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    UFCW Blog

April 5, 2017

Filing taxes? Don’t forget to deduct your UFCW membership

Tax tips for UFCW Members

The following article is presented for informational purposes only. If you have tax questions, please consult with a qualified tax professional.


It’s that time of year again. If you are one of the roughly one-third of Americans who wait until the last two weeks to file your taxes, don’t let the impending deadline cause you to rush and miss out on cash back you are owed.

Should You Itemize? Maybe.

In many cases, it is fine to go with the standard deduction, but set aside some time to make sure you aren’t missing out. Go through all of your possible deductions, especially if you are a homeowner with a mortgage or had substantial medical or school-related expenses the previous year. You can also deduct state and local taxes, which can make a big difference, especially if you live in an area with higher than average income tax rates.

UFCW Membership is Tax Deductible

Your membership contributions to the UFCW are tax deductible. The IRS categorizes “union dues” and “initiation fees” under miscellaneous itemized deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), line 21.

What’s Nondeductible?

Be careful not to confuse your pension contributions with your membership, because pension contributions are not tax deductible. Also, if you have chosen to be an Active Ballot Club (ABC) member, those donations are separate from your membership and go to a special fund for the UFCW’s political advocacy and to passing pro-worker legislation. Not all UFCW members choose to donate to ABC. Those kinds of political activities are not considered tax deductible by the IRS, unlike other non-political donations to charities the UFCW supports like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Faces of Our Children.

The 2% Rule

You can only deduct the amount of combined miscellaneous expenses that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income  (AGI). That means if you want to deduct your dues, you probably need to take a look at any other miscellaneous expenses you might have. A good first place to look is if you had any work-related expenses in 2016 that were not reimbursed by your employer.

Miscellaneous expenses that might count towards the 2% rule include:

  • Job search expenses, even if you didn’t necessarily get the job.
  • Work Clothes and Uniforms.
    You can deduct the cost and upkeep of work clothes if the following two requirements are met:

    • You must wear them as a condition of your employment.
    • The clothes aren’t suitable for everyday wear.
  • Protective clothing.
    You can deduct the cost of protective clothing required in your work, such as safety shoes or boots, safety glasses, hard hats, and work gloves.
  • Repayment of Income Aid Payment
    An “income aid payment” is one that is received under an employer’s plan to aid employees who lose their jobs because of lack of work. If you repay a lump-sum income aid payment that you received and included in income in an earlier year, you can deduct the repayment.
  • Tools Used in Your Work
    Generally, you can deduct amounts you spend for tools used in your work if the tools wear out and are thrown away within 1 year from the date of purchase. You can depreciate the cost of tools that have a useful life substantially beyond the tax year. For more information about depreciation, see IRS Publication 946.
  • Tax Preparation Fees that you paid during 2016, even it they were for an earlier tax year.

You can find a full list of eligible miscellaneous itemized deductions in IRS Publication 529 on the IRS website.

Example:

For example, if your adjusted gross income in 2016 was $40,000 and your combined miscellaneous expenses totaled $1,300, you can deduct $500 of that, because the other $800 equals 2% of $40,000.

Take Full Advantage of Credits and Tax Breaks

Did you know that only about 20% of those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit actual claim it? That’s a big deal given that it can be worth up to $6,242 for those who qualify.  Check out this list from CNBC of the ten most popular tax credits to see if there’s one you may qualify for.

And don’t forget if you have already filed your taxes and forgot to take deductions or credits you should have, you can still file an amendment as long as it’s within  the past three years.

March 31, 2017

National Nutrition Month: UFCW Member and Published Book Author

Looking for ways to eat healthy the rest of the year? Registered Dietitian and UFCW Local 400 member Mary Lynn Farivari shares her tips for preparing nutritious, flavorful meals in her cookbook, Healthy Palate. 

Farivari published the cookbook in 2010 after her patients urged her to share her healthy and delicious recipes with others who would benefits from them. She works at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center where she provides individual nutrition counseling and teaches classes for those who want to lose weight, manage their diabetes, or lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. She was recognized at Kaiser Permanente with a Thrive Award for sharing her passion for nutrition.

You can order Farivari’s book online and learn for yourself how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet in a way that is both delicious and nutritious.

 

March 31, 2017

Women’s History Month: UFCW Women Can and Should Run for Office

“The best way to get policies that benefit working people and our communities is to run for office and serve.”

-Brigid Kelly, UFCW Local 700 representative and Ohio state representative

Brigid Kelly of UFCW Local 75 with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Our hard-working union family is home to many strong women who are active in their communities and leaders on the job.

We’re proud to highlight Brigid Kelly during Women’s History Month. Formerly a staff member at UFCW Local 75 and a city council member, Brigid is now a UFCW Local 700 representative as well as a Ohio state representative. Using the experience she’s gained from both her professional and personal life, Brigid strives to help improve the lives of everyday Ohioans.

For over a decade, Brigid has been fighting for members of the UFCW, their families, and their communities. She works every day for issues like good wages, affordable health care benefits, and safe places to work.

Brigid’s current role as state representative is focused on ensuring that our children are receiving the best education by making investments in local schools, holding corporations accountable for taxpayer investments, and pursuing policies important to families, such as paid sick and family leave.

“We need more union members and more women weighing in on important policies that impact our communities every day,” said Brigid.

Brigid is one of several women from the UFCW who have gone on to serve in public office and work directly on legislation that will provide a better life for hard-working men and women. Brigid believes that “the best way to get policies that benefit working people and our communities is to run for office and serve.”

 

March 28, 2017

A UFCW Makeup Artist Shows You How to Conceal and Even Out Skin Tone

Watch United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) makeup artist Jasmin Amely, show you how to conceal uneven skin without too much foundation. Jasmin works at Macy’s and is a member of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1-S.

March 24, 2017

National Nutrition Month: Eating Healthy on a Budget

We really love all the resources the USDA put together for this year’s National Nutrition Month and wanted to pass along a few of our favorite tips from their “Meeting Your MyPlate Goals on a Budget” guide (click here to download the PDF) on how to eat a balanced, healthy diet without breaking the bank.

1. Give brown rice a try as a way to incorporate more healthy grains.

At just 10 cents and 100 calories per serving, brown rice is a great choice for your wallet and your health.

Combine brown rice with vegetables for a healthy dinnerNew to whole grains? Buy the whole-grain version of the grains you already love. You can find whole grain cereal, rice, pasta, bread, crackers, tortillas, and more. To get your family used to the more wholesome taste, start by mixing them together — like half brown rice and half white rice.

Cooked whole grains like brown rice can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Make a big batch over the weekend or whenever you have the most time. Then use with your meals all week long. Just add a small amount of water to add moisture when reheating.

Whole grains that contain fiber can keep you full for longer — so you may not need to cook or serve as much to begin with!

2. Choose lean proteins like eggs or beans.

At just 15 cents per egg, eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals — all for about 70 calories. Studies suggest that healthy individuals can enjoy an egg a day without increasing blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein

3. Looking for potassium? Think potatoes.

At about 19 cents per serving, potatoes are the largest, most affordable source of potassium in the produce department. They have even more potassium than a banana!

Potatoes are affordable and high in potassiumMost Americans are not meeting the recommended amount of potassium per day — and that’s a big deal. Potassium can help lower blood pressure and may decrease chances of kidney stones and bone loss.

4. Substitute lower fat dairy for healthier recipes

Addicted to cream cheese? Ask if your grocery store carries Neufchâtel cheese, which has about 1/3 of the fat. Non-fat plain yogurt is also versatile and can be used in a wide range of recipes. Try substituting it for mayonnaise in egg salad or in this recipe for Quick and Easy Baked Potato Salad:

QUICK AND EASY BAKED POTATO SALAD

MATERIALS

Large bowl • Measuring cups • Measuring spoons • Microwave-safe dish with lid • Mixing spoon • Sharp knife

INGREDIENTS

1½ pounds red potatoes
1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
 cup minced red onion
½ cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
¼ cup snipped fresh chives
3 tablespoons real bacon bits or pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, optional

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Place whole potatoes (do not poke) into microwave-safe dish.

2. Cover dish. (If covering dish with plastic wrap, poke small hole in plastic).

3. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes depending on strength of microwave.

4. Use oven mitts or a towel to remove dish from microwave; carefully remove cover from dish due to steam build-up and let cool.

5. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl with remaining ingredients; stir well to mix.

CHEF’S NOTES • This salad may be served right away, but is best if refrigerated for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

March 17, 2017

A UFCW Member, a Refugee, an American Story

Only about 10.5% of Americans claim Irish ancestry, but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from celebrating the proud history of the immigrants who came before us.

Though our national love of St.Patrick’s Day and all things Irish might be hard for outsiders to understand, the day has really become a chance to celebrate the optimism and bravery of those who left their home countries on the gamble that they could have a better life here in the US. Their stories of hardship, hard work, and hope for the future continue to be a source of pride and inspiration and have enriched the fabric of the country.

That same American spirit can be found in the stories of today’s immigrants, though the nature of jobs in the US and how we think about work has changed dramatically since the days of our grandparents.

No one knows this better than UFCW members, many of whom work in service work or in food processing— work that is difficult to outsource overseas or replace with machines. A recent New York Times feature highlights nine different workers in the new and upcoming American workforce – including UFCW Local 75 member, packing worker, and refugee, Ruhatijuru Sebatutsi.

Ruhatijuru Sebatutsi, Columbus, Ohio Source: New York Times

A Congolese refugee, Sebatutsi fled war in Congo as a teenager, spending years in a Rwandan refugee camp before coming to Ohio in 2015. He lives with his wife and eight children in Columbus, Ohio. Every day, he travels with ten of his co-workers to a small town to work each day cutting meat at the SugarCreek Packing Company, which produces pork and poultry products.

He works seven days a week, but he makes time and half on Saturdays and double on Sundays. Of his union job, he says, “I am so lucky.”

Since Sebatutsi started last November, he has opted to work every day, which he said is the best part of the job. “There’s a lot of overtime, and you can make money.” Life here is far better than life in Gihembe. “The kids can ask you for something, you cannot provide,” he said. “But here you work, you take care of your problems, you do something for yourself.”

Like generations before him, Sebatutsi sees the long hours he puts in as a sacrifice he is willing to make in order to build a better future for his family.

You can read the rest of the profiles of working men and women in the New York Times feature, “The Jobs Americans Do.”

March 16, 2017

You Don’t Need Luck To Make These Shamrock Cupcakes

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, UFCW Local 23 member and expert cake decorator Carolyn shows you how to create easy shamrock cupcakes. All you need are some basic decorating tools, icing, and food coloring!

March 10, 2017

National Nutrition Month: Making the Most of Frozen Vegetables

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

Harvest At Their Peak

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

Worker with Broccoli

UFCW members processing broccoli

No Fuss, No Mess

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

Frozen multicolored peppers are ready to stir-fry

Pro-tip: Try Roasting Them

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


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

March 8, 2017

UFCW Statement on International Women’s Day

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.  

Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

March 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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