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October 19, 2018

October is National Ergonomics Month

Earlier this year, the UFCW and Tyson commemorated 30 years of working together for safer workplaces by expanding our collaborative efforts to make workplace safety improvements at the company’s food processing plants. The innovative program broke ground by training and involving hourly production workers in identifying safety and ergonomics problems at their worksites. While the primary focus had been Tyson Foods’ beef and pork operations, it is now being expanded to the company’s poultry business.

Ergonomics, which is the science of designing the workplace to fit the worker, had not been extensively used in the meat industry until the UFCW and Tyson reached an agreement after an historic OSHA citation and settlement in late November 1988 followed up with the joint Tyson-UFCW program to develop a comprehensive ergonomics research program.

The program got underway in early 1989, with the company’s Dakota City, Nebraska, beef complex serving as the pilot plant, and production workers represented by UFCW Local 222, were actively involved.  Due to the success of the pilot, the program was quickly expanded to all of the company’s beef and pork plants.

Some of the key elements of the program include ongoing ergonomics training for production workers; the involvement of hourly workers as ‘ergonomic monitors;’ worksite analysis and the redesign of work stations and equipment; and a medical management program focused on early detection and treatment of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Using ergonomic principles, properly designed jobs, tasks, equipment and tools as well as good job organization can help to fit the job to the workers.

Ergonomics includes:

  • Designing equipment that is easy to use
  • Investing new equipment that will take the strain out of the job
  • Organizing work in different ways
  • Changing how tasks are done

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made through our collaboration with the UFCW, and especially the active involvement of frontline team members,” said Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats. “We know that all of us must remain diligent if we’re to achieve additional improvements.”

“We value the progress we’ve made at Tyson and are looking forward to expanding our partnership to create safer workplaces for all of their hard-working men and women,” said Mark Lauritsen, director of the UFCW’s Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division. “Working together with Tyson has meant empowering workers and their union to make a better, safer workplace.”

Early warning signs of repetitive stress may include: hand pain or numbness; stiff fingers; swelling in the hand, wrist, or forearm; and back or shoulder pain.

What are CTDs, RSIs, and MSDs?

Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and United Auto Workers, Ergonomics Awareness Manuel.

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are disorders of the muscles, tendons, or nerves. CTDs are caused by repeated stress or exposure to forceful exertions, repetitive motions, awkward body postures, nerve compression and vibration. CTDs typically affect the arms, shoulders, hands or wrists.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) is a general term like (CTD) used to describe a range of symptoms associated with repetitive motion work.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal disks. Examples of jobs likely to cause MSDs are those requiring:

  • Forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands
  • Heavy lifting
  • Pushing, pulling g or carrying of heavy objects
  • Prolonged awkward postures

CTDs, RSIs, and MSDs are often used to mean the same thing.

The Three Stages of MSD Symptoms

MSD symptoms can range from mild aches to disabling pain. Symptoms often appear gradually and become more sever over time. Generally symptoms progress through three stages.

Stage 1

Symptoms may appear during periods of activity and may disappear during periods of rest. Symptoms are relatively mild. Early symptoms of MSDs often are mistaken for muscle fatigue.

Stage 2

Symptoms are most persistent. They do not disappear completely during periods of rest. Increasingly severe symptoms may interfere with performance of usual work activities.

Stage 3

Symptoms are constant. Sleep is often disturbed. Sever pain, limited mobility, loss of sensation or muscle weakness makes it impossible to perform most job tasks.

Symptoms of MSDs

  • Soreness
  • Burning sensation
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Aching
  • Stiffness
  • Skin Discoloration (blanched or white) – skin discoloration of the fingers is an indication of Hand-Arm Vibrations Syndrome (HAVS) and it is the result of long-term exposure to vibration.

MSD Risk Factors

Many jobs that poultry workers do are associated with ergonomic risk fact that include:

  • Repetition – performing the same motion or series of motions continually of frequently.
  • Forceful exertion – the amount of physical effort to perform a demanding task or to maintain control of equipment or tools
  • Awkward and static postures – assuming positions that place stress on the body, such as reaching above shoulder height, kneeling, squatting, leaning over a worktable, twisting, the torso while lifting, maintaining a sustained posture for a long period of time, as well as holding or using tools in a non-neutral or fixed position.
  • Vibration – using vibrating hand-held power tools can increase the stress on the hands and arms.
  • Cold temperatures
October 16, 2018

Member Spotlight: UFCW member Kitty Janusz investigates paranormal activities

This profile was originally published in the UFCW Local 1428 Fall 2018 newsletter:

“I grew up in a paranormal house,” recalls Kitty Janusz, who works in the produce department of Vons 3086 in Hacienda Heights. “That’s where it all started.”

UFCW Local 1428 member Kitty Janusz’s book on the paranormal won 1st place at the 2016 Los Angeles Festival of Books

It was a brand-new house when her parents moved into the Whittier residence in 1954, but strange things started happening right away, Janusz said. And they kept on happening.

For example: “We would hear footsteps on wood, but our floors were carpeted.”

Her family would come home to water running in the house — all the faucets would be turned on. Items would disappear and then reappear. With windows completely closed the curtains would blow in all at once.

“I was a little kid when all this was going on and we only had one ‘creepy’ area,” Janusz said. “It was a small hallway where we would walk through and totally feel a presence behind us, but we’d turn around and no one would be there.”

“The presence only got aggressive once,” she continued. “I thought our cat was on the corner of my bed one night and I could feel the weight on the foot of the bed, but I looked and there was nothing there. I could see the bed getting a depression like something was there and it got bigger and bigger. I told it to go away… and it did.”

Capturing spirits on camera

Janusz grew up with curiosity about spirit activity, rather than fear. As an adult, she researched historic locations and conducted investigations on her own.

During this time, she realized she had a gift for capturing what is known as EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. It seemed she was able to capture “spirit voices” through the use of digital recorders.

“It’s a skill set more than a talent,” she said. “For some it comes easy, but all need to be wary of the effects investigating can have on you.”

UFCW Local 1428 member Kitty Janusz investigates paranormal activity on the Queen Mary

“I could feel sadness and pain,” she said. “I wanted to know, why are these places haunted?”

Her favorite paranormal site is aboard the Queen Mary.

“I was in the infirmary recording for EVPs and I felt a presence, so I simply asked, ‘Can you tell me what year it is?’ I didn’t hear anything, but when I played back the recorder I could clearly hear ‘1943’ … and I was hooked. Love that place!”

Janusz realized she needed to use her gifts as a psychic medium to help her communicate more directly with spirits, who she believes are calling for help. She said she uses these gifts to guide lost souls to the light and let them know they are not alone.

“That’s part of what we do as investigators,” Janusz said. “We help the spirits move on.”

“Usually, the spirit is unhappy and lingering for a reason,” she said. “In my experience energy can become imprinted within a location. It can come from traumatic events such as war, violence, murder, domestic abuse, or the pain of losing a loved one.

Energy can also linger as benign energies that may result in residual hauntings. These imprinted energetic anomalies are different than an intelligent haunting from a spirit who may remain at a location. Paranormal investigators need to be cognizant of these energetic influences and maintain healthy personal boundaries. It’s not just about walking around in dark, scary places with a flashlight!”

Janusz emphasized that people need to set boundaries when investigating. “All the energy one takes on when investigating the paranormal can affect a person physically and mentally,” she said.

She has authored two books on the subject.

The first, When the Dead Speak: The Art and Science of Paranormal Investigation, won first place in the 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the United States. The second, Secrets Buried in the Lemon Grove, is a novel based on paranormal events.

Janusz also hosts a weekly radio show, Into the Light Paranormal, where she interviews psychics, authors, investigators, crypto-zoologists and other guests.

Union career

In addition, she is a proud member of UFCW Local 1428. “I’m so glad I have this union job,” Janusz said. “I like the work, but I stayed because of the great health benefits, which allow me the freedom to do the things I love to do.”

Janusz started working for Vons 23 years ago in the floral department. Three years later, when a position opened in produce, her manager was reluctant to lose such a good florist, but Janusz suggested that the floral job be given to her sister.

The arrangement worked, and Janusz’ sister has been working in floral ever since, currently with Pavilions.

Over the years, Kitty Janusz’ health benefits helped her through four surgeries, including replacements of both knees.

“The surgeries left me some awesome scars.” she said. “And the hospital is great for paranormal activity!” she said.

“Right before one of my surgeries I saw two little girls talking to each other. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could see their lips moving. Then they looked at me, saw I could see them, and left.

“I guess they figured they wouldn’t have much fun with me. I knew this was going to be a good night!”

“During my rehabilitation, there were 17 steps I had to walk before they’d let me go,” she continued. “I could hear voices everywhere. I found out later the steps were located in what used to be the psychiatric ward. Those were fun nights in rehabilitation!”

Janusz has a few more years to reach her “Golden 85,” the moment when her age plus her years of service in the industry add up to 85. At that time, she will be able to retire with full benefits.

When retirement does come, you might be able to find her at her favorite paranormal location.

“My goal when I retire is to be a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary,” she said.

“They’re still union, I believe!”

Both of her books are available on Amazon and Kindle. Members may also purchase signed copies of her books, download episodes of her podcast and even hear audio evidence from her investigations on her website: www.kittyjanusz.com.

October 11, 2018

Winterizing your vehicle? Take advantage of winter tire discounts

Discount Goodyear Tires & Car Services – Treat your car well and save with a Union Plus Goodyear Coupon!

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 – while also supporting your fellow labor union members.

Through an agreement with the company-owned Goodyear Auto Service or Just Tires, Union Plus Goodyear discount Goodyear tire deals and car service savings are now available exclusively to union members – call the store to make sure they will honor the Goodyear discount. Not every store that sells Goodyear tires is a company-owned store. You will need to provide Union Member ID and a copy of the coupon to get the discount.

Valid forms of ID

  • Union member card
  • Paycheck showing dues deduction
  • Union Plus MasterCard

Print this Goodyear coupon (PDF)* and take it to a participating store below.

Click on the following links to find a participating tire center near you:

Before going to the dealer, call to make sure they will honor the Goodyear coupon. Non-company-owned Goodyear stores are not required to honor the coupon.

*The Goodyear coupon is a PDF file. If you do not already have Acrobat installed, you can download a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

October 9, 2018

UFCW OUTreach Offers Member Scholarships to attend the Creating Change Conference in Detroit, MI on January 23-27, 2019

OUTreach, the UFCW constituency group for LGBTQ+ and allies, is offering five scholarships to our union members to attend the 2019 Creating Change Conference in Detroit, Michigan from January 23-27.  Creating Change Conference is organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force. It is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for thousands of committed people to develop and hone their skills and share victories.  Scholarship recipients will learn from a broad range of social justice issues and develop skills to bring back to their workplaces and local unions.  Past session topics include labor, gender equality, community organizing, criminal justice, immigration and more.

OUTreach Executive Board members have participated as one of the leading workshop presenters, putting our union, UFCW, as a key advocate for the working class and a key voice on labor issues at this conference.  In a time where the labor movement and everything we have fought for is under attack, OUTreach’s dedication to organizing social and economic justice for all workers and ensuring full equality for LGBTQ+ workers at work and in their union reflects our union’s commitment to building a resilient working class that is not divided by hate.

Providing these scholarships to UFCW members is a crucial step in recruiting and developing our own rank-and-file leadership within our union and in the broader movement.  It is with this vision in mind that OUTreach offers five scholarships to UFCW members to join our contingent at next year’s conference.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about OUTreach, please contact Michele Kessler at 610-513-9927 or Jean Tong at 213-590-7177.

OUTreach Scholarship Application
Details and Instructions

What: Creating Change Conference
When: January 23-27, 2019
Where: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

Scholarship includes:

  • Conference Registration Fee
  • Hotel and Meals
  • Transportation

Eligibility and Requirements:

  1. Applicant must be an active UFCW member.
  2. Applicant must be able to take time off to attend the conference in its entirety.
    1. Arriving at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI, no later than 9am on January 23 and leaving the hotel no sooner than 12pm on January 27.
  3. Applicant must submit a short paragraph to answer the following:
    1. What does being a union member/activist/shop steward mean to you?
    2. Why are you interested in attending this conference, what do you hope to get from this experience?
    3. Please share an example of you standing up for yourself or others.
  4. Applicant must submit a letter of recommendation from his/her/their local union. (Please see attached form)
  5. Deadline to submit: Wednesday, November 7th 2018 to Michele Kessler at MKessler@ufcw1776.org and Jean Tong at tong@ufcw770.org
  6. Scholarship Announcement: Wednesday, November 21st 2018

To apply, download the application here:

UFCW OUTreach Creating Change Conference Scholarships 2019 (English)
La solicitud de beca de Outreach 2019 (español)

October 4, 2018

“If I didn’t have my union coverage, I’d have to wait in line for weeks for charity options.”

Sharon, UFCW Local 1000 member

Sharon is a UFCW Local 1000 member. She was diagnosed with cancer within weeks of qualifying for enrollment in her UFCW sponsored health and welfare plan. She describes it as a blessing.

“The insurance was great and worked well with my doctors at OU. I got into treatment immediately, the week after my diagnosis. If I didn’t have my union coverage, I’d have to wait in line for weeks for charity options.”

Sharon is in remission and back at work Assistant Bakery/Deli Manager at HAC Cash Saver 188 in Guthrie, Texas.

Thank you for sharing your story, Sharon! If you are a UFCW member with a story to tell about how being a union member has made your life better, we’d love to hear from you.



October 4, 2018

UFCW Statement on Amazon Warehouse Workers Losing Bonuses and Stock Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), issued the following statement regarding news that Amazon warehouse workers will no longer be eligible to receive monthly bonuses and stock awards after the company increases their minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“Rather than receiving the raise they deserve, many Amazon warehouse workers will now see lower pay. That’s not just disappointing, it’s wrong.

“And hiding among all of this news about a minimum wage increase is the fact that Amazon’s rapid pursuit of automation will likely result in millions of lost jobs.

“For the economic health of our country, more must be done by both political parties to confront Amazon’s growing influence and impact.” 


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.


October 2, 2018

Halloween wouldn’t be the same without these 15 tasty union-made treats

As the ghosts and ghouls come out this Halloween, keep your eyes peeled for some of our favorite union-made treats. UFCW members as well as our brothers and sisters of the BCTGM union have been hard at work making sure there’s plenty of sweets for all those trick-or-treaters.

1.) Hershey’s Nuggets / Kisses

Hershey candy

2.) Kit Kat

3.) Butterfinger*

4.) Baby Ruth*

5.) Smarties

6.) Jawbreakers


7.) Sour Patch Kids

8.) Tootsie Rolls

9.) York Peppermint Patties

10.) Jolly Ranchers

11.) Bit-O-Honey

12.) Mary Jane Peanut Butter Chews

13.) Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares

14.) Jelly Belly Candy Corn

15.) Red Vines

*some made in Mexico. Check packaging for country of origin.

October 1, 2018

UFCW Statement on USMCA Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), issued the following statement regarding news that the United States, Mexico and Canada reached an agreement (USMCA) to change parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement that excludes Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). COOL requires meat sold at retail to have a label informing consumers of the country where the product was sourced.

“A trade agreement without COOL is terrible for sustainable jobs and food safety.

“Every hard-working family deserves to know where their food comes from.

“Keeping this information hidden endangers our health and destroys middle class meat processing jobs across our country.

“We urge the U.S. Trade Representative to do the right thing and take immediate steps to ensure COOL is included in a final agreement.”


The top five meat producing states that would benefit from COOL are Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, and Arkansas.


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 27, 2018

Member Spotlight: “I want other members to know as long as you go out there and try, there’s no way you’re going to fail. “

I want other members to know as long as you go out there and try, there’s no way you’re going to fail. You just have to try and keep trying. Do it for yourself, not just for your children. This is an opportunity to further your education and ready yourself for the future. 
  • Brooke Anne Phillips, UFCW member

Apply by October 12th to enroll in the fall semester.

One of the benefits of UFCW membership is access to a free college degree. It’s UFCW’s mission to give you every advantage to get ahead. That’s why we’ve partnered with Eastern Gateway Community College. Through the UFCW Free College benefit, you and your family members can now earn an associate degree completely online–for FREE.

Eastern Gateway is an accredited community college, a member of the University System of Ohio, and is one of the fastest-growing public colleges in the country. It’s an open access public college governed by the Ohio Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Learn More

Brooke’s Experience with Free College

Brooke Anne Phillips is a UFCW member taking classes through the UFCW Free College program. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:


I found out about the Free College Benefit by looking at the union board in our breakroom. More people need to check out the union board!

So once I got information from the breakroom board, I went to the Free College website and I kept inquiring about it.

I asked what’s the gimmick? I talked to my union rep and they reassured me there was no gimmick.

I made an appointment with the college, and then I applied!

I graduated from school 9 years ago, in 2008. Seeing the breakroom poster was a sign that it was time for me to go back to school. I’d waited for so long, because it was too much money to go to school otherwise.

I’m studying early childhood education. Before I came to Clover, I was in childcare. I figured I could get a degree, and a higher paying job with more school under my belt. It’s a passion of mine to teach children.

The only challenge I am having is that you need to be very disciplined. You have to take the time out of your day to make sure you keep up on homework. I take one class a semester and I spend about 5 hours a week doing my assignments.

The College gives you due dates and they’re helpful because they help me figure out how to spend my time.

I’ve found a lot of support and encouragement from my department at work and from my friends and family. Thanks to their support, I just jumped right in.

The beauty of online classes is that you can make your own schedule — you can get online at 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon to take classes.

My advice to other members thinking about using their free college benefit: take a deep breath, take your time and realize that it’s going to be ok. Don’t overload yourself.

I want other members to know as long as you go out there and try, there’s no way you’re going to fail. You just have to try and keep trying. Do it for yourself, not just for your children. This is an opportunity to further your education and ready yourself for the future.

September 27, 2018

Local 1442 Member wins $1,000 Lifemart Sweepstakes

Part of the value of your UFCW membership, in addition to the great union benefits in your contract, include access to exclusive savings and discounts on every day goods and services.

In August, UFCW members who signed up or were already registered for our Lifemart discount program became eligible for a $1,000 Visa giftcard. The winner of the August Lifemart sweepstakes has been chosen: congrats to UFCW Local 1442 member Afiafi Iosua!

Afiafi is a new UFCW member who has been working at Rite Aid in Los Angeles since July. Currently, she shares a car in order to get to and from work, but can now use her winnings to help purchase her own car.

“I love being part of the UFCW and I love the discounts,” said Iosua. “I didn’t know that being part of a union came with so many other benefits. It’s been a blessing.”

Afiafi was born in Manu’a, Olosega American Samoa, and enjoys spending time with her family and shopping. Her story is a great example of one of the many ways UFCW members are building a better life with the value they get from their union.