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    UFCW Blog

January 10, 2020

Make Sure Your New Pet is Protected!

Did you add a new dog or cat to your family over the holidays? Make sure you protect your new furry friend with everything from the right food and bedding to the right pet health insurance.

Be financially prepared for a pet health emergency, with the Union Plus Pet Insurance Member Benefit that is powered by Pets Best. Pets Best offers plans to fit all budgets and coverage needs, from an Accident Only plan to a full coverage.

Union members save up to 10% off

Learn More

P.S. — Every Pets Best policyholder has access to the 24/7 Pet Helpline powered by whiskerDocs. Speak to a veterinary expert any time of day or night to get your pet health, or pet behavior, questions answered.

 

January 8, 2020

Apply for the 2020 Union Plus Scholarship

Since 1991, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4.5 million to students of union families. Over 3,000 union families have benefited from the program. 

Application deadline:  12:00pm (noon, Eastern Time), Friday, January 31, 2020

This program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation, which is sponsored by Union Privilege.

Award amounts:  $500 to $4,000.  These one-time cash awards are for study beginning in the Fall of 2020.  Students may re-apply each year.

Eligibility

Current and retired members of participating unions, their spouses and their dependent children (as defined by IRS regulations). At least one year of continuous union membership by the applicant, applicant’s spouse or parent (if applicant is a dependent). The one year membership minimum must be satisfied by May 31 of the scholarship year. See more details on eligibility in the tab below.

Evaluation Criteria

This is a competitive scholarship. Applicants are evaluated according to academic ability, social awareness, financial need and appreciation of labor. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended. The required essays can account for up to half your total score. Scholarship applicants are judged by a committee of impartial post-secondary educators.

Award date:  May 31, 2020. During the first week of June 2020 award recipients will be notified by postal mail, and all applicants will be sent email notification.

 Apply Now

December 27, 2019

UFCW member speaks out about unjust dismissal

A few weeks ago, we received a letter from Ed Marquard, a service mechanic and member of UFCW/ICWUC Local 121C. He asked us to share his story about what happened to him, and how his UFCW/ICWUC membership meant he was able to get his job back.

“Most of you do not know me. Most of the members of my own Local 121C do not know me. But I very much want you all to hear me and acknowledge something to yourselves. That being, the significance of enjoying the benefits and protection of formal Unionized Representation in your respective workplaces.”

Ed had been wrongly fired by his employer and fighting for justice since 2013 up until this year. According to Ed, his employer hadn’t exactly been cooperative, as is common in such cases, unfortunately.

“Contractual dispute resolution procedures were trivialized. Federal Arbitration rulings were appealed or ignored. State Superior Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviews drug things out for years. Contest and protract. This was the Company drill for essentially six years.”


You don’t have to go it alone

Even if you know you are in the right, fighting such resistance on your own would be at the very best a lonely, exhausting, expensive experience. We know that most of the time, in the face of all the obstacles irresponsible companies can put up, many workers who have been wronged simply give up and try their best to move on with their lives. But for Ed, he didn’t have to go it alone, and he didn’t give up.

“During this time, I came to understand that only 8% of the American workforce enjoys the protection that our Union affords us as workers. Not to mention the far better wages and standard benefits we take for granted. And I do mean take for granted!”


The benefits of a union

One thing that separates workers who have union representation from the rest of the workforce is that what you are entitled to at your job and what your employer can and can’t do is clearly spelled out in a written, legally-binding contract. Unlike a company handbook, which employees have no say in, a contract is an agreement drawn up between the union, which speaks for the interests of the workers, and the employer, which represents the interests of the company. When everyone plays by the rules, it’s a fair and balanced system that ensures businesses can still operate in a way in which they can thrive, but not at the expense of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to make those companies successful.

Unfortunately, whether out of ignorance or malice, companies don’t always play by the rules. In Ed’s case, his employer violated their contract when they terminated him. But the UFCW anticipates that there are always going to be some bad actors out there, and the staff at UFCW/ICWUC Local 121C were ready to fight for Ed every step of the way.

“My story stands to archive what Union Representation can accomplish in the face of Corporate mistreatment. Our Union stood by me steadfastly and patiently pursued every legal measure to be my advocate and represent my interests. We did not compromise or settle. We trusted that the Arbitration System would render an objective result and we prevailed.”


More than just back pay

No one wants to have to deal with something like this happening to them. Even with the union to back you up, it’s a difficult experience, and infuriating to be treated so disrespectfully by the company you’ve worked hard for. But more than just getting a job or lost wages back, what it’s all about is just as much about reclaiming your dignity and being able to draw a line in the sand about how you expect to be treated. In a world where the cards seem to be increasingly stacked against everyday people, UFCW membership is a way to put just a bit more control back in your hands.

“Thank you for your support, faith and professionalism. I have my job back. I am still working and I have been made whole for all lost wages and benefits….because I am a dues paying member of a good Union.”

Congratulations to Ed from the rest of our UFCW family. We’re sorry you had to go through such a stressful and unfair experience, but we’re so happy you stuck it out to the end and were able to get the justice you deserve.

December 25, 2019

Thank you for all your hard work

Thank you for your hard work and all the sacrifices you make—especially during the holiday season.

You, and all of our 1.3 million UFCW members, make a real difference in the lives of countless numbers of families all across your communities.

From grocery and retail to food processing and health care, you help make the holiday season joyous for this entire nation.

And in case you ever doubt it, the community you serve every day truly appreciates your hard work, too.

 

December 20, 2019

News Roundup: Holiday Gifts from Drones?

Amazon Robots Mark the Holiday Season With More Worker Injuries

With the increased automation of Amazon warehouse facilities, studies are showing it is driving more serious worker injuries. It’s due in part to the rapidly increasing pace at robotics-enhanced warehouses – usually forcing employees to quadruple the rate of work. This is an especially serious problem during the holiday season when Amazon’s “ferocious speed is on full display,” with injury reports spiking every year on Cyber Monday.

In one warehouse, the debut of robots quadrupled the rate of severe injuries. This might have shoppers thinking twice about their holiday shopping this year.

Read More

Would You Let a Robot Care for Your Mother During the Holidays?

With many elderly parents isolated during the holidays, family members may be considering a robot. It’s not that far-fetched as robots are now being employed to care for the elderly and home-bound. The artificial intelligence are intended to help seniors remember to take medications or walks.

But experts are concerned that they are beginning to substitute for real human relationships. “It’s deception technology,” writes one researcher – and does it cross the line between caring for our elderly relatives or exploiting them?

Read More

What’s Next? Robot Santa?

The flagship Bloomingdales in New York City has turned their holiday displays over to the robots. Rather than traditional window decorations, the store is using robots to decorate, play music and even serve coffee to customers. When consumers make the trip to the mall for holiday shopping, they go for the in-person customer service they can’t get online.

With new reports that demand for mall Santas actually up this year, retailers might want to reconsider plans to cut this part of the holiday shopping experience.

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Number of the Week: More than 2 Billion

That’s how many packages USPS, FedEx and UPS will deliver this holiday season, with more than 50 percent of the cost coming from labor. That’s why more and more startups are trying to deliver packages via drone or robot. But they haven’t delivered on their ambitious promises yet. No word either on how the drone will deal with the rain, snow or gloom of night that famously never stops the couriers of the U.S. Postal Service.

Read More


Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

December 19, 2019

Union-made Hanukkah Treats

Whether it’s helping customers shop for seasonal goods or making the foods we enjoy during the holidays, UFCW members are proud to be part of the traditions that are so important to our communities.

Keep your eyes out for these UFCW-made products:

See’s Candies makes a whole range of gifts for Hanukkah, as well as a range of kosher sweets for the rest of the year. For a complete list of kosher-certified products, click here for See’s Kosher Certified Letter. Here are a few of our favorites:

1.) Gold Coins

2.) Assorted Lollypops

3.) Chocolate Bars

4.) Gift Bundle

Read More

December 18, 2019

UFCW Statement on USMCA Trade Deal Ahead of Vote in Congress

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Welcomes Improved Labor Standards in Deal, But Condemns Failure to Strengthen Food Safety and U.S. Food Industry Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) ahead of the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“This new trade deal makes important improvements to the original NAFTA, including improving the enforcement of labor standards; requiring the inspection of Mexican factories; and closing loopholes that have made it hard to prosecute labor violations.

“However, UFCW is extremely disappointed that the agreement fails to require strong country-of-origin labeling needed to strengthen food safety and invest in the millions of American jobs that produce our food. Consumers have a right to know where their food is from, whether it’s safe, and if it’s produced by American workers. Without strong country-of-origin labeling, consumers will be kept in the dark and America’s food workers will continue to face unfair competition from foreign companies not playing by the same rules.

“No single trade deal is enough to fix an economy that’s not working for millions of Americans. Our members will continue to call on Congress and the White House to put hardworking families first by pushing for strong country-of-origin labeling for food and passing legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act) that strengthen protections for all workers.”

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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

 

December 17, 2019

Spicy bourbon orange hot cocoa

Want to spice up your hot chocolate this winter? Try this recipe, not only because it’s delicious, but also because you’re supporting good jobs by buying UFCW-made products. UFCW members make Nestle hot cocoa, Reddi Wip, and a wide range of quality bourbons.

 

December 13, 2019

News Roundup: 2020 Candidates Take on Automation

Automation is the Real ‘Wolf of Wall Street’

That’s the conclusion of a Cornell University professor who thinks that the machines are coming for some of the highest-paying jobs in finance. It’s already displaced thousands of well-paid financial industry workers and there are many more to come. The news came in testimony to Congress as lawmakers study the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on the financial services industry.

Read More

How Presidential Candidates are Addressing A.I.-fueled Job Elimination

The impact of artificial intelligence on job markets has been a hot topic in this year’s presidential race. Vox asked the leading Democratic contenders to weigh in with their plans to deal with the fallout. None disputed the impact, expressing concern about workers being “thrown out on the streets” and guaranteeing “the right to unionize” in response to “the greatest technological and economic shift of all time.”

Read More

Cashless Business Ban Set to Pass in NYC

A much-delayed ban on “cashless” businesses in New York City is set to face a council vote as early as this month. More than a year in progress, the bill appears likely to pass, making NYC the largest city yet to require that stores and restaurants accept cash. “A cashless business model is discriminatory by design,” said the lawmaker who introduced the bill. “This legislation ensures that all New Yorkers, regardless of their ability to access credit or debit cards, can purchase goods and services at all food and retail establishments.”

Read More

Number of the Week: 6 million

That’s how many “mobile robots” are expected to be put into service in the next year. While robots have often been thought of in logistics and manufacturing as stationary and on a “line,” the newest trend is robots that drive, lift and move. This means that jobs like forklift operators are now on the chopping block for elimination.

Read More


Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

December 6, 2019

News Roundup: Would you want to rely on a robot in an emergency?

RoboCop No Help in Emergencies

That’s what one California woman discovered when a fight broke out while she was watching her kids at the playground. Nearby, a police robot was patrolling, but when she went over to it to press a button to summon help the robot just told her to move out of the way. It then wandered off playing an “intergalactic tune.” Someone finally called for help on a regular cell phone and an injured park patron was taken away in an ambulance. This isn’t the first time a security robot has had issues, in Washington, DC, a similar robot ran itself into a fountain in 2017.

Fun fact: The cost to rent a fancy police robot? Roughly the same per year as an entry-level Police Department salary in that same California city.

Read More

Blind Walmart Self-Checkout User Arrested

Self-checkouts at Walmart and other stores are notoriously inaccessible to blind users – so much so that the National Federation of the Blind sued Walmart last year. But in the latest indignity, a New Hampshire man was arrested and prosecuted by Walmart for bagging items without scanning them.

He argued that he had tried to pay for items but because the kiosks were inaccessible, the machines had failed to register them. He’ll be sentenced December 10th for stealing a can of corned beef hash. Walmart said it “acted in good faith” though this clearly is not the friendly service the retailer claims to offer.

Read More

Cities Go Cashless, and Leave Residents Behind

Some cities are increasingly pushing residents away from cash to pay for city services and information – but what consequences will that have for those with fewer resources? That’s the struggle facing cities like Washington, D.C. where services as basic as busses and libraries are requiring cards for payment – but more than 1 in 5 D.C. residents have limited access to the banking services required for this payment method.

But still, the local transit authority is considering a surcharge for cash transactions which could leave the city’s low-income residents literally missing the bus.

Read More

Number of the Week: 17 Percent

If a worker’s state has a union density above 17 percent, they are more likely to be protected from the job displacement threatened by many companies pushing automation with robots. That’s according to The Century Foundation, which said that unions had a leveling effect – not preventing the rollout of new technologies, but blunting its impact and ensuring new tech works for workers, instead of just replacing them.

Read More


Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.