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UFCW Releases 2013 Congressional Scorecard

The UFCW has released a scorecard for the first session of the 113th Congress. Members of both the House and Senate were graded on a series of bills that impacted workers and their families. The House of Representatives scorecard included measures to gut workers’ rights, end the government shutdown, and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The UFCW has released a scorecard for the first session of the 113th Congress that grades members of the House and Senate on a series of bills that impacted workers.

The UFCW has released a scorecard for the first session of the 113th Congress that grades members of the House and Senate on a series of bills that impacted workers.

The Senate scorecard included votes on comprehensive immigration reform, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the confirmation of both Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and three pro-worker nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

The UFCW is committed to holding elected officials accountable for their actions. To see how members of Congress voted, visit www.ufcwaction.org/scorecard.

Low-Wage Worker Movement Leads to Retailers Raising Wages

In the past year, the debate surrounding the minimum wage has erupted. Workers at successful retailers like Walmart and Gap, fed up with working hard but not earning enough to get by, stood up and spoke out, demanding that these giant retailers share in their success, and pay their employees a living wage.

IMG_9432In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he spoke about raising the federal minimum wage, and what else needs to be done to close the widening income gap, and reverse the rate of poverty in America.

It looks like the efforts of workers in the retail, fast food, and other low-wage industries is finally paying off, as action on raising the minimum wage has been taken in many cities across the country. And now, in a huge announcement today, Gap, America’s largest clothing-focused chain in America, has declared it will raise its wages to $10 an hour by next year. This change, which will affect over 65,000 workers (including those at Gap’s Old Navy and Banana Republic), comes ahead of a potential increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

And in more good news, Walmart, who has notoriously been very reluctant to pay associates enough to earn a living wage, is now considering a raise in their wages as well–thanks to the actions of members in worker-led groups like For Respect. Walmart has seen a hit in business in the last year, demonstrating how their business model of punishing workers is failing.

In a Bloomberg article posted this morning, UFCW President Joe Hansen’s statement on Gap’s announcement was quoted: “It is time for Walmart to stand up and lead by investing back into its 1.4 million U.S. workers with hourly pay increases.”

As President Hansen noted, when companies treat and compensate their workers fairly, they are investing in their own business, and strengthening the communities around them. It’s time for Walmart to follow Gap’s lead, and listen to the workers who have been calling for change for so long. No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.

Recent polls continue to show that the support for increasing minimum wages is stronger than ever from Americans across the country. As President Barack Obama stated in his State of the Union, it’s time America got a raise.

You can watch a clip about Gap’s decision to raise wages below:

Member Spotlight: Mechelle Cunningham

In this week’s member spotlight, we’re highlighting the story of another longtime UFCW member, who like last week’s spotlight member, is also from West Virginia.

Local 23 member Mechelle Cunningham caught our attention when we saw how she spearheaded a collection drive at her workplace–Giant Eagle in Morgantown, West Virginia. After hearing about a friend who had donated some water and that trucks were bringing water to people in her state who were affected by the chemical spill in and around Charleston, WV, Mechelle looked at the 3 pallets of water on the store floor in front of her and told her manager she wanted to purchase them and have them removed from the store floor. Her manager, knowing the cost was around $560 dollars, said, “Today?” Mechelle’s response was automatic.

Local 23 members Robin Gable, Teresa Policicchio, Mechelle Cunningham, and Anna Sisler.

Local 23 members Robin Gable, Teresa Policicchio, Mechelle Cunningham, and Anna Sisler.

“I didn’t think about the price–I just knew that my fellow employees would gather together to purchase that water to send down there. I told her that one way or another we’d get the money, and we did!” Together, Mechelle, her fellow union members, and other members of the community were able to send 17 pallets of water to those in need.

For Mechelle, being a union member means “standing up for your rights, and helping one another”. When talking with Mechelle, its clear that the ‘helping one another’ part is big for her, as demonstrated by her role in the donation of the water pallets: “We all really help one another and donate for different causes and support each other, and especially with something that large for our community, you know, people not having water–that’s a main thing, you have to have that.”

Mechelle is coming up on her 40th year as a UFCW member and has experienced first-hand how being in a union means there’s always someone there to help–”to back you and support you”.  Mechelle finds that oftentimes, many people don’t know about the union, and until they sit down and talk about it, don’t fully understand what it is. “I just have such a strong belief in the union,” says Mechelle, which is why she helps spread the word at work about how people–often younger members who haven’t been through strikes for better working conditions like she has–can protect their rights. By sharing her own experiences as a union member, and how it has helped her, she finds that she is helping them understand, even when there isn’t something currently happening.

Active community members like Mechelle inspire us every day. Do you know a UFCW member whose story we could share? Tell us about them at http://www.ufcw.org/resources/members/share-your-story/