When Lisa Colon’s daughter had to have three emergency surgeries in a week, she did what any good parent would do—prioritize the health of her child and do her best to take care of her while she recovered.
As a single mom balancing family and a career as a CNA at Chapin Center Nursing Home, Lisa had to put in for FMLA leave to take time off from work, but was horrified to find her request for the urgently needed time off denied by her employer.
Wanting to shift their workplace culture to one that prioritized the needs of the staff and respected the hard work nursing home employees put in to provide quality care for the residents, Lisa and her coworkers decided to take matters into their own hands and join the UFCW to make sure no one felt left out to dry in times of need.
“They helped me out 100%,” Lisa says. “It still brings tears to my eyes,” she says of that trying time, “but thanks to my union I still am able to have a job, and my family is healthy now.”
Being a single mom and balancing work was still hard, but knowing the union would be there for her helped provide peace of mind and a sense of security. Before becoming a union member, for instance, Lisa was no stranger to pay inequity. “It hurts,” she says about knowing how much longer it takes for some women to reach the wages of their white male counterparts. “I work just as hard, or even harder than a male co-worker. Especially when I was a single parent—I had to work just as hard and take care of my children.”
She explains that her union contract guarantees good wages and fair treatment. “Being part of a union ensures I receive the equal pay I’ve earned. Equal pay, and equality at work, allow me achieve my goals, and go further in life.”
In addition to organizing her workplace, Lisa went on to become a shop steward, where she worked to help fellow members get pay issues and other problems they encountered resolved.
UFCW stewards are members who volunteer or are elected to take on a more active role protecting the rights of their coworkers on the job. They are knowledgeable about what benefits and policies the union negotiates with their employer and they help keep an eye out to make sure everyone is getting treated fairly.
These days, Lisa works as a union representative at UFCW Local 1459 and serves on their Executive Board. She hopes her story helps inspire others to get involved and take action when they see a change that needs to be made.
Lisa is half Puerto Rican and was born in the continental U.S, but moved to Puerto Rico as a young child, and returned not knowing any English. Before her involvement with the union, she’d never voted or registered to vote. Now she helps get the word out about how vital voting is to protecting the rights of working people.
“We need more push and shove, more education,” she says, frustrated that more of her peers don’t have a plan to vote in the upcoming election. “If more people knew that their vote counts, and used it, we could win.”
Her message for people going through a hard time in this political climate—experiencing things like unfair wages and more—is to stay strong, because you’re not alone.
OUTreach, the UFCW constituency group for LGBTQ+ and allies, is offering five scholarships to our union members to attend the 2019 Creating Change Conference in Detroit, Michigan from January 23-27. Creating Change Conference is organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force. It is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for thousands of committed people to develop and hone their skills and share victories. Scholarship recipients will learn from a broad range of social justice issues and develop skills to bring back to their workplaces and local unions. Past session topics include labor, gender equality, community organizing, criminal justice, immigration and more.
OUTreach Executive Board members have participated as one of the leading workshop presenters, putting our union, UFCW, as a key advocate for the working class and a key voice on labor issues at this conference. In a time where the labor movement and everything we have fought for is under attack, OUTreach’s dedication to organizing social and economic justice for all workers and ensuring full equality for LGBTQ+ workers at work and in their union reflects our union’s commitment to building a resilient working class that is not divided by hate.
Providing these scholarships to UFCW members is a crucial step in recruiting and developing our own rank-and-file leadership within our union and in the broader movement. It is with this vision in mind that OUTreach offers five scholarships to UFCW members to join our contingent at next year’s conference.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about OUTreach, please contact Michele Kessler at 610-513-9927 or Jean Tong at 213-590-7177.
OUTreach Scholarship Application
Details and Instructions
What: Creating Change Conference When: January 23-27, 2019 Where: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
Conference Registration Fee
Hotel and Meals
Eligibility and Requirements:
Applicant must be an active UFCW member.
Applicant must be able to take time off to attend the conference in its entirety.
Arriving at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, MI, no later than 9am on January 23 and leaving the hotel no sooner than 12pm on January 27.
Applicant must submit a short paragraph to answer the following:
What does being a union member/activist/shop steward mean to you?
Why are you interested in attending this conference, what do you hope to get from this experience?
Please share an example of you standing up for yourself or others.
Applicant must submit a letter of recommendation from his/her/their local union. (Please see attached form)
Sharon is a UFCW Local 1000 member. She was diagnosed with cancer within weeks of qualifying for enrollment in her UFCW sponsored health and welfare plan. She describes it as a blessing.
“The insurance was great and worked well with my doctors at OU. I got into treatment immediately, the week after my diagnosis. If I didn’t have my union coverage, I’d have to wait in line for weeks for charity options.”
Sharon is in remission and back at work Assistant Bakery/Deli Manager at HAC Cash Saver 188 in Guthrie, Texas.
Thank you for sharing your story, Sharon! If you are a UFCW member with a story to tell about how being a union member has made your life better, we’d love to hear from you.
The UFCW is continuing to build on the success of last year’s launch of the Labor Against Cancer initiative in the battle to end blood cancers.
For more than 30 years, the UFCW has partnered with LLS 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.
In the past 10 years the United States has officially declared over 1,000 disasters. And over the last century, more than 25 million Americans have been affected. And that’s not including disasters declared at the state and local level. And, in the Fall of 2017, alone, three major hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – were estimated to have impacted 25.8 million Americans.
Chances are, one day you’ll be affected. Planning now means you’ll have better control of the situation.
“6 IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE A DISASTER STRIKES”
1.) KNOW WHERE YOUR GAS SHUTOFF VALVE IS LOCATED*
*If unsure, ask your gas company.
Shutting off gas before an emergency can help avoid gas leaks and explosions.
2.) KNOW WHERE YOUR ELECTRICAL SHUTOFF IS*:
*If unsure, ask your local electric company.
Electrical problems cause an average of 25,900 house fires each year. The risk grows during a disaster. Shut off breakers or pull out fuses in the breaker or fuse box.
3.) MAKE AN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN FOR YOUR FAMILY:
An emergency communication plan means family members know where to go, what to do, and how to reconnect and reunite when disaster strikes.
4.) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE INSURANCE. DOES IT COVER FLOOD OR EARTHQUAKE?
Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
5.) AND PLAN FOR YOUR PETS:
Locate pet-friendly shelters for your furry friends. Many emergency shelters can’t accept pets, for public health reasons. Service animals are always welcome.
6.) KNOW EVACUATION ROUTES:
Many communities have evacuation routes, learn about them. Minutes matter during a disaster.
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30.
Can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
Can affect areas more than 100 miles inland.
Are most active in September.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.
Evacuate if told to do so.
Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.
Listen for emergency information and alerts.
Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
Know your area’s risk of hurricanes.
Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.
Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.
Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.
Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.
Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
When a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving
Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations. Plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
When a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving
Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
When a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving
Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.
When a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving
If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not drive around barricades.
If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding.
If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
Listen for current emergency information and instructions.
Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.
Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
Be Safe AFTER
Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.
Rob Patterson, a member of UFCW Local 227, is the Chief Steward at Carhartt in Hanson, KY. When he’s not working his union job, you can find him posting on social media about where in the community he’ll be cooking BBQ that day – everyone knows to find Rob early, or else his delicious food will be gone by the time you get to him.
In 2000, two weeks after graduating high school, Rob began working at Carhartt, where he became a UFCW union steward three years later. Since 2011, he’s been the chief steward there, and is well known for taking great care of the members who works with .
During his time at Carhartt, Rob has done just about every job at the facility, including working as a picker and special handler. After their latest contract negotiations, Rob and the other hardworking members there were able to win a better pay scale based on seniority, as well as more flexibility regarding positions worked. On top of that, Rob and his fellow steward Matt Henderson helped win the biggest grievance settlement in Carhartt history, in the amount of almost $500,000.
With his job flexibility and great union benefits, Rob is able to not only succeed at Carhartt
and take care of his young family, but also to pursue his passion: Barbecue.
Rob’s interest in grilling began as he was growing up, and as he entered adulthood. Since he began working right after graduating high school, he moved out on his own a lot sooner than most of his peers. Cooking for himself and for friends at home, on lake trips, and out camping, he got a lot of experience using a charcoal grill. He was also getting a lot of compliments on how good his food was.
All of this, paired with inspiration from his favorite TV show, BBQ Pit Masters, led Rob to build his own smoker out of a 55-gallon drum, and start his own company, called Tru Blu BBQ. He became an expert at grilling ribs, pork, butts, and making his own sauce – writing down each iteration of his recipe and tweaking it until it was just right.
Taking his skills on the road, he entered his first grilling competition in 2009, accompanied by 9 other teams, who all had big trailers that dwarfed his small smoker. He encountered some good-natured ribbing from the other competitors, who’d clearly been in the game for a while. But Rob and his girlfriend stayed up barbecuing all night through the chilly October weather, and come judging time, Rob won the competition, “hook, line, and sinker.”
He certainly was hooked on competing, because since that time, Rob has become and 18-time grand champion, including at the renowned Owensboro International BBQ Festival. And his little smoker has become a 24-foot concession trailer. He’s also a member of the Kansas City BBQ Society, and regularly competes against reality tv contestants, including grill-masters who have competed on the show that began his culinary quest – BBQ Pitmasters. He’s also been interviewed to compete on the show two times, and hopes to get the chance to do so in the near future.
Grilling isn’t just a hobby for Rob, it’s his life. In 2014, after winning one of his many competitions, Rob proposed to his girlfriend on stage, accompanied by the couple’s two-year old daughter. The ring was engraved with the number 180 – which is a perfect score in the grilling competitions. Rob had never received a 180 from the judges, but this was his way of telling his girlfriend he had a perfect score all along. He also had his bride-to-be’s Maid of Honor waiting in their BBQ trailer with a bouquet of parsley, a popular grilling herb.
Outside of working at Carhartt, these days you’ll find Rob cooking in the community, catering, or working festivals. His specialty is pulled pork ribs, chicken, and brisket, which he makes in one of his four jumbo BBQ kits. Where Rob is from, brisket is a bit of a rarity because it is more of a Texas-style meat, so he sells out quickly.
His biggest tip for others who want to master the grill, is all about “smoke management”.
“You need good airflow,” he says. “You’re looking for a faint blue smoke, not clouds of white smoke which is what you’ll see a lot of folks producing. It makes all the difference in the world.”
Rob also makes his own rubs, and says that whatever rub you use should be “real light.”
“Less is more – too much takes away from the meat’s natural flavors.”
Want to make the perfect ribs? Here’s Rob’s recommendation:
Smoke the ribs for 2 hours, until they are a mahogany color
Cover with tinfoil, turn them upside down, and put back in the smoker for another 2 hours, until the meat is pulling away, leaving an inch of bone sticking out
Sauce the ribs, and put them back on the smoker for five minutes. (this is called “setting the sauce”, which allows it to thicken)
Rob is thankful for a union job that gives him the flexibility and means to provide for his family and follow his dreams of taking over the BBQ world.
Over 500 UFCW members representing 20 locals from across the country poured into Washington, D.C., for the Poor People’s Campaign “Global Day of Solidarity” rally on June 23 to demand economic and social justice for the nation’s poor. Over the past few weeks, UFCW members rallied at their state capitols as part of the campaign’s “40 Days of Moral Action.”
“The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” was founded by Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis, the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups. This campaign builds on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, who organized actions in 1968 to demand economic and human rights for poor Americans of all backgrounds.
UFCW International Marc Perrone spoke at the “Global Day of Solidarity” rally, and introduced activist Cortne Lee Roché, who works as a food service employee at Earth Fare in North Carolina.
“The UFCW union family believes, as the Poor People’s Campaign does, as all of you do, that America can and must work better for all hard-working families,” Perrone said. “And I mean all hard-working families. Right now, broken policies are tearing parents apart from their children at the border and in places like Ohio and Tennessee too…. Make no mistake – the only way for us to stop this and other pains is to stand up, speak out, and stand together.”
“I work at Earth Fare, where together with my coworkers, we are organizing together to build a more inclusive and empowering environment inside our stores,” said Roché. “Faced with the reality of being a trans woman in a transphobic world, I chose to organize with the UFCW union to bring a better life to my family at work as we stand against corporate greed and immorality. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Everyone’s got a struggle, but no one should struggle alone. It doesn’t matter where you come from. All that matters is that you are here with us now. Nothing can stop us when we stand as one.”
Here are a few images from the Poor People’s Campaign “Global Day of Solidarity” rally in Washington, D.C.:
Mike Watts lives with his family in Kentucky, where he has been a Kroger employee for over 30 years. When his son was born with special needs, Mike’s union health insurance allowed him to provide the high quality care his son needed when he was born.
“I have both of my children on the union insurance since they’ve been born. Me and their mother have quite our options. She also works for Kroger in management and we decided the union insurance was definitely the far better value.
In management, she basically had insurance also and then with the insurance that I had which was through the union we found out there was a better premium on that, we also found it paid for more and there was less out of pocket, the copays were better.
Landon, he was born with special needs. This is where we found out we really got a great value with the union insurance because we’ve had to deal with a lot of doctors appointments.
His medical outlook is good. He’s as normal as any other child. We’re just super excited that we’ve got the insurance to have him have the care that he needs and clearly we feel like it’s given him a better life because of it.”
Week two of the Poor People’s Campaign (5/21 – 5/26) is themed “Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty: Voting Rights and Immigration.” UFCW members around the country, from Washington state to Boston and Harrisburg, joined allies to bring attention to these issues that are affecting Americans from all corners of the U.S.
Founded by Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis, the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups, The Poor People’s Campaign is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the nation’s distorted morality.
“The Poor People’s Campaign believes, as our union family does, that our economy can and should work better for everyone,” said Marc Perrone, president of the UFCW International, in a statement of support he made in April.
“Telling the millions of people who are struggling alone, to work harder, complain less, or pray more won’t work.
“Wage inequality, the assault on voting rights, underemployment, and the attacks on immigrant and refugee communities are all part of a systemic effort to disenfranchise poor communities.
“We’re proud to support The Poor People’s Campaign because, if successful, it will bring hard-working families more power to build better lives.”
The trips have also helped prepare organizers in the states for the 40 days of action, which will conclude with a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, June 23.
On Tuesday, April 10, 2019, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) released The Souls of Poor Folk, an audit of America 50 years after Dr. King and many others launched the original Poor People’s Campaign to challenge racism, poverty, and a host of other intersected issues.
The report, which was presented at the National Press Club by IPS with support from the Urban Institute, shows that, in many ways, we are worse off than in 1968. Legislative actions and legal decisions have gutted the Voting Rights Act and severely restricted the ability of people of color, women, and young people to vote. There are 15 million more people living in poverty and nearly eight times as many inmates in state and federal prisons.