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UFCW Members Are Making the News

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UFCW members like Susan Richardson from UFCW Local 21, are making their voices heard on the opinion pages of newspapers across the country.

UFCW members are making their voices heard on the opinion pages of newspapers across the country. In the past few weeks, UFCW members have had op-eds and a letter to the editor published on topics ranging from Labor Day and the benefits of union membership to the recent Market Basket grocery boycott.

Susan Richardson, a grocery store worker and UFCW Local 21 executive board member, had an op-ed published in the Cascadia Weekly (scroll down to page 6) regarding Labor Day and her support of the Employee Empowerment Act, new legislation that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to give victims of labor discrimination the same protections available under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“Narrowing the gap between rich and poor is essential to rebuilding our economy, but that can’t happen if workers lack the power and protection to bargain for better wages and benefits.”

Michael Pajewski, a member of UFCW Local 23, had a letter to the editor published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding Labor Day and how all workers have benefited from unions.

“Whether you are a union worker or not, you have enjoyed the benefits of union negotiations: the 40-hour work week, holiday pay, vacation time, overtime pay and safety standards where you work.”

And Jeff Goldhaber, a Stop & Shop worker and UFCW Local 1445 shop steward, had an op-ed published in Labor Notes regarding Market Basket workers and the benefits of having a union voice on the job.

Customers boycotted Market Basket not because of loyalty to a CEO they’ve never met. They boycotted because they wanted to support the store workers they know and preserve the community that’s been built up around these stores. If we really want to save Market Basket, we need to address the workers’ concerns.

These are just a few examples of how UFCW members are making their voices heard in their local newspapers.  We look forward to highlighting additional op-eds and letters to the editor by UFCW members throughout the year.

UFCW Local 2013 Fresh Direct Workers Ratify New Agreement

fresh direct updateUFCW Local 2013 FreshDirect workers in New York City recently ratified a new three-year contract. The agreement went into effect September 1, and increased wages and benefits for nearly 1,000 FreshDirect employees. UFCW Local 2013 members will see wages increase an average of 20 percent over the life of the deal. FreshDirect transportation workers make an average of about $11 an hour currently. The agreement also reduces medical premiums by $450 per month for UFCW families at FreshDirect.

“The new raises in the contract will help to make ends meet,” said FreshDirect worker Carl Wong who lives in Brooklyn.

“These were not easy negotiations but workers are greatly satisfied with the results.  Improving wages and reducing benefit cost were paramount priorities. We couldn’t have accomplished this without the hard work of our members, the pivotal assistance of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the support of 18 Bronx elected officials,” said Mark Carotenuto, President of UFCW Local 2013.

More than 15,000 hardworking men and women are members of UFCW Local 2013 and work in the food production, warehousing and distribution, and health care sectors.

UFCW Members in Southern Calif. Ratify New Agreement with Food 4 Less

Food-4-Less-300x200Members from UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428, and 1442, have ratified a new three year agreement with the grocery chain Food 4 Less. The previous contract expired June 8 and workers were prepared to take a strike vote if necessary.

The agreement covers more than 6,000 grocery workers at 100 Food 4 Less stores. The new contract increases wages, protects pension plans, and maintains affordable healthcare.

Members reported that during negotiations, the company was pushing for changes that would undercut worker rights, including cutting the number of full-time jobs and cutting funding for healthcare expenses. Food 4 Less dropped its demands after seeing that employees were standing strong against any changes that could hurt workers.

Through social media, UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian credited the ratified contract to the “unwavering solidarity” of the membership, and thanked customers and the public for supporting Food 4 less workers during their contract campaign.

“Thanks to the support of consumers and our members’ resolve, we have reached a tentative contract deal that protects employees’ wages, hours, and health care. We would not have been able to accomplish this without the backing of the public and all our members,” said UFCW Local 770 President Rick Icaza.

Food 4 Less, owned by Kroger Co., was the last grocery chain in Southern California to reach a deal on a new contract. UFCW members have recently ratified contracts with all the major grocery operators in Southern California including Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, Stater Brothers, Gelsons, and Super A.