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March 18, 2019

Should we be worried about dynamic pricing in retail?

Ever go to tell a family member or a friend about a great deal you found online, but when they go to buy it too, it’s no longer there? Or maybe it costs way more than you paid for the same thing?

While you got a great deal, what you’re experiencing is the phenomenon known as “dynamic pricing” or raising and lowering prices many times a day, a week or a month to drive sales but still ensure a consistent profit. This is often paired with what is called “personalized pricing” or “cohort pricing” where each shopper gets their own price for a product – what’s my price isn’t yours and vice versa. These are marketed to consumers as a benefit – deeper discounts just for you — but in the end, may actually end up benefiting the retailer at your expense.

One paper from MIT’s Sloan School says that “Implementing DP can improve revenues and profits by between 8% and 25%.”

So if everyone is saving, how are retailers making money? In the case of things like groceries, people tend to buy the same items over and over again. Since you’re not the only shopper, companies like Amazon sometimes charge one shopper triple what another one pays for the same item.

Companies are able to get away with doing this because as customers, we don’t actually have a single price we’re willing to pay, we have what’s called a “latitude of price acceptance.” That’s a band of prices—from a steal to a little pricey—that we’re willing pay for an item. According to McKinsey & Co., that price variance can be as much as 17% , which is a lot of extra money to be made if you move to the top of the band.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

While price fluctuations aren’t new and dynamic pricing has been around since the 1980s, having those changes determined by Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is uncharted territory. As retailers battle it out to find that exact pricing sweet spot that maximizes both sales and profits, evolving technology raises concerns about what the effects are on both consumers and smaller businesses when large companies like Amazon use AI and algorithms to enhance profitability with little oversight.

Data is King

AI-driven personalized pricing relies on tracking and retaining information on customer behavior. That means whoever has the most information on you has a competitive advantage over their rivals. Beyond the security and privacy concerns of big data, this also means that the playing field is tipped even further in the favor of large companies like Amazon, who reached over 100 million Prime members in the US in January.

According to Amazon’s Privacy Notice page, the retail giant collects and analyzes everything from purchase histories and products viewed or searched for to reviews, wish lists and length of visits to certain pages. This huge pool of data on its customers’ shopping habits can help Amazon better understand what shoppers are looking for, what they buy and what prices they are willing to pay. 

Increasingly, company leaders are recognizing that a dynamic pricing strategy supported by big data and artificial intelligence (AI) can help them gain a competitive pricing advantage over rivals. 

– Forbes

With deep insights into the personal preferences and online behavior of about a third of the US population, not even including the shoppers who are not Prime members, Amazon isn’t just a retailer, but a data company.

Pricing based on who you are

While the law prohibits assigning prices based on protected characteristics—like race or gender—personalized pricing is by its nature nontransparent, meaning you can’t see everyone’s prices. That means you may not know that women, for example, are charged more for the same item, because the only price you see is the artificially high one. If we know companies have information on your race or gender, and we also know the AI-driven dynamic pricing responds to your unique set of data and characteristics, how would anyone know if the law was being violated?

What comes next?

We don’t know—and we’re not sure anyone else does either. But we also believe that honesty and transparency are essential. Lawmakers should be wary of technology evolving faster than our laws, or the ability to enforce them, can keep up with, especially if that technology is skewed to benefit powerful retail industry players like Amazon.

March 14, 2019

Union Made Pie for Pi Day

While The Thrillist may have been quick to point out that March 14 is technically “Pi Day” and not “Pie Day,” it’s safe to say most of us are just happy to have any excuse to eat pie.

Here’s what The Thrillist had to say about Pi Day:

First and foremost, Pi Day is a celebration of the mathematical constant, π (pi), or 3.14159265359. As you can see, the date is literally the first three major numbers, when you write March 14 in a numerical format, like 3/14. That’s right: Pi Day is about math, but thankfully, someone made it fun with pies. Best of all, a lot of people tend to celebrate the occasion with pizza, too, which arguably makes Pi Day better than National Pie Day.

To us, that sounds like you’d better play it safe and eat pie on both days just to be sure. If you’re looking to get extra festive and show your union pride while you’re celebrating, you’ve got two options:

1.) Buy a Pie

If you’re not the baking type, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. UFCW members from Local 700 make Marie Callender’s frozen pre-made pies, so you can feel good about supporting good jobs while indulging your sweet tooth. You can even top them off with some Local 700-made Reddi-Wip to boot.

2.) Bake a Pie

You can go traditional and make a cherry pie with UFCW-made Lucky Leaf cherry pie filling, or be controversial and make a cheesecake with UFCW-made Philadelphia cream cheese. Is a cheesecake a pie? The debate is ongoing on that one, but we can all agree more cheesecake isn’t a bad thing.

Need Inspiration? Here’s a few ideas:
  • Peaches and Cream Pie – uses UFCW-made Del Monte canned peaches, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Jello pudding mix
  • Pear Pie – in case you are tired of apple, try this pear pie with UFCW-made Breakstone sour cream. Bonus points if you can snag a Marie Callender’s frozen pie crust
  • Cherry Cheese Pie – this simple, no-bake pie is a classic and uses Lucky Leaf cherry pie filling plus more Philadelphia cream cheese

March 14, 2019

Tax discounts for UFCW members

Did you know your UFCW membership gives you access to a number of money saving coupons and discounts? Right now, UFCW members can save up to $20 on TurboTax Federal Products.

To receive discounts, register for an account and then log in to view not only savings on tax preparation, but also child care, groceries, car rental, and much more!

Register for Discounts

March 7, 2019

26 labor heroines you should know for Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is celebrated in order to promote the significant contributions women have made to the labor movement and beyond that are often left out of the history lessons taught in our classrooms or promoted in society.

The following women are just some of the major players who have had a major role in the fight for equal rights, who made (and are still making) history by exposing horrible labor conditions and acted to change them, and inspired a generation of activists and leaders today.

*the following is adapted from the Zinn Education Project*

1. Louise Boyle

Louise_Boyle

Photographer Louise Boyle is best known for the images she captured, documenting the devastating effects of the Great Depression on American workers. In 1937, at the height of a wave of labor militancy, Ms. Boyle was invited to photograph the living and working conditions of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union members from several Arkansas communities. Her provocative recording depicted courageous people linking their futures together despite devastating poverty, physical hardship, and brutal police-endorsed reprisals. Most portray African American farmers in their homes, at union meetings and rallies, or at work with their families picking cotton. Boyle returned in 1982 to rephotograph some of the people and places she had documented earlier.

2. Hattie Canty

Hattie_Canty

A Las Vegas transplant in rural Alabama, legendary African American unionist Hattie Canty was one of the greatest strike leaders in U.S. history. Her patient leadership helped knit together a labor union made up of members from 84 nations.  During her time as an activist, she saw first hand how the labor and civil rights movements were intrinsically linked: “Coming from Alabama, this seemed like the civil rights struggle…the labor movement and the civil rights movement, you cannot separate the two of them.”

3. May Chen

May-Chen

In 1982, May Chen helped organize and lead the New York Chinatown strike of 1982, one of the largest Asian American worker strikes with about 20,000 garment factory workers marching the streets of Lower Manhattan demanding work contracts. “The Chinatown community then had more and more small garment factories,” she recalled. “And the Chinese employers thought they could play on ethnic loyalties to get the workers to turn away from the union. They were very, very badly mistaken.” Most of the protests included demands for higher wages, improved working conditions and for management to observe the Confucian principles of fairness and respect. By many accounts, the workers won. The strike caused the employers to hold back on wage cuts and withdraw their demand that workers give up their holidays and some benefits. It paved the way for better working conditions such as hiring bilingual staff to interpret for workers and management, initiation of English-language classes and van services for workers.

4. Jessie de la Cruz

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A field worker since the age of five, Jessie knew poverty, harsh working conditions, and the exploitation of Mexicans and all poor people. Her response was to take a stand. She joined the United Farm Workers union in 1965 and, at Cesar Chavez’s request, became its first woman recruiter. She also participated in strikes, helped ban the crippling short-handle hoe, became a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, testified before the Senate, and met with the Pope. She continued to be a political activist until her death in 2013, at the age of 93.

5. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Elizabeth_Gurley_Flynn

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn once said, “I will devote my life to the wage earner. My sole aim in life is to do all in my power to right the wrongs and lighten the burdens of the laboring class.” In 1907, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World and in 1912 traveled to Lawrence, MA during the Great Textile Strike. She became “the strike’s leading lady.”

6. Emma Goldman

Emma_Goldman

In 1886, year after her arrival from Lithuania, Emma Goldman was shocked by the trial, conviction, and execution of labor activists falsely accused of a bombing in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, which she later described as “the events that had inspired my spiritual birth and growth.” A born propagandist and organizer, Emma Goldman championed women’s equality, free love, workers’ rights, free universal education regardless of race or gender, and anarchism. For more than thirty years, she defined the limits of dissent and free speech in Progressive Era America. Goldman died on May 14, 1940, and buried in Forest Park, Illinois amongst the labor activists that first sparked her life’s work as an activist. Throughout her career, she fought against the corporate powers that tried to dehumanize the people that worked for them: “Still more fatal is the crime of turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron. Man is being robbed not merely of the products of his labor, but of the power of free initiative, of originality, and the interest in, or desire for, the things he is making.”

7. Velma Hopkins

Velma_Hopkins

Velma Hopkins helped mobilize 10,000 workers into the streets of Winston-Salem, NC, as part of an attempt to bring unions to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The union, Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers of America-CIO, was integrated and led primarily by African American women. They pushed the boundaries of economic, racial and gender equality. In the 1940s, they organized a labor campaign and a strike for better working conditions, pay, and equal rights under the law. It was the only time in the history of Reynolds Tobacco that it had a union. Before Local 22 faced set-backs from red-baiting and the power of Reynolds’ anti-unionism, it gained national attention for its vision of an equal society. This vision garnered the scrutiny of powerful enemies such as Richard Nixon and captured the attention of allies such as actor Paul Robeson and songwriter Woody Guthrie. While it represented the workers, the union influenced a generation of civil rights activists.

8. Dolores Huerta

Dolores_Huerta_signing_up_members

Before becoming a labor organizer, Dolores Huerta was a grammar school teacher, but soon quit after becoming distraught at the sight of children coming to school hungry or without proper clothing. “I couldn’t stand seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children.” In 1955, Huerta launched her career in labor organizing by helping Fred Ross train organizers in Stockton, California, and five years later, founded the Agricultural Workers Association before organizing the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962. Some of her early victories included lobbying for voting rights for Mexican Americans as well as for the right of every American to take the written driver’s test in their native language. A champion of labor rights, women’s rights, racial equality and other civil rights causes, Huerta remains an unrelenting figure in the farm workers’ movement.

9. Mother Jones

Mother_Jones

Marry Harris “Mother” Jones made it her mission to stand up for the rights of the children who worked in factories and mills under horrible conditions in the early 1900’s. “I asked the newspaper men why they didn’t publish the facts about child labor in Pennsylvania. They said they couldn’t because the mill owners had stock in the papers.” “Well, I’ve got stock in these little children,” said I,” and I’ll arrange a little publicity.” On July 7, 1903, Jones began the “March of the Mill Children” from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island summer home in Oyster Bay, NY, to publicize the harsh conditions of child labor and to demand a 55-hour work-week. During this march she delivered her famed “The Wail of the Children” speech, even though Roosevelt refused to see them.

10. Mary Lease

Mary_Elizabeth_Lease

“Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” These words, which eerily echo some sentiments today, were spoken more than 120 years ago by Mary Lease, a powerful voice of the agrarian crusade and the best-known orator of the era, first gaining national attention battling Wall Street during the 1890 Populist campaign. As a spokesperson for the “people’s party,” she hoped that by appealing directly to the heart and soul of the nation’s farmers, she could motivate them to political action to protect their own interests not only in Kansas but throughout the United States. “You may call me an anarchist, a socialist, or a communist, I care not, but I hold to the theory that if one man as not enough to eat three times a day and another man has $25,000,000, that last man has something that belongs to the first.” Mary spent most of her life speaking out in favor of social justice causes including women’s suffrage and temperance, and her work reflected the multifaceted nature of late nineteenth-century politics in the United States. Many female leaders today, such as Elizabeth Warren, still fight against Wall Street and the 1% as inequality has reached exorbitant levels.

11. Clara Lemlich

Clara_Lemlich

“I have listened to all the speakers, and I have no further patience for talk. I am a working girl, one of those striking against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in generalities. What we are here for is to decide whether or not to strike. I make a motion that we go out in a general strike.” These were the words of  Clara Lemlich, a firebrand who led several strikes of shirtwaist makers and challenged the mostly male leadership of the union to organize women garment workers. With support from the National Women’s Trade Union League (NWTUL) in 1909 she lead the New York shirtwaist strike, also known as the “Uprising of the 20,000”. It was the largest strike of women at that point in U.S. history. The strike was followed a year later by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that exposed the continued plight of immigrant women working in dangerous and difficult conditions.

12. Luisa Moreno

Louisa_Moreno

Luisa Moreno, a Guatemalan immigrant, first got involved in labor activism in 1930 at in Zelgreen’s Cafeteria in New York City, when she and her co-worker protested the employer’s exploitation of its workers with long hours, constant sexual harassment, and the threat, should anyone object, of dismissal. Hearing that workers would picket the cafeteria, police formed a line on the sidewalk that allowed customers to pass through. Luisa, in a fur collar coat, strolled through the cordon of policemen as if she was going to enter the cafeteria. When she was directly in front of the door she pulled a picket sign from under her coat and thrust it in plain view, yelling, “Strike!” Two burly policemen grabbed her by the elbows. They lifted her off the sidewalk and hustled her into the entrance way of a nearby building. She came out with her face bleeding and considered herself fortunate that she was not disfigured. Moreno spent the next 20 years organizing workers across the country. Her story serves as a reminder of just how dangerous the conditions were in those days to simply make one’s voice heard, but her bravery helped change those conditions for the better.

13. Agnes Nestor

Agnes_Nestor

“Any new method which the company sought to put into effect and disturb our work routine seemed to inflame the deep indignation already burning inside us. Thus, when a procedure was suggested for subdividing our work, so that each operator would do a smaller part of each glove, and thus perhaps increase the overall production—but also increase the monotony of the work, and perhaps also decrease our rate of pay—we began to think of fighting back.” This reminiscence by Nestor described how the oppressive conditions of the glove factory pushed her to take a leading role in a successful strike of female glove workers in 1898. Soon she became president of her glove workers local and later a leader of the International Glove Workers Union. She also took a leading role in the Women’s Trade Union League, serving as president of the Chicago branch from 1913 to 1948.

14. Pauline Newman

Pauline_Newman

Pauline Newman, a Russian immigrant, began working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1903 when she was thirteen years old. Finding that many of her co-workers could not read, she organized an evening study group where they also discussed labor issues and politics. Newman was active in the shirtwaist strike and the Women’s Trade Union League. She became a union organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and director of the ILGWU Health Center. “All we knew was the bitter fact that after working 70 or 80 hours in a seven-day week, we did not earn enough to keep body and soul together,” she said.

15. Lucy Parsons

Lucy_ParsonsOn May 1, 1886, Lucy Parsons helped launched the world’s first May Day and the demand for the eight-hour work day. Along with her husband, anarchist and activist Albert Parsons, and their two children, they led 80,000 working people down the Chicago streets and more than 100,000 also marched in other U.S. cities. A new international holiday was born. Parsons went on to help found the International Workers of the World, continued to give speeches, and worked tirelessly for equality throughout the rest of her life until her death in 1942.

16. Frances Perkins

Frances_Perkins

On March 4, 1933, Frances Perkins became the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. Having personally witnessed workers jump to their death during the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Perkins promoted and helped passed strong labor laws to try to prevent such atrocities from ever occurring again.

17. Rose Pesotta

Rose_Posetta

When Rose Pesotta arrived in Los Angeles in 1933 to organize employees in the garment industry, the workforce of which was 75% Latina, the local leadership of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), consisting of mostly white men, had no interest in organizing female dressmakers, feeling that most would either leave the industry to raise their families or shouldn’t be working in the first place. On October 12, 1933, a month after Rose Pesotta arrived, 4,000 workers walked off the job and went on strike. Their demands included union recognition, 35-hour work weeks, being paid the minimum wage, no take home work or time card regulation, and for disputes to be handled through arbitration. The strike ended on Nov. 6 with mixed results, but the workers gained a 35-hour workweek and received the minimum wage. Although not a complete victory, the message sent was a powerful one. What Rose Pesotta knew all along was now clear to the garment bosses and her male union counterparts; women, specifically women of color, should not be discounted. When it came to the demands of dignity and respect, these workers would not be ignored.

18. Ai-Jen Poo

Ai-jen_Poo

When Poo started organizing domestic workers in 2000, many thought she was taking on an impossible task.  Domestic workers were too dispersed–spread out over too many homes. Even Poo had described the world of domestic work as the “Wild West.” Poo’s first big breakthrough with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) happened on July 1, 2010, when the New York state legislature passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The bill legitimized domestic workers and gave them the same lawful rights as any other employee, such as vacation time and overtime pay. The bill was considered a major victory, and the NDWA expanded operations to include 17 cities and 11 states.

19. Florence Reece

Florence_Reece

Florence Reece was an activist, poet, and songwriter. She was the wife of one of the strikers and union organizers, Sam Reece, in the Harlan County miners strike in Kentucky. In an attempt to intimidate her family, the sheriff and company guards shot at their house while Reece and her children were inside (Sam had been warned they were coming and escaped). During the attack, she wrote the lyrics to Which Side Are You On?, a song that would become a popular ballad of the labor movement.

Song Lyrics

CHORUS: Which side are you on? (4x)

My daddy was a miner/And I’m a miner’s son/And I’ll stick with the union/‘Til every battle’s won [Chorus]

They say in Harlan County/There are no neutrals there/You’ll either be a union man/Or a thug for JH Blair [Chorus]

Oh workers can you stand it?/Oh tell me how you can/Will you be a lousy scab/Or will you be a man? [Chorus]

Don’t scab for the bosses/Don’t listen to their lies/Us poor folks haven’t got a chance/Unless we organize [Chorus]

20. Harriet Hanson Robinson

Harriet_Hanson_Robinson

At the age of 10, Harriet Hanson Robinson got a job in textile Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts to help support her family. When mill owners dropped wages and sped up the pace of work, Harriet and others participated in the 1836 Lowell Mill Strike. Later as an adult, Harriet became an activist for women’s suffrage and would recount her mill work experience in Loom and Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls. In her book, Harriet concludes: “Such is the brief story of the life of every-day working-girls; such as it was then, so it might be to-day. Undoubtedly there might have been another side to this picture, but I give the side I knew best–the bright side!”

21. Fannie Sellins

Fannie_Sellins

Fannie Sellins was known as an exceptional organizer that also made her “a thorn in the side of the Allegheny Valley coal operators.” The operators openly threatened to “get her.” After being an organizer in St. Louis for the United Garment Workers local and in the West Virginia coal fields, in 1916 Sellins moved to Pennsylvania, where her work with the miners’ wives proved to be an effective way to organize workers across ethnic barriers.  She also recruited black workers, who originally came north as strikebreakers, into the United Mine Workers America. During a tense confrontation between townspeople and armed company guards outside the Allegheny Coal and Coke company mine in Brackenridge on August 26, 1919, Fannie Sellins and miner Joseph Strzelecki were brutally gunned down. A coroner’s jury and a trial in 1923 ended in the acquittal of two men accused of her murder. She is remembered for her perseverance and bravery.

22. Vicky Starr

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“When I look back now, I really think we had a lot of guts. But I didn’t even stop to think about it at the time. It was just something that had to be done. We had a goal. That’s what we felt had to be done, and we did it,” said “Stella Nowicki”, the assumed name of Vicki Starr, an activist who participated in the campaign to organize unions in the meatpacking factories of Chicago in the 1930’s and ‘40s.

23. Emma Tenayuca

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“I was arrested a number of times. I never thought in terms of fear. I thought in terms of justice,” said Emma Tenayuca, born in San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 21, 1916. Later, she would become to be known as “La Pasionaria de Texas” through her work as an educator, speaker, and labor organizer. From 1934–1948, she supported almost every strike in the city, writing leaflets, visiting homes of strikers, and joining them on picket lines. She joined the Communist Party and the Workers Alliance (WA) in 1936. Tenayuca and WA demanded that Mexican workers could strike without fear of deportation or a minimum wage law. In 1938 she was unanimously elected strike leader of 12,000 pecan shellers. Due to anti-Mexican, anti-Communist, and anti-union hysteria Tenayuca fled San Antonio for her safety but later returned as a teacher.

24. Carmelita Torres

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On Jan. 28, 1917, 17-year-old Carmelita Torres led the Bath Riots at the Juarez/El Paso border, refusing the toxic “bath” imposed on all workers crossing the border. Here is what the El Paso Times reported the next day: “When refused permission to enter El Paso without complying with the regulations the women collected in an angry crowd at the center of the bridge. By 8 o’clock the throng, consisting in large part of servant girls employed in El Paso, had grown until it packed the bridge half way across. “Led by Carmelita Torres, an auburn-haired young woman of 17, they kept up a continuous volley of language aimed at the immigration and health officers, civilians, sentries and any other visible American.”

25. Ella Mae Wiggins

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Ella Mae Wiggins was an organizer, speaker, and balladeer, known for expressed her faith in the union, the only organized force she had encountered that promised her a better life. On Sept. 14, 1929, during the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, NC,  Textile Workers Union members were ambushed by local vigilantes and a sheriff’s deputy. The vigilantes and deputy forced Ella Mae Wiggins’ pickup truck off the road, and murdered the 29 year-old mother of nine. Though there were 50 witnesses during the assault and five of the attackers were arrested, all were acquitted of her murder. After her death, the AFL-CIO expanded Wiggins’ grave marker in 1979, to include the phrase, “She died carrying the torch of social justice.” Also a song-writer, her best-known song, A Mill Mother’s Lament, was recorded by Pete Seeger, among others.

26. Sue Cowan Williams

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Sue Cowan Williams represented African-American teachers in the Little Rock School District as the plaintiff in the case challenging the rate of salaries allotted to teachers in the district based solely on skin color. The suit, Morris v. Williams, was filed on Feb. 28, 1942, and followed a March 1941 petition filed with the Little Rock School Board requesting equalization of salaries between black and white teachers. She lost the case, but then won in a 1943 appeal.

March 7, 2019

UFCW Calls for Congressional Action to Solve Multiemployer Pension Crisis

Time is Now: Ahead of Congressional Hearing, UFCW Urges Action to Protect Retirement Savings for Millions of Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s House Education & Labor Committee hearing on the solvency of multiemployer pensions highlights the growing pressure for Congress to address this crisis. As one of the leading national voices, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s promise has always been that anyone who works hard can build a better life for themselves and their family. When the retirement savings of millions of Americans is in jeopardy after they’ve worked hard their entire lives, that promise is being broken,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said. “Keeping that promise starts with protecting the pensions of today’s workers and retirees and making the strong investments needed to ensure the retirement security of generations to come. The time is now for Congress to pass the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act to protect these pensions before the crisis becomes even more costly and widespread. The retirement security for millions of workers and their families is on the line. We can’t wait any longer.”

UFCW Call for Action on Multiemployer Pensions

UFCW has been a strong national advocate for pensions reform and is calling for Congress to pass H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act. Last year, UFCW sent a letter to Congress urging action on legislation to provide low-cost loans to eligible multiemployer pension plans to enable them to continue to pay earned pensions to retirees and fund their long-term pension commitments. Today, Congressional leaders echoed this call for action:

“The American workers in these failing multiemployer pension plans did everything right.  They planned for their retirement, year after year choosing to contribute to their pensions instead of taking a wage increase. But now, after working for decades, their planned retirements may be taken away from them,” House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said. “And taken away at a time when they’re no longer able to prepare for retirement because they’re now in retirement. There’s no time to waste in addressing this crisis.”

“More than 60,000 Ohioans and 1.3 million workers and retirees nationwide face a looming pension crisis that threatens their financial well-being and their ability to care for their loved ones. What Washington doesn’t understand is that these workers gave up money at the bargaining table and sacrificed raises for these pensions,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. “These workers aren’t asking for a bailout, they’re asking for what they earned. Ohio workers, retirees, businesses and taxpayers are counting on Congress to solve this crisis, and the cost of inaction is too high. It’s time for Congress to step up, do the right thing, and solve this crisis now to give workers and their families the peace of mind they deserve.”

Why Congress Must Pass the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act:

The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act is a common-sense way to shore up the multiemployer plans while protecting the earned pensions of retirees and active workers.

  • An estimated 10 million workers and retirees are in about 1,400 multiemployer pension plans. (PBGC)
  • The failure of pension plans would hurt not only individual retirees, but also their local communities, the plans’ contributing employers and the future of the multiemployer retirement system overall.

The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act provides a path forward to address the country’s growing pension crisis by providing the financial support the plans need to avoid insolvency.

  • If nothing is done, some troubled plans will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work.
  • If the plans are allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers would be at risk of having to pay billions to cover the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) shortfall.

The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act would create a Pension Rehabilitation Administration, within the Treasury Department, to provide low-cost loans to qualified underfunded multiemployer pension plans.

  • Plans would have up to 30 years to pay earned retiree benefits, prudently invest the loan proceeds and employer contributions, and re-pay the loan.
  • During the loan period, employers may not reduce contributions and the plan may not increase promised benefits.
  • The plan must demonstrate that receipt of the loan will enable the plan to avoid insolvency, pay benefits and loan interest, and accumulate sufficient funds to repay the loan principal when due.

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March 6, 2019

UFCW Statement on Whole Foods Cutting Worker Hours

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to news that Whole Foods cut worker hours after its parent company, Amazon, enacted a wage increase for employees, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“The reports of Amazon’s Whole Foods cutting worker hours is the worst case of bait and switch I’ve ever seen. Just months ago, they told the American people and their workers that they were raising their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. But now it appears that this was all a public relations stunt as they are now cutting worker hours – which is a cruel pay cut, plain and simple.

“More than ever, it is clear Jeff Bezos’s retail vision is focused on driving up profits at any cost by cutting hours and replacing good jobs and skilled hard-working employees with automation. It is time for the American people to wake up to the fact that Amazon’s vision, left unchecked, will cost us millions of good retail jobs. The men and women of Whole Foods have earned the right to a better life, and they deserve so much better than the treatment they are receiving from Amazon.”

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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

 

March 5, 2019

Tired of empty promises? Get it in writing.

Have you ever been promised something by your boss, only to have it fall through later? It may be a promise to give you more hours, let you take time off, or give you a promotion or a raise. There are plenty of times when for one reason or another, employers or managers don’t come through on a promise they made and you’re left trying to figure out how to adapt.

You don’t even have to have a bad manager for this to happen, sometimes your boss just might not have had all the right information when they spoke to you, or perhaps the final say was above their pay grade.  Some well-intentioned managers may even just not like saying no, even when they know they don’t have the authority to actually promise you something. Whatever the reason, in the end it often feels like there’s not much you can do about it but hope for better luck next time.

You don’t need to rely on luck.

When it comes to your job, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been working there a while, you need to know that you can count on a promise your boss makes to you. Sometimes they will come through and make good, but that’s not always the case. That’s why you need to make sure you get it in writing. And that’s where a contract can help you.

Your time and effort has value – act like it!

When companies do business with each other, they can’t just rely on promises– they put agreements down in writing where they are legally binding. But while this is accepted as normal for businesses, we have a harder time thinking of the work employees do as having the same level of value and deserving of the same commitment and respect.

Instead of relying on awkward favors, a contract creates a way for two parties with different interests to work together. One of the most powerful but often overlooked benefits to belonging to a union is that you and your coworkers can draw up a contract of your own and have that same level of clarity and security.

A contract spells out all the agreements between you and your employer. This can include how much you get paid, your benefits, holiday/sick days, personal time off, your pension, scheduling agreements, health and safety standards, staffing, and more. Unlike a company handbook, you have a say in what goes into it, and you can have the peace of mind of knowing it can’t be changed without your knowledge or input.

Contracts can also help ease possible tensions between you and your managers by making it really clear what the agreed upon rules are, as well as what to do when they are violated. Confronting your manager one on one can end up feeling like a personal attack or criticism with someone you have to work with every day and maintain a good relationship with. In the end, many people just decide to let minor problems go rather than risk creating an uncomfortable situation or even just seeming like they aren’t a team player. In the end, that isn’t a very good way to get problems solved. With a written contract and union representation you have someone to call who isn’t your boss who can help you get the issue resolved.

Never forget that you’ve already earned it.

When you have a strong contract that protects your rights as an employee and the promises your employer makes, you can rest easy knowing exactly what you’re getting in exchange for your hard work.

You work hard every day. When a promise is made to you, you deserve better than being expected to just take someone’s word for it.

 

March 1, 2019

UFCW president responds to Amazon’s newly announced grocery chain: “Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos”

A report today from the Wall Street Journal claims Amazon plans to open a new grocery US grocery chain that would be separate from Whole Foods, which was purchased by Amazon in 2017 for roughly $13.5 billion. According to the WSJ article:

Amazon.com is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities, according to people familiar with the matter, as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business. First grocery store in Los Angeles as early as the end of 2019. Amazon has already signed leases for at least 2 other grocery locations with openings planned for early next year, this person said.

The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market brand, though it is unclear whether the new grocery chain would carry the Amazon name.

Amazon is also exploring an acquisition strategy to widen the new supermarket brand by purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said.

Amazon is now in talks to open grocery stores in shopping centers in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, the people familiar with the matter said.

While Amazon has already signed leases, that doesn’t guarantee it will open the grocery stores. Retailers sign contracts and then pull out or delay store openings if certain conditions aren’t met.

The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with Whole Foods and will offer products at a lower price point, these people said. The new chain would offer a different variety of products than what is on the shelves at the more upscale Whole Foods stores.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone responded with the following statement warning of the dire impacts Amazon’s move to take over the grocery industry could have for everyday Americans:

“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.

Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.

It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”

The UFCW has been calling for more scrutiny to be given to Amazon’s impact on the grocery industry since their announcement of the Amazon Go stores in 2016. 

March 1, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Plan to Open New Grocer Chain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement in response to news that Amazon will be launching a new grocery chain.

“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.

“Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.

“It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”

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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.

 

 

February 28, 2019

UFCW members save 15% with AT&T

AT&T is the only nationwide unionized wireless carrier. When you choose AT&T, you support the nearly 150,000 union members employed there.


Why Should UFCW Members Choose AT&T?

  • Exclusive Wireless Discounts
    Save 15% on the monthly service charge of qualified wireless plans 1, 20% on select accessories 2, and get waived activation fees3 on select devices for new lines of service from AT&T.
  • Endorsed by Union Members 
    Over 97% of union members surveyed say that they would recommend the AT&T Signature Program Discounts through Union Plus.4
  • Union Strength, Union Solidarity 
    AT&T employs more than 150,000 members of the Communication Workers of America.

How to Start Saving

Whether you’re already an AT&T customer or are switching from another provider, taking advantage of the AT&T wireless discounts for union members is as easy:

1. Find a Store.

Find your local AT&T store.

2. Download the Coupon.

Download the Union Plus AT&T Coupon.

3. Head to your Local AT&T Store

Take your coupon to an AT&T store, along with your union ID§ and Discount Code 3508840 to start saving!


§ Must provide acceptable proof of union membership such as a membership card from your local union, a pay stub showing dues deduction or the Union Plus Member Discount Card.

15% Service discount not available on AT&T Unlimited Plans.