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At MLK Conference, UFCW Plays Large Role in Fighting for Justice

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From left to right: Agueda Arias UFCW Local 888, Karina Rosado, UFCW Local 400, Angela Johnson UFCW Local 1000 and Kimberly Mitchell UFCW Local 400, attend a session at the MLK Conference.

The AFL-CIO held its annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Conference last week in Washington, D.C., where UFCW members from across the country attended and participated. The conference, titled “Change The Rules, Be The Power,” revolved around organizing, politics, and other issues, openly discussing race, and activism — including the in-the-neighborhoods activism by its 1,000 delegates. At least one speaker urged the federation to openly endorse and back the Black Lives Matter movement, which has pushed the discussion about racial justice to the forefront of U.S. consciousness. A special AFL-CIO race and justice commission, co-chaired by UFCW International President Marc Perrone, is holding a series of hearings nationwide to get that discussion going.

The MLK Conference also covered issues ranging from ending mass incarceration of minorities and immigrants, to the looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would make every state and local government a right-to-work fiefdom. One speaker noted that the right-to-work ruling would disproportionately harm minorities and women.

The conference’s big secondary theme was the need to greatly increase organizing, both by the labor movement and its allies (faith groups, community groups, women’s groups, civil rights groups, environmentalists and others) in order to increase membership and supporters and marshal resources and people to call out and fight against the issues that would harm hard-working men and women in the 2016 election and beyond.

EL MLK Award

UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez was honored with the distinguish, “At The River I Stand” Award.

The conference agenda was packed with incredible speakers from union presidents, to community activists, representatives from worker centers, young workers and more. UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez was honored with the distinguished “At The River I Stand” Award at the Sunday night awards dinner. During the conference, UFCW activists participated in many dynamic plenaries, workshops sessions, awards, events and community service projects. Some of the community service projects included cleaning the homes of senior citizens and preparing meal kits and food bags at food pantries. The conference ended on Monday with conference participants joining community members from Ward 8 in Washington, D.C. for their MLK parade.

 

 

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FCW Local 400 members help with cleaning and doing minor repairs to senior citizens’ homes during Senior Service Project Day.

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During the service day, Agueda Arias from UFCW Local 888 prepares bags for potatoes and other food goods at a local food bank.

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Kellie from UFCW Local 655 cleans windows during Senior Service Project Day.

MLK DC Parade

UFCW activists march in the D.C. Ward 8 MLK parade.

Low Wage Workers Across the Country Call For “$15 and a Union” on National Day of Action

Fightfor15 GroupOn Tuesday, UFCW staff joined several hundred federal contract workers to march on Capitol Hill as part of a “Fight For $15” national day of action. The national day of action took place in more than 500 cities and involved tens of thousands of fast food, retail, transportation, and other workers who are calling for $15 an hour and union rights.

The parade of workers and supporters held signs and led chants to call on our current members of Congress, President Obama, and the 2016 Presidential candidates to support workers in their fight for a living wage and the right to organize on the job. Many of them are on strike to highlight their struggle to survive on low wages.

Once the workers reached Upper Senate Park, they were joined by Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke to the crowd saying, “People who work 40 hours in this country deserve a living wage, and workers in our city here, and all over this country, deserve the right to organize a union!” Ff15Sign

UFCW Locals in other regions of the country joined actions as well. UFCW Local 1000 held an action in support of Minyards workers in Irving, Texas, and UFCW Local 400 Kroger workers joined an action in Richmond, Va., to support workers fighting for a union and $15 an hour. UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, and 1459 also held actions at Price Rite grocery stores.

11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce to Keep in Mind During Hispanic Heritage Month

Originally posted by AFL-CIO

11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce

In a new report released this week, Latino Workers and Unions: A Strategic Partnership for America’s Progress, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement details the work environment for Latinos in the U.S. workforce. The picture the report paints isn’t a pretty one. Here are 11 important facts about Latino workers in the United States:

1. The Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States, currently at more than 55.4 million (17% of the overall population).

2. More than 26 million Latinos represent about 15% of the workforce, a number expected to nearly double by 2050.

3. In 2013, nearly one in four Latino families lived below the poverty line, nearly twice the national poverty rate.

4. Nearly one-fourth of Latinos work in low-wage jobs.

5. In 2014, the Latino unemployment rate was 6.7%, above the national rate of 5.5%.

6. In 2014, the average nonunion Latino made just $547 a week.

7. More than two-thirds of Latinos lack retirement accounts, and more than 80% of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.

8. Nearly 30% of Latinos lack health insurance.

9. More than three-fourths of Latino workers work in jobs where they face minimum wage or overtime pay violations.

10. In 2013, nearly 800 Latinos died at U.S. workplaces, the highest total since 2008.

11. Latinas on the job earn only 56% of what a white man earns and more than 75% of Latinas in the southern part of the United States report sexual assault being an issue in the workplace.

The report says that the key way for Latinos to improve this situation is through unions, a partnership that will yield many benefits for unions, too. The report concludes:

Although the current outlook for Latinos is uncertain, their potential for growth is impressive. Wielding over $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making huge gains in the workforce and electorate, it’s no surprise that the future for Latinos can be drastically different and positive. But in order to realize this potential, Latinos must harness their strengths and exert their voice in the workplace.

Gaining access to a union will be an essential step for Latino workers and their families. Through union representation, Latinos can achieve higher wages that will help them fight poverty and gain access to health and retirement benefits.