Region 1 Retail Locals Reach Out to Non-Union Retail Workers

In an on-going effort, UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445, and 1458, Region 1 and the Rhode Island chapter of Jobs with Justice are cooperating in an multi-state outreach effort to non-union retail workers in their area. For two weeks now, stewards, board members, local staff, and community allies have been talking to workers about the difference being a part of a union makes in their lives. As a starting point, the group is handing out flyers addressing the recent pay raises thousands of UFCW members at Stop & Shop received as part of their new contract.

Activists had hundreds of conversations with workers at more than 50 stores across New England, including well-known non-union chains like PriceRite and Hannaford Brothers.

Shane Allen of UFCW Local 919 hands out flyers at Hannaford Bros. in Brookfield, Mass.

Shane Allen of UFCW Local 919 hands out flyers at Hannaford Bros. in Brookfield, Mass.

UFCW Local 75 Cincinnati Processing Workers Ratify Their First Contract

UFCW Local 75 workers at Cincinnati Processing, a plant that supplies pork products to Kroger stores in four states, ratified their first contract on March 26. Organizing at the plant was a multi-decade struggle for plant workers and the first contract marks the successful conclusion of that campaign.

The cutting of pork products used to the be the job of union butchers at Kroger stores across the Midwest. However, with the increasing role of case-ready meat, those jobs transitioned to further processing facilities like Cincinnati Processing. Workers began to organize at the plant in the 1990s. However, a prolonged legal battle kept these workers from forming their union.

Cincinnati BeefTheir struggle to have a voice at work at Cincinnati Processing continued for a decade, but ended with a successful vote in 2013. Since then, workers have been fighting hard to negotiate a good first contract. It took a unanimous strike vote, but the workers finally got a contract they could be proud of in their new union shop.

“With this contract we were able to improve our working conditions and win a voice on the job,” said Ignacio Huerta, a cutter at the plant for six years.  “I’m so proud of my coworkers for standing together and making this happen.”

Women’s History Month: UFCW Celebrates the Life of Addie Wyatt

addie wyatt twoAddie Loraine Cameron, better known as Addie L. Wyatt (1924 –2012), was born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago with her family in 1930.  When she was 17 years old, she married Claude S. Wyatt, Jr.

She began working in the meatpacking industry in 1941.  Although she applied for a job as a typist for Armour and Company, African American women were barred from holding clerical positions and she was sent to the canning department to pack stew in cans for the army. Due to a contract between Armour and the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA), she earned more working on the packinghouse floor canning stew than she would have made working as a typist, and joined the UPWA after learning that the union did not discriminate against its members.

In 1953, she was elected vice president of UPWA Local 56. In 1954, she became the first woman president of the local, and was soon tapped to serve as an international representative. She held this position through the 1968 merger of UPWA and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen until 1974, when she became director of the newly formed Women’s Affairs Department. In 1970s, she became the first female international vice president in the history of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen and later served as director of its Human Rights and Women’s Affairs and Civil Rights Departments. She served as the first female African American international vice president of the UFCW after Amalgamated and the Retail Clerks International Union merged in 1979.

She and her husband were ordained ministers and founded the Vernon Park Church of God in Chicago.  She played an integral role in the civil rights movement, and joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in major civil rights marches, including the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the demonstration in Chicago. She was one of the founders of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the country’s only national organization for union women. She was also a founding member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the National Organization of Women.

In 1984, Addie Wyatt retired from the labor movement as one of its highest ranked and most prominent African American and female officials. In honor of her work, she was named one of Time magazine′s Women of the Year in 1975, and one of Ebony magazine′s 100 most influential black Americans from 1980 to 1984. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists established the Addie L. Wyatt Award in 1987. She was inducted into the Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor in 2012.