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June 7, 2018

Does your workplace have proper hot weather safety strategies in place?

With summer almost here and temperatures rising, many workers face additional heat-related risks. If you are one of these many hard working men and women, you deserve to know you’ll be safe when you go to work.


Does your workplace have a plan?

1.) Train all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).


2.) Have a clearly written protocol on how to respond to a medical emergency.

This should include information for all shifts about who is authorized to call an ambulance, how to call for an ambulance, and what to do while waiting for emergency medical care. This protocol should be translated into the commonly spoken languages in the facility and posted throughout the workplace.


3.) Train  all management and hourly employees on workers’ right to access drinking water as needed and the right to access to bathrooms as needed.

This is important because some workers hold back on drinking water so that they can put off using the restroom. This is never a good idea and can have serious consequences during hot weather. 

4.) Monitor particularly hot and humid work areas.

This should be done with a device that measures both heat and humidity and combines these measurements to provide the Heat Index. The company should have a plan for additional rest breaks or means of cooling the work area whenever the heat index approaches the Extreme Caution zone.

Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

 

Work with your union rep and your local to make sure that you and your coworkers are protected in hot conditions. Meet with the company to ensure that all of the proper hot weather safety strategies are being used in your workplace.


For more information about heat and heat-related illness, you can contact the UFCW Occupational Safety and Health Office in Washington, D.C. at 202-223-3111.

More materials can be found below:

Preventing Heat Illness
Heat Illness response guidelines
Sample Heat Emergency Procedure

 

May 24, 2018

Union health insurance: a better value

Mike Watts lives with his family in Kentucky, where he has been a Kroger employee for over 30 years. When his son was born with special needs, Mike’s union health insurance allowed him to provide the high quality care his son needed when he was born.

“I have both of my children on the union insurance since they’ve been born. Me and their mother have quite our options. She also works for Kroger in management and we decided the union insurance was definitely the far better value.

In management, she basically had insurance also and then with the insurance that I had which was through the union we found out there was a better premium on that, we also found it paid for more and there was less out of pocket, the copays were better.

Landon, he was born with special needs. This is where we found out we really got a great value with the union insurance because we’ve had to deal with a lot of doctors appointments.

His medical outlook is good. He’s as normal as any other child. We’re just super excited that we’ve got the insurance to have him have the care that he needs and clearly we feel like it’s given him a better life because of it.”

May 22, 2018

UFCW Local 27 members craft the flowers blankets for the Preakness

Talented UFCW members at Giant Food Store #108 in Baltimore, Maryland carefully weave together the yellow flowers that are awarded to the winning horses at The Preakness Stakes held each year on the third Sunday in May. Nicknamed “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans,” the Preakness was first held in 1873 and second only to the Kentucky Derby in North American equestrian events.

UFCW Local 27 members: Julie Hoshor, Jen Gobble, Veronica Worsley, Mary Pat Walbrecher, Kathleen Marvel, Joann Heil

At both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, it’s UFCW members who work at neighborhood grocery stores who do the highly-detailed work of constructing the elaborate blankets. While the Kentucky Derby blanket is traditionally made from roses, the Preakness is made from yellow flowers made to look like the state flower of Maryland, the black-eyed Susan.

Why not use real black-eyed Susans? The summer-blooming flower isn’t in season until June, so instead yellow flowers such as mums are used as a substitute.

Though smaller than the blankets awarded at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness blankets use ten times the number of flowers. Each flower is individually wired and attached to felt-backed matting so as not to injure the horse.

 

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.”

May 1, 2018

UFCW members are proud to make the Kentucky Derby’s “Garland of Roses”

Since 1987, the talented men and women of UFCW Local 227 in Kentucky have been hand-crafting the delicate “Garland of Roses” awarded to the winning horse of the annual Kentucky Derby. The garland has been an iconic part of the Kentucky Derby traditions since 1932.

“I’m excited to be part of the team that makes the Garland of Roses,” said UFCW Local 227 member Leigh Wheeler.  “It takes about 14 hours and every rose has to be perfect. Derby is a wonderful tradition in our state and our union family works hard to make you and your family proud.”

 

 

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

February 27, 2018

UFCW cake decorator shows how to make shamrock cupcakes

Just in time for St.Patrick’s Day, UFCW Local 23 member and expert cake decorator Carolyn shows you how to create easy shamrock cupcakes. All you need are some basic decorating tools, icing, and food coloring!

What you’ll need:

  • A pastry bag with #805 tip
  • White buttercream frosting
  • Green buttercream frosting
  • Cupcakes

“With the proper tips, you can make these in no time at all!”
– Carolyn 

February 23, 2018

UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship winners: where are they now?

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 8, 2018

UFCW Members Make Valentine’s Day Happen

Becky, a UFCW Local 5 member, displays a box of See’s Valentine’s candies

As with many holidays, the members of our hard-working union family help make Valentine’s Day happen for members of their communities and people across the country.

One example is Rob Peters, a member of UFCW Local 1776 and a Wine Specialist at Fine Wine & Good Spirits store 4646 in Ardmore, Pa.

“When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I always recommend sparkling wine because it is popular, versatile and celebratory, i.e. ‘pop the cork,’” he said.  “Sparkling wine can be used at any time before, during or after dinner.”

There are many varieties of sparkling wine, but Rob recommends sparkling wines from California, Prosecco from Italy, or the classic: champagne from France.

On the West Coast, Becky S. at See’s candy has been a member of UFCW Local 5 since 2002. Now an assistant store manager, Becky’s experience is put to good use during one of her store’s busiest times of year–Valentine’s Day.

“We serve anywhere from 200 to 600 people a day,” she said.

Despite the hectic work day, Becky always has a smile on her face. For folks looking to buy a sweet treat for a special someone this Valentine’s Day, Becky recommends getting one of See’s pre-filled 1-pound heart boxes if you’re in a hurry, or using their handy candy menu (also found at sees.com) to hand select each individual chocolate inside.

“It’s a great idea to purchase one of our beautiful 1-pound boxes because they are reusable and you can bring them in again next year,” she said.

UFCW members also have access to exclusive discounts for Valentine’s Day. You can save 25 percent on flowers and gifts from Teleflora. Get more information here and make someone’s Valentine’s Day special.
February 2, 2018

Most popular Super Bowl recipes by state

Most popular Super Bowl foods by state

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?

According to Google Trends, the top recipes searched for by state are:

ALABAMA: Porchetta
ALASKA: Spinach quiche
ARIZONA: Corn bread cake
ARKANSAS: Cheese dip
CALIFORNIA: Cupcakes
COLORADO: Queso dip
CONNECTICUT: Cupcakes
DELAWARE: Chili
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Italian meatballs
FLORIDA: Spinach artichoke dip
GEORGIA: Pico De Gallo
HAWAII: Grilled liempo
IDAHO: Mac and cheese
ILLINOIS: Buffalo chicken dip
INDIANA: Pulled pork
IOWA: Artichoke dip
KANSAS: S’mores dessert
KENTUCKY: Bean salsa
LOUISIANA: Creamy shrimp, crabmeat, and spinach dip
MAINE: Spinach Caesar salad
MARYLAND: Chickpea soup
MASSACHUSETTS: Buffalo chicken dip
MICHIGAN: Hamburger sliders
MINNESOTA: Chili
MISSISSIPPI: Sweet potato shepherd’s pie
MISSOURI: Chili

MONTANA: Buttermilk biscuits
NEBRASKA: Chicken wings
NEVADA: Cake pops
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Tacos
NEW JERSEY: Buffalo wings
NEW MEXICO: Fried jalapeño poppers
NEW YORK: Jalapeño poppers
NORTH CAROLINA: Buffalo wings
NORTH DAKOTA: Jalapeño poppers
OHIO: Pulled pork pita nachos
OKLAHOMA: Oven mac and cheese
OREGON: Tater Tot casserole
PENNSYLVANIA: Buffalo chicken dip
RHODE ISLAND: Bean dip
SOUTH CAROLINA: Pepperoni dip
SOUTH DAKOTA: Creamy chicken casserole
TENNESSEE: Buffalo chicken appetizer
TEXAS: Football cupcakes
UTAH: Cheesy chicken broccoli casserole
VERMONT: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
VIRGINIA: Buffalo chicken dip
WASHINGTON: Baked chicken wings
WEST VIRGINIA: Bacon cheese ball
WISCONSIN: Buffalo chicken dip
WYOMING: Homemade Oreo cookies

Whatever you’re eating this weekend, there’s a good chance a UFCW member somewhere along the line helped it reach your home. Enjoy the game and let us know your favorite recipes on our Facebook page.