Corporate Responsibility

RSS

Massachusetts, Vermont and New York Co-op Workers Gather for First Ever Co-op Worker Summit

Workers meet to discuss future of co-ops and the food industry

DSC_0029Charlemont, Mass. – Dozens of co-op workers from three states and representing six both worker- and member-owned co-ops met Saturday at the first-ever regional co-op workers summit. The event, hosted by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1459, was the first of its kind.

“Co-ops have a unique place in our economy,” said Dan Clifford, President of Local 1459. “They are businesses that have the higher purpose of serving the communities in which they operate. As the co-op movement grows, sometimes the voice of co-op workers get lost. This summit was an important step to ensure those voices are heard and that co-ops live up to their highest aspirations.”

Workers from co-ops in Western Massachusetts, New York and Vermont gathered for panels on the future of the co-op movement and their role in improving their workplaces, their communities and the food we all eat. They also heard from Frances Moore Lappé, best-selling author of Diet for a Small Planet, who spoke about the important role that co-ops and co-op workers can have in building a more sustainable global economy.

“It’s critically important that the co-op movement doesn’t leave the workers’ voice behind,” said John Cevasco, a grocery worker from Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield, Mass. and a UFCW Local 1459 member. “We found our voice at Greenfield’s by forming a union, and I know our co-op is stronger because of it.”

“Our communities need high quality, local food and good family-supporting jobs,” said Russell Ziemba, a worker from the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, N.Y. “Co-ops can play a critical role in meeting those needs if they listen to the voice of their workers. That’s why I’m glad I had the opportunity to be here and learn from other co-op workers in my region.”

The co-op workers also issued a series of collective recommendations to the regional and state food system plans, re-envisioning how the food system could serve the needs of citizens even better. They hope by injecting the voice of ground level workers and co-ops into the plan that they can make the plans both more ecologically and economically more sustainable.

 

 

Statement from UFCW International President Marc Perrone on News of Target Wage Increase

Every Retail Worker has the Right to a Decent Living, a Reliable Schedule, Quality Affordable Health Care, and Respect on the Job

WASHINGTON, D.C.Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement about the news reports on Target’s wage increase and the collective gains secured by workers in the retail industry.

“A higher hourly wage for the hard-working men and women in retail is a first step in the right direction. For far too long, our UFCW family and those outside our family who deserve a better life have been fighting for more than just higher wages. We are fighting for good benefits, a safe and just workplace, and fair scheduling that allows all workers the hard-earned right to support themselves and their family.

“While the struggle against irresponsible companies continues, I believe the momentum is growing. Bad employers who put their bottom line before the people who work to make these companies succeed must change. These families deserve better. While steps forward are positive, we will not stop our fight to raise standards, provide more hours, stable scheduling, and good jobs for all of our family.”

###

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

LivingWageSign

Women’s History Month Member Profile: Local 5 Safeway Workers Joanne and Denise

Local 5 Member Joanne Murtha

Local 5 Member Joanne Murtha

We asked UFCW members across the country to share stories about women in their union as part of our ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month.

Denise Ward, a passionate Local 5 steward working at Safeway in Soquel, California, was eager to tell us about her coworker Joanne Murtha, who has worked at her store for close to 25 years.

“Joanne is the go-to person in the store,” says Denise. “She’s not an official manager because she’s chosen to remain a UFCW member, but she does all managerial duties and more. She interviews and orients the new hires. She does payroll . She works at the cash register, she helps customers find things in the store. She wears many hats and is great with all of them.”

Not only does she do all of this while still making time for her family at home, says Denise, but she does it all with a strong sense of compassion for all the people she works with. “She’s so sweet, and she makes everyone at the store feel comfortable and capable in their jobs.”

“If you’re having trouble at the register, and it’s broken or something, Joanne can come help and take over. She’s the hub of the wheel. If she doesn’t know how to help you, she’ll find someone who will. Everyone loves her–everyone’s a fan of Joanne,” Denise exclaims.

But Joanne’s compassion extends beyond the workplace.

Denise adds that when one of their elderly coworkers became sick and was ailing, Joanne and another coworker took care of him–buying his groceries, and becoming his caregivers.

Women like Joanne and Denise know that belonging to a union gives them greater opportunity and job protections than their non-union counterparts, creates a level playing field for female workers, and enables them to have a united voice on the job.

According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), women are a large and growing portion of the union workforce, currently comprising 45% of union members. Women are on track to become a majority of the union workforce by 2023.

On average, union membership increases a woman’s wages by 12.9%, or $2.50 an hour. Also, studies have shown that being in a union raises a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does. Unionized women of color earn almost 35% percent more than non-union women of color.

CEPR also found that “the union impact on the probability that a female worker has health insurance or a retirement plan through her employer was even larger than the impact on wages. At every education level, unionized women are more likely to have employee benefits than their non-union counterparts with similar characteristics. In fact, for a women worker with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would.”

Additionally, employer-provided retirements are one of the largest advantages that union-women have, when compared to non-union women, CEPR shows.

Denise herself has worked at Safeway for 21 years, and will retire at the end of the month.

“I’m retiring a little early at age 61,” she says. “My union benefits enabled me to do that. And I could have been unfairly fired several times over the years, but because my workplace is union, I am protected against that–our union establishes rules that the employer must follow. I’m about to retire now but I will always be a union member, for the rest of my life. I will always be pro-union.”

Do you know a strong woman in your life and your union that’d you’d like to share with us? Let us know at submissions@ufcw.org