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UFCW Local 480 and Green Aloha Create First Hawaii Cannabis Labor Agreement

Hawaii Cannabis

On April 2, in a first for the state of Hawaii, UFCW Local 480 and Green Aloha, Ltd. announced an agreement giving their workers a fair process to form a union, ensuring good jobs and a highly trained workforce in the emerging medical marijuana industry.

“This is an exciting day for cannabis patients and workers in Hawaii,” said Pat Loo, president of UFCW Local 480. “This agreement guarantees that if Green Aloha is selected to operate a dispensary in Kaua’i and a majority of its workers choose to join the UFCW, the community will benefit economically from excellent working conditions and a highly skilled workforce trained with industry best practices developed from UFCW’s extensive experience across the country.”

The agreement allows workers at Green Aloha a fair way to choose a union and outlines key principles for a future contract ensuring that the pay and benefits for Kaua’i workers would meet or exceed standards for cannabis workers across the country.

“We’re deeply committed to ensuring that we operate at the highest standards possible, if we are privileged to be awarded a dispensary license,” said Justin Britt of Green Aloha. “Partnering with the UFCW enables us to do that with the most qualified, best trained workers available. We’re privileged to be able to tap into the years of experience and industry knowledge the union has developed from its work across the country.”

“We believe that medical marijuana dispensaries shouldn’t benefit just their owners,” said Loo. “We think the state should agree with us and license operators who they know will respect their workers, ensure the safety of their communities and make real, binding commitments to the people of Hawaii.”

One Thousand March Through South Los Angeles in Support of Respect and a Fair Union Contract for El Super Grocery Workers

—March coincides with El Super’s parent company -Grupo Comercial Chedraui- Board of Directors meeting in Mexico—

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PHOTO 4Los Angeles—
On Monday, April 4, El Super grocery workers represented by the UFCW marched together with more than 1,000 supporters -through the streets of South Los Angeles- to demand respect and a fair contract. The march coincided with El Super’s parent company – Grupo Comercial Chedraui’s – Annual Meeting of its Board of Directors in Xalapa, Mexico.

“We need a fair contract so we can take care of ourselves and our families,” said Lydia Flores, an El Super cashier. “Sometimes, my coworkers have to work two jobs to get by. I have a son who is ill. I can’t do that because I have to take care of him as well. We need fair pay and enough paid sick days so we can take care of our families” Flores said.

El Super union members have been fighting to win a fair contract since September 2013. El Super/ dba Bodega Latina is a Latino-focused grocery chain with 54 stores in the U.S. It is a subsidiary of Chedraui – Mexico’s third largest retailer.

“El Super needs to respect the will of its workers and negotiate a fair agreement that rewards our members for their hard work,” said Ricardo F. Icaza, President of UFCW Local 770.

In December of 2014 the unions commenced a national consumer boycott in protest of the Company’s unfair labor practices and treatment of its workers. The boycott has had a significant impact. It has reached over 2 million shoppers and contributed to negative same store sales at El Super markets during 2015 – its first annual negative same store sales since it began reporting financial results in 2010.

Huntington Park Mayor Graciela Ortiz voiced her support for El Super workers at a rally held outside an El Super store in Huntington Park. “Our community supported El Super workers when they called for a consumer boycott. Last April, the City of Huntington Park passed a resolution endorsing the El Super boycott. As residents and leaders in our community we will continue to hold companies responsible in providing adequate living wages to the workers that serve our community,” Mayor Graciela added.

El Super workers are asking to share in the company’s prosperity, which they helped create. Indeed, although Chedraui reported $4.5 billion in net sales in 2015, much of drawn from U.S. sales, it does not pay its workers a fair wage, offer affordable health insurance or provide sufficient hours to support a family.  The El Super workers and their union, the UFCW, are seeking just that – fair pay, adequate paid sick days, stronger seniority protections, and a 40-hour guarantee for full-time workers.

MCAW Press Conference Highlights Struggles of Injured Walmart Worker

Maria from Walmart Press ConferenceOn March 10, the California Making Change at Walmart team held a press conference at the Walmart in Union City, Calif., to highlight one former Walmart worker’s struggle to get the company to fairly compensate her after an injury at work. Maria Umali worked in customer service at Walmart for 16 years until she broke her hip on the job. She is now wheelchair-bound and unable to move around much, but Walmart is refusing to pay for an at-home health aide and necessary medical equipment.

The press conference was attended by supportive Walmart workers; Alameda County’s District Two Supervisor Richard Valle; a representative from California Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s office; a representative from California Senator Bob Wieckowski’s office; and Pastor Kurt from FAME.

In a statement, Assemblymember Quirk said, “A responsible company provides safe working conditions for its employees. A responsible company provides fair compensation for its employees in those unfortunate conditions where accidents do occur. But Walmart is not a responsible company.”

Quirk added: “Maria is not alone. Walmart needs to step up and take responsibility for workers injured on the job.”

At the conference, Maria said, “I was a dedicated Walmart employee for 16 years. I liked my job but I don’t think I will ever be able to work again after my injury. I can barely afford to pay my medical bills, let alone pay for the home nurse that I need after my partner’s death. I just want Walmart to do the right thing.”

Click here to watch an interview with Maria from the press conference, and click here to sign a petition that asks Walmart to ensure that workers are safe on the job, and that people get the proper care if they are injured at work.