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Local 400 Members Ratify New Contract with Kroger

Kroger workers at Local 400(2) Kroger workers at Local 400

On June 8, more than 800 members of UFCW Local 400 who work at Kroger voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.

The new four-year contract includes higher starting pay, raises for department heads and full-time and part-time clerks, four personal holidays (one per year), retiree healthcare extended to June 2017, and maintained healthcare benefits.

A few weeks before the contract was ratified, 1,100 members voted unanimously to reject Kroger’s proposal and authorize a strike at 41 stores in the region. Shortly after the vote, Kroger reopened negotiations with an improved offer.

“We sent a clear message to the company that we were willing to fight for a better deal,” said Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400. “It wasn’t until we all stood together and voted unanimously to authorize a strike that Kroger decided to make a better offer. It’s not everything we wanted, but it was an improvement. And one thing is certain – it’s more than what Kroger wanted to do before we showed them we are willing to stand up for ourselves.”

As the Equal Pay Act Turns 53, More Needs to Be Done to Address the Gender Pay Gap

fb-2058-teal-textOn June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. “This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations not associated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place,” President Kennedy said.

It’s been 53 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed and women are still waiting for the law to live up to its name. In the U.S., women are paid approximately 79 percent of what men are paid, and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger. According a recent report by the American Association of University Women, Hispanic and Latina women earned just 54 percent of what white men earned. African American women earned 63 percent and American Indian and Alaska Native women earned 59 percent. At its current rate of change, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059. Until that happens, a woman working a full-time, year-round job will earn $10,800 less per year than a man in the exact same role—adding up to nearly a half million dollars over a career.

Although President Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 makes it easier for women to take legal action against employers for pay discrimination, the Paycheck Fairness Bill, which require employers to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender, has been stalled in Senate and House committees since last year.

Fortunately, there is a way for women to find a level playing field that doesn’t require an act of Congress – a union contract.

A union contract offers a way to give women both equal pay and an equal say in their workplace. Union membership boosts wages for all workers—but women experience especially large advantages. The wage gap among union members is less than half the size of the wage gap among nonunion workers, and female union members typically earn over $230 more per week than women who are not represented by unions—a larger wage premium than men receive.

We’re proud that UFCW members all across America are covered by negotiated contracts that guarantee hard-working women are provided with the equal pay that they have earned and deserve.

 

Macy’s Workers and Supporters Rally for a Fair Contract

Macy's Rally2

Last week, hundreds of Macy’s workers and their supporters rallied in front of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship store in New York City, the largest department store in the United States, to demand a fair contract for 5,000 RWDSU Local 1-S members employed at Macy’s. The workers called for a fair contract that provides living wages, good benefits, reliable schedules, and affordable healthcare, and have authorized their union to call a strike if Macy’s does not meet their demands by June 15.

RWDSU Local 1-S members and Macy’s workers have grown increasingly frustrated over the clear increase in income inequality and corporate greed at the company. For example, in 2014, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren’s total compensation package rose to nearly $13 million, up from more than $11.4 million in 2013. Among Lundgren’s $233,000 in reported “other compensation” was $75,000 for a private jet and $8,000 for a personal driver. Meanwhile, many Macy’s employees earn as little as $9.00 per hour and cannot afford medical benefits through the company.

The rally, which also drew a large group of elected officials and supporters from all five boroughs, was organized by RWDSU Local 1-S, which represents 5,000 workers at four Macy’s stores in the New York City area: the Herald Square flagship store in Manhattan and branch stores located in the Bronx, Queens, and White Plains.

“The workers rallying today have always been the real magic of Macy’s,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “The talented employees of the iconic Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square and other stores know how valuable they are to the company’s brand and profitability. Investing in the strength and quality of its workforce will help Macy’s attract more shoppers and regain a competitive advantage over online retailers like Amazon. We stand with Macy’s workers in their fight for a fair contract and support their decision to go on strike if the company does not negotiate in good faith.”

“The magic of Macy’s will be lost if the company uses this contract negotiation to put so many dedicated employees on the clearance rack,” said RWDSU Local 1-S President Ken Bordieri. “When our members are constantly worried about making ends meet, they can’t deliver the customer service that keeps millions of shoppers coming into the Macy’s stores every year. We urge the company to meet us at the bargaining table with a fair contract before June 15.”