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UFCW Local 400 Kroger Members Working at Kroger Ratify A New Contract

kroger for blogMembers of UFCW Local 400 voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new, four-year contract with Kroger in the Richmond and Tidewater areas of Virginia. The contract preserves their health and retirement security and increases their wages. The collective bargaining agreement is retroactive to August 3, 2014. It expires on August 4, 2018, and covers 3,500 workers.

The bargaining was difficult and lengthy, but after a sustained campaign of member activism, both on a regional and national level, UFCW Local 400 members were able to win a strong contract. Notably, this contract implements raises based on seniority, abolishing the old system that left raises up to the discretion of store managers. It also includes health care “Maintenance of Benefits,” meaning that Kroger will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.

“It is the activism of our members, and the solidarity shown throughout the country, that enabled us to achieve these gains,” Federici said. “Their dedication, strength, and willingness to turn up the heat on Kroger at the store level when it was necessary, is the reason why we have this solid contract today—a contract that they not only deserve, but rightfully earned.”

Locally, Kroger members and their allies in the community leafleted stores, gathering thousands of shoppers’ pledges to stand with them through contract negotiations. They also rallied their coworkers at Kroger stores nationwide to wear buttons reading, “Solidarity with Virginia Kroger Workers,” on their aprons and shirts while at work to not only show management they were standing together in the fight for a fair contract, but also showing support for workers at the new Kroger Marketplace stores in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

The fight for fairness and respect at the Marketplace stores is just beginning. Kroger’s new Marketplace stores sell not just groceries but clothing and jewelry. In these new stores, Kroger is not giving employees the opportunity to have a voice at work free from intimidation and coercion. Instead, they are promising higher wages in exchange for a signature on a piece of paper saying they won’t join the union. UFCW Local 400 leadership, Kroger members, and community activists hand delivered a letter the Richmond Marketplace store manager in May demanding an end to these anti-worker tactics.

“It was a long challenging ride to reach this good contract we ratified today,” said Peggy Billie, a Bargaining Committee member who works at Kroger #500 in Richmond. “And we aren’t done. We are going to keep the pressure up on Kroger until our fellow workers at the Marketplace stores have the same rights and protections on the job as we do in other stores in the region and across the country.”

“From what we started with, when the company proposed taking away part-time and spousal health care, we’ve come a long way and on top of that we got some extra money in our pockets,” said Joseph Vaughn, a Bargaining Committee Member who works at Kroger #537 in Virginia Beach. “We have demonstrated that by standing together we are strong!”

“It took us working past the original expiration date, but I’m proud of my coworkers, fellow bargaining committee members, and the leadership of our union, we fought hard and are proud of the agreement we have reached,” said Michael Holcomb, a committee member from Kroger #511 in Richmond.

“Management wanted to take everything away from us,” said Laverne Wrenn, a member of the Bargaining Advisory Committee who works at Kroger #538. “But we showed the company we are strong. We told them we are ready to fight. And that is what made the difference.”

“This contract will enable Kroger to maintain their dominance as the number one grocery retailer, while doing right by the workers whose productivity and customer service have lifted them to the top,” Federici said. “We look forward to implementing it and helping these chains expand their market share.”

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: UFCW Steward Idalid Guerrero

It’s now the third week of Hispanic Heritage Month, and we’re celebrating by showcasing the story of a UFCW steward named Idalid Guerrero. Read her story about making a difference in one’s union and community, below:

Idalid GuerreroUFCW stewards play a special role in their plants. They are leaders who protect their co-workers and ensure that our plants and workplaces are safe, everyone is treated with respect, and our jobs stay good jobs. Stewards are also not just leaders in our plants, though. Stewards also play important roles in our communities.

Many stewards take their leadership skills and apply them to fight for people and causes that extend outside the plants. As part of the UFCW union, stewards know workers have strength in numbers and a voice on the job. Because stewards and union workers are united and have a strong voice, they can take our numbers and voices beyond the plants to help fight for those who do not have one.

As a UFCW steward, you are part of a proud tradition of fighting for issues important to workers and working families. From fighting to raise the minimum wage, to combating right-to-work legislation, to pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, stewards use their union voices to fight for all working people.

“As stewards, we know that we are there to be leaders and to help solve problems for our co-workers in our plants. But there are also problems for those who work outside of our plants. They need help too,” said Idalid Guerrero, steward at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Lufkin Texas, and UFCW Local 540 member. “Getting involved in campaigns and actions outside of the plant gives us a chance to help other workers who might be afraid to speak up for change or might not have a voice on the job. With the support of our union, we can be their voice and bring attention to important issues for all workers.”

Last year, Guerrero joined other UFCW Pilgrim’s Pride workers from across the country in a national lobby day in Washington, D.C. Guerrero and her co-workers met with U.S. representatives and senators and asked them to raise the standards for workers in the poultry industry. “It was a great opportunity to meet other Pilgrim’s Pride workers and share our stories about the nature of our jobs, and how the industry impacts our families, and communities. It was an opportunity for us to come together as union workers and let our political leaders know we have a voice. We are fighting not just for Pilgrim’s Pride workers, but for poultry workers all across America,” Guerrero continued.

Guerrero also participated in a protest held outside of the U.S. Capitol in response to House Republican leaders failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. She and other UFCW stewards and activists joined thousands of people from across the country to march in Washington, D.C. She was just one of the many arrested in an action of civil disobedience to draw attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. “I went to Washington as both a worker and a mother. We deserve reform that is humane and just and keeps families together. I was arrested in solidarity with all immigrants who are calling on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

UFCW stewards are leaders who stand together to protect workers in their plants and also across the country. To become involved in issues important to workers contact your local union representative or your legislative & political representative (LPR).

“Getting involved in campaigns and actions outside of the plant gives us a chance to help other workers who might be afraid to speak up for change or might not have a voice on the job. With the support of our union, we can be their voice and bring attention to important issues for all workers.”–Idalid Guerrero, UFCW Local 540 member and Pilgrim’s Pride plant steward, Lufkin Texas

Call Walmart Now and Tell the Company Women Shouldn’t Be Fired Just for Being Pregnant

This article was originally posted by Jobs with Justice.

It’s been more than six months since Walmart, which was under pressure from associates and women’s organizations, agreed to change its pregnancy policy to provide basic accommodations for employees experiencing complications with their pregnancies. But a Walmart store in Chicago reveals the company has fallen far short of truly implementing its policy to support pregnant workers.

In April, store associate Thelma Moore was injured by falling TV boxes while shopping at the Chatham Walmart on her day off. Then two months pregnant, her doctors recommended she stay home for two weeks, then made a list of accommodations she needed in order to return to work, including not lifting boxes over 25 pounds and being able to take water breaks every two hours. Thelma filled out the necessary paperwork but was told no positions were available that could accommodate her. Walmart then fired her for missing too many days.

Unfortunately, Thelma’s case is not an isolated one. In February, her co-worker Bene’t Holmes suffered a miscarriage on Walmart property when she was four months pregnant after being denied her request to stop stocking chemicals and lifting heavy boxes.

Workers’ at Thelma’s store and the community in Chicago have been organizing to support women like Thelma and Bene’t – so far they have collected petition signatures, sent a delegation to the manager and held a prayer vigil.

Now, we need your help to turn up the heat. Call 1-800-WALMART (925-6278) today to demand the Chatham store in Chicago reinstate Thelma and comply with Walmart’s pregnancy accommodation policy.

Here’s why your call matters. If the Walmart customer service line receives 200 complaints about the Chatham store, it will trigger an investigation by the home office.
Thelma Moore was fired from her store after requesting accommodations for her pregnancy.

Here’s a helpful script for your call:

Hello, I’m calling to register a serious complaint about your Chatham store in Chicago (store #5781). I have learned that Thelma Moore, an associate at the store, was injured by falling boxes while shopping in her store on her day off. Her doctors recommended several accommodations to her job to protect the health of her pregnancy, but instead of accommodating her needs, the company fired her. Expecting mothers should not lose their jobs for making reasonable requests recommended by their doctor. I demand you reinstate Thelma Moore and follow the company’s new pregnancy policy.

As you make your call, members of Respect the Bump and Chicago Jobs With Justice will be demonstrating at Thelma’s store. Follow along with the protest with the hashtag #WalmartMoms. You can also let us know how your call went by commenting below!

While Thelma fights to get her job back, she and other members of Respect the Bump, an organization of pregnant women and new moms at Walmart, continue to hear from women who are being denied accommodations. It’s clear that Walmart needs to take action to ensure that their policy is fully implemented and enforced at every store, and go further to extend basic accommodations to all pregnant women who have a medical need for them, whether they have complications or a normal pregnancy.

As the largest private employer of women in the country, Walmart should set the standard for how women workers are treated throughout the industry and our economy. The stories of women like Thelma and Bene’t highlight the need for Congress to take action – including passing the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act – as well as the significance of the upcoming oral arguments in the pregnancy discrimination Supreme Court case Young v. United Parcel Service, which is scheduled to start December 3.