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August 10, 2018

Member Spotlight: Geno Lis talks shop on grilling

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.

Geno Lis's smoked watermelon, ribs, and bacon wrapped chicken thighs

Geno Lis’s smoked watermelon, ribs, and bacon wrapped chicken thighs

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.”

 

 

August 7, 2018

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

August 7th is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day—the day when black women’s pay finally catches up to what Caucasian, non-Hispanic men were paid last year.

While black women make substantial contributions to the U.S. economy, they face considerable disparities in the labor market. On average, black women are paid less than Caucasian, non-Hispanic men, and are over-represented in jobs with little job security, few benefits, and limited opportunity for advancement. These poorer quality jobs, combined with restricted access to unions in the states in which black workers are concentrated, hinder access to economic security and overall well-being.

Leveling the playing field

According to a study by The Economic Policy Institute, union membership is one of the key factors that can help determine if black women are paid fairly for their work:

“Black women have traditionally faced a double pay gap—a gender pay gap and a racial wage gap. EPI research has shown that black women are paid only 65 cents of the dollar that their white male counterparts are paid. However, unions help reduce these pay gaps. Working black women in unions are paid 94.9 percent of what their black male counterparts make, while nonunion black women are paid just 91 percent of their counterparts.”

What UFCW members have to say about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day



Shanitla Price

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Local 1625 member

How do you feel knowing that it takes just so long for a woman of color to reach their male counterparts wages?

“It seem unfair and it makes me upset. If a woman has the same education and ability as a white male, they should be paid equally.”


Dorothy Starnes

Pilgrims Pride chicken plant, South Carolina
Voted to be representation by UFCW Local 1996 in April 2018 and is in the process of ratifying a first contract

“I want better pay and respect. I do not think it is fair that folks doing the same job get paid differently because of the color of their skin, their gender or both. Having equal pay is important to me , my family and my community because the cost of living keeps going up. In March, one of the plant managers called us roaches as if we were not human beings. I voted for union representation in April 2018 because I demand respect and to be treated equally. “


Yvonne Yearwood

Century 21 Department Store, Morristown, NY
A shop steward and member of UFCW Local 888

“The union has been extremely helpful as I have a contract and am treated better than those who do not have a union. As a black West Indian woman I have seen first had how gender pay inequity can impact not just your wallet but you morale as a worker. Finding out that a co-worker who was a white male was getting paid $2 more than I was for the same work was disheartening. Having a contract gives me a voice to fight against gender pay inequity. I am a proud member and shop steward of UFCW Local 888!”


Shantell Williams

Kroger, Indianapolis, IN
UFCW Local 700 member

“Thanks to UFCW and my union contract I don’t have to worry about not being my pay being equal to others. I work just as hard as everyone around me and get treated as such!”

– Shantell Williams, UFCW Local 700
Kroger, Indianapolis


June Flowers

MedMen, Los Angeles, CA
UFCW Local 700 member

“Unfair pay is wage theft as far as I am concerned. Its deplorable that it remains an accepted practice in any company today. As a black woman raising a black daughter AND a strong Union member, I fight for equal pay for women in my work place. Having a union contract means there’s no speculation of what a male counterpart makes. Same position and duties, same pay!”


Ann Klajda

Fry’s 69
UFCW Local 99 member

“There is disparity for all women but, if it wasn’t for a union it would be much worse. We have equal pay in our union shop. It is much worse for minority women that do not have union contracts. I have been a shop steward for many years and advocate for all women and very active in the community and local politics and my union.”

July 20, 2018

Indianapolis Kroger store celebrates 100% UFCW membership

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!

 

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