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June 22, 2017

Union contracts can provide stable protection for LGBT workers during uncertain times

Have you ever found yourself in a position where something happened on the job that you didn’t feel was right, but didn’t feel you could do anything about it because it wasn’t technically against the law?

In 2013, more than one in five LGBT Americans told Pew researchers that they’d been mistreated by an employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. What most people don’t know is that in many states in the U.S. it is perfectly legal to discriminate against certain workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite passage of legislation making same-sex marriage legal, progress on workplace discrimination laws has been slow. In many states, LGBT workers find themselves in the awkward position of having gained the right to marry the person they love, but can still be legally fired for their decision to do so.

In April, a long-overdue step forward came with a historic decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Seventh Circuit is now the highest court in the nation to have reached this conclusion, but the ruling only applies in the 7th Circuit states of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The sluggish nature of the courts and the unpredictable political shifts in our elected leaders makes relying on laws alone an impractical solution to protecting the rights of all hard working men and women in any kind of lasting, meaningful way. So what are workers supposed to do?

“While this ruling is a huge step forward,” said Pride at Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, “It is still true that the strongest, most durable protections an LGBTQ working person can obtain is an inclusive collective bargaining agreement. Union contract protections are binding to all parties regardless of federal or state law and many contracts also provide the employee with representation, something no state or federal law does.”

Instead of having to wait around for the entire country to agree on what protections you should have at work, a union contract puts the decision-making power into the hands of you and your coworkers. This has always meant more control over things like wages, scheduling, and benefits, but it also means being able to extend additional protections to vulnerable workers in your workplace.


Sample Contract Language

 

Each contract is different depending on what has been collectively agreed on at a given workplace or group of workplaces. So if employees decided they would like to include language to protect LGBT workers, what does that actually look like?

Below are three examples of good contract language that can be included to help protect the rights of LGBT workers and other vulnerable hard working men and women on the job.

1.) Discrimination

“The Company agrees that it will not discriminate against or treat any worker differently because of Union membership, support or activity; race, national origin, color, gender, religion or age; disability, pregnancy, or physical or mental health condition; sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression; marital or veteran status; criminal record; criminal record; or English proficiency or speaking accent.”

2.) Harassment

“The Company agrees that it will not permit harassment in the workplace. Harassment means unwelcome comments or conduct. No one at the workplace, including managers, supervisors, workers or third-parties such as vendors, consultants and independent contractors, may make comments or engage in conduct that is known to be or should reasonably be known to be unwelcome. Examples of harassment (harassment is not limited to these examples):

  • If someone knows that a worker is sensitive to even mild “cuss” words, harassment would be using mild cuss words within hearing distance of the worker.
  • Groping or fondling anyone.
  • Showing pornographic or lewd photos, or making lewd comments.
  • Making racist, sexist or homophobic comments, or negative comments about a religion.
  • Making derogatory or offensive comments about someone’s appearance or background.
  • Asking a worker on a date after the worker indicated that the request invitation was unwelcome.
  • Deliberately or repeatedly using a name or pronoun when speaking or referring to a transgender worker other than the name the worker chose and the pronoun the worker identifies with.
  • Teasing, picking on, or treating, interacting or communicating with a worker differently because of the worker’s race, national origin, color, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, physical or mental health condition, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or gender questioning.”

3.) Transgender Workers

“If any worker is transgender, or intends to or is going through a transition in gender identity (with or without surgery or therapy):

(a) the Company and the Union will mutually agree on:

  • a way to notify co-workers of the worker’s status or transition (the parties’ discussions will include the worker);
  • creating safe work areas for the worker;
  • designating at least one restroom as gender neutral; and
  • if either party considers it advisable, developing a training for co-workers and managers, including the schedule for and frequency of the training.

(b) the Company will issue a rule:

(1) notifying all workers that transgender workers may use the restrooms and changing rooms designated for the gender they identify with; and

(2) requiring everyone at the workplace or engaged in the Company’s business to speak or refer to transgender workers by the names they choose and the pronouns they identify with.

(c) the Company will change all records so that all records use the names transgender workers choose and the pronouns they identify with, unless the worker requests the Company to refrain from changing its records. The Company will also update any photographs, including identification badges, unless the worker requests otherwise.

The Company will also administer the jointly-agreed on training for managers, supervisors and workers.”

May 24, 2017

UFCW Receives Elite Volunteer Award from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), recently awarded its longstanding partner, The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) with the National Corporate Leadership Award at LLS’s Volunteer Leadership Conference awards dinner held in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2017.

The UFCW is one of North America’s largest labor organizations with more than 1.3 million members, and has been a powerful voice for LLS since the partnership began in 1982. The organization has raised more than $82 million for LLS’s goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. In 2016 alone, the UFCW generated $1.9 million in the United States and more than $2.4 million in Canada, through a variety of fundraising efforts ranging from golf outings to dinners.

When Marc Perrone, UFCW’s International president, learned that the UFCW was the recipient of LLS’s National Corporate Leadership Award, he was humbled. “The UFCW union family prides itself on giving back to the communities we call home and doing our part to bring hard working families a better life. We are honored to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society lead the way to a world without blood cancers. Our partnership is proof that the best way to make a difference is to stand together.”

The National Corporate Leadership Award honors an organization with fundamental alignment to LLS’s goal to cure blood cancers and commitment to improving the lives of patients. Nominees for this award support and advance LLS through leadership, executive and employee involvement in various LLS volunteer driven initiatives, and through financially support for LLS’s research, patient services and advocacy initiatives.

“LLS is very proud of our partnership with the UFCW, whose members have supported LLS relentlessly by raising essential funds needed to fight blood cancer,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS’s president and CEO. “The UFCW is helping LLS make it possible to accomplish more than any other cancer nonprofit to advance cutting-edge research and cures for patients.”

Esther López, UFCW’s International Secretary-Treasurer, accepting the National Corporate Leadership Award from Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) president and CEO, at LLS’s Volunteer Leadership Conference awards dinner held in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2017.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

May 18, 2017

UFCW Members, Locals, and Volunteers Collect Thousands of Pounds of Food for 25th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

In the weeks and days leading up to Saturday, May 13, the day of the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, UFCW members and locals volunteered at events and donated non-perishable food items to help America’s families put food on their tables.

Standing by our values and belief that no hard-working man or woman should struggle alone, UFCW members turned out in droves as part of our partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers on the day of the food drive as well, and helped collect thousands of pounds of food to help “stamp out hunger.”

Below is a photo collection of some of the many UFCW locals, members, and staff that played a role in the food drive this year:

May 8, 2017

Don’t forget to pick up groceries for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive

Fill a Bag on May 13th

More than 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry. Let’s make sure no family has to struggle to eat in America. Fill a bag and join your UFCW union family and National Association of Letter Carriers in the effort to Stamp Out Hunger.

April 14, 2017

UFCW Local 328 shop steward Al Garnett named a national “Produce Manager Of The Year”

Reposted from UFCW Local 328.org

We would like to congratulate Al Garnett, produce manager at Stop & Shop in Harwich, Massachusetts, for winning the 2017 Retail Produce Manager Award from the United Fresh Produce Association! This prestigious award is granted each year to twenty-five of the industry’s top retail produce managers from across the country and Canada.

This program, which is co-sponsored by Dole Food Co. and is currently in its thirteenth year, recognizes top retail produce managers for their commitment to fresh produce, innovative merchandising, increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, community service and customer satisfaction.

Al talks about his career and why it pays to belong

A first for Stop & Shop

Each year, hundreds of nominations are submitted by supermarket chains and independent retailers from throughout the industry and this marks the first time a produce manager from Stop & Shop has been selected.


A lifelong advocate for his coworkers

Al began his career over twenty-five years ago and has been a UFCW Local 328 shop steward for most of that time. In Harwich, Al is a recognizable face and enjoys building lasting relationships with both customers and co-workers. As a shop steward, Al has been a strong advocate and has taken a proud role in educating his co-workers about the importance of the union and making sure that the contract is enforced.

April 13, 2017

Let’s top 2016’s world record for the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive!

We know better than anyone how hard UFCW members work to put food on the table for America’s families – and our union family also believes that no hardworking man or woman should struggle alone. Which is why we work hard for those in need, supporting our brothers and sisters at the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in their “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the food drive, and we want to make this a year for the history books. We hope to top last year’s Guinness World Record—80 million pounds of food collected for the largest single day food drive in world history. Together, we know we can do it, one bag at a time.

Here’s how:

  1. FILL A BAG with non-perishable food items. (See list below.)
  2. TAKE A PIC AND POST IT! Please Tweet it or put it on Facebook with the hashtag #StampOutHunger – and please tag @UFCW and @NALC.
  3. PUT OUT YOUR BAG on May 13th before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. 

That’s it! It’s so easy – please help us Stamp Out Hunger and put food on shelves in our local food banks.

What to Put in Your Bag 

Fill your UFCW-provided Stamp Out Hunger paper bag with*:

  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Pasta or spaghetti sauce
  • Rice
  • Canned fruits and veggies
  • Canned meals (soup, chili, pasta)
  • 100% juice
  • Peanut butter
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned protein (chicken, tuna, turkey)
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal

*NOTE: DO NOT put in frozen food, homemade food, expired food, or home canned items – or anything in glass containers.

March 31, 2017

Women’s History Month: UFCW Women Can and Should Run for Office

“The best way to get policies that benefit working people and our communities is to run for office and serve.”

-Brigid Kelly, UFCW Local 700 representative and Ohio state representative

Brigid Kelly of UFCW Local 75 with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Our hard-working union family is home to many strong women who are active in their communities and leaders on the job.

We’re proud to highlight Brigid Kelly during Women’s History Month. Formerly a staff member at UFCW Local 75 and a city council member, Brigid is now a UFCW Local 700 representative as well as a Ohio state representative. Using the experience she’s gained from both her professional and personal life, Brigid strives to help improve the lives of everyday Ohioans.

For over a decade, Brigid has been fighting for members of the UFCW, their families, and their communities. She works every day for issues like good wages, affordable health care benefits, and safe places to work.

Brigid’s current role as state representative is focused on ensuring that our children are receiving the best education by making investments in local schools, holding corporations accountable for taxpayer investments, and pursuing policies important to families, such as paid sick and family leave.

“We need more union members and more women weighing in on important policies that impact our communities every day,” said Brigid.

Brigid is one of several women from the UFCW who have gone on to serve in public office and work directly on legislation that will provide a better life for hard-working men and women. Brigid believes that “the best way to get policies that benefit working people and our communities is to run for office and serve.”

 

March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day: UFCW Women Stewards and Role Models

Taralyn Pike (right) poses for a photo with fellow contract action team member, John Ruiz (left), after speaking at a Fight For $15 rally in Richmond in November.

This International Women’s Day, we’d like to recognize the contributions women throughout the UFCW’s history have made to bettering their workplaces and strengthening our union family. One of the many ways women of the UFCW have found a voice and an opportunity to lead is through becoming a steward.

Union stewards are members who make the choice to step up, either by election or appointment, to make sure the contract between the union and the company is followed and that their coworkers are being treated fairly and know their rights. Stewards accompany coworkers at disciplinary meetings and represent their coworkers’ issues as equals with management.

Taralyn Pike, a UFCW Local 400 member who works at Giant, made the decision to become a steward approximately five months ago. After five years at Giant, she’d started to notice “a great deal of unhappiness” at her store. Rather than shrug it off, Taralyn decided she would do something about it.

“I wanted to put myself in a position to bring some happiness into the workplace,” Taralyn said. “Who wants to work in a place where it seems everyone’s out to get you and you don’t feel secure? But now, I feel like my store is a place where we can be happy. The manager and I work together to make sure everyone is on the same page. My team members know they have a shoulder to lean on as well as to cry on.

“As a steward,” she added, “I now have a better understanding about employee rights and how things work. And I’m a better listener than I was before.”

She didn’t stop there. When negotiations over their contract heated up with her employer, she got to work mobilizing other Giant workers in the area and letting them know what was at stake. Now she is busy speaking out in favor of raising the minimum wage in Virginia.

A resident of Arlington and the mother of nine- and 12-year old boys, Taralyn said, “Being a union member means so much. It means we are not alone. There are always people to help you; always someone you can call. And there are ways to get involved outside the store. I can testify that stepping up is always worth it.”

Thank you to all our hardworking women who are out there moving and shaking and making life better for everyone. We hope more working men and women are inspired by your example to step up and make a difference.

 

March 3, 2017

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” This National Nutrition Month

Spring is just around and the corner, making March the perfect time of year to refocus on eating right, getting healthy, and chasing away those winter blues. We know how hard it can be to balance work with all the demands of your life and still stay focused on your nutrition, but eating healthier foods doesn’t have to be a chore. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing tips with you to make it easier to stay excited and engaged, and help get you on track to a better you and a better life.


Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Plan what you’re going to eat

Before you head for the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try checking what’s on sale in the produce and meat departments and look up recipes that feature those ingredients.

When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it.

Decide how much to make

Making a large batch by doubling a recipe is an easy way to save time in the kitchen and try to stretch your budget even further. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use on nights when you don’t have time to cook. Plus buying larger quantities of each ingredient can help you save money by taking advantage of cheaper bulk prices.

Shop for foods that are in season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods

Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert.

 

Make your own healthy snacks

Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to prepackaged items.

Cook more, eat out less

Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant rice or oatmeal will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

January 18, 2017

UFCW International President Awarded Highest Honor from AFL-CIO Civil Rights Committee

On Jan. 15, UFCW International President Marc Perrone was presented with an award at the AFL-CIO’s 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil and Human Rights Awards Luncheon and Community Service Weekend.

The theme of the awards this year was “The Struggle Is Free, But the Dream Must Be Televised” to represent the constant battle for civil rights and justice that continues in our country.

At the ceremony, President Perrone was awarded the “At the River I Stand” Award from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka for his work towards advancing civil and labor rights, saying “we will tear our borders down brick by ignorant brick.”

The “At the River I Stand” award is the highest honor given by the AFL-CIO Civil and Human Rights Executive Council Committee. The name of the award comes from the historic words used to capture the spirit of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers during their courageous struggle for workers’ and civil rights.

Alongside his fellow award recipient, USW Vice President Fred Redmond, President Perrone has served as a fearless leader of the Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice, taking action to serve the needs and concerns of their members, and shepherding the Labor Commission report to help union leaders have a better understanding of how racism and racial politics has impacted and continues to shape the labor movement.

Upon accepting his award, President Perrone addressed the attendees, emphasizing that “we must stand together stronger than ever” in our quest for justice.