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September 19, 2018

UFCW Local 152 members gain significant wins in new contract

UFCW Local 152 members votingOne of the perks of being a union member is being able to take a more active role in the benefits and working conditions you have on the job. UFCW Local 152 members recently demonstrated how that can translate to a better life for everyone involved when they successfully negotiated with their employer for a number of significant improvements.

On Sept. 11, members of UFCW Local 152 who work at Eagleview Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, ratified a new contract that includes wage increases and new benefits.

The three-year contract, which was ratified by an overwhelming margin, introduces many new perks, including a wage increase for each year of the contract; shift differential rates for weekend, second, and third shift workers; and paid meal breaks if members need to work through their meal times for the needs of the business. Additionally, members will now have a lesser out-of-pocket cost for their health care benefits, including newly bargained legal services.

UFCW Local 152 members at Eagleview Healthcare and Rehabilitation are employed as certified nursing assistants, dietary aides, housekeeping and laundry aides, and maintenance workers.

September 7, 2018

Congratulations to Local 700 ConAgra Workers

Members of UFCW Local 700 who work at the ConAgra tablespreads plant in Indianapolis celebrated their wall-to-wall union status when the last five nonunion workers at the plant joined our union family this summer.

The nearly 300 workers at the plant, who produce Reddi-wip toppings and butter spreads like Blue Bonnet, Parkay, Fleischmann’s and Move Over Butter, know we are stronger when we stand together. Members of UFCW Local 700 at the plant talked to the workers about the value that comes with joining our union family and encouraged them to join in time to participate in the approval process of a new contract.

“We build power when everyone in a worksite joins together and stands together every day,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “This is how we make better lives for our members.”

August 28, 2018

Member Spotlight: Susan Beaver, Local 876

So many of the hard-working men and women of our union have spent their careers as UFCW members, and have become valued and irreplaceable fixtures of the workplaces they have helped make successful over the years. One such member is Susan Beaver of UFCW Local 876.

Susan Beaver has been a UFCW member for the past 33 years. In 1985, Susan began her career at Farmer Jack. This month, she celebrated a well-earned retirement from Kroger in RichlandMS. 

Please join us in wishing Susan a happy retirement, and thank you to all of our long-serving members who have helped keep our union family strong through the years!

UFCW Local 876 member Susan Beaver stands with Local 876 Membership Representative Elaine Hill (l) and Executive Board Member Aaron Squeo (r).

 

August 24, 2018

Member Spotlight: Chief Steward Rob Patterson follows his passion for BBQ to victory

Rob Patterson, a member of UFCW Local 227, is the Chief Steward at Carhartt in Hanson, KY. When he’s not working his union job, you can find him posting on social media about where in the community he’ll be cooking BBQ that day – everyone knows to find Rob early, or else his delicious food will be gone by the time you get to him.

Rob holds up his awardsIn 2000, two weeks after graduating high school, Rob began working at Carhartt, where he became a UFCW union steward three years later. Since 2011, he’s been the chief steward there, and is well known for taking great care of the members who works with .

During his time at Carhartt, Rob has done just about every job at the facility, including working as a picker and special handler. After their latest contract negotiations, Rob and the other hardworking members there were able to win a better pay scale based on seniority, as well as more flexibility regarding positions worked. On top of that, Rob and his fellow steward Matt Henderson helped win the biggest grievance settlement in Carhartt history, in the amount of almost $500,000.

With his job flexibility and great union benefits, Rob is able to not only succeed at Carhartt

and take care of his young family, but also to pursue his passion: Barbecue.

Rob’s interest in grilling began as he was growing up, and as he entered adulthood. Since he began working right after graduating high school, he moved out on his own a lot sooner than most of his peers. Cooking for himself and for friends at home, on lake trips, and out camping, he got a lot of experience using a charcoal grill. He was also getting a lot of compliments on how good his food was.

All of this, paired with inspiration from his favorite TV show, BBQ Pit Masters, led Rob to build his own smoker out of a 55-gallon drum, and start his own company, called Tru Blu BBQ. He became an expert at grilling ribs, pork, butts, and making his own sauce – writing down each iteration of his recipe and tweaking it until it was just right.

Taking his skills on the road, he entered his first grilling competition in 2009, accompanied by 9 other teams, who all had big trailers that dwarfed his small smoker. He encountered some good-natured ribbing from the other competitors, who’d clearly been in the game for a while. But Rob and his girlfriend stayed up barbecuing all night through the chilly October weather, and come judging time, Rob won the competition, “hook, line, and sinker.”

He certainly was hooked on competing, because since that time, Rob has become and 18-time grand champion, including at the renowned Owensboro International BBQ Festival. And his little smoker has become a 24-foot concession trailer. He’s also a member of the Kansas City BBQ Society, and regularly competes against reality tv contestants, including grill-masters who have competed on the show that began his culinary quest – BBQ Pitmasters. He’s also been interviewed to compete on the show two times, and hopes to get the chance to do so in the near future.

Grilling isn’t just a hobby for Rob, it’s his life. In 2014, after winning one of his many competitions, Rob proposed to his girlfriend on stage, accompanied by the couple’s two-year old daughter. The ring was engraved with the number 180 – which is a perfect score in the grilling competitions. Rob had never received a 180 from the judges, but this was his way of telling his girlfriend he had a perfect score all along. He also had his bride-to-be’s Maid of Honor waiting in their BBQ trailer with a bouquet of parsley, a popular grilling herb.

Outside of working at Carhartt, these days you’ll find Rob cooking in the community, catering, or working festivals. His specialty is pulled pork ribs, chicken, and brisket, which he makes in one of his four jumbo BBQ kits. Where Rob is from, brisket is a bit of a rarity because it is more of a Texas-style meat, so he sells out quickly.

His biggest tip for others who want to master the grill, is all about “smoke management”.

“You need good airflow,” he says. “You’re looking for a faint blue smoke, not clouds of white smoke which is what you’ll see a lot of folks producing. It makes all the difference in the world.”

Rob also makes his own rubs, and says that whatever rub you use should be “real light.”

“Less is more – too much takes away from the meat’s natural flavors.”

Want to make the perfect ribs? Here’s Rob’s recommendation:

  • Smoke the ribs for 2 hours, until they are a mahogany color
  • Cover with tinfoil, turn them upside down, and put back in the smoker for another 2 hours, until the meat is pulling away, leaving an inch of bone sticking out
  • Sauce the ribs, and put them back on the smoker for five minutes. (this is called “setting the sauce”, which allows it to thicken)

Rob is thankful for a union job that gives him the flexibility and means to provide for his family and follow his dreams of taking over the BBQ world.

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 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 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 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.

June 7, 2018

Does your workplace have proper hot weather safety strategies in place?

With summer almost here and temperatures rising, many workers face additional heat-related risks. If you are one of these many hard working men and women, you deserve to know you’ll be safe when you go to work.


Does your workplace have a plan?

1.) Train all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).


2.) Have a 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.


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. 

4.) 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

 

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.

More materials can be found below:

Preventing Heat Illness
Heat Illness response guidelines
Sample Heat Emergency Procedure

 

May 24, 2018

Union health insurance: a better value

Mike Watts lives with his family in Kentucky, where he has been a Kroger employee for over 30 years. When his son was born with special needs, Mike’s union health insurance allowed him to provide the high quality care his son needed when he was born.

“I have both of my children on the union insurance since they’ve been born. Me and their mother have quite our options. She also works for Kroger in management and we decided the union insurance was definitely the far better value.

In management, she basically had insurance also and then with the insurance that I had which was through the union we found out there was a better premium on that, we also found it paid for more and there was less out of pocket, the copays were better.

Landon, he was born with special needs. This is where we found out we really got a great value with the union insurance because we’ve had to deal with a lot of doctors appointments.

His medical outlook is good. He’s as normal as any other child. We’re just super excited that we’ve got the insurance to have him have the care that he needs and clearly we feel like it’s given him a better life because of it.”