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Local 400 Hosts Rally and Petition Delivery for Kroger Member Who is Forced to Make Two-Hour Commute to Work

On March 25, UFCW Local 400 members and supporters held a rally at a Portsmouth, Va., Kroger Marketplace in order to send a message to the company that it needed to do the right thing by letting Felecia Mayes, a long-time Kroger employee, transfer to a store closer to her home.

After her store closed last year, Kroger transferred Felecia, who has worked as a cashier at Kroger for 18 years, to a Kroger store two hours away from where she lives, despite the fact that Felecia had applied for a transfer to a Kroger Marketplace store just minutes from her home. Kroger repaid Felecia for nearly two decades of loyalty by giving her a dismal choice: either work at the store two hours away, or be left jobless.

Two weeks ago, things got even worse for Felecia. According to her doctors, the stress and physical difficulty of the “insane” commute led to Felecia having a stroke on the bus on her long way to work.

To put a stop to this unfair situation, Local 400 created a petition that demands Kroger let Felecia transfer stores immediately. Felecia’s coworkers and supporters gathered more than 330 signatures to support her.  Felecia, who must currently use a wheel-chair following her stroke, delivered the petition to store managers at last week’s rally, which drew many supporters who agreed that, with a Kroger Marketplace within eyesight and walking distance of her home, there’s no excuse for forcing Felecia to continue working two hours away. She was joined by several coworkers, union representatives, elected officials and community leaders, including Senator L. Louise Lucas, (18th District), Delegate Steve Heretick (79th District), and James Boyd, President of the NAACP Portsmouth Branch.

“They’re discriminating against her in effect because she’s a union member,” explained Delegate Heretick.

Addressing the crowd, Senator Lucas said “this is the kind of effort we all like to stand in agreement with.”

However, the store manager immediately threatened to call the police.

Every TV news outlet in the area, as well as the main local newspaper, came out to interview Felecia.

“I live right around the street from Kroger, ten minutes away,” Felecia explained to News Channel 3. “Now how come I have to go all the way to Virginia Beach, which takes me two hours, to a job that I have worked for for almost 18 years? I mean, it’s just not fair.”

“I have to take three buses and a light rail just to get to work,” explained Felecia.

Local 400 is urging people to continue to pressure the company to do the right thing, by calling them at their Portsmouth location at (757) 215-4205, and telling the manager to honor Felecia’s request and immediately transfer her to the Kroger Marketplace in Portsmouth with all the benefits and protections of her union contract intact.

Felecia Mayes, a Kroger cashier for 18 years, suffered a stroke on the bus after being forced to commute two hours to work.

Main & Vine Workers Join Local 367

Main & Vine Workers

Nearly 150 brothers and sisters at Main & Vine in Gig Harbor, Washington, were granted recognition to be represented by Local 367.

Main & Vine is a new store concept from Kroger that focuses on fresh local produce and high quality prepared foods. The Gig Harbor Main & Vine is the first shop that Kroger has opened under this new brand.

Their contract vote was held on March 17, and passed by an overwhelming majority.

Becoming a part of UFCW Local 367 was exciting to everyone who works at Main & Vine because it meant an instant improvement in both wages and benefits. As Kroger opens more Main & Vine stores throughout the country, this effort by Local 367 will help to reinforce the message that being a part of the UFCW union family really does lead to a better life.

Black History Month Member Profile: Hidi Frazier of Local 1996

 

HeidiAs the UFCW continues to honor Black History Month and reinforces its commitment to racial and economic justice, we’re asking members why these issues matter to them. Hidi Frazier of Local 1996 has worked for Kroger in Georgia for 15 years.  As a Deli Manager, she oversees both the deli and bakery, trains new associates, takes inventory, and makes orders.

Hidi says that to her, “Black History Month … is about honoring and remembering those who made a difference and paved the way for people like me. Without their sacrifice and determination to want and fight for change, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Hidi first became active in her union seven years ago when a fellow member asked if she’d like to volunteer with phone banking to ask fellow members to vote and help get labor-friendly candidates elected in her state who will make a difference for working families. She agreed, and has been an active member ever since.

During her time volunteering, Hidi was inspired by Mary Lou Romaine-Waymer, who leads and organizes the phone banks and other political activities for the local: “She does a great job. Mary Lou Wagner is a leader for UFCW. She keeps the members well informed in local and state politics. Mary Lou reminds us that these races are the most important because they affect our everyday lives as citizens of Georgia.”

After seeing first-hand just how much of a difference being part of union family makes in her life, Hidi wants to spread the word. As a manager, she’s in a unique position to help explain to her fellow coworkers what the union is all about. “I would advise everyone, not just African Americans, to become involved. A lot of issues affects us all in one way or another. We all want fair wages, good health benefits and good pensions. We all have to continue to stand together and keep working families strong,” she says

Hidi also stresses the importance of solidarity. “We have the AFL-CIO, where all the unions come together to keep the fight going for working families,” she says. “When union members, community members, and other working people come together, we are more powerful. Labor and civil rights intersect by continuing the fight on issues that affect working families. We will continue to rally and lobby together to make sure that we all have the same opportunities as everyone else. We have to have more training and workshops so that minorities can compete in the workplace. Lastly, we have to make our unions stronger than ever.”

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