September 6, 2019
For 37 years, The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has been a committed supporter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), raising more than $90 million to drive forward our goal to end blood cancers. Led by members of the UFCW, Labor Against Cancer is a movement to end the devastation of cancer through fundraising drives among members, empowering them to band together in the communities where they work and live.
A three-year UFCW member in San Diego, California, Eva knows firsthand the urgent need for lifesaving cancer treatments. In June 2018, she knew something wasn’t right with her 17-year-old son Enrique, when he began experiencing debilitating headaches and difficulty breathing. After seeing several doctors, they learned he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Enrique spent the next several months in and out of the hospital undergoing treatment and fighting for his life. But Eva never left his side, and Enrique never gave up hope.
Even after missing his entire senior year of high school, Enrique kept up with schoolwork and was able to graduate with his classmates in June 2019. Today, he is in the maintenance phase of his treatment and takes daily oral chemotherapy from home. An avid animal lover, he plans to pursue a career in agriculture and work on a farm one day.
“To anyone experiencing the devastation of cancer, you have to stay strong,” says Eva. “I’m so thankful that UFCW is helping LLS accomplish more than any other cancer nonprofit to advance research and cures for blood cancer patients, like my son Enrique.”
Because of treatment advancements that LLS helped fund, families like Eva’s are able to stay together and have second chance to pursue their dreams.
August 19, 2019
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers. The UFCW has been a longstanding partner with LLS since 1982. Together, UFCW members have raised over $86 million through participating in Light the Night walks and other fundraising efforts.
One such member is Kenny Newsom, a UFCW Local 1059 member who works at General Mills in Wellston, Ohio as a building maintenance electrician. UFCW Local 1059 members at General Mills work hard to produce Totinos pizza rolls, but in his spare time Newsom enjoys using his carpentry skills to build furniture that he donates for the yearly UFCW Local 1059 auction to raise money for Light the Night.
“It’s been four years now,” says Newsom. “One year I was making an Ohio State table, it’s got the block o and buckeye leaf and all that in it. My union rep stopped by one day when I was in my workshop working on it and I said, ‘Hey, would Randy like to have this to auction off for Light the Night?’ and that’s how it got started.”
Newsom’s donations have raised over for Light the Night since he first got involved. Over the years, he’s made end tables, an indoor bar, a poker table, and an outside furniture set.
“I took workshop in high school, but then I worked for a cabinet factory for 29 years before I worked for General Mills. The cabinet factory shut down, but I learned quite a bit there. But mostly I learned from my father. He did that as a hobby like I do, and I just picked it up as I got older. I enjoy building it all. It’s a hobby for me so I just enjoy doing it.”
Newsom works nights at the General Mills plant, but doesn’t let that stop him from getting involved. In addition to being active with Light the Night, he also has been a steward for the past five years.
“After my first year or so was up I said, it’s about time to get involved. There was a position that opened up and I went to see my union rep and said ‘I want to be a steward’ and he said ‘ok’ and I’ve been there ever since. Negotiations are probably my favorite part. That and helping people when you can.”
“I work from 10:30 at night until 6:30 in the morning. I don’t think it’s a barrier to being involved, it’s just a matter of being disciplined. Coming home and getting in bed and getting your sleep. But I’m also a union steward there also and I go talk to new hires all the time about what I deal with as a union steward and try to give them a little education in what the union’s all about for them.
I just wish there were more education for younger people to know what a union can do for them. I try to tell them I worked non-union for 29 years, it’s ‘either our way or see ya,’ you know what I mean? It’s like you get a 5 cent raise this year and you either stay working or you go find something else. At least with the union, you’ve got a voice.”
If you would like to get more involved like Kenny Newsom, Light the Night has a website just for the UFCW. Visit to find information on a Light the Night Walk near you, register your Local Union’s Light the Night team, or set up your team’s fundraising page:
If you are interested in participating in the walks, talk to your local to see if there is already a Light the Night team. If not, ask about forming one and make sure your local’s team is registered on the UFCW Light the Night page. After your team is registered, you can recruit walkers and send them to your team page to register.
The UFCW Light the Night website will track our fundraising progress as well as keep a list of the top-performing UFCW locals and fundraisers. So be sure to check it often.
Funds raised by your team will go towards discovering breakthrough therapies and cures for people suffering from blood cancers like Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and Myeloma.
“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.”
For more information about the LLS, please visit www.LLS.org.
May 6, 2019
This year, the UFCW is once again partnering with the National Association of Letter Carriers to sponsor the 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which will take place on Saturday, May 11. This campaign, which is the largest single-day food drive in the country, is an opportunity for UFCW Locals to make a difference in the lives of millions of American families who are suffering from the effects of hunger.
Last year, our union helped to collect millions of pounds of union-made, non-perishable food for local food banks. This year, we are encouraging all UFCW Locals and their members to pitch in by collecting unopened, non-perishable food and placing it in a bag next to their mailbox before their letter carrier delivers their mail on Saturday, May 11.
Help us make this year’s campaign the biggest and most successful yet. You can get more information about the campaign here.
Together, we can help families struggling to put food on the table and make a positive difference in the communities we proudly serve and call home.
May 3, 2019
Whether it’s working through the night to prepare fresh food for the morning, restocking store shelves, or taking care of our loved ones in the hospital, the hard-working men and women of the UFCW who work the third shift provide an incredible value that too often goes unnoticed or taken for granted.
That’s why every second Wednesday in May, we celebrate Third Shift Day. Last year, UFCW Local union staff went out to surprise some of our third shift members with donuts, coffee, or other tokens of appreciation.
So what is it that drives someone to go to work while the rest of us are asleep? A survey of part-time night shift workers showed that:
- 42% said it ‘allows time for school’
- 22.5% liked the ‘nature of the job’
- 9% said ‘better arrangements for family or childcare’
- An additional 11.5% of night-workers surveyed say that it’s just their preference
One of those hard-working night owls focused on going to school is Kathy of UFCW Local 1428 in southern California, who worked nights so she could get her masters degree in Anthropology. Way to go, Kathy! Her coworker Sharon also reminds us that contrary to what some people might think, many dedicated employees build their careers working nights – she’s spent the past 35 years as a third shifter! The stability of third shift work allowed her to balance work and family responsibilities.
Are you a Third Shifter? Let us know why you do it by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Facebook.
April 14, 2019
Since Stop & Shop workers walked off the job Thursday, there has been an outpouring of customer support as New England communities rally together with the goal of making Stop & Shop a better place to work and shop.
UFCW Locals 328, 919, 1459, 1445, and 371, representing all 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England, have been in negotiations with the company over a new contract for nearly three months since January 14th, with the current contract having expired on February 23rd.
Despite Stop & Shop’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, taking in more than $2 billion in 2018 and authorizing over $4 billion in stock buybacks from 2017 to 2019, the company is proposing unreasonable cuts to workers’ take-home pay, health care, and retirement benefits.
In addition, the company unlawfully refuses to provide financial information to verify its claim that their proposed cuts are necessary.
UFCW’s five New England locals are unified at the negotiation table and are asking for Stop & Shop to properly value the employees whose hard work and dedication have made their company so successful.
Support from Customers
The flood of support, both in person as customers stop by picket signs to drop off bottles of water, offer hugs or messages of strength and encouragement, or online on social media, shows New England is a place that values hard-working union families and believes workers have earned the right to build a better life and community.:
Support from across our union family
Union members, both UFCW and from other unions, have also been sending along their strength, both from local former Stop & Shop workers, but also from union members as far away as Alberta, Canada:
Thank you to everyone who has shown their support so far. It means a great deal that in these divisive times, we can still come together as a community and have one another’s backs when it matters. The hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop pride themselves on their service to the community, and are humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement received so far.
If you would like to voice your support for Stop & Shop workers, sign the petition.
March 5, 2019
Have you ever been promised something by your boss, only to have it fall through later? It may be a promise to give you more hours, let you take time off, or give you a promotion or a raise. There are plenty of times when for one reason or another, employers or managers don’t come through on a promise they made and you’re left trying to figure out how to adapt.
You don’t even have to have a bad manager for this to happen, sometimes your boss just might not have had all the right information when they spoke to you, or perhaps the final say was above their pay grade. Some well-intentioned managers may even just not like saying no, even when they know they don’t have the authority to actually promise you something. Whatever the reason, in the end it often feels like there’s not much you can do about it but hope for better luck next time.
You don’t need to rely on luck.
When it comes to your job, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been working there a while, you need to know that you can count on a promise your boss makes to you. Sometimes they will come through and make good, but that’s not always the case. That’s why you need to make sure you get it in writing. And that’s where a contract can help you.
Your time and effort has value – act like it!
When companies do business with each other, they can’t just rely on promises– they put agreements down in writing where they are legally binding. But while this is accepted as normal for businesses, we have a harder time thinking of the work employees do as having the same level of value and deserving of the same commitment and respect.
Instead of relying on awkward favors, a contract creates a way for two parties with different interests to work together. One of the most powerful but often overlooked benefits to belonging to a union is that you and your coworkers can draw up a contract of your own and have that same level of clarity and security.
A contract spells out all the agreements between you and your employer. This can include how much you get paid, your benefits, holiday/sick days, personal time off, your pension, scheduling agreements, health and safety standards, staffing, and more. Unlike a company handbook, you have a say in what goes into it, and you can have the peace of mind of knowing it can’t be changed without your knowledge or input.
Contracts can also help ease possible tensions between you and your managers by making it really clear what the agreed upon rules are, as well as what to do when they are violated. Confronting your manager one on one can end up feeling like a personal attack or criticism with someone you have to work with every day and maintain a good relationship with. In the end, many people just decide to let minor problems go rather than risk creating an uncomfortable situation or even just seeming like they aren’t a team player. In the end, that isn’t a very good way to get problems solved. With a written contract and union representation you have someone to call who isn’t your boss who can help you get the issue resolved.
Never forget that you’ve already earned it.
When you have a strong contract that protects your rights as an employee and the promises your employer makes, you can rest easy knowing exactly what you’re getting in exchange for your hard work.
You work hard every day. When a promise is made to you, you deserve better than being expected to just take someone’s word for it.
February 19, 2019
Kelly Ward’s story was originally featured on the UFCW Local 227 Facebook page:
Kelly Ward has been a member with UFCW Local 227 since 2012. When she isn’t putting in hours at Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, KY, she is running her own business.
Mil’s Dairy Drive-In has been a family business for over twenty-five years. In October 2017, Kelly and her husband took the reins. The drive-in has been known for its dedication to the community but most recently Kelly and her husband have gotten more involved.
During the recent three day school shutdown from snow, Kelly realized that some kids who benefit from the backpack meal program would be lacking from the long break.
They decided to donate pizzas to the Whitesville PTO board to help distribute them. It’s community awareness like this that shows the love and dedication she has for those around her.
“I get joy from giving back to the community!” says Ward.
January 25, 2019
There have been a number of recent articles highlighting the air-travel safety issues caused by the government shutdown as more and more TSA agents are forced to call out from work. TSA agents are a visible reminder of the work that federal employees do, but some of the most damaging and dangerous impacts from the government shutdown are ones that are also out of sight of the average American. After all, many people pass through the airport, but not that many people regularly visit food processing facilities.
The FDA oversees 80 percent of our food supply and has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities (Washington Post) and canceled more than 50 high-risk inspections. (Washington Post) The FDA halted many inspections on January 9th, though the agency also resumed the most high-risk ones on January 15th, when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that furloughed food inspectors would be recalled to carry on their work without pay.
40% of FDA workers are furloughed
40 percent of the FDA’s employee’s remain furloughed and it is important to recognize that just because inspections may not be considered “high risk” does not mean they are “no risk” and should be left without inspectors. These decisions about what merits inspection or not are also being made without the informed consent of the American people, who trust that the food they are eating has been held to certain agreed upon standards and guidelines.
We re-starting high risk food inspections as early as tomorrow. We’ll also do compounding inspections this week. And we started sampling high risk imported produce in the northeast region today. We’ll expand our footprint as the week progresses. Our teams are working.
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 14, 2019
Risk of recalls has increased
Since the last extended federal shutdown in 2013, the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled. A new report shows the number of meat and poultry products recalled in the United States for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, raising new concerns about food safety. A recent report by TIME highlighted that if shutdown-caused furloughs continue to impede FDA operations, “federal regulators might not even realize outbreaks are happening” in the first place.
Long term impacts
Workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry, have all continued to perform inspections without pay. It is important to recognize that much of the work inspectors do requires a high level of training and experience, and filling vacant positions with qualified employees can be challenging. Though the dedication shown by the inspectors working without pay because of their commitment to the common good is inspiring, the longer this shutdown continues, the more we are asking those workers to sacrifice. If a number of inspectors are forced to take other work in order to support their families, there is a potential for long-term consequences that will be felt beyond when the federal government resumes its responsibilities.
Grocery Sales and Food Access
This week, nearly 40 million low-income Americans received their February Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (or food stamps). Beyond the hardships endured by families who reply on SNAP, the program makes up a significant percentage of grocery sales and the harmful impact of the shutdown threatens not only families, but businesses up and down the supply chain.
SNAP represents a large portion of grocery sales
SNAP accounts for about 10 percent of the food that U.S. families buy for their homes. Disruption to the SNAP program can cause reduced revenue for grocery stores, disruption to food supply chains, reduced hours and even job cuts for workers, and significant consequences for local economies.
Uncertainty triggering food shortages
Due to the federal government shutdown, the benefit’s release is occurring weeks earlier than scheduled. It is being reported that recipients may have to wait 40 days or longer before additional assistance is available causing state agencies to warn recipients to ration their benefits.
Shutdown induced uncertainty is anticipated to cause worried hardworking families using food stamps, to stock up on food for the weeks ahead and triggering food shortages at local supermarkets.
Out of touch leadership
In addition to damage done by the disruption of the SNAP program, many federal workers are wondering how to feed their families when they are not receiving a paycheck. This is especially troubling as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently expressed confusion over why federal employees would be turning to food banks instead of just taking out loans to get through the shutdown. Donald Trump reacted to the comments by suggested grocery stores need to “work along” with federal employees.
Donald Trump, defending Wilbur Ross, says government workers not receiving a paycheck because of the #TrumpShutdown can simply convince their local grocery stores to “work along” with them. pic.twitter.com/bIvu2CJxHb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 24, 2019
Food access is both a humanitarian issue and bad for business
When you consider that the potential loss of sales in the grocery industry is not only a threat to business, but represents every day Americans who cannot afford to eat right now, the depth of the crisis we are in as a country becomes clear. Grocery workers and grocery stores are united in calling for an end to the shutdown before further disruptions occur in our food stores and on our nation’s kitchen tables.
A partial federal government shutdown started on December 22, 2018 after President Donald Trump demanded a $5.7 billion appropriation for border wall construction be included in the federal budget, something Democrats refused to agree to. The impasse has resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Today, many Federal workers will miss their second paycheck in a row.
December 18, 2018
This year, the UFCW made an impact on thousands of lives by addressing hunger in America, helping to find a cure for blood cancers and standing with members of our union family in the aftermath of a tornado, a fire and other disasters.
Once again, the UFCW served as a national partner of National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive—the largest single-day food drive in the world. In the weeks leading up to Saturday, May 13, our union family helped collect millions of pounds of non-perishable food made by union members for local food banks. The UFCW has served as a national sponsor of the NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive for the past three years. In that time, the food drive has collected more than 150 million pounds of food.
The UFCW continued to expand on last year’s launch of the Labor Against Cancer initiative in the battle to end blood cancers. This initiative builds on our 30-year partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to fund and support some of the world’s best and brightest blood cancer researchers to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. To date, we have raised over $86 million to help fund research that has advanced treatments such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and smart drugs, which have become the standard for many other cancers.
This year, our union family also helped out members who were affected by Camp Fire in California and the tornado in Iowa. In addition, we donated time, resources and money to spread a little cheer during the holiday season.
Here are a few examples of the ways the UFCW gave back to communities across the country this year:
Standing With Our Union Family in California
UFCW Members Celebrate Thanksgiving by Giving Back to Their Communities
Help Make Labor Against Cancer Donation Drive a Success
UFCW United Latinos Empower Workers in Puerto Rico
Helping Tornado-Stricken Workers in Iowa
UFCW Helps to Stamp Out Hunger in Communities Across the Country
Help Make This Year’s Stamp Out Hunger Campaign a Success
Locals 1189 and 653 Hold Labor Against Cancer Event With Union Retail Grocers in Minnesota
Local 1149 and JBS Donate to Local Schools in Iowa
December 4, 2018
“When I first started at the hospital, I didn’t know anything about what the union did for me or my co-workers. However, once I got involved, I quickly learned that UFCW doesn’t just represent workers at their workplaces; it helps communities, charities, and fights the government for better legislation for all working people. That is who I am . A helper.”
Originally appeared in the UFCW Local 832 magazine:
Eric Flett was born in Ste Rose du Lac, Manitoba, about 15 minutes from where he lived, the Ebb and Flow First Nation. Eric lived there with his parents and nine siblings until he was about four years old, when his family moved to Winnipeg. He said it wasn’t easy adjusting from reserve life to city life in the North End. But thanks to his mother’s strict parenting, Eric stayed on the straight and narrow, maintained a childhood free from bad influences and graduated from Sisler High School in 1986.
Eric attended his first ceremonial sweat lodge when he was 14. A sweat lodge is traditionally a place where prayer and song ceremonies are performed, so that we can be cleansed. However, it wasn’t until he was around 20 years of age that his interest and understanding were truly formed, and from that point on he has been continually active in ceremonies and traditions.
When Eric took part in the Sun Dance Ceremony, his niece was very sick and he wanted to dance for her. This ceremony usually involves the community gathering together to pray for healing. Individuals make personal sacrifices on behalf of a loved one or the community.
From here, Eric continued to participate in his culture’s activities and received training from his Elders. Today Eric plays a leadership role in the community, a role that is entrusted to those who earned the rights and training to lead a sweat lodge and other ceremonies.
These earned rights are what help Eric succeed in his day-to-day life as well as work. Eric became a UFCW Local 832 member in 1990, when he was hired as a healthcare aide at the St. Boniface Hospital. He thought this was a perfect fit, as he loves helping people and refers to himself in his Ojibwa language as “helper.” Today, he works as a porter in the diagnostic imaging department, still helping people.
His involvement with the union began about 10 years ago when he was elected to the audit committee of UFCW, which continues today. Besides his porter position, Eric is also a shop steward and sits on Local 832’s executive board.
When asked why he is so active in his union, he replied, “When I first started at the hospital, I didn’t know anything about what the union did for me or my co-workers. However, once I got involved, I quickly learned that UFCW doesn’t just represent workers at their workplaces; it helps communities, charities, and fights the government for better legislation for all working people. That is who I am . A helper.”
On his off days, Eric enjoys watching TV, golfing and continuing to practice his culture.