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September 17, 2019

UFCW Women’s Network Childcare Grant 2019

The UFCW Women’s Network is now accepting applications for the 2019 Childcare Grant!

The primary purpose of the UFCW Women’s Network is to unify UFCW women through an International network. Women, who comprise more than 50% of UFCW members, represent a powerful resource for the union. The Network believes that the active participation of women in the UFCW will enhance our union’s strength at the bargaining table, in organizing campaigns, and in the political arena.

Because the majority of UFCW women are hardworking mothers, and because the UFCW Women’s Network knows how expensive childcare can be, they are offering a childcare grant to offset childcare costs for our hardworking members.

Criteria

In order to be considered for a UFCW Women’s Network Region I (South) Childcare Grant, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Applicant must be a member of the UFCW in good standing for one (1) year,
  • Have a dependent child (or children) in need of childcare,
  • Parents must work outside of the home,
  • Use a qualified childcare provider either licensed by the state, or on file with the IRS.

Note: Grant winners from the prior year are not eligible for the following consecutive year, but may apply in future years.

How To Apply:

Complete all sections of this application and include the following documentation with your completed application:

    • Previous year’s Income Tax form (1040 Form),
    • Form or document showing childcare expense paid in the previous year, if any,
    • Proof of childcare expenses, which includes the caregiver’s signature on the invoice, bill or receipt.

Feel free to attach a note for any additional information that you believe would be helpful to the selection committee.

Please be aware that applications will not be processed until all necessary documentation is provided. If you have any questions, contact Mayra Valladares at 516-683-1102.

Completed applications must be mailed by October 31, 2019, to:

Mayra Valladares
Local 1102 RWDSU/UFCW
311 Crossways Park Drive
Woodbury, New York 11797

September 17, 2019

UFCW: New USDA Pork Plant Rule Endangers Safety of American Workers and Consumers

Union Representing 30,000 Pork Workers Across the Country Condemns New USDA Policy Increasing Line Speed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) condemned the new rule issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows for unlimited line speed increases at swine slaughter plants which will endanger the safety of workers and our food. UFCW President Marc Perrone, who represents thousands of meatpacking workers across the country, released the following statement:

“Today’s USDA rule sends a clear message that this administration values corporate profits more than the safety of America’s food and workers. Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands.

“This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. We urge the USDA to put the safety of American workers and consumers first and stop this dangerous rule.”


BACKGROUND

In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work, threatening both them and the consumers they serve.

The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule proposed by the USDA would hurt workers and consumers across the country.

Hazards of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule:

  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry.
  • Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death.
  • There is no evidence that the increased line speeds can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
  • In 1997, the USDA created a pilot program called the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which allowed five hog slaughter plants to test a new food safety program.  The hog slaughter pilot program revealed serious safety issues including a Clemens food plant in Pennsylvania which reported injuries severe enough that two workers were hospitalized, and one suffered an amputation.
  • The Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule includes no requirement or funding to train plant employees on inspection techniques that were previously performed by USDA inspectors and are now their responsibility.
  • Increased line speeds will disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

Key Facts About Swine Workers:

  • Meatpacking workers in hog slaughter plants work in cold, wet, noisy, and slippery conditions making tens of thousands of forceful repetitive motions on each shift.
  • Research shows that the fast pace in pork plants, coupled with the forceful and repetitive nature of most of the jobs, leads to high rates of injuries and health issues.
  • Meatpacking workers are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries. These injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries and they face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
  • The current maximum line speed for swine is 1,106 hogs per hour.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents 30,000 workers in the pork slaughter industry
  • UFCW members handle 71 percent of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

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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

September 16, 2019

UFCW Announces 2020 Presidential Forums with Focus on Future of Work and Protecting Good Jobs

America’s Largest Private Section Union to Host Forums with Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, and Warren in Michigan and Iowa 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union is announcing it will host 2020 presidential candidate forums this fall in Michigan and Iowa. The events will give 2020 presidential candidates the chance to speak to the 1.3 million members of the UFCW – one of the most critical blocs of voters for anyone aiming for the White House – about their vision and plans to address critical issues, such as the 36 million American jobs threatened by automation and companies like Amazon.

Confirmed presidential candidates include Senator Michael Bennet, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Hard-working Americans deserve an economy that creates good jobs now, and in the years ahead. Every candidate who wants to be President of the United States has a responsibility to share their vision and ideas, and how they will address major threats to the future of work, like automation and the companies that are pushing this vision, like Amazon. Our 1.3 million members and their families will play a major role in the 2020 election, and as we have heard from our members, they want to know exactly where these presidential candidates stand on the issues that matter to them and their families.”

Each of the UFCW 2020 Presidential Candidate Forums will feature three or more presidential candidates who will answer questions from UFCW members in attendance and via video. The forum schedule is as follows:

  • September 29 – Detroit Area, Michigan
  • October 13 – Des Moines Area, Iowa

 

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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

 

September 13, 2019

Under-35 union membership wildly outpacing any other age group

The popularity of labor unions is at the highest it has been in decades. According to a recent Gallup poll, approval of unions is at a 50 year high. And while the overall number of union members remains relatively low compared to what it has been in the past, there’s a significant shift happening that may indicate the tide is turning.

A 2018 study by The Center for Economic Policy and Research found that growth of union membership among workers under the age of 35 is wildly outpacing any other age group, a significant departure from the period between 2000 and 2012. So what is it that is driving this change?

Everything old is new again

While it’s impossible to isolate one deciding factor, it’s worth noting that young people today face many of the same precarious working conditions that initially drove people to start forming unions at their workplace to begin with. Lack of jobs with benefits or wages you can pay rent with (never mind saving for a house) have left millennials and younger burned out working multiple jobs, saddled with student debt, and desperately looking for solutions.

Kayla Blado of In These Times recently wrote: 

“So, what can be done about burnout? “Self-care” has been touted by social media influencers as the best solution to restoring your mental health, no matter the cause. Sure, healthy food, exercise and sleep are important ways to deal with stress, and we could all use more of each. But eating a salad isn’t going to fix the systemic problems at your workplace, nor will getting a massage give you a voice on the job, or increase your paycheck.

It is important to address these workplace issues comprehensively, but there is one clear and immediate solution: join a union.

Being in a union means that you and your coworkers work together to fix the problems at your workplace, and then negotiate for solutions with management. Whether this means collectively bargaining for raises, vacation time, better healthcare or more clear-cut job duties, there is an undeniable strength in a union. The negotiations will result in a legally enforceable union contract. Unlike most employee handbooks, once you have a strong union contract, management can’t erode your pay or benefits, or fire you without notice.“

With the gig economy’s promise of flexible income you can build your life around showing itself to be little more than a mirage in a desert of bad employment opportunities, more and more working millennials are turning to organizing as the answer.

New voices in journalism

In 2014, the departure of Steven Greenhouse from The New York Times as their labor reporter left only one daily newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, with a labor beat. Many took this as a troubling sign for the future of labor journalism. But fast forward to 2019, and now Teen Vogue has a dedicated labor column, and coverage of workplace issues is on the rise. “I think, honestly, in terms of what I’m doing at Teen Vogue and what others are doing at other places, is that people are hungry for this,” said Teen Vogue columnist Kim Kelly. “The world’s on fire, fascism is alive and well, and people need to be able to find information and find decent reporting on these incredibly important topics wherever they can.”

“The fact that Teen Vogue allows me pretty much free reign to cover working-class history stories and labor stories, I think it does have a pretty big impact, at least that’s what I’ve been told,” Kelly continued. “It shows that young people today, and people of conscience in general today, want to know more about our history. They want to know where we came from and use that, hopefully, as a blueprint for where we’re going because the future is terrifying, but the past is terrifying too. There are ways to fight back. There are ways to win. We’ve done it before.”

 

September 13, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Cuts to Healthcare for Whole Foods Workers

America’s Largest Grocery Union Condemns New Policy that Hurts Workers and Undermines Customer Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest grocery union in the country, condemned the plan by Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, to cut healthcare benefits for part-time employees. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Amazon’s plan to cut healthcare for these part-time employees is one of Jeff Bezos’ most brazen attacks on the quality of jobs at Whole Foods and the communities they support.

“Too many workers today are already working two to three jobs just to get the hours and benefits they need, and these cuts by Jeff Bezos just made it harder for them. Grocery jobs should be good jobs and one job should be enough to provide for yourself and your family.”

Background:

As reported by Business Insider, Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers. The changes will take effect on January 1 and is expected to hurt 1,900 people who will lose healthcare benefits. The benefits that the company is cutting are offered to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

UFCW has been a vocal critic of Amazon’s aggressive move to devalue and degrade grocery jobs at Whole Foods. In March 2019, UFCW condemned actions by Whole Foods to reduce employee hours. These cuts came just months after Amazon announced a wage increase that was supposed to be an investment in Whole Foods workers. The reduction in employee hours eliminated any overall increase in income for many Whole Foods 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

September 12, 2019

Goodwill Workers Join Local 655 in St. Louis for a Better Life

On August 29, Goodwill Industries workers in St. Louis voted to join UFCW Local 655 for better wages and benefits. The 25 Goodwill employees work in the front and back of the store in check-out, stocking items, and collecting and storing donated items.

The workers joined our union family because they were concerned about low wages, insufficient benefits and workplace favoritism. UFCW Local 655 is focused on helping these workers build on this victory to organize workers at other Goodwill stores throughout the area.

“We could not be more proud to welcome Goodwill employees into the Local 655 family,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook. “I look forward to helping them bargain the union contract that they deserve so that they can get the wages and benefits they have worked so hard for.”

September 6, 2019

How Contract Negotiations Work

One of the most important benefits of coming together with your colleagues to form a union is gaining the clarity and security of a union contract. Having one means knowing exactly what is expected of you at work, and what you can expect from your employer in return. A union contract is a written agreement between the employer and the employees that details the terms and benefits in a clear and legally-binding way (more on the value of contracts here).

This might not seem like a big deal at first, but consider the power of being able to propose policy changes or raise issues with a company as a whole instead of just taking them individually to a manager. You could have the best manager in the world, but it’s unlikely they have the power to change company-wide scheduling policies, or tackle vital benefits like health care. Drawing up a contract with your company as equal partners is an incredible opportunity to dramatically improve your day to day life at work—and at home.

But how does a contract get written to begin with? The negotiation process can look slightly different from company to company and industry to industry, but here’s what’s generally involved: 

You and your coworkers decide together that you want a contract.

Contracts typically expire after 3-4 years (depending on what length of time you and the company agree on together), so many times negotiations begin when an old contract is getting ready to expire. Alternatively, you and your coworkers could have just organized your workplace and this could be your first time sitting down with the company. All of the employees covered under the same contract are called a “bargaining unit.”

You come together to determine what you want to discuss with your employer.

Most discussions begin by starting with what you have now then building upon it, but you are only limited by what you and your coworkers can dream up together. Items up for discussion during negotiations are anything you want to address in your workplace, including, but not limited to:

  • Wages
  • Healthcare
  • Pensions and Retirement
  • Hours and Scheduling
  • Paid time off
  • Premium and holiday pay
  • Working conditions
  • Seniority and advancement

There are many ways to give input on what should be included in the new contract, including completing surveys, attending union meetings, texting or talking with union representatives, and emailing your local union office. 

Meeting dates, sometimes referred to as bargaining sessions, are scheduled.

Two teams are established for the scheduled bargaining sessions, one representing the union members and the other representing the company. These negotiations can often take several rounds of meetings over the course of weeks or sometimes months. On the union side, we call the group representing the interests of all their co-workers at these meetings the “bargaining committee.”

Both sides hear each other’s ideas.

Formal negotiations sessions begin and both the employer and the bargaining committee listen to each other’s ideas and priorities. The process always includes formal discussions with notes taken so there is a record of what was said in case there is a question or dispute later on.

Your union and the company will go back and forth on terms.

During this time, both sides discuss and start to form the language of the contract. The union bargaining committee may request additional relevant information from the company to substantiate any of the employer’s claims, such as the impacts of various proposed changes on profitability. If common ground can’t be found, a neutral third-party mediator may be called in.

When both sides think they have come to a tentative agreement, the new contract is taken to you and your colleagues for a “ratification vote.”

The bargaining unit holds a vote, either in person or via mail. You will always have a say on whether to accept the tentative agreement or not. A contract is not considered to be in effect until the membership has voted to ratify it. Meanwhile, the company’s representatives also take the agreement to their stakeholders for approval.

Members accept or reject the contract.

If the majority of your bargaining unit votes no and rejects the contract, the bargaining committee and the company will typically restart negotiations and continue trying to work out a solution that both sides can agree on.

If the majority of your bargaining unit votes yes to accept the contract, it goes into effect.

Have more questions about how negotiations work for your contract?
Contact your local union representative.

September 6, 2019

LLS AND UFCW: Fighting cancer together

This story originally appeared on the LLS Blog:

For 37 years, The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has been a committed supporter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), raising more than $90 million to drive forward our goal to end blood cancers. Led by members of the UFCW, Labor Against Cancer is a movement to end the devastation of cancer through fundraising drives among members, empowering them to band together in the communities where they work and live.

A three-year UFCW member in San Diego, California, Eva knows firsthand the urgent need for lifesaving cancer treatments. In June 2018, she knew something wasn’t right with her 17-year-old son Enrique, when he began experiencing debilitating headaches and difficulty breathing. After seeing several doctors, they learned he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Enrique spent the next several months in and out of the hospital undergoing treatment and fighting for his life. But Eva never left his side, and Enrique never gave up hope.

Even after missing his entire senior year of high school, Enrique kept up with schoolwork and was able to graduate with his classmates in June 2019. Today, he is in the maintenance phase of his treatment and takes daily oral chemotherapy from home. An avid animal lover, he plans to pursue a career in agriculture and work on a farm one day.

“To anyone experiencing the devastation of cancer, you have to stay strong,” says Eva. “I’m so thankful that UFCW is helping LLS accomplish more than any other cancer nonprofit to advance research and cures for blood cancer patients, like my son Enrique.”

Because of treatment advancements that LLS helped fund, families like Eva’s are able to stay together and have second chance to pursue their dreams.

Join the UFCW and LLS in fighting cancer.

August 30, 2019

Discounts on PCs, printers, and more for UFCW members

As a member of our UFCW family, not only do you get a contract that provides important benefits, like job security and quality, affordable health care—you are also eligible for a number of exclusive discount programs.


HP

Save up to 35% or more on a full assortment of PCs, printers and accessories and more through the HP Employee Purchase program. Not just for Hewlett Packard employees, all you need is a special company code, which you can access by logging into the UFCW Discount Portal and searching for “HP.”

Get HP Discounts


Lenovo

Shop Lenovo’s Back to School sale and save up to 76% on tools that make the grade like Think, Idea, and Lenovo branded PCs for your rising student. Door busters deals with additional savings will be available so check back often. Discount code available in the UFCW Discount Portal by searching for “Lenovo.”

Get Lenovo Discounts

August 27, 2019

Union contracts empower workers to make positive changes

Satisfaction at work depends on more than just wage increases, and one of the great things about having a union contract is the ability to have a say not only in wages and benefits, but the other policies at work that can have a big impact on the lives of working men and women.


Union contracts make jobs safer



UFCW Local 21 members at a cannabis company in Seattle, WA got it in writing that their employer form safety committees to meet regularly to discuss concerns at the workplace. The committees must include a union member, which helps ensure that both management and workers’ perspectives’ are included. Safety committees not only help make sure issues are addressed in a timely way, but that worker concerns are addressed without fear of retaliation.


Union contracts improve pay


Union contracts are especially beneficial for women and minority workers because they help ensure equal pay for equal work. On average, unionization raises women workers’ wages by over 11% – almost $2.00 per hour.

Beyond just improvements to hourly wages, unions can also make sure employees get paid fairly for the time they spend on the job. UFCW Local 1529 members who work at a poultry plant in Laurel, MS got it in writing that they are paid for the time it takes to put on, and take off, job-required equipment and attire.


Union contracts improve scheduling


In today’s changing workplace, employees are looking for more than just compensation, they are looking for ways to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. A recent study found eighty-seven percent of hourly workers consider having control over their work schedules to be extremely important, while fifty-five percent said they would leave their job if they didn’t have control over when they worked.

Though scheduling is consistently ranked as one of the most important issues for hourly workers, many employers still fail to give workers adequate notice of their schedules for them to plan their personal lives. Often even if there are policies on advance notice for employees, there are frequently few consequences for managers who repeatedly break those policies.

In their union contract, UFCW Local 75 members who work at superstores in Kentucky and Ohio got it in writing that their store must give 10 days advanced notice for employee schedules. Having advance notice helps workers maintain work-life balance, and is one of the best examples of how a simple change in policy can have a dramatic impact on the lives of working men and women.


Union contracts support families


Grocery workers at UFCW Local 1776KS in Pennsylvania got it in writing that their company set up a Dependent Care FSA — and contribute $50 per month to each employee’s account. Dependent Care FSAs allow employees to set aside money pre-tax for childcare and dependent expenses such as such as preschool, summer day camp, before or after school programs, and child or adult daycare.

Working men and women who are juggling the responsibility of caring for a child or a spouse or a relative who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care, already have enough on their plates to worry about. Dependent Care FSAs can help provide some relief by making it easier to coordinate care while balancing the needs of their jobs.


What can go in a contract?


Anything the union members feel is important and that can be successfully negotiated with the company is fair game. This usually covers the basics like wages, raises, processes for discipline and termination, safeguards against favoritism, scheduling, retirement benefits and health care, but can also include creative language for concerns specific to the unique needs of the bargaining unit such as language protecting LGBTQ workers’ rights, weather-related policies, rules regarding accommodations for religious beliefs, or policies regarding the impact of online sales or automation.

This is one of the main advantages of having a union contract instead of just relying on labor law alone – getting a law passed is time-consuming and may result in rules that aren’t even appropriate for all worksites. A contract gives you more control to make enforceable rules that are more of a custom fit solution rather than one-size-fits all.