Packing and Processing
May 8, 2018
From stocking shelves to providing late-night medical care, when the rest of the world goes to sleep, many UFCW members’ work days are just getting started.
Last year on National Third Shift Workers Day (celebrated on the second Wednesday in May), to recognize the hard work and sacrifice made by those who work overnight to keep our communities running smoothly, International President Marc Perrone surprised several UFCW Local 2008 members at Kroger in Little Rock, Arkansas, with a late night visit in honor of National Third Shift Workers Day.
“To our members, and everyone who works through the night so that we can all enjoy the day – thank you,” said Perrone. “Thank you for making our communities better and for making a real difference in so many lives across this nation.”
Mark Ramos, president of UFCW Local 1428 in California, was also burning the midnight oil and visiting stores overnight to personally thank the hard-working men and women of the third shift for all they do.
“I was on third shift for 14 years when I worked in the stores,” said Ramos. “When I first started working nights, it took a few months to get used to it. You know, you never really get 8 hours of sleep. I’d take two naps instead. You learn to make it work.”
Ramos preferred to work third shift because the predictable schedule and hours let him take care of his kids and spend more time with his family during the day. The same applies for many of the members he spoke with during his visits.
“They are amazing folks. Most of them have families, and they work and then go home and do other things. The working moms who work that shift are some of the most incredible, courageous workers I know.”
According to multiple studies, shift work is hard on both the body and mind. The risk of workplace injuries, obesity and depression are all increased if a person works overnight. Studies also suggest that third shift work impacts hormones that regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn lead to a higher risk of serious health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.
Despite these risks, there is no federal law requiring third shift workers to be provided with any extra pay or benefits. But in UFCW contracts all across the country, we negotiate premium pay for third shift workers to help provide them with the better life they’ve earned and deserve.
“Thank you for recognizing us,” said Beverly Martin, a UFCW Local 8-Golden State member who works at Savemart in California. “I work the third shift and have for six years now. We get looked-over for a lot of things.”
“I provide Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday dinners for my fellow night crew members,” Martin went on to say. “By the time it’s our lunch, the food from the daytime party is gone or there’s not enough to go around. It may not seem like much to a day worker, but little things like that can really help to build up our team at night. So, here’s to those of us who work at night.”
April 16, 2018
Anna Mae Weems, a member of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA), one of the unions that would later merge to become the UFCW, shared her memories of working with Dr.Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) on the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike in the following article that appeared in The Courier.
The UPWA had long been a strong supporter of the SCLC. In addition to continually organizing conferences and legislative actions in support of equal rights for women and minorities, the UPWA donated 80 percent of the cost of SCLC’s first year budget and held regular drives to raise money for sit ins and freedom rides. When Memphis sanitation workers called on labor allies for help, Weems and other UPWA members heard the call.
WATERLOO – It was early 1968. A charismatic minister Anna Mae Weems had hosted on a visit to Waterloo nine years earlier and his organization needed help. She answered the call.
Weems, who had been active with the United Packinghouse Workers of America at The Rath Packing Co., and other labor leaders were called to Memphis, Tenn.
Unionized municipal sanitation workers, predominantly African-Americans, were on strike for better pay and working conditions. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was called in to help. Other labor organizations also were called in.
That’s what brought Anna Mae Weems to Memphis for what would be her last meeting with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., SCLC leader.
“We marched down Beale Street and around City Hall,” Weems recalled. Through it all, King maintained a humble persona. “He was a common person. It wasn’t like I was sitting with a celebrity. He was like someone you knew all your life. He was for the good of the community all the time.”
Weeks later, on April 4, 1968, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet on a Memphis hotel balcony. Weems, home in Waterloo, reacted as many, with shock and horror.
The 50th anniversary of King’s assassination makes this Martin Luther King Day particularly poignant for many, including Weems. She escorted King around Waterloo in November 1959 as the young minister was starting to make a name for himself with civil rights activities in Montgomery, Ala. He met community leaders, spoke at West High School and at Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa.
Fifty years removed from the tragedy of his passing, Weems said King’s death reminds us leadership is not for the squeamish but is still needed today on issues of justice and equality.
“He would want us to build on leadership,” Weems, 91, said. “ If you get good leadership in a community and you get that motivation and you get that influence, then you would have a community that’s unified. … You see, leadership is not for cowards. You have to know how to bring out the best in people.”
She supported King on some marches activities in the South.
“Some people would throw things, and he would say ‘Louder, children. Louder. They’re not hearing us.’ He would say things that are uplifting, not downtrodding.”
Weems said she and others were called to a meeting at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. It was where King frequently held meetings and was ultimately assassinated. A fellow Rath-UPWA member from Waterloo, Russell Lasley, became national treasurer of the UWPA, which supported the SCLC.
“We were called down there to help the garbage workers,” Weems said. “I was volunteering all around,” working under King’s friend and SCLC associate, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy.
King sought conciliation, not confrontation, through organizational efforts, Weems said.
“Dr. King always had that saying that you should inspire, not intimidate. People would say things are real bad. Dr. King would say, ‘There’s no such thing as an unmotivated person.’ A leader should go in, work with a person and stir up the energy God gave him. … Bosses drive men. Leaders motivate.”
Weems first met King in Washington, D.C., in the late 1950s. He gave the invocation at a breakfast hosted by then-Vice President Richard Nixon. She invited King to Waterloo.
While some locally initially were standoffish to the young minister, Weems said others, such as the Rt. Rev. Monsignor E.J. O’Hagan, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, welcomed him with open arms. Burton Field of Palace Clothiers fitted the young minister with a heavier suit of clothes for the chilly November Iowa climate. He stayed at the Russell-Lamson Hotel.
After his talk at West High, Weems recalled, King stood behind the auditorium curtain, buoyantly asking, “Did I do all right?”
“He was intoxicated with love for his fellow man,” Weems said.
She learned of King’s assassination when called by a Courier reporter. “It was such a shock,” she said. She hushed her children and called the UPWA union hall to verify it. The secretary was in tears.
She later told The Courier, “Dr. King taught us that violence is not the answer; it only creates fear. The wound of racial injustice can only be healed by the peaceful balm of religion and morality. We must — and we shall — try to fill the void and move forward with brotherly love.”
April 11, 2018
For over 40 years, Joseph Pacacha has been going in to work at Riverbed Foods in Pittsburgh, PA where he helps process quality store-branded soups, broths, gravies, and sauces for some of the nation’s top grocery chains. But when he’s not on the clock, Pacacha, like so many other unsung every day working men and women, spends his free time volunteering to make his community a better place.
Pacacha restores old bamboo fly fishing rods and donates them to Project Healing Waters, an organization that is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.
“It’s very rewarding. I’m just proud to be a part of it, really,” said Pacacha. “I may never see the people who get these rods, but just knowing that you’re helping out, it’s very worthwhile.”
How you can help
If you’ve got an old bamboo fly rod, serviceable as is or in need of repair, that you would like to donate to Project Healing Waters, you can send it to Joe Pacacha at PO Box 38, 536 Walnut Ave., Hunker PA 15639. For information on making monetary donations to Project Healing Waters, visit www.projecthealingwaters.org . Contributions specifically for the bamboo rod project should be identified as such on your check.
Are you or do you know a UFCW member who is doing great things in your community? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 29, 2018
Today marks the start of baseball season! Hard-working UFCW members across the country produce and package a lot of the hot dogs people will chow down on while watching America’s favorite pastime -including the famous Dodger Dog, made by UFCW 770 members. But while baseball and hot dogs might be a national past time, how you like to top 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:
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.
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
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.
This favorite of Michiganders features a meaty chili sauce on top of a hot dog with mustard and onion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 14, 2018
UFCW Featured on DealCrunch.com:
UFCW Fights to Improve the Pay and Quality of Life for the Workers Who Bring Value to Retailers and Customers
The members of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union play an often-overlooked role in our daily lives.
Take Super Bowl Sunday for instance. UFCW members work in the industries that provide some of the most popular items on the menus at parties across the country: Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, the Heinz Ketchup for those hot dogs, the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for the chicken wings, and they even sell the avocados for the guacamole. The Jim Beam for the whiskey and Cokes came from a distillery whose workers are represented by the UFCW, and members made the leather for the footballs used in the game.
“Our members are behind the scenes in all these daily interactions and moments in people’s lives, from the Super Bowl to Christmas,” UFCW Communications Director Erikka Knuti said.
In addition to featuring the hard work UFCW members do and the value they have to offer, DealCrunch also highlighted a number of the education opportunities available to UFCW members and their family members:
Programs Help Prepare Members Through Education & Skills Training
In the modern workplace, businesses and employees both face a significant challenge in managing rapid change. And while companies allocate resources for change in the form of equipment or technology, preparing workers for an evolving workplace is often an afterthought.
The UFCW has introduced multiple programs to help members adapt to changes and progress in their careers and personal lives.
Free College for Career Advancement Opportunities
UFCW members and their families — spouses, domestic partners, children, stepchildren, and grandchildren — receive free tuition toward an online associate’s degree from Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio. The arrangement covers all fees and ebooks for courses.
The free tuition program initially started with local labor unions in Ohio that recognized cost was the single biggest barrier to finishing college.
Finance, marketing, early childhood education, criminal justice, and accounting are among the degree programs available.
Erikka said in one particular case, the opportunity to pursue an early childhood education degree benefited both a UFCW member and the retail store where she works.
“She is taking early childhood development classes and gaining expertise while working in the baby aisle at her store,” Erikka said.
GED Courses to Help Workers Finish High School
Across the country, many frontline retail and grocery store workers drop out of high school to get a job and help support their families. Erikka said a new UFCW initiative is designed to help them.
“We’re about to roll out a program for people who didn’t finish high school to get their GED,” she said.
A GED will help workers meet qualifications for additional positions and open the door to pursuing an associate’s degree through the free tuition program at Eastern Gateway Community College.
Language Training to Improve Customer Service
English as a second language programs are also available to help UFCW workers better serve customers and advance in their careers. The UFCW will soon offer Spanish as a second language programs as well.
The skills that members learn through language courses will only add to their value in a retail setting, Erikka said.
“It all goes back to the value our members can offer a company,” she said. “The fact that they are taking early childhood development classes to better work in the baby products aisle and are interested in taking Spanish as a second language to better help customers, that is something that should be valued.”
Are you a UFCW member interested in learning more about these discounts and educational opportunities?
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March 8, 2018
The month of March marks Women’s History Month, and March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day, a day with roots in the American labor movement and the struggles of working women.
The article, “Don’t forget what International Women’s Day is really about – striking,“ that ran in The Independent, recently featured the origins of the day and it’s ties to women workers organizing for better working conditions and fair treatment:
It was in 1857, that on 8 March in New York City, garments workers went on strike. Suffering horrific conditions, endless hours and low pay, they took to the streets demanding better money and working conditions. Dispersed after being attacked by police, the women continued to fight and from their movement the first women’s labour unions were established.
In the early 20th century, their movement blossomed. New York City’s streets again saw women march demanding shorter hours, better pay, an end to child labour and the right to vote in 1908. Leading labour organisers sought to strengthen the movement internationally. At the Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen in 1910, Clara Zetkin asked over 100 women from 17 countries – representing unions, socialist parties and women’s working clubs – to pass a motion for an International Working Women’s Day. They did so, unanimously, and the so International Women’s Day was born.
To honor the sacrifices made by working women to improve working conditions and secure stability, equality, and independence, we wanted to show a few snapshots of ordinary, working women from our own UFCW history. These moments captured in time speak to the unsung efforts made by women over the past century to ensure Americans could put food on their table, even in times of war. To learn more, read the Women In Labor History Primer.
All photos except the Local 183 photo are from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s collection “Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America records, 1903-1980.”
February 26, 2018
Black History Month: how the push for fair treatment in a Texas poultry plant changed the health and safety standards of an industry
Union organizing efforts won significant benefits for meatpacking workers during the first half of the 20th century. In 1960, before a wave of automation and rapid restructuring would decimate jobs in the industry, meatpacking wages were 15 percent above the average wage for manufacturing workers in the United States. But one area where change was slow to come was in the poultry industry. Unlike other jobs in meatpacking, a much higher percentage of poultry workers were African American women in the anti-union South.
A reasonable request
In 1953, Clara Holder, an East Texas poultry worker, wrote to Patrick Gorman, Secretary Treasurer of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workman of America (a union that would later merge with the Retail Clerks Union to become the UFCW in 1979). She and her coworkers were fed up with the exploitation and unhealthy practices they witnessed on the job and had decided to form a union to better conditions at the plant.
“I was told to contact your office to secure help in organizing a much needed plant,” Miss Holder wrote. “The majority of the workers are eager to organize, if only they had some advice from a bonafide labor union. Would you kindly inform me if your organization can help us.” Clara Holder’s brief and innocently worded letter sparked a tortuous organizing campaign — in Center, Texas — that stirred racial and class tensions, triggered a national boycott, and persuaded the union to launch a successful drive to reform the entire American poultry industry. – The Texas “Sick Chicken” Strike, 1950s by George N. Green
Demands for better conditions spark violence and ignite racial tensions
What started out as a politely worded letter, boiled over into open violence as the strike touched off racial tensions that had been simmering beneath the surface of the small town:
As in most East Texas towns. the white citizens of Center were angered by the desegregation decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (on May I, 1954). Coming on the heels of a strike by blacks, this decision stirred endemic hatreds. Thus, while white strikers seem to have been regarded as curiosities. black picketers were resented. Just after the Eastex strike began, [Meat Cutters’ District Vice-President Sam Twedell] claimed that he was summoned to the county district attorney’s office. There, in the presence of the sheriff, Twedell said he was ordered to “get those goddamn N*****s off the picket line or some of them are gonna get killed.” Twedell refused. On May 20 he sent telegrams to the FBI and the FCC concerning a broadcast on KDET radio, a strongly anti-union station, which “openly advocated violence, as a result of Supreme Court decision … and other racial problems, if Negro pickets were not removed from the picket lines.” Station manager Tom Foster explained that his announcer merely had stated that “Twedell himself was advocating trouble by ordering Negro and white pickets to walk the picket line together. Hancock [the announcer} said that may be common practice in Chicago [location of the union’s international headquarters], but we are not ready for that here.” Foster, according to one of his friends, was extremely anti-union and simply looking for an angle of attack. Twedell began walking the line with the black picketers.
On May 9 organizer Allen Williams prophetically reported that “We are sitting on a keg of dynamite … I honestly think our lives are in danger … These bastards will stop at nothing, including murder, if they think there is half a chance to get away with it.” On the night of July 23 a time bomb explosion destroyed Williams’ Ford. A fire which resulted as an after-effect of the detonation completely leveled two cabins of the tourist court where Williams was residing and did extensive damage to two other buildings. Fortunately, Williams had stayed out later than usual on the night of the bombing and thus escaped injury. The would-be assassins were never apprehended and, according to his reports in the next few weeks, Williams held some doubts that law enforcement officers seriously sought to find them. Remarking on the openly anti-union sentiments of a majority of the members of a grand jury investigating the bombing, Williams jokingly explained that he felt some fear of being indicted for the crime himself. A second bombing occurred near the black “quarters” in Center on August 12. Though the August bombing scared the black strikers, Williams observed that they weren’t showing it openly.
Neither of the two banks, whose presidents were directors of the Center Development Foundation, extended credit to their fellow townfolk on strike. But the Meat Cutters paid regular benefits through the duration of the conflict and also conducted a highly successful nationwide clothing drive for the strikers. So much clothing was received from the locals that it actually became necessary for President Jimerson to request members to halt the donations.”– The Texas “Sick Chicken” Strike, 1950s by George N. Green
Resulting wins and establishment of poultry inspections
Donald D.Stull and Michael J. Broadway wrote about the struggle to organize and how it led to the inspection of poultry and better health and safety standards for the industry in the book From Slaughterhouse Blues: The Meat and Poultry Industry in North America:
Organizing efforts in the poultry industry lagged behind those in meatpacking: it is a newer industry; its plants were located in the rural South, long known for anti-union sentiment; and it drew heavily on African American women to work its lines. In Jun 1953, poultry workers in the East Texas town of Center asked the Amalgamated Meat Cutters to help them organize. At the time, poultry workers were paid the minimum wage of 75 cents an hour; they worked 10 or 11 hours a day in filthy conditions without overtime pay, and their employers denied them grievance procedures, seniority, and paid holidays. Center’s two poultry plants — one staffed by black workers, the other by whites — voted to join the union. When the companies refused to negotiate in good faith, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters organized a national boycott of plant products, and the workers staged wildcat strikes.
At the time, less than a quarter of the poultry sold in the United States was federally inspected, and neither of the Center plants employed inspectors. With the support of its 500 locals and the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters organized a national campaign to mandate federal inspection of poultry. Subsequent
congressional hearings revealed that one-third of known cases of food poisoning could be traced to poultry. Despite opposition from the poultry industry and the U.S.Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat inspection, a poultry inspection bill eventually passed Congress. In August 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Poultry Products Inspection Act, which requires compulsory inspection of all poultry that crosses state lines of is sold overseas.
And what of the striking workers? Eastex, the plant that employed only black workers, settled after 11 months, agreeing to wage increases, time-and-a-half overtime pay, three paid holidays and vacations, a grievance procedure, and reinstatement of strikers. Eastex subsequently sold out to Holly Farms, which later sold out to Tyson.
February 23, 2018
The UFCW Charity Foundation is currently accepting applications for it’s 2018 scholarship, and we wanted to take the opportunity to report back on where a few of our past year’s winners are and all the exciting things they have going on in their lives. Last August, we spoke with Jennifer Archuleta, scholarship winner from 2010.
“The UFCW scholarship made it possible for me to attend my preferred college even though it was located hundreds of miles away from home. It also allowed me to spend more time studying and less time working.”
– 2010 Scholarship Winner Jennifer Archuleta
The scholarships are open to both UFCW members and their families. Was it you or a family member that was a UFCW member?
My dad is a UFCW member who has worked at Albertson’s for over two decades. He recently became a union representative.
Did you find the UFCW scholarship helpful?
Yes. The UFCW scholarship made it possible for me to attend my preferred college even though it was located hundreds of miles away from home. It also allowed me to spend more time studying and less time working.
Do you remember how you found out about the scholarship?
My older siblings received the UFCW scholarship. When it was my turn to apply I looked for information in the UFCW newsletters as well as the website.
What did you end up studying?
My degree is in Music Education with a concentration in violin.
What do you think was the most valuable thing personally to you about going to school?
The university provided an intellectually stimulating setting that challenged me on an academic and personal level. I learned a lot about my major, but I learned more about life, and even more about myself.
What do you do now?
I am a kindergarten through fifth grade music teacher.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love singing and playing with children. I love nurturing a child’s musical, academic, and emotional growth from their first day of elementary school until their last.
What type of music do you like and what instruments you play?
I am a violinist. While attending the University of North Texas I had the opportunity to perform in their orchestra, choir, jazz ensembles, and opera pit.
What’s one fun thing you’ve learned or been able to experience recently?
I recently became certified in the Kodály teaching method, and celebrated by road tripping across the California coast with my sister. We went hiking, swimming in the ocean, and watched a dog surfing competition.
If you are a past year scholarship winner, let us know what you are up to! We’d love to feature you and your accomplishments.
February 15, 2018
Earlier this Black History Month, we wrote about Russell Lasley of United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA), one of the most progressive champions for civil rights in the labor movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Lasley was instrumental in the development and implementation of the anti-discrimination programs of the UPWA. This week, we pay tribute to Addie Wyatt, another leader who got her start through union activism at the UPWA and continued her fight for workers’ rights during the height of the American Feminist Movement.
Addie Loraine Cameron, better known as Addie L. Wyatt (1924 –2012), was born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago with her family in 1930. When she was 17 years old, she began working in the meatpacking industry. Although she applied for a job as a typist for Armour and Company, African American women were barred from holding clerical positions at the time. Instead, she was sent to the canning department to pack stew in cans for the army.
Due to a contract between Armour and the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA), she ending up earned more working on the packinghouse floor canning stew than she would have made working as a typist, and joined the UPWA after learning that the union did not discriminate against its members.
“I was impressed,” said Wyatt in an interview with Alice Bernstein in 2005. “How could two young black women meet with two white bosses and achieve the success that we had achieved at that time? I was told that it was because of the union. It was a violation of the union contract…I was really moved to the extent that I wanted to do something to help this union. I didn’t know what the union was. But I know that I needed help and here was the place that I could get that help. I knew that I wanted to help other workers, and I found out that I could help them by joining with them and making the union strong and powerful enough to bring about change.”
Rising Through the Ranks
In 1953, she was elected vice president of UPWA Local 56. In 1954, she became the first woman president of the local, and was soon tapped to serve as an international representative. She held this position through the 1968 merger of UPWA and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen until 1974, when she became director of the newly formed Women’s Affairs Department.
In 1970s, she became the first female international vice president in the history of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen and later served as director of its Human Rights and Women’s Affairs and Civil Rights Departments. She served as the first female African American international vice president of the UFCW after Amalgamated and the Retail Clerks International Union merged in 1979.
A Leader in the Civil Rights Movement
Wyatt and her husband were ordained ministers and founded the Vernon Park Church of God in Chicago. She played an integral role in the civil rights movement, and joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in major civil rights marches, including the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the demonstration in Chicago. She was one of the founders of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the country’s only national organization for union women. She was also a founding member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the National Organization of Women.
In honor of her work, she was named one of Time magazine′s Women of the Year in 1975, and one of Ebony magazine′s 100 most influential black Americans from 1980 to 1984. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists established the Addie L. Wyatt Award in 1987. In 1984, Addie Wyatt retired from the labor movement as one of its highest ranked and most prominent African American and female officials. She was inducted into the Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor in 2012.
February 13, 2018
Congratulations and welcome to some of our newest UFCW members, the hardworking men and women at Severance Foods, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut. The roughly 50 workers at Severance Foods manufacture a large variety of tortilla chips that are distributed worldwide.
“We voted to unionize to get better benefits, sick days, better safety equipment and raises,” said Jan Paul Calo, who works for Severance Foods and was among those who wanted to improve their jobs and help everyone who works there on the path to a better life and a better future for their families.
On Jan. 31, members of UFCW Local 371, along with elected officials and community allies, stood in solidarity with the Severance Foods workers as they prepared to cast their votes in a secret ballot election to join our union. Organizers used Hustle, the innovative texting app, to reach out to workers at Severance Foods, as well as to coordinate the rally before the vote.