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July 16, 2019

Protecting your constitutional rights during a workplace raid

In the United States, every person — whether documented or undocumented — has the constitutional right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions of the police, FBI, or ICE, whether on the street, in a car, or at home.

Under the law, ICE must have proof you are not from the United States to deport you. They can use the following information against you:

  • If you run and ICE catches you
  • If you tell ICE where you were born or that you don’t have papers
  • If you carry false documents
  • If you carry papers from your country

If you are questioned by ICE, you are NOT required to reveal any information, such as your name, address, or home country. If you are questioned or detained, however, it usually is a good idea to give your name so that friends, family, or your attorney can locate you.

What you can do now

The targets of the mass raids are individuals who have been ordered deported.  Any individuals that were issued deportation orders because of failure to appear in court, should contact a reputable immigration lawyer, nonprofit, or immigrant rights organization to help them file a motion to reopen their order of deportation.

  1. Gather and keep important documents in a safe place, make copies, and make them accessible to a trusted person.
  2. Identify reputable immigration, family, and defense lawyers for rapid response. Speak to a family law attorney about the need to sign a power of attorney for the caretaking of children and handling finances.
  3. Obtain travel documentation for all family relatives.
  4. Carry a Know Your Rights card with contact information of reliable attorney and other emergency contacts. Memorize important phone numbers.

If you are stopped by ICE or if ICE comes to your home

DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR if an immigration agent is knocking on the door.

DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS from an immigration agent if they try to talk to you. You have the right to remain silent.

DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without first speaking to a lawyer. You have the right to speak with a lawyer.

If you are outside of your home, ask the agent if you are free to leave and if they say yes, leave calmly.

GIVE THIS CARD TO THE AGENT. If you are inside of your home, show the card through the window or slide it under the door. The cards read:

“I do not wish to speak with you, answer your questions, or sign or hand you any documents based on my 5th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. I do not give you permission to enter my home based on my 4th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution unless you have a warrant to enter, signed by a judge or magistrate with my name on it that you slide under the door. I do not give you permission to search any of my belongings based on my 4th Amendment rights. I choose to exercise my constitutional rights.”

These cards are available to citizens and noncitizens alike.

During a workplace raid

To report a raid use United We Dream National Raid Hotline 1-854-363-1423 or send a text message to 877877.

  1. ICE must have a judicial warrant (a warrant SIGNED BY A JUDGE) or the employer’s permission to enter the workplace.
  2. ICE can enter a public place without a warrant.
  3. Workers should stay calm.
  4. Workers should not run. Union representatives should not warn workers that immigration has arrived or urge them to run.
  5. A union observer should document (write, not film) events taking place during a raid.
  6. Workers have the right to remain silent.
  7. Workers have the right to an attorney.
  8. Workers have the right to refuse to sign anything without talking to an attorney.
  9. ICE is not supposed to take someone’s fingerprints unless ICE already has a reason to arrest them. Workers should NOT consent to being fingerprinted, and if they are, they should say out loud that they do not agree with being fingerprinted.

If ICE arrests you, you have the right:

  1. To remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you.
  2. To understand the charges against you. If you need an interpreter, ICE must provide one.
  3. To be represented by an attorney (at your own expense) and to receive a list of agencies offering free legal services before answering questions.
  4. To refuse to sign documents, such as for voluntary departure. It is particularly important to consult with an attorney before signing if:
      • You are afraid to return to your home country
      • You have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years
      • Your family members have amnesty or other papers
      • You already have a pending ICE case
      • You are accused of using false documents
  1. To make a telephone call to an attorney, family member, consulate of your home nation, friend, or the union (memorize their phone numbers).
  2. To be released on bond and to have a hearing to reduce your bond if you cannot afford it.
  3. To have a hearing before an immigration judge and to appeal any adverse decision by the judge. You have the right to stay in the U.S. while you appeal.

How can the UFCW help workers during workplace raids?

The union should enforce employer obligations on issues that affect immigrant members. The union could be liable for failing to represent members if it fails to challenge employer abuse. The union has no reason to determine the immigration status of a worker; unions must represent all workers regardless of status. However, a union representative must not assist a worker in presenting documents that the representative knows are false.

  • The union may request information about and bargain over employer I-9 audits.
    • Request information about the reason for and the scope of the audit, and request copies of any documents the employer received from any government agency.
  • The union may represent workers in reverification of work authorization documents.
    • Employers are only allowed to reverify identity and work authorization documents for expired documents, such as an expired work permit or visa, but not for a lawful permanent resident card with an expiration date. If the reverification is based on the expiration of the employee’s work permit, bargain for an unpaid leave of absence. Object to unlawful reverification of current workers such as non-citizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, refugees, asylees, or individuals with temporary protected status. Weingarten allows a union representative or steward to be present if an employer seeks to meet with a worker regarding employment authorization or other immigration issues. Grieve any adverse actions against workers based on unlawful reverification attempts.
  • If an employer gets a SSN “no-match” letter, the union can remind them that:
    • A “no-match” letter does not provide authority for an employer to terminate, suspend, lay off, or impose other discipline on an employee, and an employer who does may violate federal labor law.
    • The purpose of a “no-match” letter is to notify an employer when a reported employee’s name or social security number does not match Social Security’s records. The SSA has no authority to enforce the immigration laws, and the employer should give employees an opportunity to update their documents and information.
  • Ensure that contracts have provisions that state: “The Company will not discipline, discharge or otherwise act against any worker who is absent from work for up to [NUMBER] days because of arrest, detention or incarceration, and those days will not count against the worker’s time and attendance record.”
  • Engage with employers about immigration enforcement to establish protocols for their interaction with ICE in the workplace. (E.g. confirm that ICE may not enter private property without a warrant signed by a judge.)
  • Train members, stewards, and staff on the basic rights of individuals during an immigration enforcement action, the union’s rapid response plan, and family safety plans.
  • Establish relationships with local community leaders, allies, non-profits, immigrant rights groups, and legal service providers to be in communication during raids and mobilize the community to support workers and families.

Additional Resources

Here is a list of local organizations that can support you and your community if you are impacted by a raid or other immigration enforcement activity:

Baltimore, MD

CASA Hotline 1-855-678-2272

Chicago, IL     

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 1-855-435-7693 (1-855-help-my-family)The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP): 773-471-8208 ext 120
The Resurrection Project: 312–666-3062
National Immigrant Justice Center: 1-855-435-7693 (1-855-help-my-family)
West Suburban Action Project (Proyecto de Acción de los Suburbios del Oeste): 708-410-2000

Houston, TX

For Families and Their Education (FIEL Houston): 1-713-364-3435

Miami, FL

Americans for Immigrant Justice: (305) 573-1106
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC): (305) 571-7254

New York, NY

New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC): 212-627-2227
Make the Road NY: Brooklyn: 718-418-7690

Queens: 718-565-8500
Staten Island: 718-727-1222
Long Island: 631-231-2200
Westchester: 914-948-8466

BAJI New York, NY — Telephone: (347) 410-5312
New Sanctuary NYC https://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/

Newark, NJ
Make the Road NJ: 908-368-1196

San Francisco, CA
SIREN: Text this number for rapid response: 201-468-6088
SF Rapid Response Network: 415-200-1548
Alameda County Rapid Response: 510-241-4011
San Mateo County Rapid Response: 203-666-4472 (203-NOMIGRA)
Santa Clara Rapid Response: 408-290-1144
Marin County Rapid Response: 415-991-4545

Southern California:
CHIRLA: 888-6CHIRLA (888-624-4752)

Atlanta, GA
Los Vecinos de Buford Highway: 770-715-7200
Asian Americans Advancing Justice: 404-890-5655
Coalicion De Lideres Latinos (CLILA): 706 529 9216
GA Latino Alliance for Human Rights: 770-457-5232

Denver, CO
Colorado Rapid Response Network: 1-844-864-8341
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: 303-922-3344

New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice: Message them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NOWCRJ/

Washington, DC
DMV Immigration Crisis Hotline 202-335-1183
CASA: 1-855-678-2272


July 15, 2019

UFCW makes history in California with cannabis safety trainings

The UFCW recently hosted the first-ever, industry-specific 30-hour Cal-OSHA trainings for cannabis workers in California to help increase job skills and strengthen workplace safety.

The cannabis industry is the fastest growing job sector in the U.S., and the trainings were held in coordination with the UFCW International’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Office, the UFCW Western States Council, and UFCW Local 770.

“By developing training that is state-specific, industry-specific, and meets the specific needs of workers in the cannabis industry, we know that UFCW members attending these trainings will be safer and the industry will be safer. This training can serve as a model for the rest of the country,” said Robyn Robbins, director of the OSH Office.

Over 30 union cannabis workers and representatives from UFCW Locals 8GS, 324, 770 and 1167 attended the trainings during the weeks of June 10th and June 17th at UFCW Local 770’s Ricardo F. Icaza Workers’ Center in Los Angeles.

“It is very exciting to be a part of this groundbreaking training and to know that the health and safety of our cannabis members is being addressed directly by UFCW trainers by providing an industry-specific curriculum,” said Paul Edwards, who is the director of training and development at UFCW Local 770.

Last year, the UFCW Western States Council helped to pass AB 2799, legislation that requires licensed cannabis businesses in California to have at least one employee and one supervisor complete the 30-hour Cal-OSHA course within one year of licensure.

“California’s cannabis industry creates thousands of jobs where workers must know how to be safe and how to report violations,” said Amber Baur, the executive director of the UFCW Western States Council. “We are proud to be part of these innovative trainings so workers can gain familiarity with their responsibilities and safe practices under Cal-OHSA, saving lives and preventing needless harm.”

Attendees to the Cannabis OSHA Trainings at UFCW Local 770 hold up their training certificates

July 15, 2019

UFCW Stands with Amazon Workers in Prime Day Strike

America’s Largest Private-Sector Union Backs Amazon Workers in Push to Strengthen Pay, Address Unsafe Working Conditions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced its strong support of the strike by Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis on Prime Day to address working conditions at the plant. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement in support of these workers:

“Amazon workers are sending a powerful message to Jeff Bezos this Prime Day: It’s time to stop putting profits ahead of people. With the recent move to one-day Prime shipping, Amazon workers are being forced to meet impossible demands at increasingly unsafe speeds.

“Americans have had enough with a broken economic system that rewards shareholders with billions of dollars while hardworking men and women receive pennies from the very companies they make a success. We are proud to stand with these brave Amazon workers on Prime Day as they fight for what’s right.”


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

July 11, 2019

Five things to know about Amazon on Prime Day

You may know Amazon Prime Day as an opportunity to score great deals for customers. This year Amazon has even included a live stream event featuring Taylor Swift to celebrate Prime Day. But here’s some things you need to know about Amazon before you put things in your cart.


A typical order only takes about a minute of human labor for Amazon to select, box and ship.

At Amazon’s warehouse outside Baltimore, almost all of the work is done by robots or automated systems. At many facilities, “pickers” have to walk up and down long aisles to select items, but at the Baltimore facility, robots bring the shelves to the worker, who then picks out the items and puts them in a bin. The bins travel along the network of eight miles of conveyor belts to another worker who boxes the items.

“Jeff Bezos’s vision is clear – he wants to automate every good job out of existence, regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a recent statement.

While some have argued that increased automation won’t impact overall job loss because new jobs will be created for those that are replaced, a 2017 study on automation in the United States found that between 1990 and 2007, one more robot per thousand workers reduced the employment to population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5 percent. In other words, for all the fancy talk, in reality those jobs that went away didn’t come back and wages for remaining jobs fell. This had a dire impact on jobs in manufacturing, but with the retail industry as the largest employer in the United States, the future looks grim if elected leaders don’t wake up and start taking things seriously.


Amazon’s plans for HQ2 will be the size of 57 football fields, possibly expanding to 133 football fields by the mid 2030s

The Seattle-based company has filed development plans with Arlington County, Virginia for the inaugural phase of its second headquarters, in Crystal City. Though they haven’t broken ground yet, the plans are already having a serious impact on the local housing market. As of June, the median home price in Arlington County was on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019, according to a report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, making it harder for working class residents to afford basic needs for their families.


If Prime members had their own country, they’d be the 13th largest country in the world

With over 100 million Prime members and growing, Amazon has more subscribers than the entire population of most countries. With about 310 million people who live in the United States, 100 million would be a third of the US population.


Seven workers have died in Amazon facilities since 2013

“Amazon workers suffer injuries – and sometimes lose their lives – in a work environment with a relentless demand to fill orders and close monitoring of employee actions,” states a 2018 report from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, who cited Amazon as one of their “dirty dozen” list of employers failing to correct known safety problems.

According to the report, two workers were crushed by forklifts, one was run over by a truck, one was killed by an SUV driver, one suffered a fatal heart-related event during an overnight shift, one was dragged and crushed by a conveyor belt, and one was killed and crushed by a pallet loader.


Amazon produced a 45-minute anti-union training video for managers

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars, it also sent out this 45-minute training video for Team Leaders at the grocery chain:

In it, it warns of employees talking about a “living wage,” and gives tips on how to talk negatively about unions without breaking the law, such as:

“You would never threaten to close your building just because associates joined a union. But you might need to talk about how having a union could hurt innovation which could hurt customer obsession which could ultimately threaten the building’s continued existence.”

The video also warns about workers taking an “unusual interest in policies, benefits, employee lists, or other company information.”


July 11, 2019

UFCW: Amazon Spending $700 Million to Push Workers Out of Jobs

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Calls for Real Action from Company to Address Unsafe Working Conditions and Efforts to Automate Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in retail and other industries, announced its opposition to Amazon’s new $700 million initiative which aims to continue automating its own workers out of jobs. UFCW President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Jeff Bezos’s vision is clear – he wants to automate every good job out of existence, regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores.

“Amazon is throwing money at a problem it created and somehow thinks that it deserves applause. This is an insult to the thousands of Amazon workers who are forced to endure dangerous working conditions and meet impossible demands every day. Amazon has become an economic arsonist that suddenly decided to put out the fires it is starting.

“Our nation’s leaders – from both parties – must wake up. It is time to realize that Amazon’s ruthless business model will lead to massive job losses that could cripple our entire economy. The longer America waits to act, the greater the economic pain we will all suffer – all to further enrich one person – Jeff Bezos.”


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


July 10, 2019

UFCW wins $31,855 in back pay for Kroger meat cutter in Virginia

When UFCW Local 400 member Pete Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side who is willing to back you up.

This story was original published by UFCW Local 400.

For Local 400 member and Kroger meat cutter Clarence “Pete” Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.

Pete’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Virginia. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.

In Richmond, Pete worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Pete worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Pete was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Pete in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Pete stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.

Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Pete was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.

Eventually, Pete became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”

When Pete raised concerns, the store manager said, “We’ll look into it.” But months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Pete’s issues, he filed a grievance.

“In our first meeting with HR, she told me I had said I came here as a clerk,” Pete recalled. “I told her I never said any such thing. And how would she know what I said? They were trying to blow me off.”

“It was a battle,” Frisina said. “Management claimed he should have known better. Come on—Pete’s 71½ years-old, an easy-going guy who didn’t want to rock the boat. I told Kroger he fulfilled his obligation to you by working as a meat-cutter. Your obligation is to pay him as a meat cutter.”

After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Pete for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.

“I was thrilled to know that it has been done and handled the right way,” Pete said. “Anyone can make a mistake, but not to admit to the error is a problem.

“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” he added. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”

“Local 400 repaired Pete’s past and fixed his future,” Frisina said. “I’m about to retire myself and this is the biggest back pay award I’ve ever won. It feels really good to have helped someone—especially a good person like Pete.”

July 9, 2019

Stay safe at work during rising temperatures

All workplaces should have a plan in place for how to safely respond to the risks associated with warmer temperatures. Don’t let summer catch you off guard- make sure your workplace has proper hot weather safety strategies in place. If you aren’t sure if your workplace is prepared for warmer weather, talk to your union rep.

Heat can cause more than just discomfort. Exposure to high heat and high humidity can be life threatening. Employers should make sure workers know the signs, symptoms and appropriate first-aid procedures for serious heat illnesses.

Download sample heat emergency procedures

1.) All management and hourly employees should be trained with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).


A list of heat exhaustion vs heat stroke symptoms

2.) Have 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.

Download sample heat emergency procedures

3.) Train 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. 

Man in hardhat outside drinks from a UFCW water bottle4.) Monitor 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

5.) Give workers time to acclimatize.

New workers should be given time to get used to working in high heat areas. During their first two weeks they should be monitored for signs of heat illness and provided extra breaks until they have adjusted to the heat.

A worker stands beside a large vat of cucumbers outside at a pickle processing plant

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.

For more information about heat and heat-related illness, you can contact the UFCW Occupational Safety and Health Office in Washington, D.C. at 202-223-3111.

July 3, 2019

Celebrate July 4th With UFCW-Made Products


What’s more patriotic than celebrating Independence Day with UFCW-made products?

Here’s a list of products made by our hard-working members for your July 4th celebrations:

Hot Dogs:
 Ball Park
 Boar’s Head
 Foster Farms
 Hebrew National
 Hofmann
 Oscar Mayer
 Hormel
 Gianelli
 Kroger brand
Barbeque Sauce:
 Jack Daniel’s barbeque sauce
Condiments and Sides:
 French’s and Gulden’s mustard
 Heinz ketchup
 Vlasic pickles and relish
 Hanover baked beans
Breads and Buns:
 Lewis Bakeries breads and buns
 Aunt Millie’s breads and buns
Bottled Water:
 Tres Monjitas bottled water
Snacks and Desserts:
 Frito-Lay chips
 Wise potato chips
 Mission tortilla chips
 Jell-O
 Kool-Aid sticks

Grilling out for the 4th? Check out these excellent grilling tips from a UFCW butcher.

Grilling Tips

June 28, 2019

Travel smart with these union airlines and hotels

Did you know that Union Plus can help you save when you buy union-made?

When you take to the skies, rest easy knowing the folks running show are trained union professionals.  Below is a list of airlines and hotel chains represented by union members.


  • Air Midwest Inc. (IAM)
  • Air Wisconsin (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Alaska Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Aloha Airlines (TWU)
  • America West Airlines Inc. (TWU)
  • American Airlines Inc. (FEIA)
  • American Eagle Airlines: Div. AMR Corp (TWU)
  • Atlantic Coast Airlines (AMFA)
  • Bemidji Aviation (IAM)
  • Canadian North (ALPA)
  • CommutAir (ALPA)
  • Compass Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Continental Airlines (AFA-CWA)
  • Continental Micronesia Airlines (AFA-CWA)
  • Delta (ALPA)
  • Endeavor Air (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Envoy Air (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Express Jet (ALPA)
  • Frontier Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (AFA-CWA: ALPA)
  • Horizon Air (AFA-CWA)
  • Island Air (ALPA)
  • JetBlue (ALPA)
  • Mesa Air Group (AFA-CWA;; ALPA)
  • Miami Air International (AFA-CWA)
  • Mesaba Airlines (AFA-CWA)
  • Omni Air International (AFA-CWA)
  • Piedmont Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • PSA Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Silver Airways (AFA-CWA)
  • Southwest Airlines (TWU)
  • Spirit Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • Sun Country (ALPA)
  • United Airlines (AFA-CWA; ALPA)
  • US Airways (AFA-CWA)
  • Virgin America (ALPA)

Full list of ALPA organized airlines.

Full list of AFA-CWA organized airlines.

Hotel Chains*

  • Best Western
  • Comfort Inn
  • Hilton
  • Holiday Inn
  • Marriott
  • Radisson
  • Ritz Carlton
  • Sheraton
  • Westin

*Some of the hotel chains listed above have specific unionized locations. To find out exactly which of the hotels you’re looking to book, employs workers of UNITE HERE, please search within the Union Hotel Guide — maintained by the UNITE HERE site where you’ll be able to search hotels by city, state, hotel name or metro area.

The full names of the unions above are:  Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and UNITE HERE. If you know of any that are missing, please email info@unionplus.org.

June 27, 2019

Bringing democracy into the workplace

Every Fourth of July, Americans celebrate the values that have sustained the nation in the nearly 250 years since the Declaration of Independence clearly articulated a shared belief that “all men are created equal” and that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The basic principle of democracy is that people should have a say in decisions that affect them. This is also one of the core values behind why labor unions exist.

Without unions, workplaces operate like dictatorships: decisions are made by an elite few while workers bear the consequences of policy decisions.

If a dictator of a country took the attitude of “if people don’t like it here, they can leave,” we wouldn’t accept that as “democratic,” but that is unfortunately a common attitude management takes in many workplaces. And just like there are many reasons that might prevent a person from up and moving to another country, not everyone is in a position to be able to leave their job so easily.

“When we work together, we win together,” said Christine Taranto, a licensed practical nurse at Valley View Manor Nursing Home in Norwich, N.Y. The staff at Valley View Manor Nursing Home recently decided to join the UFCW after concerns about fair scheduling, wages and paid time off. “For far too long, our scheduling practices have limited our ability to provide patients with the care they need and deserve,” continued Taranto. “I’m proud that we were able to win a voice at the table for both workers and the people we care for every day. I know everyone who works alongside me knows that representation from the union will change our future here.”

If democracy is a truly important value to us, then it is important to fight for it at work where people often spend over half their waking life.

Engaging workers in workplace policies and conditions isn’t just about abstracted values, it also translates to better results for everyone, from the company to the individual.

In the meatpacking industry, UFCW members worked with Tyson to develop an ergonomics program informed by what was actually happening on the plant floor, and in doing so transformed an industry. The three decades-long partnership now serves as a model for the industry and has evolved to include improvements that have helped reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.

“What this program shows is that when workers have input on working conditions, when they are part of the decision-making process, you come up with a better, safer environment—and that’s good for everybody,” said UFCW Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division Director Mark Lauritsen.

As a UFCW member, you should feel proud of not only being part of a democratic country, but of doing your part to make sure our workplaces are democratic, as well.

Learn more about how you can get involved with your union

Two UFCW members hold red white and blue themed flowers in the floral section of a grocery store

UFCW members at Kroger store #410 in Memphis, TN.