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    UFCW Blog

June 22, 2017

Union contracts can provide stable protection for LGBT workers during uncertain times

Have you ever found yourself in a position where something happened on the job that you didn’t feel was right, but didn’t feel you could do anything about it because it wasn’t technically against the law?

In 2013, more than one in five LGBT Americans told Pew researchers that they’d been mistreated by an employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. What most people don’t know is that in many states in the U.S. it is perfectly legal to discriminate against certain workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite passage of legislation making same-sex marriage legal, progress on workplace discrimination laws has been slow. In many states, LGBT workers find themselves in the awkward position of having gained the right to marry the person they love, but can still be legally fired for their decision to do so.

In April, a long-overdue step forward came with a historic decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Seventh Circuit is now the highest court in the nation to have reached this conclusion, but the ruling only applies in the 7th Circuit states of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The sluggish nature of the courts and the unpredictable political shifts in our elected leaders makes relying on laws alone an impractical solution to protecting the rights of all hard working men and women in any kind of lasting, meaningful way. So what are workers supposed to do?

“While this ruling is a huge step forward,” said Pride at Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, “It is still true that the strongest, most durable protections an LGBTQ working person can obtain is an inclusive collective bargaining agreement. Union contract protections are binding to all parties regardless of federal or state law and many contracts also provide the employee with representation, something no state or federal law does.”

Instead of having to wait around for the entire country to agree on what protections you should have at work, a union contract puts the decision-making power into the hands of you and your coworkers. This has always meant more control over things like wages, scheduling, and benefits, but it also means being able to extend additional protections to vulnerable workers in your workplace.

Sample Contract Language


Each contract is different depending on what has been collectively agreed on at a given workplace or group of workplaces. So if employees decided they would like to include language to protect LGBT workers, what does that actually look like?

Below are three examples of good contract language that can be included to help protect the rights of LGBT workers and other vulnerable hard working men and women on the job.

1.) Discrimination

“The Company agrees that it will not discriminate against or treat any worker differently because of Union membership, support or activity; race, national origin, color, gender, religion or age; disability, pregnancy, or physical or mental health condition; sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression; marital or veteran status; criminal record; criminal record; or English proficiency or speaking accent.”

2.) Harassment

“The Company agrees that it will not permit harassment in the workplace. Harassment means unwelcome comments or conduct. No one at the workplace, including managers, supervisors, workers or third-parties such as vendors, consultants and independent contractors, may make comments or engage in conduct that is known to be or should reasonably be known to be unwelcome. Examples of harassment (harassment is not limited to these examples):

  • If someone knows that a worker is sensitive to even mild “cuss” words, harassment would be using mild cuss words within hearing distance of the worker.
  • Groping or fondling anyone.
  • Showing pornographic or lewd photos, or making lewd comments.
  • Making racist, sexist or homophobic comments, or negative comments about a religion.
  • Making derogatory or offensive comments about someone’s appearance or background.
  • Asking a worker on a date after the worker indicated that the request invitation was unwelcome.
  • Deliberately or repeatedly using a name or pronoun when speaking or referring to a transgender worker other than the name the worker chose and the pronoun the worker identifies with.
  • Teasing, picking on, or treating, interacting or communicating with a worker differently because of the worker’s race, national origin, color, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, physical or mental health condition, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or gender questioning.”

3.) Transgender Workers

“If any worker is transgender, or intends to or is going through a transition in gender identity (with or without surgery or therapy):

(a) the Company and the Union will mutually agree on:

  • a way to notify co-workers of the worker’s status or transition (the parties’ discussions will include the worker);
  • creating safe work areas for the worker;
  • designating at least one restroom as gender neutral; and
  • if either party considers it advisable, developing a training for co-workers and managers, including the schedule for and frequency of the training.

(b) the Company will issue a rule:

(1) notifying all workers that transgender workers may use the restrooms and changing rooms designated for the gender they identify with; and

(2) requiring everyone at the workplace or engaged in the Company’s business to speak or refer to transgender workers by the names they choose and the pronouns they identify with.

(c) the Company will change all records so that all records use the names transgender workers choose and the pronouns they identify with, unless the worker requests the Company to refrain from changing its records. The Company will also update any photographs, including identification badges, unless the worker requests otherwise.

The Company will also administer the jointly-agreed on training for managers, supervisors and workers.”

June 20, 2017

UFCW Statement on the Reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, issued the following statement regarding the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act.  

“When a person’s work schedule varies widely from week to week, it brings chaos to both family life and family finances. The Schedules That Work Act is a common sense piece of legislation that will help hard-working men and women have more control over their lives. Smart, flexible, and reliable scheduling is the best way to ensure every family is able to build the better life they’ve earned and deserve.”  


  • The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices.
  • This legislation includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to.
  • The legislation also provides retail workers with two weeks advanced notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.


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


June 19, 2017

Four Hot Weather Safety Strategies for Your Workplace

Does your workplace have a plan in place for how to safely respond to the risks associated with warmer temperatures? As the summer heats up, it’s more important than ever to make sure that not only are the proper hot weather safety strategies in place, but that everyone knows what they are so you and your coworkers can be protected in hot conditions.

1.) Training all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).

2.) Having a clearly written protocol on how to respond to a medical emergency.

This should include information for all shifts about who is authorized to call an ambulance, how to call for an ambulance, and what to do while waiting for emergency medical care. This protocol should be translated into the commonly spoken languages in the facility and posted throughout the workplace.

3.) Training all management and hourly employees on workers’ right to access drinking water as needed and the right to access to bathrooms as needed.

This is important because some workers hold back on drinking water so that they can put off using the restroom. This is never a good idea and can have serious consequences during hot weather. 

4.) Monitoring particularly hot and humid work areas.

This should be done with a device that measures both heat and humidity and combines these measurements to provide the Heat Index. The company should have a plan for additional rest breaks or means of cooling the work area whenever the heat index approaches the Extreme Caution zone.

Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

Work with your union rep and your local to make sure that you and your coworkers are protected in hot conditions. Meet with the company to ensure that all of the proper hot weather safety strategies are being used in your workplace.

June 16, 2017

UFCW Statement on Amazon Buying Whole Foods

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, made the following statement about Amazon buying Whole Foods.

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs. That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods. 

“Sadly, the hard-working men and women who work at Whole Foods now face an uncertain future because the Amazon model for grocery stores ultimately leads to fewer jobs, worse benefits, and more automation. Make no mistake, these are not the values most Americans believe in nor the ones embraced by many Whole Foods customers. 

“While Amazon may prefer a path that treats Americans as if they are just faceless workers, the employees of Whole Foods deserve better and should realize they’ve earned the right to a better life.”


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

June 14, 2017

UFCW members are proud to make America’s bourbon

June 14th is National Bourbon Day and we’d like to thank the UFCW members working hard to make America’s bourbon.

Though Jim Beam is most known for the familiar Jim Beam Original bourbon, the men and women of UFCW Local 111D in Clermont and in Boston, Kentucky also make other well-known bourbons, including Knob Creek, Booker’s, and Basil Hayden. UFCW Local 111D members take pride in their work, and it’s no wonder. All told, they produce more than 90 million bottles annually at the Kentucky facilities.

What is Bourbon?

Counter to popular belief, bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky, but most bourbon is. Kentucky produces 95% of the world’s bourbon—and more than half of Kentucky bourbon is made by Jim Beam.

To be classified as a bourbon, the amber spirit must be made in America. In addition, its mash (the grains that go into the bourbon) must be over half but no more than 79 per cent Indian corn. The rest of the grains include malted barley and either rye or wheat. Some Kentucky bourbon makers say the limestone spring water in that area of the state lends bourbon its distinctive flavor.

The Barrels

Bourbon gains its color and much of its flavor from the barrels it is aged in. Bourbon must be aged at least two years in a new, charred oak barrel made from American White Oak, but many types are aged for longer.  The charred wood provides caramelized sugars that add flavor to the whiskey, and there is a great deal of science that goes into how much the barrel is charred and what impact that will have on the taste and the color. Different bourbons have different “char levels,” or how long and hot a barrel is heated.

Want to learn more about how bourbon is made? Carey Jones of the food blog Serious Eats shows the behind-the-scenes of how corn, rye, and malted barley become the iconic American spirit.

June 13, 2017

A florist explains how to arrange a bridal bouquet

Watch florist and member of UFCW Local 1000 Michelle Garrett show you how to make a bridal bouquet—perfect for wedding planning on a budget or for adding your own DIY touch! Our hardworking UFCW family is proud to put food on America’s tables and help make your special days happen.


June 8, 2017

Summer road trip? Don’t miss these discounts.

Make Sure Your Car and Tires are in Tip-Top Shape

Before you hit the road this summer, make sure your car is in good, safe condition to drive. 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.

  • Save 10% off all Goodyear tires or 5% off sale tires at company-owned Goodyear and Just Tires.
  • Save 5% off sale tires at company-owned Goodyear and Just Tires.
  • Save 10% off car service, including auto maintenance, auto parts, or 5% off preventative maintenance.

Many Goodyear tires are made by members of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), so you can support you fellow labor union members and service your car at the same time.

Renting a Car?

Going out of town and need to rent a car? Car rental can get expensive, so you’ll want to be sure to take advantage of your UFCW member discounts. Check out the car rental companies below and be sure to give them the reference ID and mention you are a union member.

Avis Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-698-5685


Be sure to reference AWD #B723700

Budget Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-455-2848


Be sure to reference BCD #V816100

Hertz Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-654-2200


Be sure to reference CDP #205666

Dollar Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-800-4000


Be sure to reference CDP #3042236

Thrifty Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-847-4389


Be sure to reference CDP #3042238

Payless Car Rental

Call for Quote: 800-729-5377


Be sure to reference PDN #A071900

May 31, 2017

UFCW welcomes new Viroqua Food Co-op members

We’re excited to announce some new additions to our UFCW family! Earlier this month, over 45 hardworking men and women of the Viroqua Food Co-op in Viroqua, Wis., joined UFCW Local 1473.

Looking for ways to build a better workplace for everyone, co-op staff were eager to work together to improve scheduling, job postings, and wages. They approached UFCW Local 1473 a few months ago about these issues and their interest in joining our union family. We’re proud of our new members and the initiative they’ve shown to really make a positive change.

“We welcome the opportunity to bargain on behalf of the employees of Viroqua Food Co-op,” said UFCW Local 1473 President John Eiden. “The local is committed to developing a productive relationship that benefits all parties.”

UFCW represents workers at a number of other co-ops across the country. In 2015, UFCW Local 1459 hosted the first ever “Co-op Workers Summit,” providing an opportunity for the men and women who work at these cooperatives to discuss the unique challenges they face and work together to brainstorm solutions and improvements.

“It’s critically important that the co-op movement doesn’t leave the workers’ voice behind,” said John Cevasco, a grocery worker from Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield, Mass., and a UFCW Local 1459 member who attended the summit in 2015. “We found our voice at Greenfield’s by forming a union, and I know our co-op is stronger because of it.”

“My coworkers and I organized because we believe in workplace democracy,” said Phil Bianco, a UFCW Local 876 member at People’s Food Co-op in Ann Arbour, Mich. “We believe in the values of the cooperative movement. We see those values—democracy, sustainability, autonomy—as perfectly in line with those of the labor movement. In fact, we know the cooperative and labor movements are stronger when united. We urge all workers everywhere to do what we did. Whatever your situation, organize your power and change your circumstances for the better.


May 30, 2017

UFCW Cake Decorator Explains How To Make An Icing Rose

Watch cake decorator and member of UFCW Local 23 Carolyn Brooks show you how to make icing roses—perfect for your next birthday, wedding, anniversary, or bridal shower cake.


May 26, 2017

Theme park discounts for UFCW members

Time to Save and Splash at America’s Favorite Theme Parks

For many amusement parks around the country, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start to the full season. Whether you are a roller coaster enthusiast or just like an excuse to eat funnel cake, your UFCW membership gives you discounts on some of the most popular parks in the country, such as:

  • Disney
  • Six Flags (Multiple locations)
  • Adventureland Park
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Crayola Experience
  • Dollywood
  • Dorney Park
  • Funtown Splashtown USA
  • Hersheypark
  • Kings Dominion
  • LEGOLAND (Multiple locations)
  • SeaWorld
  • Sesame Place
  • Universal Studios

Access Your Water and Theme Park Discounts

Accessing your discounts does require setting up an account on the Union Plus website, which is free for UFCW members. From there, you’ll not only get access to discounts on theme parks, but discounts on movie tickets, hotels, car rental, and more that can help you squeeze a little more fun out of your wallet.