• Background Image

    UFCW Blog

August 10, 2018

Member Spotlight: Geno Lis talks shop on grilling

Geno Lis is a UFCW Local 1776 member who works at Giant Eagle near Pittsburgh, PA in the bakery. Like many talented UFCW members, his passion for food doesn’t stop when he clocks out. Geno’s previous job in the restaurant industry gave him experience around the kitchen, and he carries those skills with him today.

Geno Lis's smoked watermelon, ribs, and bacon wrapped chicken thighs

Geno Lis’s smoked watermelon, ribs, and bacon wrapped chicken thighs

One thing he is particularly fond of is grilling and smoking. “I like grilling because it puts me in charge of the meal instead of having somebody else in charge,” says Geno. “I like to cook steaks and burgers. I like those big, thick steaks, like inch thick steaks. T-bones.”

“One thing I like to do is Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which is like an Italian rub. You take a little olive oil and lots of oregano, rosemary, garlic, and make it like a paste on top.”

“Another good seasoning is a coffee rub. I use I would say about 1/3 coffee, 1/3 Montreal steak seasoning, and 1/3 brown sugar.”

“I do a lot of cooking for people who are pretty conservative, so I like trying to open up their palette and get them to try different things. I am thinking next I might try smoked porkchops with orange marmalade and horseradish sauce.”

Geno says whenever he comes up with new recipes, he likes to share what worked and what didn’t with others. “A lot of people will ask me ‘how can you come up with these recipes?’ I worked in the restaurant business for 30 years. If I like something, I’ll try it out first and if it works I’ll pass it along.” Recently he tried smoking a watermelon. After putting the watermelon in the smoker for about ten minutes, he topped it with feta and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

Charcoal or propane?

“I have used charcoal, and I’ve gone as far as cave man style and used wood. I only use wood for my smoker now. Mostly I use propane because of the Ease of use. Charcoal adds a lot more flavor but is also temperamental and you have have to keep your eye on it more often.”

What is your ideal fat ratio for burgers?

“75-80%. 90% is better for you, but tends to come out really dry. If you want to be healthy, it’s better to buy ground turkey or ground chicken.”

What have you grilled so far this summer that you’re most excited about?

“There is a local smokehouse that I buy meat from at least once a year called Herb Britter’s where I got jalapeno hot dogs. They have the best smoked chops. Homemade hot dogs. It’s really good.”

Do you have any food you like to serve with what you’ve grilled?

“One thing I like to do, whatever the protein, is I like to have a starch and a side. Baby asparagus coated real lightly with olive oil and just sprinkle a little salt and pepper. You can also grill portabello mushroom caps. With those you can put the same seasonings you’d use on your steak.”



August 8, 2018

Huge Victory for Missouri’s Hard-Working Families

Voters Reject Work-For-Less Prop A, Support the Role of Unions to Improve the Lives of Workers and Their Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), issued the following statement regarding the defeat of Proposition A, also known as “Right-to-Work,” in Missouri:

“This is a historic defeat for those corporate and political elites who believe workers should earn poverty wages and struggle with no benefits, and a major victory for every hard-working Missourian who believes that their right to affordable health care, better wages, and retirement security must be protected.

“Through their vote, Missourians have made their voices loud and clear by taking a stand for their right to negotiate together for a better life.

“It is time for those in political power to stop proposing legislation that needlessly hurts workers, their families, and destroys good jobs. It is time to put hard-working families first.”


When union density is high, workers are empowered to earn better wages, solve problems, and improve their workplaces. Additional research shows:

  • Economic Policy Institute: “Union decline has exacerbated wage inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of nonunion workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefitting from unionization.”
  • Nine of the 10 states with the highest poverty in this country are Work-for-Less states.
  • The median household income is $8,700 lower in Work-for-Less states.
  • In Work-for-Less states, CEOs make 361 times more than the average worker.


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.

August 7, 2018

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

August 7th is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day—the day when black women’s pay finally catches up to what Caucasian, non-Hispanic men were paid last year.

While black women make substantial contributions to the U.S. economy, they face considerable disparities in the labor market. On average, black women are paid less than Caucasian, non-Hispanic men, and are over-represented in jobs with little job security, few benefits, and limited opportunity for advancement. These poorer quality jobs, combined with restricted access to unions in the states in which black workers are concentrated, hinder access to economic security and overall well-being.

Leveling the playing field

According to a study by The Economic Policy Institute, union membership is one of the key factors that can help determine if black women are paid fairly for their work:

“Black women have traditionally faced a double pay gap—a gender pay gap and a racial wage gap. EPI research has shown that black women are paid only 65 cents of the dollar that their white male counterparts are paid. However, unions help reduce these pay gaps. Working black women in unions are paid 94.9 percent of what their black male counterparts make, while nonunion black women are paid just 91 percent of their counterparts.”

What UFCW members have to say about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Shanitla Price

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Local 1625 member

How do you feel knowing that it takes just so long for a woman of color to reach their male counterparts wages?

“It seem unfair and it makes me upset. If a woman has the same education and ability as a white male, they should be paid equally.”

Dorothy Starnes

Pilgrims Pride chicken plant, South Carolina
Voted to be representation by UFCW Local 1996 in April 2018 and is in the process of ratifying a first contract

“I want better pay and respect. I do not think it is fair that folks doing the same job get paid differently because of the color of their skin, their gender or both. Having equal pay is important to me , my family and my community because the cost of living keeps going up. In March, one of the plant managers called us roaches as if we were not human beings. I voted for union representation in April 2018 because I demand respect and to be treated equally. “

Yvonne Yearwood

Century 21 Department Store, Morristown, NY
A shop steward and member of UFCW Local 888

“The union has been extremely helpful as I have a contract and am treated better than those who do not have a union. As a black West Indian woman I have seen first had how gender pay inequity can impact not just your wallet but you morale as a worker. Finding out that a co-worker who was a white male was getting paid $2 more than I was for the same work was disheartening. Having a contract gives me a voice to fight against gender pay inequity. I am a proud member and shop steward of UFCW Local 888!”

Shantell Williams

Kroger, Indianapolis, IN
UFCW Local 700 member

“Thanks to UFCW and my union contract I don’t have to worry about not being my pay being equal to others. I work just as hard as everyone around me and get treated as such!”

– Shantell Williams, UFCW Local 700
Kroger, Indianapolis

June Flowers

MedMen, Los Angeles, CA
UFCW Local 700 member

“Unfair pay is wage theft as far as I am concerned. Its deplorable that it remains an accepted practice in any company today. As a black woman raising a black daughter AND a strong Union member, I fight for equal pay for women in my work place. Having a union contract means there’s no speculation of what a male counterpart makes. Same position and duties, same pay!”

Ann Klajda

Fry’s 69
UFCW Local 99 member

“There is disparity for all women but, if it wasn’t for a union it would be much worse. We have equal pay in our union shop. It is much worse for minority women that do not have union contracts. I have been a shop steward for many years and advocate for all women and very active in the community and local politics and my union.”

July 30, 2018

August blockbuster guide and discounts

Your UFCW membership gives you access to discount movies tickets and movie ticket packages. Don’t know what’s coming up this summer? We’ve got you covered. Check out the summer release schedule below and be a movie night hero with these discounted ticket packages.

Save up to 24% off at your choice of three national movie theater chains:
  • AMC Theaters — Save 22% on AMC® Green eTicket*. Order Online, Print & Redeem.
  • Regal Cinemas — Save 24% on Premiere Print-At-Home eTickets (Any Movie – Anytime) with No Expiration Date.
  • Cinemark Theaters — Save 10% on Cinemark’s Platinum e-Supersaver eTicket with No Expiration Date. Order Online, Print and Redeem.



The Darkest Minds

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford, Harris Dickinson

Directed By: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Christopher Robin

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jim Cummings, Chris O’Dowd, Hayley Atwell

Directed By: Marc Forster


Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee (XXII) , Michelle La

Directed By: Aneesh Chaganty

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson

Directed By: Susanna Fogel


Dog Days

Starring: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria

Directed By: Ken Marino

The Meg

Starring: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li

Directed By: Jon Turteltaub


Crazy Rich Asians

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Harry Shum Jr.

Directed By: Jon M. Chu


Mile 22

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey

Directed By: Peter Berg

Captive State

Starring: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors, Vera Farmiga

Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

Three Seconds

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Common

Directed By: Andrea Di Stefano



Starring: Becky G, Alex Neustaedter, Patricia De Leon, Dorian Kingi

Directed By: Oliver Daly

The Happytime Murders

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Elizabeth Banks

Directed By: Brian Henson


Starring: Alice Eve, Keanu Reeves, Emily Alyn Lind, John Ortiz

Directed By: Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Slender Man

Starring: Joey King, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Javier Botet

Directed By: Sylvain White



Starring: James Franco, Zoë Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Dennis Quaid

Directed By: Jonathan Baker (XVII) , Josh Baker (XVI)

July 26, 2018

One UFCW Local 324 member sent his daughter to college for free — now you can too!

Yes, you really can get your degree for free.

Did you know UFCW members and their family members can earn an associate degree online from a public, accredited community college – with no out-of-pocket costs? Though it sounds too good to be true, the process is simple and can save thousands of dollars.

Already have another school in mind? There’s a special program designed for students who intend to transfer later that can help you satisfy the required general education electives and greatly reduce the overall cost of getting the degree of your dreams.


Learn more about the UFCW Free College program

Sia Jaber is the daughter of a UFCW member who has been working through the program. Her story was originally published in the UFCW Local 324 newsletter:

When Sia Jaber’s father Shawn, a UFCW member for seven years, first told her about the UFCW’s newest benefit they shared a common reaction. “Free college, yeah right!”

Sia had just landed a new job at a dental facility where she managed an office of five people. Although happy with her job, she knew that in today’s economy, security depended on more than what can sustain you for the moment. She wanted to go back to school for the formal degree that would not only fine tune the skills she employs daily in her current job, but would help give her job security well into the future.

But like most people who come across an offer to get something of great value at no cost, Sia and her parents thought there had to be a catch. And so, her father took on the role of a highly determined private investigator and set out to prove that what sounds too good to be true usually is.

He went on the college free website: www.ufcwfreecollege.org. He discovered that the program was formally offered through Gateway Community College, a non-profit regionally accredited school based in Ohio. Currently, the program offers a comprehensive on-line curriculum that culminates in an Associate’s degree in a variety of courses:

• Business Management
• Labor Studies
• Entrepreneurship
• Human Resources
• Healthcare Management
• Marketing
• Finance
• General Management
• Accounting
• Patient Home Navigator Certificate
• Associate of Arts Degree
• Criminal Justice Degree
• Paralegal Degree
• Early Childhood Education Degree

Two degrees, the Associate of Arts Degree and the Associates of Individualized Study, are designed specifically for students who intend to transfer to a four-year university. The course of study includes general education electives that will be required for a B.A. or B. S. The goal is for students to be able to enter a four-year university with virtually, if not all, of their general education electives satisfied.

Shawn called the number listed on the informational material to confirm and reconfirm that there is no cost to the student. “You know when you get those phone calls and the voice on the other end says ‘Congratulations you have been chosen to receive a free Hawaii vacation.” Well it takes a little while before you find out how much your free vacation is going to cost you and it’s not cheap. Even the books that are required for each course are provided in pdf form at no cost to the student.

Sia is pursuing a business management degree and her first course began May 12. She said the whole process so far has been easier than anything she could have hoped for. The day she began the application process she received an email from the college detailing every step she needed to take to become a student. One important part was the requirement that she apply for FAFSA, which is a federal student aid program. If she were to qualify for any such aid, that money is channeled to the school. But students who don’t qualify are not penalized in any way. “It’s just a formality and they take care of the process once you apply.”

She discovered that one of the most common fears students have — the lack of in-person assistance from a professor—was not something to fear at all. “I had a big question about one of the assignments so I highlighted the material in the reading assignment and emailed it to my professor,” Sia explained. To her surprise she received a detailed explanation from her professor within six hours.

“I was actually expecting to be able to relax that night because I couldn’t proceed without an answer,” she said as she laughed.

The process for completing her online coursework has been ideal for someone working fulltime like herself. She mastered both her midterm and her final in a Power Point presentation that was also part of her final grade. She chose to cover the 2003/04 Strike/Lockout. Both her mother and father were union members who actively participated in the historic event and she used them as sources.

As she completed the project she took some extra time to research some of what her parents told her happened during the strike/lockout. She recalled one of them questioned why she was taking all that time to verify the accuracy of what they told her. Sia’s answer revealed the kind of healthy skepticism that professors strive to instill in their students. “It’s not that I don’t believe you,” she said matter-of-factly, “but let’s face it, you also told me nothing in life was ever free. We both know that wasn’t exactly true, don’t we?”

July 20, 2018

Indianapolis Kroger store celebrates 100% UFCW membership

UFCW Local 700 members who work at the Kroger J1 store in Indianapolis celebrated their wall-to-wall union store status when the last nonmember at the store joined our union family in June.

The approximately 60 hard-working men and women who work at Kroger J1 know there is strength in numbers and are proud of the fact that everyone who works at the store is a member of UFCW Local 700. Union Representative Mary Parker noted that membership is a result of building power and relationships, and members in the store respect and rely on one another. Stewards play an integral role in ensuring that the company plays by the rules we negotiated, and members know one another and welcome new workers into our union family.

“There is power in numbers,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “A store with 100 percent membership is the foundation for building a better life for our members. This is how we negotiate strong contracts – solidarity every day in the workplace.”

Well done, brothers and sisters! Keep up the good work!


July 20, 2018

UFCW Statement on the AG and Legal Workforce Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), issued the following statement regarding the AG and Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 6417. This bill creates a new H-2C visa program that will expand the definition of an agricultural guestworker to include meat, poultry, shellfish and other food processing jobs.

“The so-called AG and Legal Workforce Act will destroy American jobs and put the safety of our food supply at significant risk.

“The hard-working people who work in the meat and food processing sectors are highly trained professionals who serve as an extra layer of protection for consumers when it comes to food safety.

“These are vital roles that protect all American families regardless of where they live.

“Allowing untrained visa holders to take on these jobs with zero experience will cut wages and increase the odds of consumers eating contaminated meat.

“This is a bill that both Republicans and Democrats should strongly oppose.”


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 18, 2018

18 regional hot dog toppings for your union-made cook-out

When you fire up the grill, there’s a good chance your hot dog was made by a UFCW member. Oscar Meyer, Boars Head, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Nathan’s hot dogs are all made by hard working men and women in union-represented processing facilities across America. While the hot dog might be quintessentially American, what you choose to put on your dog can say a lot about where you live.

Here’s some of the most popular regional hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council:

1.) New York City

New Yorkers eat more hot dogs than any other group in the country. From downtown Manhattan to Coney Island, when you buy your hot dog in the Big Apple, it will come served with steamed onions and a pale, deli-style yellow mustard.

 2.) Chicago

The possible antithesis to New York dogs, Chicago dogs are layered with yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onion, pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato slices and topped with a dash of celery salt and served in a poppy seed bun.

3.) Atlanta and the South

Buying a hot dog at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, or elsewhere in Atlanta and the south, you’ll find your dog topped with coleslaw and perhaps some delicious Vidalia onions.

4.) Kansas City

Get the mints out – you’ll need them when you order up a hot dog in KC as it is served with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun.

5.) The Rockie Dog

Served at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies – is a foot-long dog with grilled peppers, kraut and onions.

6.) The Fenway Frank

Served at none other than Fenway Park – is the only dog to eat while watching the Red Sox. It’s boiled and grilled and served in a New England style bun with mustard and relish. New England dogs can also be found topped with Boston baked beans

7.) Sonoran Dog

This Southwestern favorite features a grilled, bacon-wrapped hot dog on a sturdy bun, pinto beans, grilled onions and green peppers, chopped fresh tomatoes, relish, tomatillo jalapeno salsa, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese.

8.) The Texas Dog

Chili, cheese and jalapenos make this the favored item at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

9.) Michigan Coney Island Dog (AKA Michigan Coney)

This favorite of Michiganders features a meaty chili sauce on top of a hot dog with mustard and onion.

10.) West Virginia Dog

This favorite features chili, mustard and coleslaw atop a wiener on a steamed bun.

11.) New Jersey Dog

A variety of hot dog styles can be found in New Jersey but the one most unique to the state is the Italian Dog. It’s a hot dog in thick pizza bread topped with onions, peppers and deep fried potatoes.

12.) Philadelphia Dog

A classic Philadelphia dog is one of the most interesting ones you’ll find. It features the brotherly love of an all-beef hot dog with a fish cake inside the bun as well. It is often topped with a sweet vinegary slaw and spicy mustard.

13.) Cleveland Polish Boy

Cleveland is home to two unique hot dog offerings. The Polish Boy is a kielbasa or hot dog served on a bun covered with a layer of french fries, a layer of sweet southern style barbecue sauce or hot sauce, and a layer of coleslaw. It is commonly found in carts around town. At Indians games and elsewhere in the city you can also top your hot dog with Stadium Mustard, a type of Brown mustard with similar flavor to a spicy Dijon mustard.

14.) Cincinnati Coney

The home of famous chili is also the home of some delicious chili dogs. These are topped with Cincinnati style chili and usually also feature a heaping mound of grated cheddar cheese on top.


15.) Washington, D.C.

The Nation’s Capital is where you’ll find the half-smoke: a half pork, half beef sausage that is like a hot dog but with more coarsely ground meat and a little extra spice. A classic half-smoke is topped with chili, mustard and onions. You can find them in hot dog joints around the city as well as at Nationals Park.


16.) California

There are many different hot dog varieties sold throughout the state of California, but the one most unique to the state is a bacon wrapped dog with grilled onions and peppers. These are favorites from carts around Los Angeles and San Francisco.


17.) Seattle

The Seattle dog offers a topping twist not found in many places around the country…cream cheese. The hot dogs are split in half and grilled before being put in a toasted bun and are also topped with grilled onions. Sriracha sauce and jalapeños are popular additions as well.


18) Alaska


True to its roots in the far north, the Alaska dog is commonly called a Reindeer hot dog or sausage, but it isn’t actually made from reindeer meat. Instead the meat is typically caribou. The hot dog is served in a steamed bun with grilled onions that are sometimes sautéed in coca-cola.


July 13, 2018

UFCW members are improving health care jobs

UFCW members in New Jersey, Washington, and Minnesota are celebrating several recent hard-won achievements that are making jobs for health care professionals better one workplace at a time. Having a union contract at work means they have a say in their benefits and working conditions, which not only is better everyone at work, but over time the joint efforts of UFCW members all across the country help raise the standards for everyone in their industries. Well done, UFCW Local 21, 152, and 1189 members!

New Jersey Health Care Workers Ratify First Contract

Members of UFCW Local 152 who work as certified nursing assistants, housekeepers and dietary assistants at Barclays Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, recently ratified their first union contract. This ratification marks the end of a long journey for the workers, who voted to join UFCW Local 152 in April of 2016 and stood together in the face of scheduling conflicts and other hurdles during the negotiation process.

The five-year agreement introduces many new perks for these workers. Perhaps most importantly, these members are no longer “at-will employees” and can only be disciplined or discharged for just cause. Next, seniority (length of service) now matters for times when these members bid on jobs, apply for overtime shift availability or accrue vacation time. The new contract also includes a $15,000 life insurance policy, guaranteed wage increases for the life of the contract, free uniforms (shirts and pants), call-in pay and a modified certified nursing assistant incentive bonus.

Better Contracts for Washington Health Care Workers

On July 3, the last in a series of votes concluded the ratification of new contracts for members of UFCW Local 21 who work for MultiCare Health System in Washington.

Nearly 2,000 members of UFCW Local 21 are covered by these contracts, including professional, technical, service, engineering and clerical workers, as well as licensed practical nurses. By taking action together and with community support, these members won strong contracts that include wage increases, improved language for safer staffing, and more predictable scheduling.

Improving Health Care Jobs in Minnesota

Members of UFCW Local 1189 who work at two Essentia Health clinics and two pharmacies in Minnesota ratified a new contract on June 27 by an overwhelming margin. The clinics are located in Duluth and Proctor and the pharmacies are located in Two Harbors and Silver Bay. Essentia Health is an integrated health care system with facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Idaho.

The three-year contract includes significant wage increases, orientation with new union members, payroll deductions for the UFCW Active Ballot Club, and other benefits.

July 12, 2018

UFCW Statement on Amazon Prime Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), issued the following statement regarding Amazon’s 2018 Prime Day.

“Hard-working families don’t need more deals from Amazon – they need reassurances that this company isn’t going to destroy more American jobs.

“We find it alarming that Amazon’s entire business model is attempting to replace millions of jobs with technology.

“Our society needs to talk less about Amazon’s Prime Day sales and more about the serious economic danger Amazon poses to every community in America.”


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.