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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.

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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.

REGISTER/LOGIN AND START SAVING ON FAMILY FUN

May 24, 2017

UFCW Receives Elite Volunteer Award from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), recently awarded its longstanding partner, The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) with the National Corporate Leadership Award at LLS’s Volunteer Leadership Conference awards dinner held in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2017.

The UFCW is one of North America’s largest labor organizations with more than 1.3 million members, and has been a powerful voice for LLS since the partnership began in 1982. The organization has raised more than $82 million for LLS’s goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. In 2016 alone, the UFCW generated $1.9 million in the United States and more than $2.4 million in Canada, through a variety of fundraising efforts ranging from golf outings to dinners.

When Marc Perrone, UFCW’s International president, learned that the UFCW was the recipient of LLS’s National Corporate Leadership Award, he was humbled. “The UFCW union family prides itself on giving back to the communities we call home and doing our part to bring hard working families a better life. We are honored to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society lead the way to a world without blood cancers. Our partnership is proof that the best way to make a difference is to stand together.”

The National Corporate Leadership Award honors an organization with fundamental alignment to LLS’s goal to cure blood cancers and commitment to improving the lives of patients. Nominees for this award support and advance LLS through leadership, executive and employee involvement in various LLS volunteer driven initiatives, and through financially support for LLS’s research, patient services and advocacy initiatives.

“LLS is very proud of our partnership with the UFCW, whose members have supported LLS relentlessly by raising essential funds needed to fight blood cancer,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS’s president and CEO. “The UFCW is helping LLS make it possible to accomplish more than any other cancer nonprofit to advance cutting-edge research and cures for patients.”

Esther López, UFCW’s International Secretary-Treasurer, accepting the National Corporate Leadership Award from Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) president and CEO, at LLS’s Volunteer Leadership Conference awards dinner held in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2017.

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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. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

May 18, 2017

UFCW Members, Locals, and Volunteers Collect Thousands of Pounds of Food for 25th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

In the weeks and days leading up to Saturday, May 13, the day of the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, UFCW members and locals volunteered at events and donated non-perishable food items to help America’s families put food on their tables.

Standing by our values and belief that no hard-working man or woman should struggle alone, UFCW members turned out in droves as part of our partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers on the day of the food drive as well, and helped collect thousands of pounds of food to help “stamp out hunger.”

Below is a photo collection of some of the many UFCW locals, members, and staff that played a role in the food drive this year:

May 17, 2017

Please a Crowd with Party Pinwheels

Watch prep cook and member of UFCW Local 75 Chardonnay Starr show you how to make a party pinwheel tray—perfect for your next potluck, housewarming, or kids birthday party.

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May 11, 2017

UFCW Celebrates National Third Shift Workers Day

From stocking shelves to providing late-night medical care, when the rest of the world goes to sleep, many UFCW members’ work days are just getting started. To celebrate the hard work and sacrifice made by those who work overnight to keep our communities running smoothly, International President Marc Perrone surprised several UFCW Local 2008 members at Kroger in Little Rock, Arkansas, with a late night visit in honor of National Third Shift Workers Day.

“To our members, and everyone who works through the night so that we can all enjoy the day – thank you,” said Perrone.

“Thank you for making our communities better and for making a real difference in so many lives across this nation.”

UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Steve T. Gelios, president of UFCW Local 2008, with UFCW Local 2008 third shift workers at a Little Rock, Arkansas, Kroger.

Mark Ramos, president of UFCW Local 1428 in California, was also burning the midnight oil and visiting stores overnight to personally thank the hard-working men and women of the third shift for all they do.

“I was on third shift for 14 years when I worked in the stores,” said Ramos. “When I first started working nights, it took a few months to get used to it. You know, you never really get 8 hours of sleep. I’d take two naps instead. You learn to make it work.”

Ramos preferred to work third shift because the predictable schedule and hours let him take care of his kids and spend more time with his family during the day. The same applies for many of the members he spoke with during his visits.

“They are amazing folks. Most of them have families, and they work and then go home and do other things. The working moms who work that shift are some of the most incredible, courageous workers I know.”

 According to multiple studies, shift work is hard on both the body and mind. The risk of workplace injuries, obesity and depression are all increased if a person works overnight. Studies also suggest that third shift work impacts hormones that regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn lead to a higher risk of serious health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.

Despite these risks, there is no federal law requiring third shift workers to be provided with any extra pay or benefits. But in UFCW contracts all across the country, we negotiate premium pay for third shift workers to help provide them with the better life they’ve earned and deserve.

“Thank you for recognizing us,” said Beverly Martin, a UFCW Local 8-Golden State member who works at Savemart in California. “I work the third shift and have for six years now. We get looked-over for a lot of things.”

 “I provide Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday dinners for my fellow night crew members,” Martin went on to say. “By the time it’s our lunch, the food from the daytime party is gone or there’s not enough to go around. It may not seem like much to a day worker, but little things like that can really help to build up our team at night. So, here’s to those of us who work at night.”

May 9, 2017

Yet another report finds poultry one of the most dangerous industries

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) released yet another report finding poultry to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in, underscoring the continued importance of the UFCW’s efforts to provide a voice for the hard-working men and women of the poultry industry and to make sure no worker is left to suffer on their own.

The report takes a look at serious injury rates in 29 states and finds the rate of serious injuries, such as amputations, to be disproportionately high in poultry plants.

“OSHA’s severe injury data shines a light on the severe toll of preventable workplace injuries, especially in the U.S. poultry industry,” said Debbie Berkowitz, senior fellow for worker safety and health with NELP and the report’s lead author. “The workers who put food on our tables should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck.”

This report is consistent with similar trends shown in past reports by other organizations such as Oxfam, with whom the UFCW has worked to improve safety standards in the poultry and meatpacking industries.

Past reports have found workers at poultry plants, which have a much lower rate of union representation than other meat packing plants, were more likely to suffer from Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) and that many workers in nonunion plants were forced to use adult diapers due to a lack of bathroom breaks and the constant, grueling pace of work.

More injuries than saw mills and other high risk industries

Even when compared to other high risk industries, this report shows an alarmingly high injury rate:

According to the data, the poultry industry as a whole reported 180 severe injuries resulting in hospitalizations or amputations—a number that put them at the 12th-highest number of severe injuries reported to federal OSHA.  Workers in the industry suffered a greater number of serious injuries than much of the construction industry, the auto industry, the steel industry, saw mills, and many other high-risk industries. And these numbers only reflect instances in 29 states. Further, OSHA followed up with inspections in response to 86 of these reports, finding a total of 750 violations in the plants, of which 84 were willful or repeat violations that carry the highest fines.

The rates of injury are likely even higher than reported

The report also makes note that as dramatic as the number of injuries are, they likely don’t come close to representing the full scope of the problem:

Three government agencies, OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the GAO, have found that the poultry processing industry is underreporting the serious injuries that occur in the plants.

A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, along with numerous other studies, have documented that many workplace injuries are not reported by employers. Further, according to a recent report issued by OSHA in 2016, “OSHA believes that many severe injuries—perhaps 50 percent or more—are not reported.”8 Other studies have concluded that the actual number of work-related injuries is three times higher than what companies report.

In 2016, the UFCW was a vocal supporter of OSHA’s decision to issue a citation to Pilgrim’s Pride, only the second citation of its kind in the agency’s 47-year history. “We are disappointed to see yet another example of poultry workers being mistreated and forced to endure harsh working conditions,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “As we strive to improve poultry industry jobs, we applaud OSHA for actively supporting the right of every worker to have a safe workplace.”

The citation alleged that “the employer delayed evaluation, care, and/or treatment from a medical provider, which could result in health hazards such as, but not limited to, increased risk of further injury, prolonged healing, exacerbation of pain and limited recovery from work-related injuries/illnesses.” The citation went on to describe that Pilgrim’s Pride “failed to make timely appropriate medical referrals for employees with injuries related to chronic and acute exposures and incidents. The employees are exposed to injuries which include burns, loss of consciousness, and blunt force trauma which require appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

UFCW’s presence is vital

UFCW contracts include health and safety language to protect workers. This helps to ensure safe working conditions, union access to perform worksite inspections and medical and exposure records, training, joint health and safety committees, protective equipment and chief, walking and ergonomic stewards that can accompany government inspectors during their paid time.  Union contracts also include reimbursement for protective gear.

But the percentage of workers who have UFCW representation is much lower in poultry plants than in other meat packing plants. Only about a third of poultry workers are UFCW members, making improvements in workplace safety more difficult to secure.

Beyond additional workplace protections offered by a union contract, the UFCW’s influence in these plants helps combat a climate of fear and intimidation.

“Many workers are afraid to speak up and advocate for better treatment. Companies increasingly turn to ‘a variety of economically desperate and socially isolated populations,’ many of whom face obstacles that prevent them from standing up and speaking out about abuses in the workplace. In the words of many, the industry takes advantage of workers who live and work in a climate of fear. – Lives on the Line: The Cost of Cheap Chicken, Oxfam

Both in the recommendations of the most recent NELP report and in past reports such as Oxfam’s Lives on the Line: The Cost of Cheap Chicken, the need for workers to have better compensation and a voice on the job is repeatedly echoed.

“Unions provide poultry workers with one of the best ways to improve their safety on the job because we create an environment where people know their rights and feel empowered to speak up,” said Perrone. “We make sure that workers can advocate for their well-being without the fear of being fired.”

Progress through partnership

The NELP report comes on the heels of Tyson’s announcement to rededicate itself to workplace safety. The day before the report was released, Tyson committed to continuing its collaboration with the UFCW on a workplace safety and illness and injury prevention initiative that will be rolled out to all plants and be released publicly. Other highlights in the company’s announcement include:

  • A new initiative on transparency stating that the company will begin publicly sharing results of its third party social compliance audits.
  • A new initiative on compensation stating that Tyson Foods will make sure it’s providing competitive wages and benefits.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to allowing regularly scheduled breaks, as well as restroom breaks, as needed.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to running its processes at a speed according to the number of people available to work.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to a policy allowing workers to stop the line at any time for worker or food safety issues.
  • Reaffirming its commitment to having Team Member safety councils in place at all plants.

“Tyson Foods’ commitment to worker safety and workers’ rights should not just be applauded — it should serve as a model for the rest of the industry,” said Perrone. “Through our ongoing partnership with Tyson Foods, we have already made valuable progress.  We look forward to these new and expanded initiatives and to continuing to work together to provide a better, safer workplace for the hard-working men and women at Tyson Foods.”

 

 

 

May 9, 2017

Honoring the Dedicated and the Sleepless on Third Shift Workers Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), celebrated Third Shift Workers Day – the day that honors the more than 25 percent of American workers who labor overnight and into the early morning hours – with the following statement.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of third shift workers, millions of American families are able to enjoy a better life. Whether it’s working through the night to prepare fresh food for the morning, restocking store shelves, or taking care of our loved ones in the hospital, the hard-working men and women of the UFCW who work the third shift provide an incredible value that too often goes unnoticed or taken for granted. So to our members, and everyone who works through the night so that we can all  enjoy the day – we thank you. Thank you for making our communities better. Thank you for making a real difference in so many lives all across this nation.”

Background
  • According to multiple studies, shift work is much harder on the body and mind. The risk of workplace injuries, obesity and depression are all increased if a person works at night.
  • Despite these risks, there is no federal law requiring third shift workers to be provided with any extra pay or benefits.
  • UFCW is proud to negotiate premium pay for third shift workers into our contracts to help provide them with the better life they’ve earned.

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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. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

 

May 8, 2017

Don’t forget to pick up groceries for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive

Fill a Bag on May 13th

More than 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry. Let’s make sure no family has to struggle to eat in America. Fill a bag and join your UFCW union family and National Association of Letter Carriers in the effort to Stamp Out Hunger.

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