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March 5, 2017

UFCW Members Welcome a New Addition to the Family: Linden Hills Co-Op Workers

The UFCW is pleased to welcome a new addition to our union family:  the hard-working men and women of the Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The passion and enthusiasm the men and women of Linden Hills Co-op feel both for their jobs and for their new union family is clear as they talk about the democratic principles they believe in in this recent article featured in Workday Minnesota:

Workers at Linden Hills Co-op won their election Thursday to form a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 653. Eight-five percent of workers voted in favor of unionization in balloting conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We are excited to begin the bargaining process because it is the next step in making our already amazing co-operative even more amazing. We love where we work. This is an extremely positive thing!” said Tracie Lemberg from the Health and Body Care Department.

Workers have begun circulating bargaining surveys to help the bargaining committee understand their co-workers’ priorities.

“I have been working at co-ops in the Twin Cities since I was 16. Forming a union is the best way to make sure all workers are treated fairly and have a say in creating a positive work environment. I’m proud to work at this co-op and look forward to making it an even better place,” said Emily Calhoon from the Produce Department.

Workers said they want to actively ensure good jobs and a sustainable co-op that best serves the needs of the community.

Evan Adams-Hanson, a front end floor coordinator said, “Forming a union reinforces co-op values of community throughout our store. Linden Hills Co-op can be a model for how workers and management cooperate to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability at all levels.”

When workers first started discussing forming a union, they met at each other’s houses discreetly to create a safe space to refine their goals and identify who would be most interested in organizing.

“Organizers helped provide advice and experience, but this organizing was done by us – we were making commitments to each other to have each others’ back,” said Bryce Christopherson, a grocery buyer. “For other workers who are forming their union I would advise as much transparency and outreach to your co-workers as feasible. And reach out – we are happy to help you go through the process of forming your union.”

Mark McGraw from the Scanning department said, “I feel more connected than ever to my co-workers and our store, and I’m excited to have all voices at the table as we move forward with our contract negotiations.”

Linden Hills Co-op workers were inspired by other workers who recently organized a union at the Wedge Community Co-op and Whole Foods Co-op in Minnesota and the People’s Food Co-op in Michigan.

UFCW Local 653 were excited to extend a warm welcome to the new co-op members. 

“I’ve been a meat cutter and member of UFCW Local 653 for 10 years. I look forward to welcoming the Linden Hills co-op workers as brothers and sisters in our union and fighting together to improve retail standards across the Twin Cities,” said Anthony Lanners, who works at Festival Foods in Andover.

Most of all, Linden Hills workers are eager to get to work building an even more engaged and democratic workplace that can serve as a model for the rest of the community.

“Giving all workers a voice will make employees feel more involved in improving the Co-op,” said Front End Floor Coordinator Evan Adams-Hanson.

“Cooperative principles teach us that co-ops are democratic organizations that work for the sustainable development of our communities. Unionizing Linden Hills Co-op will extend those principles within, to the workers of the co-op, who seek sustainable employment and a collective voice. I look forward to the merging of these principles and ideals that will form a stronger co-op, together,” said Produce Stocker Cassie Nouis.

Cheese buyer Hannah Glaser sees unionization as “an affirmation of mutual support between the staff and business.” Produce Stocker Brian Matson believes “the cooperation of fellow employees in a combined effort to guarantee a better workplace is at the heart of unionization, and that Linden Hills Co-op can be representative of what a community can change if they work together.”

February 4, 2017

Super Bowl Sunday Second Highest Day of Food Consumption

Aside from Thanksgiving, Americans eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day. UFCW members in grocery stores and in food processing plants across the country have been working hard to prep the meats, cheese trays, deli sandwiches, veggie platters and other great game day snacks we all love.

“This is one of the busiest times of the year for my store,” said Earl Greenlawn, a member of UFCW Local 367 who works at Kroger. “Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, my co-workers and I put in long hours preparing food and helping customers plan their menus. We love knowing that our hard work makes it easy for people to enjoy the game with their friends and family.”

So what exactly is everyone eating during the Big Game?

1. A whole bunch of wings. Like, 1.33 BILLION wings.

Collectively, American shoppers are predicted to consume enough wings this Super Bowl that if the entire population of the United States came over for snacks, everybody could each eat four wings and there would still be plenty of leftovers.

How many wings is 1.33 billion? So many wings, that if an NFL player ate two wings per minute, it would take him 1,265 years, 80 days, 7 hours and 12 minutes to eat them all.

Curious about what happens to the rest of the chicken?

2. Ranch Dressing

We’re guessing this isn’t for salads. If you needed more reasons to love ranch dressing, not only was it invented by a cowboy, but UFCW members make Hidden Valley Ranch.

3. Pizza.

The Super Bowl is the busiest day of the year for pizza take out. But it’s not just take out— January also has the highest sales of frozen pizza, in part from shoppers stockpiling grub for their Super Bowl parties. Pizza delivery drivers— our hearts are with you. Godspeed.

4. Chips

According to Nielsen, Americans spend $277 million on potato chips and $225 million on tortilla chips in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

5. Avocados

Avocados are a superfood. We don’t have to feel guilty about the avocados, right? Even if we eat 104.9 million pounds of them?

Holy guacamole!

January 3, 2017

UFCW Member uses CPR to save a coworker’s life

What would you do if a coworker had a heart attack on the job?

That’s the situation Sandy Maynor, a UFCW Local 400 member and Giant employee in Washington, D.C., faced when her coworker suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Maynor sprang into action, administering CPR for 10 minutes in a heroic “act of love” until the paramedics arrived.

UFCW member saves coworkers life

Check out the full story.

December 25, 2016

UFCW Members Make the Holidays Happen

How do UFCW members make the holidays happen? Oh let us count the ways:

1. Sweets

This is the bakery dept at store 649 in Manahawkin NJ  and they are making the sweetness happen! They and other talented UFCW bakers make holiday pies, cookie trays, and all those sweet things we can’t resist. Thanks, guys.

2. The Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition. Visit the hard-working UFCW members at the meat counters of your local Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, or other union grocery stores and they can help you put together a traditional seven fishes meal of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, eels, squid, octopus, mussels, or other tasty seafood. They’ve got your shrimp cocktail covered, too.

3. Ham! Turkey!

Not only do UFCW members work the deli counter and help you find the perfect star for your holiday feast, but classics like Butterball turkeys and Smithfield hams are made by UFCW meat-packing members.

4. Christmas trees made from cupcakes

I know we already put sweets on this list, but this Christmas tree made of cupcakes was too good to pass over. Thank you, UFCW members, for making that happen. It’s like two of the best holiday things combined. That’s some holiday magic.

5. Green Stuff

If you are like us and have been eating nothing but cookies and cakes for days, don’t worry. Vegetables do still exist and UFCW members are always happy to help you find the freshest, healthiest greens for whenever you’ve run out of pie and are ready to start on those New Year’s resolutions.

November 23, 2016

Our Thanksgiving Heroes

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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.

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

Let’s pause to be thankful for the Thanksgiving heroes whose hard work and dedication help make possible the traditions and warm memories we make year after year.
November 2, 2016

“We all just felt that we deserved better”

hale-hearty-workers-join-local-1500

Last month, 56 workers at the Hale & Hearty commissary in Brooklyn, N.Y., banded together for a better life by joining UFCW Local 1500. Hale & Hearty is a New York-based counter-serve chain that’s well known for its soups.

Donald Torres, who has worked at the Hale & Hearty factory for two years said, “We all just felt that we deserved better. We want to have a voice and to build a better life working here.”

Tony Speelman, president UFCW Local 1500, said “I want to congratulate the hard-working men and women at Hale & Hearty for joining us at Local 1500. Our entire union is proud of them and admires their courage. We look forward to building a relationship with Hale & Hearty, and working together to find ways to benefit workers and the company together.”

“By working together we will improve their lives and make Hale & Hearty into a better and more successful company. This cannot be done alone, it will be a joint labor-management effort and we look forward to beginning that relationship,” Speelman concluded.

October 20, 2016

Giant Eagle Catering Workers Join Local 23

giant-eagle-workers-local-23

Earlier this month, the hard-working employees in the catering department at the Settler’s Ridge Giant Eagle Market District store in Pittsburgh voted to join UFCW Local 23.

The Giant Eagle workers were concerned about respect and fairness on the job, and wanted to join the hundreds of coworkers in the same store who are members of UFCW Local 23 who are striving for a better life.

“We know that there are many nonunion Giant Eagle workers that would love to be part of the UFCW, but due to fear and bully tactics by Giant Eagle, it takes strong workers to stand up to such an anti-union company,” said UFCW Local 23 President Anthony Helfer. “Our stewards were key in helping to organize these workers and we look forward to more activities at Giant Eagle, even in the face of this anti-union company.”

August 8, 2016

Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Deal with Ralphs, Vons/Albertsons

Proposed Contract Goes to Members for Ratification Vote August 8th

Oscar Gonzalez, a Ralphs produce worker in Hollywood, marches with grocery workers and supporters Tuesday to demand a new contract. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Oscar Gonzalez, a Ralphs produce worker in Hollywood, marches with grocery workers and supporters Tuesday to demand a new contract. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

UFCW grocery workers in California reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Kroger Company and Cerberus Capital, the owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons, respectively.

After intense negotiations following the imposition of an August 8th deadline by seven California locals of the UFCW, the federal mediator helped guide the parties to a proposed contract.

“We are happy to say that five months after our previous contract expired, the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons have agreed to a proposed contract,” said Rick Icaza, one of the chief negotiators for the UFCW and the President of one of the largest UFCW locals in the country. “This would not have been possible without the strength and solidarity of all the 50,000 grocery workers throughout central and southern California, the cooperation of the seven California UFCW locals and the UFCW International Union. We also owe deep thanks to the support of consumers and community leaders. Because of the unshakable unity of our membership, we were able to bring these negotiations to a conclusion, and will present the offer to membership for ratification on Monday, August 8th.”

“While we are unable to divulge the details of the agreement until we inform our members, we would like to thank the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh and Commissioner Isael Hermosillo, without whom this agreement would not have been possible,” said John Grant, Secretary­Treasurer of Local 770. “We believe this contract will address our members’ concerns and begin to secure the important role grocery workers play in our community.”

The previous contract covering nearly 50,000 central and southern California grocery workers expired nearly five months ago. Since then, grocery workers have worked without a contract, staging numerous rallies, marches, and events designed to bring attention to their fight and to bring the corporate owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons to the table. Last Tuesday, thousands of grocery workers, community members, clergy, and fellow union members marched across Los Angeles to demand a conclusion to negotiations.

UFCW grocery workers across central and southern California will gather to review the details of the contract and vote on the offer. Results of the vote will be released when voting is complete by the seven UFCW locals.

July 20, 2016

Local 1995 Kroger Workers Ratify New Contract

Local 1995 Kroger workers

On July 1, Kroger workers who are members of UFCW Local 1995 ratified a new contract. The contract covers 12,000 Kroger workers in middle and east Tennessee, north Alabama, and south Kentucky.

The new contract includes wage increases and affordable health care, maintains the employee pension fund, and revises tiers for pay, vacation and holidays.

“The Local 1995 Bargaining Committee and staff did a great job in understanding our members’ needs and effectively communicating those to Kroger,” said UFCW Local 1995 President Gregory Stallings. “Therefore, we were able to reach a Memorandum of Agreement with the company and complete the ratification process prior to July 4th.”

July 15, 2016

Local 400 Members and Customers Come Together to Save Grocery Stores

13619871_1156147594406141_544955539235430165_nIn March, employees at eight Giant stores represented by Local 400 – six in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area and two in Southern Maryland – were told their stores would be put up for sale as part of the merger between Giant’s Netherlands based parent company Ahold and Belgium based grocery store Delhaize. These proposed store sales threatened the better wages, benefits and grocery store experience that the Giant stores provide to the local community.

Which is why Local 400 members who work at Giant, their loyal customers and community leaders banded together to help make people see that selling these stores was a bad idea. Through a series of rallies, public meetings and marches, they sent a clear message that the local community didn’t want these grocery stores and the good jobs they provide to be sold away.

“I’m glad that Giant did the right thing in the end and I’m proud to be a part of a union and a community that would not give up the good jobs and grocery options Giant brings to this area,” said Robyn Wheeler, a Local 400 member who has worked at Giant in Fredericksburg City for 37 years.

In addition to organizing public events that drew attention to the negative aspects of the proposal to sell the local grocery stores, Local 400 members also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and their local elected officials to express concerns about the impact on wages, benefits and competition.

Treesa Shipp, a Local 400 member who works at the Giant in Stafford said, “Because we have a strong union we had a voice in this process and were able to stop our store from being sold. They could not ignore us, the employees who built this company and work hard to make it successful every single day.”