October 20, 2017
This week is National Food Bank Week, a reminder to start thinking about the ways we can help others as the holiday season approaches. Food banks are, sadly, an all too necessary and common feature of life in the United States today, where low wages leave too many families forced to choose between paying bills and buying groceries.
Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. That means having enough money to buy food, but also having access to grocery stores and the time and resources to cook healthy meals. Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many. Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can leave anyone unsure of where the next meal is coming from.
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.
In 2016, in partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in their “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, UFCW members helped break a Guinness World Record—80 million pounds of food collected for the largest single day food drive in world history.
Thank you to all the volunteers and staff of the food banks who so many depend on. By working together, we know we can get rid of hunger in our communities.
October 11, 2017
Whether its training retail workers to adapt to and succeed with innovative technologies in their workplaces, making college more affordable, or helping hard-working men and women become citizens, the UFCW’s union values are a direct reflection of the things that matter most to members. For Latino families in particular, the value of union membership can make a difference in both their workplaces and day-to-day lives.
On average, unionization raises Latino workers’ wages by over 17% – about $2.60 per hour.
The difference is even more dramatic in low-wage jobs. Unionized Latino workers in low-wage occupations are 41 percent more likely to have health insurance and 18 percent more likely to be in a pension plan.
Case-in-point: Erratic scheduling, especially in the retail industry, can create burdens on families with young children or elderly parents, making it unaffordable to take sick relatives to the doctor when needed. But more than one in three people who belong to a union like UFCW get at least one week’s notice of their work schedules.
Our union family understands how confusing and difficult these times are for many of our Latino members. Which is why we’re committed to ensuring every member has easy access to critical immigration-related information. We’re also using our contracts to ensure any hateful, discriminatory action which seeks to isolate our members at work and in their communities is stopped before it starts.
We’re also proud to support Latino members in areas where the government either fell short or stalled. Without any federal action on comprehensive immigration reform, we launched a groundbreaking program called the United Citizenship Action Network (UCAN), which was designed to be a resource for members looking to apply for citizenship. UCAN helps folks find legal counsel, proper documents, and other assistance to get the complicated citizenship process started. Across the country, UFCW Local Unions have hosted workshops and trainings to help members who are legally eligible realize their dreams of becoming citizens.
Another critical issue for Latino members is education. It’s a harsh reality that too many economic factors stand in the way of someone being able to earn a quality college degree that may help them build a better life. Thanks to our Free College Benefit, every UFCW member and their families can earn a debt-free degree from Eastern Gateway Community College.
Building Better Lives
We want Latino millennials to realize their huge economic and political power, and we want to make sure that they know that the UFCW union family can be a resource for their goals of building better lives for themselves and their loved ones. In fact, nearly six-in-ten Hispanics are millennials or younger.
If you’d like to learn more about how the United Latinos of UFCW are working to communicate, organize, and service members, don’t hesitate to reach out.
September 26, 2017
On Sept. 23, UFCW Local 770, in partnership with the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department, Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, and Central American Resource Center, held a workshop to assist members with the application process for the two-year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals.
The workshop, which was held at the Ricardo F. Icaza Workers Center in Huntington Park, California, is part of UFCW Local 770’s effort to provide financial assistance so that qualified union members can renew their DACA applications before the October 5, 2017 deadline.
“I feel very happy and very appreciative for this opportunity,” said Silvia, a young DACA recipient and daughter of a UFCW Local 770 member, who attended the workshop. “It relieves me of a lot of stress because the renewal was pretty expensive.”
“They helped us with the immigration fee and completing the application process. They pretty much helped with everything,” she added.
Once renewing her work permit through DACA, Silvia plans to attend medical school. “I’m very excited about being able to renew my status, to continue working and try to go back to school,” she said.
According to President Trump’s announcement made on Sept. 5, the Department of Homeland Security will stop accepting new DACA applications from people who don’t already have DACA. People who already have DACA, and whose work permits expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, will be able to apply for a two-year renewal if their application is received by October 5, 2017.
Additional information about UFCW Local 770’s DACA program is available here.
August 31, 2017
Over 15 thousand hard-working UFCW members and their families have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. They are in urgent need of temporary shelter, clothes, fresh food, and other daily essentials. To help them through this critical time, UFCW Local 455 has set up a Membership Assistance Fund. Donations can be made to this fund directly from this page.
Everything raised will be used to provide vital financial assistance to all UFCW members impacted by this disaster.
Moments like this show us the real value of belonging to a union family like ours. Together, we can and will come together to ensure no members or their families struggle through this devastation alone.
Thank you for helping fellow UFCW members in this time of great need.
President, UFCW Local 455
August 31, 2017
Did you know that the UFCW is home to more people under the age of 30 than any other labor union? And for good reason – Millennials are the hardest hit generation when it comes to poor wages and benefits, making it difficult to earn a living.
Union membership is one of the most powerful forces in combating this trend, because it grants you a voice on the job, and the ability to negotiate for good pay, health insurance, hours that work with your schedule, and a plethora of other benefits that are good for the worker, the employer, and the economy.
ARE UNIONS STILL RELEVANT?
Younger workers who haven’t heard much about unions might assume they’re vintage, something over and done with – that only their parents or grandparents benefited from them. But that doesn’t mean young people don’t stand a lot to gain by joining a union.
In a recent New York Times article, Daily Show writer Kashana Cauley reflected about what it was like growing up in a union household, her father an auto worker whose union insurance covered his hospital trips to drain fluid from his knees from long days on the assembly line: “Each time he healed, he could go right back to the job he loved in order to provide for our family.” She goes on to talk about how unions could be the voice on the job that this next generation needs now, to care for their own families and make their own lives better.
Young people who belong to unions understand this. UFCW Local 1473 member Matt, from Outpost Natural Foods, joined the union in 2013.
“There’s a feeling like there’s a team and it’s not just management. The union is as strong as it is because of the involvement of members,” says Matt. “So, I encourage more people to get involved. Money doesn’t always flow in, and benefits can be taken away at any time, even at a co-op level. For us, the economy was down and everything was on the chopping block, but we sat down and were able to save all our benefits. I’m really proud to be a union member. I’m glad to be a part of what has been standing up for workers for decades and what will hopefully continue to do so for eons into the future.”
UNIONS = DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY
When you’re part of a union, you’re part of a family – a family that cares about ALL members. A family where women make 10 percent more in wages than their non-union counterparts, where people of color earn the same as their white counterparts, where LGBTQ workers have the same rights as the rest of their coworkers.
YOUR UNION OFFERS A LOT OF BENEFITS
Being a member of the UFCW also means help with your education and debt. It means you have access to free online college (link), and to discounts that make building a better life easier. It means you can be part of nationwide efforts like the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, and fighting Blood Cancer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, making a real difference.
This Labor Day, we celebrate all our members, young and old, and continue our pledge to build a better life together.
August 15, 2017
Imagine being able to earn a college degree without being stressed about the price tag – things like a car, a house, a wedding, or even a vacation would suddenly seem a lot easier to have.
Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. The average 2016 graduate walked off campus with a degree and over $37,000 in debt. We can’t build a stronger economy that works for all if hard-working Americans are graduating with such high amounts of debt.
When we talk about building better lives for our members and their families, we mean it. Which is why we’re providing our union family with the valuable benefits they need to advance their careers and realize their dreams. One of those valuable benefits is debt-free college.
Thanks to your UFCW membership, you don’t have to wait or worry any longer about paying for college. You can start earning your associate degree online from a public, accredited school – at no cost to you.
We understand that when the economy leaves behind too many people, it doesn’t work so well. That’s why we’re proud to offer members this support with school.
Best of all, this benefit is designed with members in mind. Online classes allow the flexibility you need to pursue the degree of your dreams, at a pace that makes sense for your busy schedule. And you’ll have the support of teachers and advisors to cheer you on along the way.
A college degree shouldn’t be a financial burden for people looking to enter the labor market. Whether you’re looking to begin a career in childcare, become a paralegal, or sharpen your business management skills – the UFCW’s Free College Benefit is here to get you started. No out-of-pocket costs, no stress about the price of books.
August 10, 2017
The UFCW been a powerful voice for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) since the partnership began in 1982. Working togther,UFCW members have raised more than $82 million for LLS’s goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
Here’s a look back at some of the amazing work our members have done over the past few years:
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.
“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,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “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.”
“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.”
August 1, 2017
Building Better Lives In Solidarity With Washington State Farm-Workers
Jason Holland, Local 365 member, wins Mother Jones Award for stepping up to help local farm-workers organizing for better wages
When we talk about building better lives, we’re also talking about working together to help make our workplaces safer places to be. That means showing up to support hard-working men and women in your community, because it’s the right thing to do. UFCW Local 365 member Jason Holland knows very well what it means to step up and do right by others – which is why he was recently honored with the Mother Jones Award from the Washington State Labor Council.
After four years of fighting for a fair labor contract through strikes and boycotts, the workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington and Mt. Vernon, Washington were able to secure fair, living wages. The farm-workers, from Oaxaca, Mexico realized that there was strength in numbers – which is why they formed the first new farm-worker union in the country in over 20 years, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ).
Using his law degree from Vanderbilt University, Jason supported FUJ’s efforts by writing the contract the workers would bring to the negotiating table. He marched and protested alongside FUJ in solidarity, receiving no compensation for his work – besides knowing he stepped up to help fellow hard-working men and women in need of a strong union family.
Congratulations, Jason. Cheers to a well-deserved award!
July 19, 2017
At UFCW locals across the country, the sun is shining and the grill is hot this summer as members from all walks of life come together to have a little summer fun. What’s your favorite part about the summer? Let us know on our Facebook page.
UFCW 227 Local members enjoyed a day at the pool in Richmond, Ky. Over 120 members and their families came out to Paradise Cove Water Park to swim and enjoy food with their union family!
Sometimes having fun means helping out. UFCW Local 1006a member Rechev Browne brought together co-workers at Jim’s No Frills to donate food and UFCW Canada headphones for Youth Without Shelter (YWS).
UFCW Local 401 celebrated their first annual Local 401 Calgary Stampede BBQ. Calgary is famous for it’s annual rodeo, which is one of the largest in the world and draws over a million visitors to the 10-day event that includes concerts, competitions, and a parade.
What fun have you been up to this summer? Let us know on our Facebook page.
June 22, 2017
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.
“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.”
“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.”