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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.

January 11, 2017

Protecting the rights of all workers

As a hard-working union family, it’s important now more than ever that all members are treated equally and justly, both on the job and in their communities. Formed three year ago, UFCW OUTreach, working with locals like 655, is taking measures to ensure just that, as they have been on the cutting edge safeguarding LGBTQ rights and fighting for workplace protections for transgender members.

Laura Kelley, co-chair of OUTreach and head of the education committee, said that it was thanks to the support of her UFCW Local 655 that they were able to create an important educational program that is now being offered to UFCW locals across the country, to talk about transgender rights and equality. The training has already been immensely helpful to people within our union family who feel they now have the right tools to respectfully talk to and understand workers who identify as transgender, and has given a voice to workers who say they otherwise may not have come out at work.

The training was first put on at The Transgender Spectrum Conference in St. Louis back in November.

“A lack of education isn’t an excuse for intolerance or bigotry,” said Kelley, underlining the need to create an inclusive atmosphere for all workers. “This training is to help us get educated.”

January 3, 2017

UFCW Member uses CPR to save a coworker’s life

What would you do if a coworker had a heart attack on the job?

That’s the situation Sandy Maynor, a UFCW Local 400 member and Giant employee in Washington, D.C., faced when her coworker suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Maynor sprang into action, administering CPR for 10 minutes in a heroic “act of love” until the paramedics arrived.

UFCW member saves coworkers life

Check out the full story.

December 6, 2016

UFCW Local 293 partners to donate $10,000

UFCW Local 293 was featured in The Grand Island Independent newspaper yesterday for their great work spreading holiday cheer and goodwill in the Grand Island area of Nebraska. Once again, our brothers and sisters at Local 293 are showing the rest of the country what partnership done right looks like:

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 293 and the JBS beef packing plant presented a check for $10,000 Monday to six local programs that serve the Grand Island area during the holidays and year-round.

No one should go hungry during the holidays and every kid ought to have a toy. Terry Mostek, UFCW Local 293

The recipients were the Hero Flight program, Central Nebraska Humane Society, Christmas Cheer, the Salvation Army, Head Start Child and Family Development and Toys for Tots.

“No one should go hungry during the holidays and every kid ought to have a toy,” said Terry Mostek of UFCW Local 293.

Mostek, who has been coordinating the donations for 10 years, said this year they added the Hero Flight program, which give veterans an opportunity to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. They are currently raising funds for their next flight of Vietnam vets to the nation’s capitol, scheduled for the spring of 2017.

Don Shuda, Hall County veterans service officer and representing the Hero Flight program, said the donation will make it a reality for one Hall County Vietnam veteran to make the trip next year.

“Thank you,” Laurie Dethloff, CEO of the Central Nebraska Humane Society, said in response to the donation. “It makes a world of difference to us.”

Dethloff said the donation is especially needed this time of year for the many dogs and cats the society takes in during the holiday season. Dethloff said some people abandon their older pets, which puts additional pressure of the humane society resources.

Ammie Joyce, who represented Head Start at the ceremony, said the money it’s receiving will be used to fill food boxes for families during the holidays.

Major Chuck Yockey of the Salvation Army said its funds will be used to supply its food pantry for the holiday season.

Don Smith, representing the Christmas Cheer program, said the money will go to help feed needy families during the holiday season. Christmas Cheer helps families by giving out food vouchers at Christmas. In its 106th year, last year Christmas Cheer provided vouchers to 1,009 families and 3,479 individuals.

Heartland United Way operates the Toys for Tots program. Toys are given to kids age 12 and younger. The program serves about 2,000 kids each year.

To help the Heartland United Way with its programs or help organizations supported by the United Way, visit www.heartlandunitedway.org or call (308) 384-3178.

If you have stories of how UFCW members in your area are helping out in the community, email us at submissions@ufcw.org.

partnerships

November 3, 2016

Local 648 Sponsors Prop 47 Clinic

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On Oct. 22, UFCW Local 648, in partnership with Californians for Safety and Justice and the San Francisco Labor Council, hosted a Proposition 47 Live Scan, record change and job fair clinic in San Francisco to help people with prior nonviolent felonies to petition to get their records changed.

At the event, attorneys volunteered their time and met with each attendee, one on one. The San Francisco Labor Council, City College of San Francisco, Up Vote and the San Francisco Airport Office of Employment all had informational booths, as well. Union members that attended the Proposition 47 Live Scan event and attorney meetings said they were thankful for the opportunity to change their records and move forward with their lives.

In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, a measure that reduces certain low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors. The savings from reduced incarceration costs are invested in drug and mental health treatment, programs for at-risk students in K-12 schools, and victim services. Over one million Californians quality for Proposition 47, but only about 250,000 people have petitioned to have their records changed. Proposition 47 was due to sunset in November 2017, but Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 2757 to extend the time to petition for another five years.

The UFCW has partnered with a number of local and national organizations in an effort to bring to light the issues that are plaguing our communities and transform the criminal justice system.

local-648-prop-47-event2UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Robin Williams believes restorative rights are especially important for workers. “When you get out of jail, how do you take care of your family if you can’t get a job?” Williams said.

Together with our allies, the UFCW is dedicated to shifting the focus away from punishment and toward educational opportunities that help people change their lives and get back on track.

November 1, 2016

Local 1208 and United Way Partner to Provide Hurricane Matthew Relief to Members and Their Families

local-1208-and-united-way-relief-effort

Last month, UFCW Local 1208 partnered with United Way of Robeson County to distribute much needed food to members across southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina who are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. The event, which was held at the Family Dollar in Lumberton, provided assistance to over 150 workers and their families. Members of UFCW Local 204, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and corporate partners like Kroger and Kellogg’s, also donated items to help Local 1208 members and their families.

Stephanie Franklin, a member of Local 1208 who has worked at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel for more than 11 years and lives in Lumberton, was one of the recipients.

“The whole area was affected by Hurricane Matthew,” Franklin said. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and this was one of the worst storms I’ve seen. My son is four years old, and we were stuck in our trailer for two days during the storm and we didn’t have enough food or water. Our trailer is up high, but the bathroom ceiling caved in a little bit and the water was still up to my waist.”

“The relief effort meant a lot and shows that Local 1208 is there for you. I appreciate everything they gave me and my son,” Franklin said. “We’re slowly getting back to normal.”

“Hurricane Matthew brought incredible hardship to our friends and neighbors, and it is times like these that we must come together to help those in need” said Ella Ellerbe, who has worked in packaging at Smithfield for ten years. “Our union family, working with our partners, are proud to help our local members and their families get the food assistance they need. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our members recover from this storm because no hard-working family should ever have to struggle alone.”

UFCW Local 1208 worked with Smithfield Foods to ensure that everyone at the plant in Tar Heel received a full week’s pay when Hurricane Matthew struck, regardless of actual time on the job. Members of Local 1208 have contributed more than $10,000 to United Way of Robeson County to help their community recover from Hurricane Matthew.

October 31, 2016

Hard-working Men and Women Behind Hershey’s Chocolate Make Halloween Sweeter

Halloween is a time for spooky stories, dressing up, and pumpkins, but most kids would probably agree that the main event is going trick-or-treating for candy. It’s an excuse for adults to indulge too, whether it’s from the office candy bowl, an impulse buy from the Halloween candy display because it was “on sale”, or maybe even a quick pilfer from the kids’ haul.

Franco Deritis is one of the people who helps make all that candy. A member of UFCW Local 1776, Franco works at the Hershey factory in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. For over three years, he’s been a part of the creation process behind various Cadbury, Caramello and Kit Kat products at Hershey. Currently a maintenance trainee, Franco has also worked at the factory as a molding operator and packer.

The production process for the candy that begins lining the shelves for Halloween before October even arrives, starts months in advance. “It’s a great feeling knowing that all of the summer hours we put in pay off when the kids get excited,” says Franco.

As the chief steward at his workplace, Franco also values being part of the UFCW family. “Our plant is different because it’s union,” he says.

October 27, 2016

Jim Beam Workers Ratify New Contract

jim-beam-workers3

This month, after standing together to improve working conditions, Jim Beam workers in Clermont and Boston, Ky., ratified a new contract by a vote of 204 to 19. The workers are members of UFCW Local 111D.

UFCW Local 111D President Janelle Mudd released the following statement regarding the new two-year contract:

“Today’s vote is the culmination of the efforts of many to reach a compromise that will, ultimately, benefit everyone. After months of negotiation and feeling like the voice of UFCW 111D was not being heard, we had hoped that we would not have to go on strike to reach an agreement with Beam Suntory management. In the end, we made a strong statement and we were heard.

“The final proposal includes many of the key elements that we felt so strongly about, such as equal pay for equal work, a cap on temporary employees and the hiring of more full-time employees. We appreciate management’s diligence to reach an agreement with the union. They met with employees from a cross section of departments from both the Clermont and Boston plants, and representatives talked to employees on the picket line to clarify the areas of greatest need.

“We would also like to thank all the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported us with donations of money, supplies, food and beverages; those who honked, waved and stopped to give words of encouragement; those who picketed with us; and those who refused to cross the picket line.”