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September 14, 2017

How well do you know your chicken?

September is National Chicken Month. How much do you know about America’s most popular meat?

1. There are more chickens alive today that there are cats, dogs, pigs, cows and rats—combined. 

2. Though chickens were brought along with the early American colonists, by the George Washington’s time, turkey, goose, pigeon, and duck were more popular than chicken.

Slaves, who were barred from raising cattle, horses, or hogs, were often only allowed to raise chickens. As a result, raising chickens was one of the ways slaves had to earn money.

3. The only continent without chickens is Antarctica.

There is an international treaty in place barring the birds from Antarctica in order to protect the local penguins from disease.

4. Women and minorities were fundamental in growing poultry in the US into an industry.

Farm women in the early 20th century found that they were able to profit from selling eggs, and small scale egg-laying operations grew into large-scale, women-owned hatcheries.

"Poultrywoman and poultry specialist going ove rrecords. Mrs.Bunch&Mr.Parrish, North Carolina, May 1930s." (S-13723-C, Record Group 16-G, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Box 59, Aminals-Chickens-Marketing folder, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

“Poultrywoman and poultry specialist going ove rrecords. Mrs.Bunch&Mr.Parrish, North Carolina, May 1930s.” (S-13723-C, Record Group 16-G, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Box 59, Aminals-Chickens-Marketing folder, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

5. Working in poultry is one of the most dangerous jobs in the US.

Poultry has more injuries than the construction industry, the auto industry, the steel industry, saw mills, and many other high-risk industries, but the UFCW is working to change that. 

September 8, 2017

Cereal icon Diana Hunter retires after proud, union career

Does this woman look familiar? You’ve probably seen her over the years in TV commercials for Honey Bunches of Oats cereal! But did you know that Diana Hunter is also a member of RWDSU/UFCW District Council Local 374?

Diana will be officially retiring in October. Like the author of this Buzzfeed article, we’ve loved watching her hilariously share about the joys of making this tasty cereal. We wish her the best of luck in her retirement, and thank her for all of her service to our union family!

August 28, 2017

Simple, Easy Ideas for Back-to-School Lunches and Snacks

With most kids returning back to school now or in the next couple of weeks, busy parents are stressing about their long to-do lists for ensuring the year gets off to a good start.

Let us help! One of those daily to-do items for many parents is packing their children’s lunches or making sure the pantry is stocked with easy options for after school.

We’re America’s food union, and the hardworking men and women of the UFCW make, process, and package lots of great staples that are both tasty and easy to prepare. We’ve got a few UFCW-made lunch menu and snack ideas to help make your kids’ school year one of the best yet!

Breakfast:

  • various post cereals (Local 374)
  • Yoplait yogurts (Local 386)
  • Quaker foods: Life cereals, Oatmeal, Instant oats, Cap’n Crunch cereals, Aunt Jemima syrup (Local 110 )

Sandwiches:

Simple Sliced Chicken

  • French’s mustard (Local 2)
  • Heinz ketchup (Local 75)
  • Tyson chicken (Local 2008)
  • Heinz (Local 705) or Vlasic pickles (Local 87)

Classic Bologna or Turkey and Cheese

  • Oscar Mayer products (Local 17A)
  • Hoffman’s bologna, Honest John bologna/turkey and cheeses (Local 1)

Peanut butter and jelly

  • Peter Pan peanut butter – smooth, crunchy, and honey roasted (Local 1996 and Local 38)
  • Welch’s food jams and jellies (Local 1)

Heat and Go

  • Chef Boyardee products (Local 38)
  • Campbell’s Soup (Local 75)

Ready Made

  • Kraft Lunchables (Local 17A)

Applesauce

  • Knouse foods: Lucky Leaf applesauce and Musselman’s Applesauce (Local 1776)
  • Mott’s applesauce (Local 220)

Snacks and sides:

  • Wise Chips: Natural, Sour Cream and Onion, Jalapeno, BBQ, Honey BBQ, Dill , Salt and Vinegar, Onion and Garlic (Local 1776)
  • Wise Popcorn: Cheddar, White, Butter (Local 1776)
  • Orville Redenbacher products (Local 38)
  • Wise Onion Rings: Grilled Steak and Onion, Regular (Local 1776)
  • Wise Cheez Doodles (Local 1776)
  • Totinos pizza and pizza rolls (Local 1059)
  • Kelloggs Cheez-its Crackers (Local 184L)
  • Jell-o (Local 152 and Local 17A)
  • Breakstones cottage cheese (Local 1)

Drinks

  • Knouse juice, Speas Apple Juice (Local 1776)
  • Welch’s Fruit drinks (Local 825)
  • Snapple products (Local 220)
  • V8 juice (Local 75)
August 28, 2017

ICWUC Holds Officer Training and Steward Class

Earlier this month, 21 officers and stewards at UFCW Local 504T honed their skills at a training held by the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) in Scottsboro, Ala.

Participants learned about the duties of officers and shop stewards, as well as the duties of the organizing and safety committees. The training session also provided participants with an overview of health and safety issues officers and stewards may face in the workplace.

The training session was hosted by UFCW Local 504T, and ICWUC Secretary-Treasurer and Regional Director Neal Dillard and ICWUC Recorder Chuck Denny served as the instructors.

The UFCW Local 504T officers and stewards are employed at Lozier Corporation in Scottsboro, and work in the maintenance, production and warehouse divisions producing metal and wood shelves and their braces. UFCW Local 504T’s current contract with Lozier Corporation covers 325 members.

 

August 27, 2017

CVS workers win workplace improvements

After months of negotiations with CVS, over 5,000 members of UFCW Locals 5, 135, 324, 648, 770, 1167, 1428, and 1442 who work at over 350 CVS stores in Southern California have achieved wage increases and better access to more affordable health care in the newly organized stores.

The new agreement also includes improved scheduling practices, more protections during layoffs, and a process for part-time employees to become full-time based on seniority.

UFCW members at CVS voted to approve and ratify the four-year contract last week.

August 1, 2017

UFCW Local 365 member Jason Holland wins Mother Jones Award

Building Better Lives In Solidarity With Washington State Farm-Workers

Jason Holland, Local 365 member, wins Mother Jones Award for stepping up to help local farm-workers organizing for better wages

When we talk about building better lives, we’re also talking about working together to help make our workplaces safer places to be. That means showing up to support hard-working men and women in your community, because it’s the right thing to do. UFCW Local 365 member Jason Holland knows very well what it means to step up and do right by others – which is why he was recently honored with the Mother Jones Award from the Washington State Labor Council.

After four years of fighting for a fair labor contract through strikes and boycotts, the workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington and Mt. Vernon, Washington were able to secure fair, living wages. The farm-workers, from Oaxaca, Mexico realized that there was strength in numbers – which is why they formed the first new farm-worker union in the country in over 20 years, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ).

Using his law degree from Vanderbilt University, Jason supported FUJ’s efforts by writing the contract the workers would bring to the negotiating table. He marched and protested alongside FUJ in solidarity, receiving no compensation for his work – besides knowing he stepped up to help fellow hard-working men and women in need of a strong union family.

FUJ team with their supporters – including Jason (in grey hoodie)

FUJ team with their supporters – including Jason (in grey hoodie) Photo Credit: FUJ Facebook

Congratulations, Jason. Cheers to a well-deserved award!

July 27, 2017

Lipton Tea now made by UFCW members

On July 24, members of UFCW Local 400 who work at the nation’s only Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, Va., voted overwhelmingly to approve their first union contract. The Lipton plant in Suffolk has operated for more than 60 years and produces nearly all of the Lipton Tea sold in North America.

The ratification represents the first time in the history of the plant when workers were given the opportunity to vote on the terms and conditions of their employment. The four-year contract includes significant improvements to working conditions and health care benefits, and places strict limits on when management can require employees to work overtime. The contract also provides workers with four days per year to opt out of mandatory overtime, in addition to two weekends off each month in which they can’t be forced to work overtime.

“Now we have Saturdays and Sundays off when they’re scheduled off,” worker Philip Surace said after Monday’s meeting. “That’s a big deal to us.” The new contract will also save workers with families almost $4,000 per year on their health insurance. “That’s money in your pocket every month,” Surace said. Read more on the story in the Suffolk News Herald.

“It was a long process, but we couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” said Anita Anderson, an operator at Lipton for 11 years.

“Our new health care plan is a huge weight off my shoulders. Personally, I take medication every day and I can’t go without my health insurance. But I’m also a dad, and saving $4,000 a year goes a long way for me and my family,” said Terrell Owens, who has worked as an operating technician at Lipton for the past nine years.

“For the last 10 years, we saw so many of our benefits taken away,” said Paul Garrison, a 16-year mechanic. “But now that we have a union, we’re getting them back again.”

Philip Surace, a mechanic at Lipton, said his first experience with a union was when he called UFCW Local 400 last spring. “I didn’t know much about unions, but I knew something had to be done. Enough was enough. I was looking for help and the union sent people right away,” he said. Philip quickly pulled together a meeting with his coworkers to learn about their rights to form a union. “Two months later, we had our union. I would encourage anyone who wants to make their workplace better to do the same thing we did.”

“As a longtime Virginia resident, I know all too well how decades of regressive legislation and outdated federal labor law have stacked the deck against workers, particularly in the South,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federci. “This unfortunate reality only makes me more proud of what the workers at Lipton have accomplished.”

July 21, 2017

Twelve lawmakers call for review of Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition

 

If you’ve been following retail news over the past month, you know the industry has been buzzing with concerns about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods since their announcement in June. Now a dozen members of congress are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to review Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in a letter sent on July 20th:

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Chairwoman Ohlhausen:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding the proposed merger between Whole Foods and Amazon. While we do not oppose the merger at this time, we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country already suffering from a lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers.

This merger should be scrutinized beyond the normal antitrust review process that only examines the competitive impact. It should also include a careful review of the impact further consolidation will have on the communities representing many of the “food deserts” across the nation. As you know, the USDA defines Food Deserts as “parts of the country void of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods, and usually found in impoverished areas.” Many of these areas are populations we represent. Therefore, we hope you consider whether this merger will contribute to increasing rather than reducing the number of food deserts, and potentially increasing health disparities for African-Americans and the poor.

Good nutrition is critical for good health, and the purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to “provide nutrition for those who

can’t afford it.” Increasing retail food availability is a key element in changing the social conditions of low-income Americans. We are concerned that the proposed merger potentially may exacerbate the food divide among vulnerable populations, including the 41 million SNAP recipients, particularly those in low-income and rural communities.

SNAP recipients currently are unable to use their benefits to buy groceries online, but they may be able to do so in the not-too-distant future. The Department of Agriculture is preparing to roll out ten pilots that will allow some SNAP customers to use their electronic benefit transfer, or EBT cards, with online retailers – a trial called for in the 2014 farm bill. In January, Amazon was selected as one of the companies to conduct a pilot across three states: New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Amazon’s current grocery delivery service, Fresh, requires a monthly fee of $14.99 and is only available to Amazon Prime members.

Another concern is the declining presence of retail stores due to the growth of online shopping. Amazon wields considerable power in online retailing with its platform capturing nearly 45% of all online spending. In the past few months, several major retailers have announced the closure of hundreds of stores nationwide. Many of the communities we represent may feel the impact of these announced closures.

While Whole Foods may have a limited presence in many of our districts, further consolidation may force grocers may who have a strong brick-and-mortar presence in our communities to respond to this merger. As a result, it is possible these grocers will consolidate further and close stores that offer any, or the only, option to low-income communities.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you to address these concerns and others as your agency evaluates the benefits and challenges a Whole Foods/Amazon national footprint could bring to the food retailing industry and communities across the nation.

Sincerely,
Marcia L. Fudge
Member of Congress

Additional Signatures on File: Rep. Donald Payne (NJ); Rep. Maxine Waters (CA); Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ); Rep. Gregory Meeks (NY); Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (MS); Sen. Corey Booker (NJ); Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL); Rep. Val Demings (FL); Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II (MO); and, Rep. Barbara Lee (CA).

Click here to view the PDF and text of the letter signed by 12 members of Congress asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to review Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.

 

The letter echoed concerns voiced three days earlier by UFCW International President Marc Perrone, who also called on the FTC to review the acquisition:

Dear Commissioners:

Because of the impact of online shopping, technology, and automation, our economy and the retail grocery landscape is changing dramatically. As such, the very definition of how mergers, such as the proposed Amazon and Whole Foods merger, would impact grocery competition, customer choice, the price of goods, and, especially hard-working retail workers must be rethought. While traditional analysis may discount the threats that would arise from Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon is not a traditional retailer or grocer.

By any and every reasonable measure, Amazon is an online retail monopoly. The scope and weight of Amazon’s digital reach poses a severe and constant economic threat to consumers, retailers, and especially grocers, irrespective of whether they’re located online or are traditional brick-and-mortar stores. More significantly, the scope of Amazon’s reach and the very nature of our economy today, does not limit their impact to the digital retail landscape. The fact is that Amazon is more than a digital retail monopoly; rather, it is a retail monopoly that threatens every corner of our nation’s economy.

We urge you to consider, for example, the facts of Amazon’s growing unfair scope and reach:

According to a 2016 report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon.

That same report states that within five years, 20 percent of the U.S.’s $3.6 trillion retail market will have shifted online, and Amazon is on track to capture two-thirds of that share.

Additionally, a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners last week estimated total U.S. Prime membership at 85 million, which is up 35 percent from the year-ago quarter and double from two years ago. CIRP also noted that 63 percent of U.S.-based Amazon customers are Prime members.

In terms of impact, Amazon arguably poses a greater threat to our retail economy than any other online or traditional brick and mortar grocer. Again, we urge each commissioner to consider the following impacts:

  • Hurts Consumers: Amazon’s proposed merger of Whole Foods will hurt consumers by allowing their national economic power to gain unfair advantage with suppliers. As a result, not only may consumer prices increase, the quality and scope of products may be impacted. While Whole Foods may have 460 stores worldwide, the reality is that the very nature of Amazon’s size allows them to unfairly compete against small and medium-sized grocers when it comes to the purchase of goods.
  • Hurts Choice: Amazon’s reach will ultimately reduce the number of grocery competitors that consumers can choose from. Regardless of whether Amazon has an actual Whole Foods grocery store near a competitor, their online model and size allows them to unfairly compete with every single grocery store in the nation.
  • Hurts Hard-Working Men and Women: The FTC is a public agency, and it must consider the impact that any merger will have on consumers and workers. Amazon’s online business model is built on a brutal foundation of automation to cut costs. If this merger proceeds, it could impact thousands of Whole Foods workers’ jobs simply for the sake of enriching one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals – Jeff Bezos.
  • Job Destroying Automation: Amazon has made its competitive vision clear with the introduction of its Amazon Go format, which eliminates nearly every grocery worker in its stores, and replaces them with automation and automated check stands.  Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is not about improving customer service, products or choice. It is about destroying Whole Foods jobs through Amazon-style automation. 

We strongly urge the FTC to carefully review this merger. We believe a fair and impartial analysis will prove that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is a competitive threat to our economy that will hurt workers and communities.

Sincerely,

Marc Perrone

 

July 14, 2017

Building a better life at Tyson, one contract at a time

Contract negotiations, on first glance, don’t really sound like the most exciting part of being a union member, but the hard-working men and women of Tyson Foods in Logansport, Indiana recently demonstrated the value of being able to negotiate with your employer and how it is possible through negotiating good contracts to make your vision for how to improve your workplace a reality.

UFCW Local 700 members at Tyson Foods submitted contract proposals with their ideas for improvements, and after union negotiations with the company, voted to accept a final agreement that locks in many improvements for the next five years.

The five-year contract includes wage increases, upgrades classifications for several jobs, provides a health care review to ensure that affordable, quality care is protected for members and their families, and offers greater protection for the rights of immigrant workers. The new contract also increases vacation leave after 10 years of service, adds a summer floating holiday, improves the funeral leave policy for employees working shifts longer than eight hours, and provides workers with additional gear.

“Members at Tyson stuck together and won a contract that includes significant raises, increases the amount of paid time off, and improves job protection,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “This agreement provides more opportunity for a better life for Tyson workers and their families.”

July 7, 2017

Fun Facts for World Chocolate Day

1.) Chocolate comes from the fruit of the cacao tree

The fruit is about the size of a large mango and has a sweet, white pulp with large seeds. Similar to coffee, the seeds must be fermented, dried, and then roasted to get the rich flavor we know of as chocolate.

Cacao trees are notoriously tricky to grow and are threatened by a number of pests and fungal diseases.

2.) Chocolate doesn’t start off shiny, it has to be “tempered”

When melted chocolate cools, the cocoa butter forms several different types of crystals. When you heat chocolate, cool it, and then heat it again, it encourages the formation of uniform crystals, which is why the surface changes from dull to glossy.

3.) Chocolate is poisonous to dogs

The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.

Technically, humans could consume a lethal quantity of chocolate, too, but you’d need to eat at least 22lbs of chocolate first in a sitting. So don’t do that.

4.) It takes 400 cacao seeds to make 1 lb of chocolate

Each cacao tree yields about 2,500 seeds, meaning you can get about 6.25 lbs of chocolate from each tree. It takes a almost a full year for a cocoa tree to produce enough pods to make 10 standard-sized Hershey bars.

5.) UFCW members make Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, See’s and other iconic chocolate candies

The hardworking men and women of Hershey’s produce 70 million Kisses every day, and enough annually to make a 300,000-mile-long line of Kisses. That means if you lined them up, you’d likely need a new car (or at least some heavy repairs) by the time you drove far enough to reach the end.

6.) The first chocolate bar was invented in 1847 by Joseph Fry

Together with his sons, Fry formed the British chocolate company, J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. They would also invent the first cream filled chocolate Easter egg in 1873. The company merged with Cadbury in 1919 and the original plant continued to operate until 2010.

7.) Thousands of Canadian children orchestrated a chocolate boycott in 1947

In 1947 hundreds of Canadian kids went on strike and boycotted chocolate after the price of a chocolate bar jumped from 5 to 8 cents. Within days, Canadian chocolate sales dropped by 80%.

Support for the boycott waned when the conservative paper The Toronto Evening Telegraph accused the children’s activities as being part of a Communist plot and a front for Moscow, and the price of chocolate remained at 8 cents.