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Member Spotlight: Keith Phillips

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIn this week’s member spotlight, we chatted with UFCW Local 951 member Keith Phillips, who works at Meijer in East Lansing, Michigan.

Keith has been a UFCW member for two years now, but has been a member of various unions over the years–so he knows the value of belonging to one, especially in a right-to-work state, he notes.

“I want to call it something else,” he adds slyly, alluding to the many more fitting terms for the legislation that does anything but protect someone’s actual right to work.

Before going to the United States Merchant Marine Academy as a young man, Keith attended the National School of Meat Cutting and became a journeyman meat cutter. He worked for Packer Foods in Flint, Michigan where he joined the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America in 1967 and 1968. It was during these times, Keith notes, that unions were very strong and more people were “union-minded.”

For most of Keith’s professional career, he was an environmental engineer and belonged to the Maritime Engineers Union, where he was very involved and served as a union steward and chapter president. He is also a retired U.S. Navy Commander.

After his retirement, Keith wanted to do work as a meat cutter again and was hired by Meijer, joining UFCW Local 951. Right now, Keith works as a part time meat and seafood clerk.

“I enjoy helping customers,” says Keith of his job. He enjoys to “chit-chat” with them and his coworkers, many of them veterans like him. “It’s really a social experience!” He also does volunteer work in his spare time.

Right now, Keith says he is planning to reach out to his union steward at work, because his manager tried to move him to a non-union position, which Keith refused to let happen. Now, Keith wants to file a grievance because his supervisor has not scheduled him to work for a week. “I know that my steward meat-cutter friend will help me out,” he notes.

“With a union, you have a degree of protection,” he says after refusing to switch to a non-union job.

 

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UFCW Region 1 and Local 359 Stand in Solidarity with Citra Mina Seafood Workers

On July 8th, Region 1 & Local 359 members attended a solidarity action for 78 Citra Mina Workers who are seeking justice.

These seafood workers were fired from the General Santos plant in the Philippines, where the company is based, after they attempted to organize and form a union to demand better pay and working conditions.

They have now  been fighting for over six months to be reinstated and get the respect they deserve from their employer. They are staying strong for their families who so desperately need the income from these jobs.

Citra Mina is one of the world’s leading sellers of fresh, frozen, and value added tuna and other seafood products. The United States is one of the company’s largest customers, with much of its product coming into the country via Fulton’s Fish Market in New York, which is staffed by UFCW Local 359 members. Outraged when they heard the story of the Citra Mina workers, the workers at Fulton’s Fish market acted to show their support. Demanding the Citra Mina workers be allowed back to work and that their union be recognized, the union members signed and displayed a poster inside their market and pledged to undertake every possible solidarity action to press Citra Mina to respect their workers rights.

With the support of UFCW locals, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), and other labor groups, these workers have a chance at standing up to Citra Mina and showing them that together, they cannot be silenced.

 

Some of the 78 fired Citra Mina seafood workers, calling for a stop to their employer's union busting practices.

Some of the 78 fired Citra Mina seafood workers, calling for a stop to their employer’s union busting practices.

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Local 359 members at Fulton’s Fish Market showing support for the Citra Mina 78

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Schedules That Work Act

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement regarding introduction of the Schedules That Work Act.

“If you ask a worker in the retail industry what improvements can be made to their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Fair, flexible, and reliable scheduling is a simple way to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect. In a perfect world, employers would view workers as human beings with competing life demands rather than numbers on a balance sheet. But in reality, scheduling is more erratic than ever.

“The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. This includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers advance notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.

“This legislation would ensure all workers have the rights fought for and won by UFCW members for decades.  Our contracts have long guaranteed predictable and adequate scheduling. The law of the land should do the same. I urge Congress to pass the Schedules That Work Act as soon as possible.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw