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    UFCW Blog

March 10, 2017

National Nutrition Month: Making the Most of Frozen Vegetables

While fresh vegetables are wonderful and will always have their place on the table, it can be a challenge for some busy families to fit cooking fresh vegetables into their schedules. Whether frozen or fresh, less than 1 in 10 Americans eat enough vegetables, so it’s no secret most of us could use a little help to work more veggies into our diets. But learning how much fresh produce to buy can be tricky and mistakes can lead to spoilage and waste. This is where frozen vegetables can really help out the busy, budget-conscious cook.

Harvest At Their Peak

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh produce and may even be more nutritious. While most fresh produce has to be harvested before it is ripe so it will survive shipping and still be fresh by the time it gets to your local grocery store, many canned or frozen vegetables are harvested and preserved at their peak.

Worker with Broccoli

UFCW members processing broccoli

No Fuss, No Mess

Is the last thing you want to do when you get home from work chop up a bunch of vegetables? We’ve all been there. One advantage of using frozen vegetables is that most of the prep work is already done for you. Frozen fruits and vegetables have already been cut into bite-sized pieces and are washed and ready to eat. Plus no more 3 month old peppers slowly turning into goo at the bottom of your vegetable drawer because you haven’t had time to cook them. Win win.

Frozen multicolored peppers are ready to stir-fry

Pro-tip: Try Roasting Them

One of our favorite ways to enjoy frozen vegetables is roasting them. It’s about as quick and easy as heating up some frozen French fries, and can really help improve the texture and flavor of frozen vegetables.


Looking for a good recipe to get started? Try this great recipe for Roasted Broccoli. It’s even better with a squeeze of fresh lemon on right before you serve it.

March 8, 2017

UFCW Statement on International Women’s Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, the largest private sector union in the nation, released the following statement about International Women’s Day.

“Today we recognize the incredible contributions of hard-working women to our country. Women make up a majority of our union family, so we understand firsthand the incredible good that comes to workplaces when they have the ability to earn the same success as their male co-workers.

“We’re proud to be actively negotiating union contracts across America that bring equal pay for equal work, paid family leave and fair scheduling to UFCW members. We believe these benefits make life better for hard-working families and should be standard in every place of work. They’re also a key reason why the gender wage gap is significantly smaller in union workplaces. We invite anyone who shares our belief in equality to join our union family.”

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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 8, 2017

International Women’s Day: UFCW Women Stewards and Role Models

Taralyn Pike (right) poses for a photo with fellow contract action team member, John Ruiz (left), after speaking at a Fight For $15 rally in Richmond in November.

This International Women’s Day, we’d like to recognize the contributions women throughout the UFCW’s history have made to bettering their workplaces and strengthening our union family. One of the many ways women of the UFCW have found a voice and an opportunity to lead is through becoming a steward.

Union stewards are members who make the choice to step up, either by election or appointment, to make sure the contract between the union and the company is followed and that their coworkers are being treated fairly and know their rights. Stewards accompany coworkers at disciplinary meetings and represent their coworkers’ issues as equals with management.

Taralyn Pike, a UFCW Local 400 member who works at Giant, made the decision to become a steward approximately five months ago. After five years at Giant, she’d started to notice “a great deal of unhappiness” at her store. Rather than shrug it off, Taralyn decided she would do something about it.

“I wanted to put myself in a position to bring some happiness into the workplace,” Taralyn said. “Who wants to work in a place where it seems everyone’s out to get you and you don’t feel secure? But now, I feel like my store is a place where we can be happy. The manager and I work together to make sure everyone is on the same page. My team members know they have a shoulder to lean on as well as to cry on.

“As a steward,” she added, “I now have a better understanding about employee rights and how things work. And I’m a better listener than I was before.”

She didn’t stop there. When negotiations over their contract heated up with her employer, she got to work mobilizing other Giant workers in the area and letting them know what was at stake. Now she is busy speaking out in favor of raising the minimum wage in Virginia.

A resident of Arlington and the mother of nine- and 12-year old boys, Taralyn said, “Being a union member means so much. It means we are not alone. There are always people to help you; always someone you can call. And there are ways to get involved outside the store. I can testify that stepping up is always worth it.”

Thank you to all our hardworking women who are out there moving and shaking and making life better for everyone. We hope more working men and women are inspired by your example to step up and make a difference.

 

March 5, 2017

UFCW Members Welcome a New Addition to the Family: Linden Hills Co-Op Workers

The UFCW is pleased to welcome a new addition to our union family:  the hard-working men and women of the Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The passion and enthusiasm the men and women of Linden Hills Co-op feel both for their jobs and for their new union family is clear as they talk about the democratic principles they believe in in this recent article featured in Workday Minnesota:

Workers at Linden Hills Co-op won their election Thursday to form a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 653. Eight-five percent of workers voted in favor of unionization in balloting conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We are excited to begin the bargaining process because it is the next step in making our already amazing co-operative even more amazing. We love where we work. This is an extremely positive thing!” said Tracie Lemberg from the Health and Body Care Department.

Workers have begun circulating bargaining surveys to help the bargaining committee understand their co-workers’ priorities.

“I have been working at co-ops in the Twin Cities since I was 16. Forming a union is the best way to make sure all workers are treated fairly and have a say in creating a positive work environment. I’m proud to work at this co-op and look forward to making it an even better place,” said Emily Calhoon from the Produce Department.

Workers said they want to actively ensure good jobs and a sustainable co-op that best serves the needs of the community.

Evan Adams-Hanson, a front end floor coordinator said, “Forming a union reinforces co-op values of community throughout our store. Linden Hills Co-op can be a model for how workers and management cooperate to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability at all levels.”

When workers first started discussing forming a union, they met at each other’s houses discreetly to create a safe space to refine their goals and identify who would be most interested in organizing.

“Organizers helped provide advice and experience, but this organizing was done by us – we were making commitments to each other to have each others’ back,” said Bryce Christopherson, a grocery buyer. “For other workers who are forming their union I would advise as much transparency and outreach to your co-workers as feasible. And reach out – we are happy to help you go through the process of forming your union.”

Mark McGraw from the Scanning department said, “I feel more connected than ever to my co-workers and our store, and I’m excited to have all voices at the table as we move forward with our contract negotiations.”

Linden Hills Co-op workers were inspired by other workers who recently organized a union at the Wedge Community Co-op and Whole Foods Co-op in Minnesota and the People’s Food Co-op in Michigan.

UFCW Local 653 were excited to extend a warm welcome to the new co-op members. 

“I’ve been a meat cutter and member of UFCW Local 653 for 10 years. I look forward to welcoming the Linden Hills co-op workers as brothers and sisters in our union and fighting together to improve retail standards across the Twin Cities,” said Anthony Lanners, who works at Festival Foods in Andover.

Most of all, Linden Hills workers are eager to get to work building an even more engaged and democratic workplace that can serve as a model for the rest of the community.

“Giving all workers a voice will make employees feel more involved in improving the Co-op,” said Front End Floor Coordinator Evan Adams-Hanson.

“Cooperative principles teach us that co-ops are democratic organizations that work for the sustainable development of our communities. Unionizing Linden Hills Co-op will extend those principles within, to the workers of the co-op, who seek sustainable employment and a collective voice. I look forward to the merging of these principles and ideals that will form a stronger co-op, together,” said Produce Stocker Cassie Nouis.

Cheese buyer Hannah Glaser sees unionization as “an affirmation of mutual support between the staff and business.” Produce Stocker Brian Matson believes “the cooperation of fellow employees in a combined effort to guarantee a better workplace is at the heart of unionization, and that Linden Hills Co-op can be representative of what a community can change if they work together.”

March 3, 2017

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” This National Nutrition Month

Spring is just around and the corner, making March the perfect time of year to refocus on eating right, getting healthy, and chasing away those winter blues. We know how hard it can be to balance work with all the demands of your life and still stay focused on your nutrition, but eating healthier foods doesn’t have to be a chore. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing tips with you to make it easier to stay excited and engaged, and help get you on track to a better you and a better life.


Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Plan what you’re going to eat

Before you head for the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try checking what’s on sale in the produce and meat departments and look up recipes that feature those ingredients.

When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it.

Decide how much to make

Making a large batch by doubling a recipe is an easy way to save time in the kitchen and try to stretch your budget even further. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use on nights when you don’t have time to cook. Plus buying larger quantities of each ingredient can help you save money by taking advantage of cheaper bulk prices.

Shop for foods that are in season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods

Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

 

Make your own healthy snacks

Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to prepackaged items.

Cook more, eat out less

Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

February 25, 2017

UFCW Statement on Tom Perez being Elected DNC Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, the largest private sector union in the nation, released the following statement after Secretary Tom Perez was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). UFCW was the first union to endorse Perez in December 2016.

“Tom Perez’s victory is one that will benefit all hard-working families across America who seek a better life. His progressive values and bold, effective leadership are exactly what our democracy needs to move forward and get stronger.

“The reality is that the Democratic Party needs to reconnect with and mobilize millions of voters. They also need a stronger party infrastructure and a more effective message that makes clear their progressive values reflect the best of America’s values. Tom’s win is a win for all of us who believe we can and must build an even better democratic system.”

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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 22, 2017

UFCW Celebrates Black History Month: Bayard Rustin–An Overlooked Champion of Civil and Labor Rights

One of the greatest moments of the Civil Rights era was the March on Washington in 1963–one of the largest non-violent protests to ever occur in America. The March on Washington brought thousands of people of all races together, in the name of equal rights for everyone–whether they were black or white, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. made one of his most inspiring and famous speeches at the march, which culminated on the National mall.

But history has often overlooked the man who was the driving force behind this monumental event–a man named Bayard Rustin. Rustin was the one who organized the march, bringing methods used by Gandhi as well as the Quaker religion to Washington to ensure peace, but also impact. It was Rustin who helped shape Dr. King into the iconic symbol of peace he is remembered as.

As a young adult, Rustin worked with many kinds of people who influenced his activism, including ministers and labor organizers. During World War II, Rustin fought against racial discrimination in war-related hiring, and was later jailed for two years after refusing to enter the draft. Then, after protesting segregated transit systems, he was sentenced to work on a chain gang for several weeks.

Despite being punished for his beliefs, Rustin continued to work towards changing things for the better. In 1953, Bayard Rustin arrived in Montgomery, Alabama to partake in the famous bus boycott that kicked off after Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. The boycott brought many civil rights leaders to the area, including a young Dr. Martin Luther King, who had not yet embraced non-violence. But Rustin taught many who were partaking in the boycott how Gandhi had used peaceful tactics to bring change in India, and people saw the importance of these tactics, and began to embrace them, focusing on direct protest.

Rustin was also a champion of workers rights. In 1965, Rustin and his mentor A. Philip Randolph co-founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a labor organization for African-American trade union members. Much of his work emphasized that labor rights were an integral part of the civil rights movement.

Although Bayard Rustin was a tireless activist, his life achievements are unknown to many, and he has even been called the “lost prophet” of the civil rights movement. This is largely because not only was Rustin silenced and threatened like many others were for being a black man speaking out for equal rights, but also because he was openly gay in a time when homophobia and bigotry was rampant. Rustin continued his life as an openly gay man, even after being incarcerated for it, and is seen as a champion of the LGBT movement still today. Despite being beaten, arrested, jailed, and fired from various leadership positions, Rustin overcame and made a huge impact on the civil and economic rights movements.

America has a long way to go before Rustin’s dreams of equal human rights for all are achieved, but without him, we perhaps would not be where we are today. Today, we have a black president, more women in leadership positions, and more of legislation in the states overturning old and outdated laws barring gay couples from marrying. These are just a few examples of the progress our country has made since Rustin’s time, and working people will continue to work so that ALL people have equal rights–at work and at home.

 

February 16, 2017

UFCW Statement on Alexander Acosta

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, made the following statement about Alexander Acosta being nominated to be Secretary of Labor.

“If confirmed as Secretary of Labor, Mr. Acosta’s top priority will be protecting the rights of all men and women. Hard-working families need and deserve a labor secretary who will push for and implement policies that will turn the tide against declining wages and rising income inequality.

“It’s critical for the person running the Department of Labor to be willing and able to be a champion for all workers, including our members, who deserve and have earned a better life. In the coming days and weeks, we will be reviewing Mr. Acosta’s positions and past statements to see how they’ve impacted UFCW members, their families and all hard-working men and women.”

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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 16, 2017

UFCW Statement on “A Day Without Immigrants”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, made the following statement about hard-working employees and employers across the U.S. standing together in “A Day Without Immigrants,” which calls attention to the vital role immigrants play in every community.

“Immigrants make incredible contributions to our lives, communities, and country each day. Today, we are asking Americans to honor that contribution and pay attention to what is at stake.”

“From the beginning of this nation, immigrant workers from all over the world have come to this country to work hard and build a better life. Yet, many workers, and many UFCW members continue to suffer from the effects of our broken immigration system.

“Our Union family has seen firsthand the damage that irresponsible employers can cause through exploitive labor practices that hurt immigrants, and drive down wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers. It is time for Congressional leaders to finally see and hear the calls for change and put forth common-sense immigration reform that will end this crisis.”

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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 16, 2017

UFCW Member Retires After 30 Years of Service

 

After 30 years of service to her union, long-time UFCW Local 1445 member Janice Feinberg says her mantra is to spread the word about what being part of union family means, and what it has meant to her.

“My husband calls me Norma Rae,” Janice jokes, recalling the role played by Sally Field in the famous movie about a factory worker advocating for union representation on the job.

Now 73 years old, Janice has been serving her community as a retail employee for the past three decades, as well as a UFCW member. Beginning her career at Filene’s, she is now retiring from Macy’s.

Janice notes that it was being a part of the UFCW and working with the caring people at her local union that enabled her to have such a long and steady career.

“When I was younger, I had a manager that took a disliking to me for some reason. She treated me horribly. Some people said there was nothing I could do, but when I told the union about it, they grieved it right away. When I was instructed to ‘watch’ my fellow employees and report back to management behind their backs, I refused and was fired, but the union got my job back. When I recently told my manager that I would be retiring, I inquired about the vacation pay I’d be getting, since I haven’t used my days. She untruthfully told me I wasn’t owed a thing, but Jim and the union made sure I was rewarded the vacation pay I earned, that’s protected in our contracts.”

After the experience she’s had, says Janice, “I would never work a non-union job.” Over the course of her time at Macy’s, Janice was offered other positions that were closer to her home, but she turned them down when hearing they weren’t union jobs.

Janice has noticed that oftentimes, her coworkers are afraid of speaking up on the job because they are scared of repercussions, but she wants everyone to know they don’t have to be afraid to speak up with the UFCW there to back them up. “I want to tell my story because I believe that more people should be aware of the value that being part of a union brings—people need to take advantage of that! Under the umbrella of the union,” she says, “we can all stand together as associates.”

Not only has her union family helped Janice ensure she can take her vacation when she needs to, and receive the benefits she deserves for her many years of service and loyalty, but it has also given her people who she calls friends for life: “The people I saw and worked with every day are a big part of my life. I have customers that came in as children visit me now with their own babies.”

Janice is certainly ready to enjoy her hard-earned retirement, and looks forward to spending time with her husband and daughters—but she looks back on her job and time as a union member with fond memories. “Knowing that the union would have my back in an instant was so wonderful. But if you don’t speak up, they can’t help you! If you do, they’ll listen and take action. When I was a young worker, I was a quiet person. But now I have a voice, and am not afraid to speak up for myself, and for others.”

We are thankful for people like Janice in our union family, and wish her luck in her next chapter!