December 5, 2018
One of the benefits of union membership is being able to negotiate with your employer on equal footing. Rather than having to go to your boss as an individual and hope they are in the position to be able to do something about your concerns, union representation means there’s an organized and meaningful way to take worker concerns to the company and sit down and hammer out real, binding solutions.
The primary way this is achieved is through negotiating contracts between the company and the local union representing the workers, or what is often referred to as “collective bargaining.” UFCW members at several different locals recently demonstrated how standing together through this process can lead to better jobs and better security.
UFCW Local Members of UFCW Local 700 who work at Kroger stores in South Bend, Indiana, ratified a new contract on Nov. 1 that improves wages and protects benefits. The one-year contract covers about 800 workers in nine stores in the South Bend area.
The new contract helps to create a more secure future for Kroger workers and their families through regular, guaranteed wage increases. The agreement also protects pensions and quality, affordable health care, and includes contract language improvements.
“We are powerful when we stick together,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “Together, we won a contract that increases wages, provides access to affordable health care, and protects retirement benefits for Kroger workers in South Bend.”
Members of UFCW Local 919 who work at Bob’s Discount Furniture stores in Connecticut ratified a new contract that also improves their wages and benefits. The three-year contract covers 70 sales professionals and office clericals at three stores in Manchester, Orange and Stamford.
The new contract, which marks the third agreement for the workers, gave zero concessions and includes wage increases and a zero percent increase on employee health and welfare costs. The office clerical staff will receive an 8 percent raise over the three-year life of the contract, with the first 3 percent retroactive to July 15, 2018. The new agreement also includes improved scheduling and seniority rights, especially when it comes to the distribution of overtime and much desired reduction on the amount of time workers can lose out on their earned commission when a customer returns a purchase.
November 16, 2018
UFCW local unions around the country offer a wide range of programs and training to enhance the professional skills of their members and help them take their careers to the next level.
One such program is UFCW Local 21’s Meatcutters Apprenticeship Program. Domico Kelly, UFCW Local 21 member and graduate of the program, shares with us the advantages of working as a meatcutter and why he’s grateful he took the leap and signed up:
The Meat Apprenticeship Program of King County in Washington near Seattle is a nationally recognized program that teaches a diverse student population to become experts in the meat cutting trade. Students graduate from the program with an official WA certification which is honored in all 50 states.
“I didn’t just want a job, I wanted a union job. A career,” says Kelly. “I wanted to work hard to provide for my family. So when the UFCW offered me a chance to start a 2 year program to become a certified butcher, it was an incredible opportunity and I didn’t hesitate.”
“This is a good trade to have. I’m a person with disability, so when I came out of high school, I didn’t really know what I was going to be doing. But once I got back here, I said, ‘I could do this.'”
“I’m really glad I did this. It’s good, decent money. You’re going to be able to pay your bills. You’re going to be able to do a whole lot. You could even buy your own house. This job is a good job. If you have a family, you’re going to be able to take care of your family.”
The comprehensive program focuses on teaching students to exceed levels of industry competency through a rigorous and challenging curriculum. Students learn how to work more efficiently both independently and in teams. They explore their employers’ policies, procedures and expectations while learning how to maximize productivity, profitability, craftsmanship, and customer service. Meat apprentice students learn how to be more effective employees and to exceed customer expectations.
November 14, 2018
The fires sweeping through Northern California have destroyed the homes and taken the lives of loved ones in our Union family. There are no words to express our sorrow for their loss.
UFCW Local 8 Golden State has created a special fund for members in need of assistance.*
If you want to contribute to the UFCW 8 Disaster Relief Fund for California Fire Victims please go to UFCW8.org/donate
*If you are a member in need of help please visit www.UFCW8.org/relief or call at (888) 834-4488.
October 16, 2018
This profile was originally published in the UFCW Local 1428 Fall 2018 newsletter:
“I grew up in a paranormal house,” recalls Kitty Janusz, who works in the produce department of Vons 3086 in Hacienda Heights. “That’s where it all started.”
It was a brand-new house when her parents moved into the Whittier residence in 1954, but strange things started happening right away, Janusz said. And they kept on happening.
For example: “We would hear footsteps on wood, but our floors were carpeted.”
Her family would come home to water running in the house — all the faucets would be turned on. Items would disappear and then reappear. With windows completely closed the curtains would blow in all at once.
“I was a little kid when all this was going on and we only had one ‘creepy’ area,” Janusz said. “It was a small hallway where we would walk through and totally feel a presence behind us, but we’d turn around and no one would be there.”
“The presence only got aggressive once,” she continued. “I thought our cat was on the corner of my bed one night and I could feel the weight on the foot of the bed, but I looked and there was nothing there. I could see the bed getting a depression like something was there and it got bigger and bigger. I told it to go away… and it did.”
Capturing spirits on camera
Janusz grew up with curiosity about spirit activity, rather than fear. As an adult, she researched historic locations and conducted investigations on her own.
During this time, she realized she had a gift for capturing what is known as EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. It seemed she was able to capture “spirit voices” through the use of digital recorders.
“It’s a skill set more than a talent,” she said. “For some it comes easy, but all need to be wary of the effects investigating can have on you.”
“I could feel sadness and pain,” she said. “I wanted to know, why are these places haunted?”
Her favorite paranormal site is aboard the Queen Mary.
“I was in the infirmary recording for EVPs and I felt a presence, so I simply asked, ‘Can you tell me what year it is?’ I didn’t hear anything, but when I played back the recorder I could clearly hear ‘1943’ … and I was hooked. Love that place!”
Janusz realized she needed to use her gifts as a psychic medium to help her communicate more directly with spirits, who she believes are calling for help. She said she uses these gifts to guide lost souls to the light and let them know they are not alone.
“That’s part of what we do as investigators,” Janusz said. “We help the spirits move on.”
“Usually, the spirit is unhappy and lingering for a reason,” she said. “In my experience energy can become imprinted within a location. It can come from traumatic events such as war, violence, murder, domestic abuse, or the pain of losing a loved one.
Energy can also linger as benign energies that may result in residual hauntings. These imprinted energetic anomalies are different than an intelligent haunting from a spirit who may remain at a location. Paranormal investigators need to be cognizant of these energetic influences and maintain healthy personal boundaries. It’s not just about walking around in dark, scary places with a flashlight!”
Janusz emphasized that people need to set boundaries when investigating. “All the energy one takes on when investigating the paranormal can affect a person physically and mentally,” she said.
She has authored two books on the subject.
The first, When the Dead Speak: The Art and Science of Paranormal Investigation, won first place in the 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the United States. The second, Secrets Buried in the Lemon Grove, is a novel based on paranormal events.
Janusz also hosts a weekly radio show, Into the Light Paranormal, where she interviews psychics, authors, investigators, crypto-zoologists and other guests.
In addition, she is a proud member of UFCW Local 1428. “I’m so glad I have this union job,” Janusz said. “I like the work, but I stayed because of the great health benefits, which allow me the freedom to do the things I love to do.”
Janusz started working for Vons 23 years ago in the floral department. Three years later, when a position opened in produce, her manager was reluctant to lose such a good florist, but Janusz suggested that the floral job be given to her sister.
The arrangement worked, and Janusz’ sister has been working in floral ever since, currently with Pavilions.
Over the years, Kitty Janusz’ health benefits helped her through four surgeries, including replacements of both knees.
“The surgeries left me some awesome scars.” she said. “And the hospital is great for paranormal activity!” she said.
“Right before one of my surgeries I saw two little girls talking to each other. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could see their lips moving. Then they looked at me, saw I could see them, and left.
“I guess they figured they wouldn’t have much fun with me. I knew this was going to be a good night!”
“During my rehabilitation, there were 17 steps I had to walk before they’d let me go,” she continued. “I could hear voices everywhere. I found out later the steps were located in what used to be the psychiatric ward. Those were fun nights in rehabilitation!”
Janusz has a few more years to reach her “Golden 85,” the moment when her age plus her years of service in the industry add up to 85. At that time, she will be able to retire with full benefits.
When retirement does come, you might be able to find her at her favorite paranormal location.
“My goal when I retire is to be a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary,” she said.
“They’re still union, I believe!”
Both of her books are available on Amazon and Kindle. Members may also purchase signed copies of her books, download episodes of her podcast and even hear audio evidence from her investigations on her website: www.kittyjanusz.com.
October 4, 2018
Sharon is a UFCW Local 1000 member. She was diagnosed with cancer within weeks of qualifying for enrollment in her UFCW sponsored health and welfare plan. She describes it as a blessing.
“The insurance was great and worked well with my doctors at OU. I got into treatment immediately, the week after my diagnosis. If I didn’t have my union coverage, I’d have to wait in line for weeks for charity options.”
Sharon is in remission and back at work Assistant Bakery/Deli Manager at HAC Cash Saver 188 in Guthrie, Texas.
Thank you for sharing your story, Sharon! If you are a UFCW member with a story to tell about how being a union member has made your life better, we’d love to hear from you.
August 28, 2018
So many of the hard-working men and women of our union have spent their careers as UFCW members, and have become valued and irreplaceable fixtures of the workplaces they have helped make successful over the years. One such member is Susan Beaver of UFCW Local 876.
Susan Beaver has been a UFCW member for the past 33 years. In 1985, Susan began her career at Farmer Jack. This month, she celebrated a well-earned retirement from Kroger in Richland, MS.
Please join us in wishing Susan a happy retirement, and thank you to all of our long-serving members who have helped keep our union family strong through the years!
August 10, 2018
Geno Lis is a UFCW Local 1776 member who works at Giant Eagle near Pittsburgh, PA in the bakery. Like many talented UFCW members, his passion for food doesn’t stop when he clocks out. Geno’s previous job in the restaurant industry gave him experience around the kitchen, and he carries those skills with him today.
One thing he is particularly fond of is grilling and smoking. “I like grilling because it puts me in charge of the meal instead of having somebody else in charge,” says Geno. “I like to cook steaks and burgers. I like those big, thick steaks, like inch thick steaks. T-bones.”
“One thing I like to do is Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which is like an Italian rub. You take a little olive oil and lots of oregano, rosemary, garlic, and make it like a paste on top.”
“Another good seasoning is a coffee rub. I use I would say about 1/3 coffee, 1/3 Montreal steak seasoning, and 1/3 brown sugar.”
“I do a lot of cooking for people who are pretty conservative, so I like trying to open up their palette and get them to try different things. I am thinking next I might try smoked porkchops with orange marmalade and horseradish sauce.”
Geno says whenever he comes up with new recipes, he likes to share what worked and what didn’t with others. “A lot of people will ask me ‘how can you come up with these recipes?’ I worked in the restaurant business for 30 years. If I like something, I’ll try it out first and if it works I’ll pass it along.” Recently he tried smoking a watermelon. After putting the watermelon in the smoker for about ten minutes, he topped it with feta and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
Charcoal or propane?
“I have used charcoal, and I’ve gone as far as cave man style and used wood. I only use wood for my smoker now. Mostly I use propane because of the Ease of use. Charcoal adds a lot more flavor but is also temperamental and you have have to keep your eye on it more often.”
What is your ideal fat ratio for burgers?
“75-80%. 90% is better for you, but tends to come out really dry. If you want to be healthy, it’s better to buy ground turkey or ground chicken.”
What have you grilled so far this summer that you’re most excited about?
“There is a local smokehouse that I buy meat from at least once a year called Herb Britter’s where I got jalapeno hot dogs. They have the best smoked chops. Homemade hot dogs. It’s really good.”
Do you have any food you like to serve with what you’ve grilled?
“One thing I like to do, whatever the protein, is I like to have a starch and a side. Baby asparagus coated real lightly with olive oil and just sprinkle a little salt and pepper. You can also grill portabello mushroom caps. With those you can put the same seasonings you’d use on your steak.”
July 20, 2018
UFCW Local 700 members who work at the Kroger J1 store in Indianapolis celebrated their wall-to-wall union store status when the last nonmember at the store joined our union family in June.
The approximately 60 hard-working men and women who work at Kroger J1 know there is strength in numbers and are proud of the fact that everyone who works at the store is a member of UFCW Local 700. Union Representative Mary Parker noted that membership is a result of building power and relationships, and members in the store respect and rely on one another. Stewards play an integral role in ensuring that the company plays by the rules we negotiated, and members know one another and welcome new workers into our union family.
“There is power in numbers,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “A store with 100 percent membership is the foundation for building a better life for our members. This is how we negotiate strong contracts – solidarity every day in the workplace.”
Well done, brothers and sisters! Keep up the good work!
May 24, 2018
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
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.
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.