a 3-day health and safety training and she also represented her local at a UFCW International’s Packinghouse chain meeting in Nebraska. She is always eager to collaborate with her union to make sure her fellow workers at Farmer John have respect, dignity and a voice on the job.

February 14, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Canceling NYC Location

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement in response to Amazon’s decision to withdraw their plan to establish a new campus in New York City:

“Amazon showed its true colors today and every American should be outraged. Jeff Bezos had the opportunity to listen to the voices of working families and support the good-paying jobs New Yorkers deserve.

“But now we can see this is all about blind greed and Jeff Bezos’ belief that everyday taxpayers should foot the bill for their new headquarters even as the company actively works to eliminate millions of American retail jobs.

“No company that refuses to invest in hardworking men and women should be allowed to stuff their pockets with taxpayer-funded subsidies. Make no mistake, this fight has only begun.”


The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. 

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

 

February 11, 2019

UFCW Charity Foundation now accepting applications for 2019

Looking to further your education? The UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship is now accepting applications from UFCW members and their families for the 2019 scholarship.*

Every year the UFCW Charity Foundation scholarship program offers scholarships to UFCW members or their immediate family members who want to further their education and demonstrate a commitment to their communities and to UFCW values.  Since 1958, the fund has distributed more than $2 million in scholarships.

Past winners have gone on to make significant contributions to society and to the UFCW – entering a range of fields including public service, medicine, law, business and teaching.  Many have returned to the UFCW as staffers, organizers, and community activists who contribute to our mission.

Apply Now >>>

*UFCW-employed officers and staff, and their immediate families are not eligible for this program.

February 11, 2019

UFCW Members Make Valentine’s Day Happen

From making chocolates to prepping floral arrangements, UFCW members have been busy making sure you have everything you need to make a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Sweets for your sweetheart

When you give a box of See’s Candies, Ghiradelli chocolates or Hershey’s kisses, know they taste a little sweeter because they are made with love by talented union members.

UFCW members who make See’s Candies craft each chocolate confection by hand. More care and expertise is needed than you might think to make sure each piece comes out just right. The Food Network’s Tyler Florence received a warm welcome from UFCW Local 5 members at the See’s Candy Factory in South San Francisco and got a peek at how these Valentine’s Day Treats are made:

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days at See’s, when anywhere from 200 to 600 customers are expected to come through a store. Many people look forward all year to seasonal favorites like the See’s Hot Hearts, which are only available around Valentine’s Day.


Need help with your bouquet?

The UFCW also represents florists at union grocery stores all across the country. Michelle is a florist at Kroger in Texas, where she enjoys creating the perfect floral arrangements and bouquets to help brighten someone’s day. She recently shared how to properly arrange a bouquet in a vase, but if you still need some help, just ask your local union florist and they’ll be happy to share their expertise with you.


Enjoy some bubbly

UFCW Local 186D members in California make sparkling wine that is perfect for Valentine’s Day champagne cocktails. Try a classic cocktail recipe, like a French 75 or a Cherub’s Cup, and impress your loved one with your mixology skills. Champagne cocktails are a great way to enjoy something fancy for special occasions without breaking the bank.

Andre Champagne JFJ Champagne Tott's Champagne Wycliff Champagne

Cherub’s Cup

1 part elderflower liqueur
2 parts vodka or gin
3/4 part fresh lemon juice
1 part muddled strawberry
Rosé sparkling wine

Directions:
1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add chopped strawberries and muddle.
2. Add all ingredients aside from the rosé sparkling wine and shake vigorously until well chilled.
3. Strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of the sparkling wine.
4. Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!

February 8, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Reconsidering NYC Location

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement in response to a new report that Amazon is reconsidering its plan to establish a new campus in New York City.

“It is outrageous that Amazon is now essentially threatening New York City taxpayers to pay for its new headquarters or else it will leave town. Multibillion-dollar corporations and billionaires like Jeff Bezos should not be threatening New Yorkers or expect any American taxpayers to foot the bill for opening a new headquarters – whether it’s in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, or anywhere else. Why should we subsidize the creation of 25,000 Amazon jobs when Amazon’s entire business model seeks to eliminate millions of retail jobs? The last thing we, as taxpayers, should ever be asked to pay for is the destruction of our own jobs.”

###

The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

February 6, 2019

Black History Month: how the push for fair treatment in a Texas poultry plant changed the health and safety standards of an industry

Union organizing efforts won significant benefits for meatpacking workers during the first half of the 20th century. In 1960, before a wave of automation and rapid restructuring would decimate jobs in the industry, meatpacking wages were 15 percent above the average wage for manufacturing workers in the United States. But one area where change was slow to come was in the poultry industry. Unlike other jobs in meatpacking, a much higher percentage of poultry workers were African American women in the anti-union South.

A reasonable request

In 1953, Clara Holder, an East Texas poultry worker, wrote to Patrick Gorman, Secretary Treasurer of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workman of America (a union that would later merge with the Retail Clerks Union to become the UFCW in 1979). She and her coworkers were fed up with the exploitation and unhealthy practices they witnessed on the job and had decided to form a union to better conditions at the plant.

“I was told to contact your office to secure help in organizing a much needed plant,” Miss Holder wrote. “The majority of the workers are eager to organize, if only they had some advice from a bonafide labor union. Would you kindly inform me if your organization can help us.” Clara Holder’s brief and innocently worded letter sparked a tortuous organizing campaign — in Center, Texas — that stirred racial and class tensions, triggered a national boycott, and persuaded the union to launch a successful drive to reform the entire American poultry industry. – The Texas “Sick Chicken” Strike, 1950s by George N. Green

Strikers outside the Eastex Poultry plant in Center, Texas.

Demands for better conditions spark violence and ignite racial tensions

What started out as a politely worded letter, boiled over into open violence as the strike touched off racial tensions that had been simmering beneath the surface of the small town:

As in most East Texas towns. the white citizens of Center were angered by the desegregation decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (on May I, 1954). Coming on the heels of a strike by blacks, this decision stirred endemic hatreds. Thus, while white strikers seem to have been regarded as curiosities. black picketers were resented. Just after the Eastex strike began, [Meat Cutters’ District Vice-President Sam Twedell] claimed that he was summoned to the county district attorney’s office. There, in the presence of the sheriff, Twedell said he was ordered to “get those goddamn N*****s off the picket line or some of them are gonna get killed.” Twedell refused. On May 20 he sent telegrams to the FBI and the FCC concerning a broadcast on KDET radio, a strongly anti-union station, which “openly advocated violence, as a result of Supreme Court decision … and other racial problems, if Negro pickets were not removed from the picket lines.” Station manager Tom Foster explained that his announcer merely had stated that “Twedell himself was advocating trouble by ordering Negro and white pickets to walk the picket line together. Hancock [the announcer} said that may be common practice in Chicago [location of the union’s international headquarters], but we are not ready for that here.”  Foster, according to one of his friends, was extremely anti-union and simply looking for an angle of attack. Twedell began walking the line with the black picketers.

On May 9 organizer Allen Williams prophetically reported that “We are sitting on a keg of dynamite … I honestly think our lives are in danger … These bastards will stop at nothing, including murder, if they think there is half a chance to get away with it.” On the night of July 23 a time bomb explosion destroyed Williams’ Ford. A fire which resulted as an after-effect of the detonation completely leveled two cabins of the tourist court where Williams was residing and did extensive damage to two other buildings. Fortunately, Williams had stayed out later than usual on the night of the bombing and thus escaped injury. The would-be assassins were never apprehended and, according to his reports in the next few weeks, Williams held some doubts that law enforcement officers seriously sought to find them. Remarking on the openly anti-union sentiments of a majority of the members of a grand jury investigating the bombing, Williams jokingly explained that he felt some fear of being indicted for the crime himself. A second bombing occurred near the black “quarters” in Center on August 12. Though the August bombing scared the black strikers, Williams observed that they weren’t showing it openly.

Neither of the two banks, whose presidents were directors of the Center Development Foundation, extended credit to their fellow townfolk on strike. But the Meat Cutters paid regular benefits through the duration of the conflict and also conducted a highly successful nationwide clothing drive for the strikers. So much clothing was received from the locals that it actually became necessary for President Jimerson to request members to halt the donations.”– The Texas “Sick Chicken” Strike, 1950s by George N. Green

Resulting wins and establishment of poultry inspections

Donald D.Stull and Michael J. Broadway wrote about the struggle to organize and how it led to the inspection of poultry and better health and safety standards for the industry in the book From Slaughterhouse Blues: The Meat and Poultry Industry in North America:

Organizing efforts in the poultry industry lagged behind those in meatpacking: it is a newer industry; its plants were located in the rural South, long known for anti-union sentiment; and it drew heavily on African American women to work its lines. In Jun 1953, poultry workers in the East Texas town of Center asked the Amalgamated Meat Cutters to help them organize. At the time, poultry workers were paid the minimum wage of 75 cents an hour; they worked 10 or 11 hours a day in filthy conditions without overtime pay, and their employers denied them grievance procedures, seniority, and paid holidays. Center’s two poultry plants — one staffed by black workers, the other by whites — voted to join the union. When the companies refused to negotiate in good faith, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters organized a national boycott of plant products, and the workers staged wildcat strikes.

At the time, less than a quarter of the poultry sold in the United States was federally inspected, and neither of the Center plants employed inspectors. With the support of its 500 locals and the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters organized a national campaign to mandate federal inspection of poultry. Subsequent

congressional hearings revealed that one-third of known cases of food poisoning could be traced to poultry. Despite opposition from the poultry industry and the U.S.Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat inspection, a poultry inspection bill eventually passed Congress. In August 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Poultry Products Inspection Act, which requires compulsory inspection of all poultry that crosses state lines of is sold overseas.

And what of the striking workers? Eastex, the plant that employed only black workers, settled after 11 months, agreeing to wage increases, time-and-a-half overtime pay, three paid holidays and vacations, a grievance procedure, and reinstatement of strikers. Eastex subsequently sold out to Holly Farms, which later sold out to Tyson.

 

February 1, 2019

Take a look inside the plant where football leather is made with NFL player Israel Idonije

Did you know the leather for every single NFL football, including the ones that will be used in this Sunday’s Super Bowl, is crafted in Chicago, IL by members of UFCW Local 1546, who work at the Horween Leather Company? The hard-working men and women of the Horween Leather Company have been supplying the leather for every Super Bowl football since the very first in 1967.

Former NFL player Israel Idonije visited the historic tannery in Chicago to learn more about how the UFCW works together with management to ensure both high quality leather and good, sustainable jobs.

“You talk about a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a union—a family—and the commitment of people working together to support one another. It’s really special,” said Idonije.

“Just because you don’t agree on everything doesn’t mean you can’t work together,” says Skip Horween, president of Horween. “We do recognize that we are in this together.”

January 31, 2019

Customers shifting to fresher options for most popular Super Bowl snack

Aside from Thanksgiving, Americans eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day. UFCW members in grocery stores and in food processing plants across the country have been working hard to prep the meats, cheese trays, deli sandwiches, veggie platters and other great game day snacks we all love.

“This is one of the busiest times of the year for my store,” said Earl Greenlaw, a member of UFCW Local 367 who works at Fred Meyer. “Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, my co-workers and I put in long hours preparing food and helping customers plan their menus. We love knowing that our hard work makes it easy for people to enjoy the game with their friends and family.”


The Unofficial Super Bowl Snack

The most popular food for Super Bowl Sunday? Chicken Wings. While the amount of wings projected to be eaten this weekend is enough to circle the earth three times, there are some shifts in customers’ preferences. According to Nielsen, more and more customers are turning to fresher wings, opting either to pick them up fully cooked at the deli or buy them uncooked and make them themselves. Fresh meat wings sales have gone up 31 percent in the past year, and deli cooked wings saw an increase of 15 percent.

Many of those wings will have either been processed by UFCW members at unionized poultry processing facilities or cooked and served by UFCW members at unionized grocery stores. Thanks for all your hard work, guys!

January 29, 2019

Plan your next getaway with discounts for UFCW members

As a member of our UFCW family, you not only get a strong contract and someone fighting for you at work, you also get remarkable benefits that can save you and your loved ones thousands of dollars this year.


International Travel

Collette has been showing the world to people just like you for over 100 years. In addition to visiting iconic must-see sites around the globe, Collette’s 170-plus tours take travelers off the beaten path to allow you to get to know and appreciate each unique destination. A partnership between Union Plus and Collette opens up exclusive offers and union member benefits to make your travel dreams come true!

Book now and enjoy savings of up to
$600 per person*!
Use offer code UNIONSAVE
and mention your Union member benefit

For reservations, call Collette at 844.868.2685
or contact your travel professional.

★ For group travel, call 877.685.8687 for assistance. ★

Plan the trip of a lifetime


Fun Destinations

Travelling to an exciting destination spot or just looking forwards to a staycation where you live? You can save money on admission to all kinds of fun museums, cruises, parks, resorts and more, including:

  • Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
  • Chicago Children’s Museum
  • The Met
  • Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago
  • MoMa
  • International Spy Museum
  • Empire State Building Observatory
  • Madame Tussaud’s
  • Skydeck – Chicago
  • Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Graceland
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum
  • Newseum
  • Exploratorium
  • San Diego Safari Park
  • CityPass

Register for Destination Discounts


Amusement Parks

Whether you are a roller coaster enthusiast or just like an excuse to eat funnel cake, your UFCW membership gives you discounts on some of the most popular parks in the country, such as:

  • Disney
  • Six Flags (Multiple locations)
  • Adventureland Park
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Crayola Experience
  • Dollywood
  • Dorney Park
  • Funtown Splashtown USA
  • Hersheypark
  • Kings Dominion
  • LEGOLAND (Multiple locations)
  • SeaWorld
  • Sesame Place
  • Universal Studios

Access Your Water and Theme Park Discounts

Accessing your discounts does require setting up an account on the Union Plus website, which is free for UFCW members. From there, you’ll not only get access to discounts on theme parks, but discounts on movie tickets, hotels, car rental, and more that can help you squeeze a little more fun out of your wallet.

Register for Water and Theme Park Discounts


Planning a Road Trip?

Before you hit the road this summer, make sure your car is in good, safe condition to drive. Regular auto maintenance and new tire purchases from Goodyear help stretch the longevity and value of your vehicle.Use the Union Plus Goodyear Discount Coupon for tires and services, to keep your car in good shape and save money.

  • Save 10% off all Goodyear tires or 5% off sale tires at company-owned Goodyear and Just Tires.
  • Save 5% off sale tires at company-owned Goodyear and Just Tires.
  • Save 10% off car service, including auto maintenance, auto parts, or 5% off preventative maintenance.

Many Goodyear tires are made by members of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), so you can support you fellow labor union members and service your car at the same time.


Renting a Car?

Going out of town and need to rent a car? Car rental can get expensive, so you’ll want to be sure to take advantage of your UFCW member discounts. Check out the car rental companies below and be sure to give them the reference ID and mention you are a union member.

 


Avis Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-698-5685

Be sure to reference AWD #B723700

Budget Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-455-2848

Be sure to reference BCD #V816100

Hertz Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-654-2200

Be sure to reference CDP #205666

Dollar Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-800-4000

Be sure to reference CDP #3042236

Thrifty Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-847-4389

Be sure to reference CDP #3042238

Payless Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-729-5377

Be sure to reference PDN #A071900
January 25, 2019

Beyond TSA: how is the shutdown impacting our national food security?

There have been a number of recent articles highlighting the air-travel safety issues caused by the government shutdown as more and more TSA agents are forced to call out from work. TSA agents are a visible reminder of the work that federal employees do, but some of the most damaging and dangerous impacts from the government shutdown are ones that are also out of sight of the average American. After all, many people pass through the airport, but not that many people regularly visit food processing facilities.

Food Safety


The FDA oversees 80 percent of our food supply and has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities (Washington Post) and canceled more than 50 high-risk inspections. (Washington Post) The FDA halted many inspections on January 9th, though the agency also resumed the most high-risk ones on January 15th, when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that furloughed food inspectors would be recalled to carry on their work without pay.

40% of FDA workers are furloughed

40 percent of the FDA’s employee’s remain furloughed and it is important to recognize that just because inspections may not be considered “high risk” does not mean they are “no risk” and should be left without inspectors. These decisions about what merits inspection or not are also being made without the informed consent of the American people, who trust that the food they are eating has been held to certain agreed upon standards and guidelines.

 

Risk of recalls has increased

Since the last extended federal shutdown in 2013, the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled.  A new report shows the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the United States for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, raising new concerns about food safety. A recent report by TIME highlighted that if shutdown-caused furloughs continue to impede FDA operations, “federal regulators might not even realize outbreaks are happening” in the first place.

Long term impacts

Workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry, have all continued to perform inspections without pay. It is important to recognize that much of the work inspectors do requires a high level of training and experience, and filling vacant positions with qualified employees can be challenging. Though the dedication shown by the inspectors working without pay because of their commitment to the common good is inspiring, the longer this shutdown continues, the more we are asking those workers to sacrifice. If a number of inspectors are forced to take other work in order to support their families, there is a potential for long-term consequences that will be felt beyond when the federal government resumes its responsibilities.

Grocery Sales and Food Access


This week, nearly 40 million low-income Americans received their February Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (or food stamps). Beyond the hardships endured by families who reply on SNAP, the program makes up a significant percentage of grocery sales and the harmful impact of the shutdown threatens not only families, but businesses up and down the supply chain.

SNAP represents a large portion of grocery sales

SNAP accounts for about 10 percent of the food that U.S. families buy for their homes.  Disruption to the SNAP program can cause reduced revenue for grocery stores, disruption to food supply chains, reduced hours and even job cuts for workers, and significant consequences for local economies.

Uncertainty triggering food shortages

Due to the federal government shutdown, the benefit’s release is occurring weeks earlier than scheduled. It is being reported that recipients may have to wait 40 days or longer before additional assistance is available causing state agencies to warn recipients to ration their benefits.

Shutdown induced uncertainty is anticipated to cause worried hardworking families using food stamps, to stock up on food for the weeks ahead and triggering food shortages at local supermarkets.

Out of touch leadership

In addition to damage done by the disruption of the SNAP program, many federal workers are wondering how to feed their families when they are not receiving a paycheck. This is especially troubling as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently expressed confusion over why federal employees would be turning to food banks instead of just taking out loans to get through the shutdown. Donald Trump reacted to the comments by suggested grocery stores need to “work along” with federal employees.

Food access is both a humanitarian issue and bad for business

When you consider that the potential loss of sales in the grocery industry is not only a threat to business, but represents every day Americans who cannot afford to eat right now, the depth of the crisis we are in as a country becomes clear. Grocery workers and grocery stores are united in calling for an end to the shutdown before further disruptions occur in our food stores and on our nation’s kitchen tables.

A partial federal government shutdown started on December 22, 2018 after President Donald Trump demanded a $5.7 billion appropriation for border wall construction be included in the federal budget, something Democrats refused to agree to. The impasse has resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Today, many Federal workers will miss their second paycheck in a row.