Corporate Responsibility


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Local 770 Member Lydia Flores Fighting for Justice at El Super

Originally posted by the AFL-CIO

Worker Stories: Lydia Flores

On Oct. 7, the White House is holding a summit with leaders in the various movements to improve the lives of working people across the country, with a focus on how to make sure that economic growth is broad-based and that workers share in the benefits they help create with their labor. Until the summit begins, we’ll be highlighting the stories of workers and their struggles to make sure their voices are heard on the job.

Today, we take a look at Lydia Flores.

Flores is a 37-year-old single mother of three who works as a cashier at union El Super market in Arleta, Calif. She and her co-workers have been fighting for a new contract for more than two years in the face of a campaign by the company to undermine the workers’ desires for fair working conditions and a voice on the job.

 Currently, she makes $12.88 per hour after 11 years at the company. The low wages and the lack of sufficient hours keep Flores in a constant struggle to pay her bills:

I pay the mortgage and my car and my utilities—and the rest of the bills have to wait. Sometimes I work 32, 36 hours. The 40 hours are not guaranteed.

When Flores speaks up about anything at work, she says that she is met with hostility and disdain. Other workers at El Super have made similar complaints.

Flores says the workers want more:

We want more respect and enough hours to support our families. If we had a contract, they would respect the 40 hours, and we would not have to be fearful about raising concerns about the company’s failure to follow the rules

Flores knows that coming together with her co-workers can make positive change. She is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, a shop steward and a member of the union’s bargaining committee.

El Super employs low‐wage and predominantly Latino workers. The workers at the union stores were covered under a contract with El Super that expired on Sept. 27, 2013. For more than a year, the unions and the worker bargaining team sought to bargain to improve their working conditions. In September 2013, El Super imposed what it called its “last, best and final” offer, which did not address the workers’ concerns and provided for less paid sick leave than is currently mandated by California state law. On Dec. 12, 2014, El Super workers voted resoundingly to recertify the union and demanded the company return to the bargaining table, a request which El Super rejected. El Super employees and the UFCW launched a boycott in December 2014 to protest the company’s actions. The union’s boycott lines have turned away more than 100,000 prospective El Super shoppers. In the face of the boycott and after the NLRB issued complaint and sought a 10(j) injunction in federal court regarding the company’s unlawful refusal to bargain, the company agreed to return to the table. El Super recently agreed to bargain for the first time in more than a year.

Flores and her fellow workers aren’t making outrageous demands, especially in light of the fact they are owned by a billion-dollar business:

“What we’re trying to do with our consumer boycott of El Super is trying to get something better for our families. We just want the company to hear us, we want them to come and negotiate and give us what is fair. We’re asking for better wages, regular schedules and hours to support our families and respect, that’s what we want.”

About El Super

El Super is managed by the Paramount, Calif.-based Bodega Latina Corp. There are 50 El Super locations in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Bodega Latina Corp. is 81.4% owned by Mexico-based Grupo Commercial Chedraui (Chedraui). Chedraui operates 211 markets in Mexico. It is Mexico’s third-largest retailer.

In January 2013, Forbes estimated the personal wealth of Chedraui’s chairman of the board, Alfredo Chedraui Obeso, at more than $1 billion. That year the company made $5.1 billion in revenue. The El Super stores make up more than 20% of Grupo Chedraui’s income.

UFCW Local 538 Retirees Take Stand Against Kraft-Heinz Benefit Cuts

538 Kraft-HeinzRetirees from the Kraft-Heinz company in Wisconsin became concerned when they began receiving letters telling them that their health care was changing to give them more “flexibility, choice and control.” Because they had a union while they worked, they reached out to UFCW Local 538 in Madison, Wis., which confirmed that the “choice and control” were really cuts and complications to their health plans.

“What Kraft-Heinz is trying to do is break a promise,” said Doug Leikness, president of UFCW Local 538. “We’d fought hard for retiree health care over the years, and now they are trying to walk back from that commitment and leave their most loyal employees in the lurch.”

UFCW Local 538 immediately began raising the alarm. Kraft-Heinz faced an avalanche of bad press from both local and national publications revealing that more than 15,000 retired workers and their families had been affected by these cuts. However, only former UFCW members had somebody fighting for them.

Rhonda Hansen had worked at the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison for 19 years as a member of UFCW Local 538 before retiring two years ago. Her family depends on the health insurance she earned through years of hard work – especially her husband Dale, who has Alzheimer’s and has suffered from both skin cancer and heart problems.

“Kraft-Heinz is owed by some of the richest people in the world, including Warren Buffet,” said Hansen. “But when they’re looking to cut costs, they pull the rug out under loyal workers like me. I’m just grateful I still part of a union that’s still out there fighting for me.”

While they haven’t rolled back the cuts yet, and the fight still continues. Leikness says UFCW Local 538 is looking for new ways to pursue the struggle to ensure former UFCW members get the benefits they deserve.

CTI Foods Employees Overwhelmingly Vote YES to Become UFCW Local 1776 Members

CTIOn August 26, CTI Foods employees became the newest members of UFCW Local 1776 as they overwhelmingly voted “Yes” to have Local 1776 represent them for the purposes of collective bargaining.  The official vote tally from this secret ballot election, run by the National Labor Relations Board, was 50 Yes to 19 No.  CTI Foods is a beef processing facility located in King of Prussia, PA that currently employs approximately 80 people including regular and temporary employees.  This CTI Foods facility’s largest clients include Burger King and most recently the Sonic fast food chain.

CTI Foods employees wanted UFCW Local 1776 representation to secure better wages, more affordable benefits, a safer work environment, respect, and a real voice in the workplace.  During this campaign the employees alleged threats, illegal scare tactics, and intense pressure from management to vote No in the days leading up to the August 26 election.  Local 1776 even filed unfair labor practices with the NLRB regarding the most serious allegations.  However, in spite of management’s anti-union scare tactics, the majority of CTI Foods workers stood their ground and overwhelmingly voted to become part of the Local 1776 family.  This latest organizing victory truly proves that workers are indeed stronger together!  On behalf of the officers, staff, and entire membership of Local 1776, we welcome our newest UFCW brothers and sisters working at CTI Foods.