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July 11, 2019

Five things to know about Amazon on Prime Day

You may know Amazon Prime Day as an opportunity to score great deals for customers. This year Amazon has even included a live stream event featuring Taylor Swift to celebrate Prime Day. But here’s some things you need to know about Amazon before you put things in your cart.

1.

A typical order only takes about a minute of human labor for Amazon to select, box and ship.

At Amazon’s warehouse outside Baltimore, almost all of the work is done by robots or automated systems. At many facilities, “pickers” have to walk up and down long aisles to select items, but at the Baltimore facility, robots bring the shelves to the worker, who then picks out the items and puts them in a bin. The bins travel along the network of eight miles of conveyor belts to another worker who boxes the items.

“Jeff Bezos’s vision is clear – he wants to automate every good job out of existence, regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a recent statement.

While some have argued that increased automation won’t impact overall job loss because new jobs will be created for those that are replaced, a 2017 study on automation in the United States found that between 1990 and 2007, one more robot per thousand workers reduced the employment to population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5 percent. In other words, for all the fancy talk, in reality those jobs that went away didn’t come back and wages for remaining jobs fell. This had a dire impact on jobs in manufacturing, but with the retail industry as the largest employer in the United States, the future looks grim if elected leaders don’t wake up and start taking things seriously.


2.

Amazon’s plans for HQ2 will be the size of 57 football fields, possibly expanding to 133 football fields by the mid 2030s

The Seattle-based company has filed development plans with Arlington County, Virginia for the inaugural phase of its second headquarters, in Crystal City. Though they haven’t broken ground yet, the plans are already having a serious impact on the local housing market. As of June, the median home price in Arlington County was on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019, according to a report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, making it harder for working class residents to afford basic needs for their families.


3.

If Prime members had their own country, they’d be the 13th largest country in the world

With over 100 million Prime members and growing, Amazon has more subscribers than the entire population of most countries. With about 310 million people who live in the United States, 100 million would be a third of the US population.


4.

Seven workers have died in Amazon facilities since 2013

“Amazon workers suffer injuries – and sometimes lose their lives – in a work environment with a relentless demand to fill orders and close monitoring of employee actions,” states a 2018 report from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, who cited Amazon as one of their “dirty dozen” list of employers failing to correct known safety problems.

According to the report, two workers were crushed by forklifts, one was run over by a truck, one was killed by an SUV driver, one suffered a fatal heart-related event during an overnight shift, one was dragged and crushed by a conveyor belt, and one was killed and crushed by a pallet loader.


5.

Amazon produced a 45-minute anti-union training video for managers

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars, it also sent out this 45-minute training video for Team Leaders at the grocery chain:

In it, it warns of employees talking about a “living wage,” and gives tips on how to talk negatively about unions without breaking the law, such as:

“You would never threaten to close your building just because associates joined a union. But you might need to talk about how having a union could hurt innovation which could hurt customer obsession which could ultimately threaten the building’s continued existence.”

The video also warns about workers taking an “unusual interest in policies, benefits, employee lists, or other company information.”

 

March 18, 2019

Should we be worried about dynamic pricing in retail?

Ever go to tell a family member or a friend about a great deal you found online, but when they go to buy it too, it’s no longer there? Or maybe it costs way more than you paid for the same thing?

While you got a great deal, what you’re experiencing is the phenomenon known as “dynamic pricing” or raising and lowering prices many times a day, a week or a month to drive sales but still ensure a consistent profit. This is often paired with what is called “personalized pricing” or “cohort pricing” where each shopper gets their own price for a product – what’s my price isn’t yours and vice versa. These are marketed to consumers as a benefit – deeper discounts just for you — but in the end, may actually end up benefiting the retailer at your expense.

One paper from MIT’s Sloan School says that “Implementing DP can improve revenues and profits by between 8% and 25%.”

So if everyone is saving, how are retailers making money? In the case of things like groceries, people tend to buy the same items over and over again. Since you’re not the only shopper, companies like Amazon sometimes charge one shopper triple what another one pays for the same item.

Companies are able to get away with doing this because as customers, we don’t actually have a single price we’re willing to pay, we have what’s called a “latitude of price acceptance.” That’s a band of prices—from a steal to a little pricey—that we’re willing pay for an item. According to McKinsey & Co., that price variance can be as much as 17% , which is a lot of extra money to be made if you move to the top of the band.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

While price fluctuations aren’t new and dynamic pricing has been around since the 1980s, having those changes determined by Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is uncharted territory. As retailers battle it out to find that exact pricing sweet spot that maximizes both sales and profits, evolving technology raises concerns about what the effects are on both consumers and smaller businesses when large companies like Amazon use AI and algorithms to enhance profitability with little oversight.

Data is King

AI-driven personalized pricing relies on tracking and retaining information on customer behavior. That means whoever has the most information on you has a competitive advantage over their rivals. Beyond the security and privacy concerns of big data, this also means that the playing field is tipped even further in the favor of large companies like Amazon, who reached over 100 million Prime members in the US in January.

According to Amazon’s Privacy Notice page, the retail giant collects and analyzes everything from purchase histories and products viewed or searched for to reviews, wish lists and length of visits to certain pages. This huge pool of data on its customers’ shopping habits can help Amazon better understand what shoppers are looking for, what they buy and what prices they are willing to pay. 

Increasingly, company leaders are recognizing that a dynamic pricing strategy supported by big data and artificial intelligence (AI) can help them gain a competitive pricing advantage over rivals. 

– Forbes

With deep insights into the personal preferences and online behavior of about a third of the US population, not even including the shoppers who are not Prime members, Amazon isn’t just a retailer, but a data company.

Pricing based on who you are

While the law prohibits assigning prices based on protected characteristics—like race or gender—personalized pricing is by its nature nontransparent, meaning you can’t see everyone’s prices. That means you may not know that women, for example, are charged more for the same item, because the only price you see is the artificially high one. If we know companies have information on your race or gender, and we also know the AI-driven dynamic pricing responds to your unique set of data and characteristics, how would anyone know if the law was being violated?

What comes next?

We don’t know—and we’re not sure anyone else does either. But we also believe that honesty and transparency are essential. Lawmakers should be wary of technology evolving faster than our laws, or the ability to enforce them, can keep up with, especially if that technology is skewed to benefit powerful retail industry players like Amazon.

March 1, 2019

UFCW president responds to Amazon’s newly announced grocery chain: “Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos”

A report today from the Wall Street Journal claims Amazon plans to open a new grocery US grocery chain that would be separate from Whole Foods, which was purchased by Amazon in 2017 for roughly $13.5 billion. According to the WSJ article:

Amazon.com is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities, according to people familiar with the matter, as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business. First grocery store in Los Angeles as early as the end of 2019. Amazon has already signed leases for at least 2 other grocery locations with openings planned for early next year, this person said.

The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market brand, though it is unclear whether the new grocery chain would carry the Amazon name.

Amazon is also exploring an acquisition strategy to widen the new supermarket brand by purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said.

Amazon is now in talks to open grocery stores in shopping centers in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, the people familiar with the matter said.

While Amazon has already signed leases, that doesn’t guarantee it will open the grocery stores. Retailers sign contracts and then pull out or delay store openings if certain conditions aren’t met.

The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with Whole Foods and will offer products at a lower price point, these people said. The new chain would offer a different variety of products than what is on the shelves at the more upscale Whole Foods stores.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone responded with the following statement warning of the dire impacts Amazon’s move to take over the grocery industry could have for everyday Americans:

“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.

Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.

It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”

The UFCW has been calling for more scrutiny to be given to Amazon’s impact on the grocery industry since their announcement of the Amazon Go stores in 2016. 

January 25, 2019

Beyond TSA: how is the shutdown impacting our national food security?

There have been a number of recent articles highlighting the air-travel safety issues caused by the government shutdown as more and more TSA agents are forced to call out from work. TSA agents are a visible reminder of the work that federal employees do, but some of the most damaging and dangerous impacts from the government shutdown are ones that are also out of sight of the average American. After all, many people pass through the airport, but not that many people regularly visit food processing facilities.

Food Safety


The FDA oversees 80 percent of our food supply and has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities (Washington Post) and canceled more than 50 high-risk inspections. (Washington Post) The FDA halted many inspections on January 9th, though the agency also resumed the most high-risk ones on January 15th, when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that furloughed food inspectors would be recalled to carry on their work without pay.

40% of FDA workers are furloughed

40 percent of the FDA’s employee’s remain furloughed and it is important to recognize that just because inspections may not be considered “high risk” does not mean they are “no risk” and should be left without inspectors. These decisions about what merits inspection or not are also being made without the informed consent of the American people, who trust that the food they are eating has been held to certain agreed upon standards and guidelines.

 

Risk of recalls has increased

Since the last extended federal shutdown in 2013, the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled.  A new report shows the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the United States for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, raising new concerns about food safety. A recent report by TIME highlighted that if shutdown-caused furloughs continue to impede FDA operations, “federal regulators might not even realize outbreaks are happening” in the first place.

Long term impacts

Workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry, have all continued to perform inspections without pay. It is important to recognize that much of the work inspectors do requires a high level of training and experience, and filling vacant positions with qualified employees can be challenging. Though the dedication shown by the inspectors working without pay because of their commitment to the common good is inspiring, the longer this shutdown continues, the more we are asking those workers to sacrifice. If a number of inspectors are forced to take other work in order to support their families, there is a potential for long-term consequences that will be felt beyond when the federal government resumes its responsibilities.

Grocery Sales and Food Access


This week, nearly 40 million low-income Americans received their February Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (or food stamps). Beyond the hardships endured by families who reply on SNAP, the program makes up a significant percentage of grocery sales and the harmful impact of the shutdown threatens not only families, but businesses up and down the supply chain.

SNAP represents a large portion of grocery sales

SNAP accounts for about 10 percent of the food that U.S. families buy for their homes.  Disruption to the SNAP program can cause reduced revenue for grocery stores, disruption to food supply chains, reduced hours and even job cuts for workers, and significant consequences for local economies.

Uncertainty triggering food shortages

Due to the federal government shutdown, the benefit’s release is occurring weeks earlier than scheduled. It is being reported that recipients may have to wait 40 days or longer before additional assistance is available causing state agencies to warn recipients to ration their benefits.

Shutdown induced uncertainty is anticipated to cause worried hardworking families using food stamps, to stock up on food for the weeks ahead and triggering food shortages at local supermarkets.

Out of touch leadership

In addition to damage done by the disruption of the SNAP program, many federal workers are wondering how to feed their families when they are not receiving a paycheck. This is especially troubling as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently expressed confusion over why federal employees would be turning to food banks instead of just taking out loans to get through the shutdown. Donald Trump reacted to the comments by suggested grocery stores need to “work along” with federal employees.

Food access is both a humanitarian issue and bad for business

When you consider that the potential loss of sales in the grocery industry is not only a threat to business, but represents every day Americans who cannot afford to eat right now, the depth of the crisis we are in as a country becomes clear. Grocery workers and grocery stores are united in calling for an end to the shutdown before further disruptions occur in our food stores and on our nation’s kitchen tables.

A partial federal government shutdown started on December 22, 2018 after President Donald Trump demanded a $5.7 billion appropriation for border wall construction be included in the federal budget, something Democrats refused to agree to. The impasse has resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Today, many Federal workers will miss their second paycheck in a row.

December 24, 2018

UFCW members make the holidays happen

For those of us fortunate enough to be able to sit down and spend time with our loved ones, let’s pause to be thankful for the holiday heroes whose hard work and dedication help make possible the traditions and warm memories we make year after year.


UFCW members are the heart behind the holiday brands we’ve all come to love—brands like Butterball, Boar’s Head, Hanover, Reddi-Wip. For those who work in food processing, their knowledge and expertise help ensure the turkey that makes its way to your grocery store has been properly prepared and is safe to eat, and their skilled quality control makes sure Stove Top Stuffing and Marie Callender’s pies will taste just like you remembered.

UFCW members also sacrifice time with their families to keep Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, Giant, and so many other union grocery stores open during the holidays. We know they’ve saved countless holiday feasts from disaster by making sure families across America can make that last minute run to the grocery store if they need to.

From our family to yours, we wish you happy holidays and all the best in the new year.

UFCW Local 1994 member stands in a building full of road salt

UFCW Local 1994 members in Maryland help keep the roads safe during icy conditions

 

 

 

October 19, 2018

October is National Ergonomics Month

Earlier this year, the UFCW and Tyson commemorated 30 years of working together for safer workplaces by expanding our collaborative efforts to make workplace safety improvements at the company’s food processing plants. The innovative program broke ground by training and involving hourly production workers in identifying safety and ergonomics problems at their worksites. While the primary focus had been Tyson Foods’ beef and pork operations, it is now being expanded to the company’s poultry business.

Ergonomics, which is the science of designing the workplace to fit the worker, had not been extensively used in the meat industry until the UFCW and Tyson reached an agreement after an historic OSHA citation and settlement in late November 1988 followed up with the joint Tyson-UFCW program to develop a comprehensive ergonomics research program.

The program got underway in early 1989, with the company’s Dakota City, Nebraska, beef complex serving as the pilot plant, and production workers represented by UFCW Local 222, were actively involved.  Due to the success of the pilot, the program was quickly expanded to all of the company’s beef and pork plants.

Some of the key elements of the program include ongoing ergonomics training for production workers; the involvement of hourly workers as ‘ergonomic monitors;’ worksite analysis and the redesign of work stations and equipment; and a medical management program focused on early detection and treatment of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Using ergonomic principles, properly designed jobs, tasks, equipment and tools as well as good job organization can help to fit the job to the workers.

Ergonomics includes:

  • Designing equipment that is easy to use
  • Investing new equipment that will take the strain out of the job
  • Organizing work in different ways
  • Changing how tasks are done

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made through our collaboration with the UFCW, and especially the active involvement of frontline team members,” said Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats. “We know that all of us must remain diligent if we’re to achieve additional improvements.”

“We value the progress we’ve made at Tyson and are looking forward to expanding our partnership to create safer workplaces for all of their hard-working men and women,” said Mark Lauritsen, director of the UFCW’s Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division. “Working together with Tyson has meant empowering workers and their union to make a better, safer workplace.”


Early warning signs of repetitive stress may include: hand pain or numbness; stiff fingers; swelling in the hand, wrist, or forearm; and back or shoulder pain.


What are CTDs, RSIs, and MSDs?

Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and United Auto Workers, Ergonomics Awareness Manuel.

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are disorders of the muscles, tendons, or nerves. CTDs are caused by repeated stress or exposure to forceful exertions, repetitive motions, awkward body postures, nerve compression and vibration. CTDs typically affect the arms, shoulders, hands or wrists.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) is a general term like (CTD) used to describe a range of symptoms associated with repetitive motion work.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal disks. Examples of jobs likely to cause MSDs are those requiring:

  • Forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands
  • Heavy lifting
  • Pushing, pulling g or carrying of heavy objects
  • Prolonged awkward postures

CTDs, RSIs, and MSDs are often used to mean the same thing.


The Three Stages of MSD Symptoms

MSD symptoms can range from mild aches to disabling pain. Symptoms often appear gradually and become more sever over time. Generally symptoms progress through three stages.

Stage 1

Symptoms may appear during periods of activity and may disappear during periods of rest. Symptoms are relatively mild. Early symptoms of MSDs often are mistaken for muscle fatigue.

Stage 2

Symptoms are most persistent. They do not disappear completely during periods of rest. Increasingly severe symptoms may interfere with performance of usual work activities.

Stage 3

Symptoms are constant. Sleep is often disturbed. Sever pain, limited mobility, loss of sensation or muscle weakness makes it impossible to perform most job tasks.


Symptoms of MSDs

  • Soreness
  • Burning sensation
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Aching
  • Stiffness
  • Skin Discoloration (blanched or white) – skin discoloration of the fingers is an indication of Hand-Arm Vibrations Syndrome (HAVS) and it is the result of long-term exposure to vibration.

MSD Risk Factors

Many jobs that poultry workers do are associated with ergonomic risk fact that include:

  • Repetition – performing the same motion or series of motions continually of frequently.
  • Forceful exertion – the amount of physical effort to perform a demanding task or to maintain control of equipment or tools
  • Awkward and static postures – assuming positions that place stress on the body, such as reaching above shoulder height, kneeling, squatting, leaning over a worktable, twisting, the torso while lifting, maintaining a sustained posture for a long period of time, as well as holding or using tools in a non-neutral or fixed position.
  • Vibration – using vibrating hand-held power tools can increase the stress on the hands and arms.
  • Cold temperatures
May 8, 2018

Have you thanked a third shift worker?

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.”

UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Steve T. Gelios, president of UFCW Local 2008, with UFCW Local 2008 third shift workers at a Little Rock, Arkansas, Kroger.

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

A UFCW Retiree Recalls How She Typed Her Way Into History

 

“I had never made a speech before,” Blair said. “But I knew I had to say something.”

Fifty years ago, Bonnie Blair worked as a secretary at the Retail Clerks International Union in Memphis, Tennessee, which is now UFCW Local 1529. Her job ranged from typing bylaws to billing and bookkeeping for the local.

On February 1, 1968, two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning garbage truck. This tragedy was a tipping point for sanitation workers in Memphis, where black garbage haulers were prohibited from riding with the white drivers—forcing them to ride in back with the trash. Henry Loeb, who was mayor of Memphis at the time, refused to pay the workers a fair wage.

A few days after the tragedy, the sanitation workers, including garbage-collector-turned-union-organizer T. O. Jones, demanded the right to join a AFSCME Local 1733 for better wages and working conditions. Jones and the workers asked if someone from the Retail Clerks International Union could help type letters to Mayor Loeb from 33 men, asking him to meet with the workers and recognize their union. Blair agreed to help the workers.

Blair worked with T. O. Jones and typed each of the 33 letters on an IBM electric typewriter, and made carbon copies of each letter. When every man had signed their names, Jones delivered the letters to Mayor Loeb’s office. The mayor’s refusal to meet with the workers sparked the famous “I Am a Man” strike.

Blair continued to type the correspondence for the workers during the strike. Once night, she drove to a union hall, where hundreds of the sanitation workers were meeting, to deliver the material she had typed to Jones. When she got there, Jones asked her to speak to the crowd.

“I had never made a speech before,” Blair said. “But I knew I had to say something.”

She went to the stage and addressed the workers. “Don’t give up,” she said. “Don’t be discouraged. You have every right to be here and have a contract. God is on your side.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis on March 18 in support of the strike, which had attracted thousands of supporters. Blair and her husband joined the rally. Dr. King returned to Memphis to help the workers on April 3, and gave his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. He was killed the next day. The Sanitation Workers Strike ended on April 16 with a first union contract for the workers that included wage increases.

Blair has remained activist for social and economic justice, and attended the I AM 2018 Conference in Memphis this month, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Sanitation Workers Strike and Dr.  King’s death. She has advice for young activists who continue to fight for positive change 50 years later.

“Serve God where you are and do the right thing,” she said.

March 14, 2018

UFCW’s Work to “Bring Value to Retailers and Customers” Highlighted on DealCrunch

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

By: Chris Curry

The Crunch: The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union works daily to improve pay, benefits, and working conditions for its 1.3 million members. The UFCW is America’s largest private sector labor union and represents the grocery, retail, and packing house workers who help the economy run. As technology threatens to automate many jobs, the UFCW is working to show the value that knowledgeable and professional associates bring to customers and businesses. The organization also helps members advance their careers through free college tuition and GED courses. In the modern labor movement, the UFCW stands up for working conditions — and work-life balance — that result in better jobs and a stronger labor force.

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.

Collage of UFCW free college benefits

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?

Learn More About:

Language Training GED Courses Discounts Free College Degree

March 8, 2018

International Women’s Day Began as “International Working Women’s Day”

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.”