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November 19, 2019

Those who work Thanksgiving deserve thanks for being there when we need them

About 9 out of 10 Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and think it is an important time to spend with family and friends. But in order for the rest of us to enjoy that time together, there’s still many workers clocking in to keep our communities running.

In our UFCW family alone, we have dedicated, hard-working members in places like hospitals, grocery stores, and retail locations who sacrifice time with their loved ones every year to make sure the rest of us still have access to the things we need.

Thanksgiving Days Off Chart

Almost every Thanksgiving cook has a story about some year that they forgot a vital ingredient and had to make an emergency run to the grocery store, and chances are good that it was a UFCW member who helped them at union grocery stores like Safeway or Fred Meyer . Unlike non-union workers, UFCW workers are covered by contracts that spell out what the rules and compensation are for working holidays, and many enjoy the added pay and chance to help others that can come with working on days like Thanksgiving.

Working Thanksgiving also means our members have heard all the horror story cooking fiascos last-minute shoppers come in with. With that, we have a couple of quick tips to keep in mind to avoid unnecessary stress.

Tips for a successful feast

Plan when to defrost your turkey

While you aren’t likely to forget to buy turkey, if you buy frozen, it can be easy to forget to take the turkey out to defrost in time. The safest way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator, but this method does take some time, about one day per 4 – 5 pounds of weight. That means if you get a large, heritage turkey, it could take up to 4 days in the refrigerator to thaw.

If T-day comes and your bird is still a bit frosty, according to the USDA, you can still cook a frozen turkey, it’s just going to take longer.

Measure your roasting pan

Is your roasting pan large enough for your turkey? Do you know where it is?

Do you have a meat thermometer?

While it’s possible to cook a turkey without one, it’s way less stressful to know for sure if it’s done cooking and safe to eat.

If you are using an oven safe leave-in thermometer, insert the probe into the thigh so that the tip of the thermometer is at the thickest part, but not touching the bone. Remove the turkey when it reaches 180°F. The breast must reach 170°F.  If the turkey is stuffed, check the temperature of the center of the stuffing is at least 165°F.

If you are using an instant read thermometer, check 30-60 minutes before the estimated finish time, then about every 15 minutes thereafter.

Stale bread takes time

Are you making your stuffing from scratch? Soft, fresh bread doesn’t work very well for stuffing, so this is another step to remember about ahead of time. If your bread is too soft, spread it out on a sheet pan and leave it out on the kitchen counter overnight.

You can’t have enough butter

Unsalted butter is best for baking and cooking so you can control how much salt is in your recipe, but salted tastes best melted on dinner rolls, so you’ll probably want to pick up both kinds.

Do you need ice?

Ice is one of the easiest items to forget because it’s difficult to buy ahead of time.

How’s your salt and pepper stash?

It’s easy to take salt and pepper for granted, but difficult to do without them if you find you’re running low.

Do you have enough aluminum foil and plastic zip-top bags?

If you are planning on sending your guests home with leftovers, they’ll need something to put the food in. Foil and zip-top bags can be a big help, or else stockpile yogurt containers, takeout boxes, or other plastic food containers you can reuse and help cut back on waste.

Monitor your pets

Have a safe, quiet place for your animal friends and be sure they can’t reach where the food is being laid out.

November 15, 2019

UFCW Local 328 assembles 233 Thanksgiving Baskets for families in need

For many, the holidays aren’t just a time for food and gifts, it’s also a time of service to our communities and gratitude for the good things we have in our lives. UFCW members from local unions all across the country will participate in food drives and other fundraising events over the next few months to help spread a little holiday joy to those who may need it most.

Earlier this month, UFCW Local 328 members pulled together to assemble over 230 Thanksgiving baskets for families in need this holiday season.

If you plan on participating in any volunteering or fundraising activities over the holidays, we’d love for you to share your story with us. Send us your name, the local union you belong to, and a quick description of what you’ll be doing and why it’s important to you to submissions@ufcw.org.

November 15, 2019

Chemical Workers Boost Pay by Standing Together in Eight-Month Negotiation

After eight months of negotiations with their employer, PeroxyChem workers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., ratified their first contract on Oct. 25.

The bargaining committee for the newly organized PeroxyChem workers of ICWUC

The workers first joined the ICWUC Local 61C in December of 2018 because they were concerned about wages and lack of respect from managers.

The three-year agreement addresses those issues and includes annual raises, job security, just cause discipline language and many more protections and benefits that will set these new members up for success.

PeroxyChem is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, persulfates and adjacent technologies.

The ICWUC is an important part of our UFCW family and represents primarily workers in the chemical industry. If you work in the industry and are interested in improving your wages and working conditions, contact the ICWUC about how you can become a member.

November 15, 2019

News Roundup: Amazon Giving Up Retail Automation?

Amazon’s New Grocery Chain Abandons Unpopular Automation

Amazon confirmed this week that it will launch a new brick-and-mortar grocery chain in 2020, separate from Whole Foods. But the new grocery chain will use conventional checkout lanes, not the much-touted cashierless platform in Amazon Go stores.

This shift away from retail automation could be due to Amazon Go and its other physical retail locations continuing to lose money.

Amazon has also faced a wave of consumer backlash to its cashierless platform for the ways it discriminates against low-income shoppers who lack access to credit and banking. It remains to be seen, however, whether the shift will also include greater investments in customer service – which is what shoppers really value in grocery stores.

Read More

Artificial Intelligence is Learning our Prejudices

Google announced a brand-new “breakthrough” artificial intelligence technology called BERT, but it carries the same old prejudices as previous A.I. engines. Researchers are discovering that even the latest and greatest A.I. reinforces stereotypical gender roles. Right now, it’s a harmless error in a computer experiment, but what happens with A.I. is being used in hiring or as the basis for law enforcement.

“This is the same historical inequity we have always seen,” said one expert. “Now, with something like BERT, this bias can continue to perpetuate.”

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Rise of Cashless Hits Minorities and Poor the Hardest

A new study from the U.K. is showing that almost one in five consumers would struggle in a transition to a cashless society. In the U.K., the closure of rural bank branches means that rural consumers are hardest hit. In the U.S., new research from Pew shows that minorities and poor consumers are the ones with the most to lose. It’s a timely reminder that “millions of consumers rely on cash to make purchases, either by necessity or by choice.”

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Number of the Week: 40 Percent

That’s the number of in-person retail transactions in the U.S. that take place with cash. And 78 percent of people used cash in a transaction in the past month. While many companies claim the rise of cashless is coming, cash is still a huge part of America’s economy.

Read More

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

November 8, 2019

News Roundup: Airport Security Gets Self-Checkout

Your Next Airport Security Screening Could Have You Doing More Work

The unprecedented crossover event that nobody wants to see could be coming to an airport near you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeking proposals for the self-checkout of security screening. With many travelers already frustrated with the experience, the last thing they need is a new tech platform that will make them do even more work in this process. It’s a project that will give a whole new meaning to “unexpected item in the bagging area.”

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Human Touch Missing from Today’s Retail Experience

As American consumers enter the biggest shopping season of the year, many are lamenting the lack of customer service and a human touch. The shifting of work to consumers has made shopping more like “a cumbersome chore than something that should be enjoyable.” No more do parents have an extra hand from friendly store staffers or the community kindness that used to characterize neighborhood groceries. Instead, we’re “losing the ability to talk to each other.”

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Cash is Still King with Nearly $2 Trillion in Circulation

Despite all the hype about a cashless society, Americans are using more cash than ever before. In fact, there are almost $1.76 trillion in physical bank notes in circulation. One possible reason? No trust in big banks and other financial institutions – especially since the recent surge in cash usage started after the 2008 financial crisis. The authors of this report warn that to realize the benefits of cashless societies, the bankers and financial regulators have to earn the trust of consumers, which they haven’t done yet.

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Number of the Week: 33 Percent

That’s the share of entry-level positions that could be eliminated by automation. Because machines and artificial intelligence struggle with higher-level tasks, they are most likely to eliminate traditional “first jobs” for recent graduates. This would also deny new workers the critical first step to a successful career that these jobs provide. While many will be in retail or similar jobs, about 11 percent are in entry-level white-collar jobs like accounting, legal, finance, human resources, and administration.

Read More

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

November 5, 2019

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November 1, 2019

News Roundup: Target More Like Walmart Than It Claims

Target More Like Walmart on Automation Than It Claims

Target CEO Brian Cornell recently claimed the company takes a different approach to automation than Walmart. But Target is more like its competitor than it wants to admit. Both companies are testing robots in their warehouses, and Target has added self-checkout and automatic cash-counting machines to hundreds of stores in recent years. The fact that it has fewer robots in stores doesn’t change the reality that it is pushing some of the same automation that hurts customer service and forces people out of jobs.

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents retail workers across the country, said that companies that automate certain tasks are not ‘freeing up’ staff to work with customers. “The truth is, they are de-skilling jobs and cutting workers’ hours to make a buck providing less service to customers and chipping away at good jobs for hardworking people,” he said.

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Holiday Hiring Boom, but Not for People

The holiday rush has always been prime time for hiring temporary and seasonal workers and millions of people earn extra cash working over the holidays. But that may be on the way out. Robotics companies are reporting a “holiday hiring boom” of robots at companies like XPO Logistics. Separately, Amazon’s holiday hiring has fallen over the last three years as humans play an ever-smaller role in their growing operation.

Read More

Robots Should Not Be on Sidewalks

That was the discovery of one wheelchair user at the University of Pittsburgh. Experimental food delivery robots have been pulled from campus after the graduate student reported she was trapped in traffic by the robot that was occupying the curb cut designated for wheelchair use. The robot refused to move. This student wasn’t the only one – other wheelchair users have reported that they couldn’t get around robots on sidewalks as well.

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Number of the Week: 84 Percent

That’s the percentage of workers who are getting additional education through their workplace, motivated by their concerns about the future of work. According to the Bright Horizons survey, “the automation of jobs is driving employees to have ‘unprecedented interest’ in tuition reimbursement and other educational benefits.”

Read More

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

October 25, 2019

News Roundup: $1 Million Tacos

What’s Missing from Future of Work Conferences? The Workers

There are plenty of seats for billionaire investors, millionaire executives, consultants, and tech gurus at these industry summits. But few spots are given to the people whose jobs are directly impacted at automation. By excluding workers, these panels offer very little discussion about how technology can improve the millions of American workers feeling the effects. This leads to conversations that “center on technology rather than the people that will be affected by it.” For real solutions to be implemented, this is something that needs to change.

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Automation Gets New Spotlight in 2020 Debate

Automation and its impact on American jobs has made an undeniable impact on the Democratic presidential primary. This was especially clear in the most recent televised debate. We are also seeing different approaches to automation in the policy plans released by the 2020 candidates. Some of the ideas proposed include a federal jobs guarantee, universal basic income, and increasing worker power relative to corporations.

This is a critical issue facing workers in today’s economy and it’s good to see automation getting the attention it deserves.

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New Report: Grocery Profits Actually Hurt by Automation

A new study of more than 140 million scan-and-go transactions across 13 major retailers found that the technology actually increased product loss. For example, if a store did 10 percent of their sales through scan-and-go, product loss could go up an additional 1 percent. This comes at a time when retailers are already losing nearly $50 billion a year from theft and other factors.

This is one more reason for grocery chains to think twice about pouring all their money into technology that does very little to actually help customers, workers, or their bottom line.

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Number of the Week: $1 Million

That’s how much Target is being sued for by a so-called ‘taco seasoning bandit.’ A 31-year-old Texas woman has been accused of scanning two packets of taco seasoning mix at a Target self-checkout instead of the codes on a $152.99 air purifier, $89.99 duvet, $189.99 vacuum cleaner, and more than a dozen other home goods.

On a second Target trip, a woman was seen on security footage using a different 49-cent spice packet to buy 19 products for $20.88. The woman charged has maintained that she is innocent and filed a $1 million federal lawsuit against Target to prove it. This spicy situation might have retailers thinking twice self-checkout and focusing more on investments in customer service and staffing.

Read More

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

October 24, 2019

15 union-made candies for Halloween

As the ghosts and ghouls come out this Halloween, keep your eyes peeled for some of our favorite union-made treats. UFCW members as well as our brothers and sisters of the BCTGM union have been hard at work making sure there’s plenty of sweets for all those trick-or-treaters.

1.) Hershey’s Nuggets / Kisses

Hershey candy

2.) Kit Kat

3.) Butterfinger*

4.) Baby Ruth*

5.) Smarties

6.) Jawbreakers


7.) Sour Patch Kids

8.) Tootsie Rolls

9.) York Peppermint Patties

10.) Jolly Ranchers

11.) Bit-O-Honey

12.) Mary Jane Peanut Butter Chews

13.) Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares

14.) Jelly Belly Candy Corn

15.) Red Vines

*some made in Mexico. Check packaging for country of origin.

October 18, 2019

News Roundup: Retail Thinking Twice on Scan-And-Go

New Report: Theft is Major Risk for Scan-And-Go Retailers

A study of more than 140 million scan-and-go transactions across 13 major retailers, found that scan-and-go technology actually hurts businesses. If a store did 10 percent of their sales through scan-and-go, product loss could go up an additional 1 percent. The risk increases based on the size of a shopper’s cart.

Shoppers with 50 items in their cart had a 60 percent chance of having at least one un-scanned item, while shoppers with 100 items had an 86 percent chance of error.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers already lose around 1.4 percent of their product stock each year through theft, employee error and other factors, totaling more than $50 billion.

Since the grocery industry already navigates thin margins, an additional loss of up to 1 percent could be a significant blow. One more reason for retailers to think twice before automating the cashiers who help reduce theft and strengthen customer service.

Read More

Automation is the “invisible” apocalypse

Previous visions of a robot takeover show people replaced en masse, but a new study from the Netherlands of 5 million workers shows that the damage is happening in smaller increments – but still impacting huge numbers.

The authors find that automation drives workers away from their jobs, decreases the amount of days of work and a loss of around a tenth of their income. The problem with this type of disaster is that it reduces the impetus for policymakers to seriously plan for our new automation-impacted future.

Read More

Automation Makes the Racial Wealth Gap Worse

As American jobs automate, the changes will impact people of color most. Already impacted by a major wealth gap, African Americans could potentially be set even further back by trends to automation that leave them without access to job centers or the skills they need for new jobs.

By 2030, the employment outlook for African American men is expected to worsen dramatically and that’s a population with twice the unemployment as white Americans.

Read More

Number of the Week: 200,000

That’s the number of bankers that will lose their jobs due to robots in the next ten years. And according to the report by Wells Fargo, it’s not just your neighborhood teller. It’s high-end traders, back office staffers and corporate rising stars that will all feel the axe.

Read More

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.