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August 10, 2016

CTI Workers Ratify First Union Contract

CTI Workers--Local 1776

On July 28, 75 workers at CTI Foods in King of Prussia, Pa., ratified their first union contract. The CTI workers produce food for fast food restaurants and are members of UFCW Local 1776.

“We feel more united now; we have a better bond,” said Shop Steward Kyle Pendleton, who has worked at CTI Foods for 19 years and was instrumental during the organizing and negotiation process. “The company is working with us now and having a contract has made the company better.”

The new three-year contract guarantees health insurance, safety and labor-management meetings, as well as pay increases. For some workers, this will be the first raise they’ve received in years.

“I would like to congratulate the CTI workers on their first UFCW contract,” said UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV. “This is a huge win for them and their families.”

August 3, 2016

Zara Workers Join RWDSU/UFCW

Zara Workers--RWDSU

This week, after a majority of the workers at Zara’s eight stores in Manhattan signed cards stating they wanted to be represented by RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, the company agreed to recognize the union.  The agreement covers over 1,000 retail workers at all of Zara’s stores in Manhattan.  These are the first Zara workers in the United States to be unionized.

Zara, the Spanish fashion chain owned by Inditex, is the world’s largest clothing retailer.  The RWDSU/UFCW and Zara reached an agreement earlier this year where the employer agreed to remain neutral and not to oppose the union’s attempt to organize its workforce.

“Zara’s approach to recognize the right of its workers to form a union, without intimidation, is a message to all retailers – you can be successful and still respect the right of your employees,” said Gemma de Leon Lopresti, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102.

This is the largest retail organizing win in New York City in recent years. In 2009, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 organized nearly 1,200 workers at H&M, another fast-fashion global retail chain.

Workers at Zara look forward to working in an environment where they can make their jobs better, and create better lives for themselves and their families.

“Working in retail is extremely fast-paced and hectic,” said Joseph Minton, an associate at Zara’s 59th Street location.  “I’m excited that the company is willing to listen to our concerns and work with the union for everyone’s benefit.”

“We applaud Zara for recognizing the rights of its employees to choose to unionize, without interference,” said RWDSU/UFCW President Stuart Appelbaum. “Unfortunately, too many American employers refuse to respect their workers’ right to freedom of association and intimidate and threaten workers who try to organize.”

“This process is a huge step for retail workers in New York. Zara, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, is sending a strong message that you can remain profitable and still recognize your workers’ right to dignity, justice and respect on the job,” said Appelbaum.

May 18, 2016

Mission Foods Workers Choose UFCW Representation with Local 1776

missionOn May 12, nearly 450 workers at the Mission Foods plant in Mountain Top, Pa., voted to join UFCW Local 1776. Mission Foods workers make a full line of Mexican food products, including tortillas, wraps and salsas used in restaurants and sold in supermarkets on several continents.

“This is one of the greatest moments of my life knowing that we are not going to fend for ourselves anymore, but have representation,” said Nadia Vlavonou, a Mission Foods employee.

“I applaud the workers at Mission Foods for making the decision for union representation on the job,” said Wendell Young, IV, president of UFCW Local 1776. “Having a union will help these workers feel safe and secure on the job – something all workers should feel when they show up and work hard every day.”

The workers’ victory was the successful conclusion of a months-long campaign designed to give a voice to the Mission Foods workers in Mountain Top. This campaign is a piece of the bigger picture that aims to raise wages and benefits for all workers in the meatpacking and poultry industries.

“The goal is to better the lives of working people throughout the country. The Mission Foods workers are a great example of what standing together and making a well informed decision can achieve. These workers will inspire others to speak out for better working conditions and respect,” said Young.

“This is a victory for all of us,” said Benito Tapia, a Mission Foods employee.

The Mission Foods workers will join thousands of UFCW Local 1776 packinghouse and food processing workers in Pennsylvania at plants such as Empire Kosher Poultry in Mifflintown, Cargill in Hazelton, JBS in Souderton and Citterio USA in Freeland.

May 11, 2016

ConAgra Workers Join Local 700

ConAgra Workers Join Local 700

On May 5, the hard-working men and women at a ConAgra plant in Indianapolis voted to join the UFCW union family and become part of UFCW Local 700.

Nearly 300 workers make Marie Callendar’s pies at the plant, which was formerly owned by another company and purchased by ConAgra about three years ago. Organizers handbilled the plant and learned about the issues most important to this diverse group of workers, including better pay, fair treatment, and respect on the job. UFCW Local 700 represents about 300 workers making Reddi-Wip and margarine at a ConAgra plant less than three miles away from the newly organized facility. At the union plant, workers earn higher wages, have better benefits, and have job security through their union contract.

“We can now join our sister plant with the right to negotiate for a brighter future,” said Kenny Green, a lead organizing committee member. “By forming our union, we’re standing up for better wages and benefits, and most importantly, a voice on the job.”

April 11, 2016

UFCW Local 480 and Green Aloha Create First Hawaii Cannabis Labor Agreement

Hawaii Cannabis

On April 2, in a first for the state of Hawaii, UFCW Local 480 and Green Aloha, Ltd. announced an agreement giving their workers a fair process to form a union, ensuring good jobs and a highly trained workforce in the emerging medical marijuana industry.

“This is an exciting day for cannabis patients and workers in Hawaii,” said Pat Loo, president of UFCW Local 480. “This agreement guarantees that if Green Aloha is selected to operate a dispensary in Kaua’i and a majority of its workers choose to join the UFCW, the community will benefit economically from excellent working conditions and a highly skilled workforce trained with industry best practices developed from UFCW’s extensive experience across the country.”

The agreement allows workers at Green Aloha a fair way to choose a union and outlines key principles for a future contract ensuring that the pay and benefits for Kaua’i workers would meet or exceed standards for cannabis workers across the country.

“We’re deeply committed to ensuring that we operate at the highest standards possible, if we are privileged to be awarded a dispensary license,” said Justin Britt of Green Aloha. “Partnering with the UFCW enables us to do that with the most qualified, best trained workers available. We’re privileged to be able to tap into the years of experience and industry knowledge the union has developed from its work across the country.”

“We believe that medical marijuana dispensaries shouldn’t benefit just their owners,” said Loo. “We think the state should agree with us and license operators who they know will respect their workers, ensure the safety of their communities and make real, binding commitments to the people of Hawaii.”

March 23, 2016

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.

March 23, 2016

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.

March 15, 2016

Cannabis Workers in Santa Ana Join Local 324

can1 Workers at South Coast Safe Access in Santa Ana, California, recently ratified their first contract and joined UFCW Local 324. These 20 workers are the first Orange County cannabis workers to form a union, and are helping set higher standards for the California cannabis industry.

“South Coast Safe Access is a model for what can be achieved when a business owner has a sincere desire to do right by his employees and the community where he does business,” said UFCW Local 324 President Greg Conger.

The workers announced their decision at a press conference attended by Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana). “It’s time for public policy that will allow safe access for medical marijuana patients while protecting our neighborhoods,” said Sanchez. “Let’s protect workers and consumers in an industry that will continue to grow and become a larger part of California’s economy and prosperity.”

“If anybody working in a cannabis dispensary anywhere in the state believes he or she will get a fraction of that without a union, they have to be smoking something a lot stronger than pot,” said Conger, describing the newly union members as a “natural fit” for Local 324’s strong history of improving lives for both retail and healthcare workers.

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February 19, 2016

SLS Car Wash Workers Latest to Vote to Join RWDSU/UFCW

RWDSUThe workers at SLS car wash in Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York, have seen the difference that union membership has made for hundreds of car wash workers in New York City since the Car Wash Campaign began in 2012. Now, they’ve made SLS Car Wash the 11th car wash facility in New York, where workers are represented by the RWDSU/UFCW. SLS, also known as Atlantis Wash & Lube, has about 50 workers and is the largest car wash in the country to unionize. Nine shops have signed contracts.

Determined workers and RWDSU/UFCW organizers braved the cold winter during the organizing drive. By handing out information and talking with workers, the organizing leaders were able to rally increasing support. Workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the union. They wanted a change after years of mistreatment.

“Before we organized a union we worked under a lot of stress,” SLS worker Cheik Umat Balde said. “The managers will always yell at us to work faster. Sometimes they will call us stupid.  We had to deal with unknown chemicals with no protections. Now, with a union we will be protected – but most importantly, we will have respect and dignity, and that to me is priceless.”

A coworker, Ramon Carcamo, who has been at SLS for six years said, “I decided to organize with my coworkers to change the working conditions at the car wash because I knew that we had rights that we were not getting. Now, with a union, the car wash managers will have to treat all of us with respect. We knew that if we were united, no one could silence our voice for justice and claim our rights at work.”

The Car Wash Campaign, a coalition of New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and the RWDSU/UFCW, have been advocating on behalf of workers in New York City’s largely unregulated car wash industry for nearly four years.

February 18, 2016

Quest Diagnostics Workers Vote to Join UFCW Locals 135 and 1167

Quest Erica TorresQuest Diagnostics workers across 10 different locations around the San Diego area voted to join UFCW Locals 135 and 1167. Workers from four locations will be UFCW Local 135 members and workers at the other six locations will be part of UFCW Local 1167. Better wages and respect on the job are some of the top priorities for workers. The workers join a growing movement of phlebotomist and lab technicians who have come together from the Northwest to the Southwest to raise standards in the health care industry.

“I voted yes because I wanted fairness and peace of mind in the workplace. The company tried to misinform us with false information about joining a union in an attempt to confuse us and prevent us from following through. Winning the union election felt so surreal. Although I knew we would win, I still couldn’t believe that we had finally acheived something that should have been done long ago. It was definitely a great feeling,” said Erica Torres, a PSR II from the Riverside worksite. Quest Nichole

“I voted to make a better future for myself, my coworkers, and phelbs to come. We are all worth fighting for. It may seem hard or scary, but it will make a brighter future in the long run,” said Nichole Nicholson from the Moreno Valley, Heacock worksite.

“I voted to join a union because we needed to have a voice. For many years I allowed my employer to intimidate and mistreat me. Winning the union election was definitely a life changing experience. Being part of a union has made me realize that we have rights and we have a voice. It makes me feel protected and I now sleep better at night knowing that I’m on the path to have a better quality of life for me and my family,” said Mayra Castillo from the Hemet worksite.

Quest Diagnostics is a leading diagnostics services provider in oncology and genetics. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and has 45,000 employees.  Given the company’s prominence, workers hope that through the growing power of their combined voice, Quest Diagnostics workers will be able to influence and improve standards for workers throughout the industry.

Phlebotomist and lab technicians across the Northwest and Southwest began voting to join the UFCW after a chance encounter with their unionized counterparts in Washington state. With the encouragement and support of their coworkers, these workers are coming together and finding their voice.

Visit LabWorkersUnited.com to learn more.

Quest Mayra