• Microphone on stage

    Press Releases.

    For media inquiries, please contact Casey Hoag at press@ufcw.org, choag@ufcw.org or 202-721-8143.

July 30, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement in Support of Making Union Organizing a Civil Right

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding the Employee Empowerment Act.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to organized labor as the ‘principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.’ He believed, as we do, that union rights are civil rights. For decades, these rights have been under attack by those who want to deny workers a voice on the job. Workers are routinely fired or otherwise retaliated against for standing up and speaking out. This is against the law. But too many employers would rather pay fines under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) than allow for a process that lets workers choose a union freely and fairly. To them, these minimal penalties are not a deterrent, but the cost of doing business.

“The Employee Empowerment Act would amend the NLRA to give victims of labor discrimination the same protections available under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Currently, back pay is the only remedy available to these workers. Passage of this legislation would give victims the right to sue for compensatory and punitive damages in federal court, ensuring employers are held appropriately accountable for illegal retaliation and truly discouraging anti-union activity.

“The rise in labor discrimination hurts all Americans, but especially workers of color. Unionized African-American workers make 36 percent more than their non-union counterparts. For Latino workers, the union advantage is even greater. I urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation which is good for workers, our economy, and builds on the successes of the Civil Rights Act.”

July 21, 2014

UFCW Grand Island JBS Beef Plant Members Ratify New Five-Year Contract

UFCWnewsGrand Island, Nebraska – Workers at the JBS beef slaughter and processing facility in Grand Island, Nebraska, who belong to United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 293 ratified a new contract on Thursday, July 17. The new five-year agreement will cover more than 2,600 workers and will go into effect today.

“This new contract is great for our members and the local economy,” said Dan Hoppes, President of UFCW Local 293. “Thanks to support and unity of UFCW union members from across the country, we were able to negotiate a contract that raises the bar for workers in this industry. Workers will earn higher wages and a healthcare plan that benefits workers, their families, and the company.”

The new contract will:

  • Provide a $1.80 hourly increase over the course of the contract.
  • A $0.60 per hour increase in the first year which will be paid retroactively to the original contract expiration date, April 27, 2014.
  • Maintain affordable health care costs for employees with only minor plan changes.
  • Establish a primary health care clinic in Grand Island which means flexible, easily accessible health care to JBS employees with no cost for primary care (checkups, some treatments, minor procedures, and lab work) and low cost prescriptions and immunizations.
  • Retain current vacation and 401k plan.

The UFCW represents JBS workers at several other locations around the country. Workers have ratified contracts in Worthington, Minnesota, and have reached a tentative agreement in Greeley, Colorado. Contract negotiations are ongoing in Souderton, Pennsylvania, and Louisville, Kentucky. Workers in Omaha, Nebraska will begin negotiations in the coming months.

 

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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.

 

July 7, 2014

UFCW Members, Family Members Awarded 2014 Union Plus Scholarships

UnionPlus Logo LargeUnion Plus recently awarded $150,000 in scholarships to 116 students representing 39 unions, including 10 winners representing the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), in the 2014 Union Plus Scholarship Program. In this 23rd year of the program, more than 5,300 applications were received from union members and families in all 50 states. This year’s UFCW winners are:

  • Brittany Androsko of Weedsport, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local One, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
  • Brianna Berry of Florence, Ky., who is a member of UFCW Local 75, as is her father Michael Berry, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
  • Amber Boyce of Orland Park, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Megan Byrne of Chicago, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, as is her mother Eileen Byrne, and whose father Joseph Byrne is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Robert Clifford of Romeoville, Ill., whose father Robert Clifford is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Casey Cooper of Greenville, Mich., who is a member of UFCW Local 951, as is his father Ken Cooper, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Robyn Jordan of New York, N.Y., whose mother Laura Jordan is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Lynne Rader of Bethpage, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local 1500, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship.
  • Datavia Sherman of Washington, D.C., whose mother Janet Sherman is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Martha Solis of Frederick, Colo., whose mother Dora Solis is a member of UFCW Local 7, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“There are a lot of benefits to being a union member. Economic security is number one, and education is the first building block. Education sets up our kids for success, leadership and happiness,” said Leslie Tolf, president of Union Privilege, the organization behind Union Plus benefits and the scholarship program. “By awarding these scholarships we level the playing field – everyone deserves an equal shot at a quality education. We help union families feel just a little more secure in embarking on successful lives.”

Meet the 2014 UFCW Honorees

Brittany Androsko
Brittany is studying for a job in medicine. While maintaining excellent grades she has also found many ways to give back to her community, including volunteering at the local food bank, at retirement homes and on highway cleanup projects. Brittany followed in both her parents’ footsteps by becoming a union member, and she is glad she did. She quotes her father who often says, “Working together and sticking together is what makes a union strong and powerful.”

Brianna Berry
Brianna is a hard worker, but she is also a student, and sometimes those priorities collide. Last year, for example, she was invited to participate in the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, a three-week summer program that is an honor to attend. Many jobs would have required she make a choice, one or the other, but UFCW ensured Brianna could attend the program and still have a job waiting for her. Brianna is planning to major in chemistry and become a doctor.

Amber Boyce
Amber’s very first job was a union job with UFCW! That’s not a typical experience for many high-schoolers today, with so many young people often working for minimum wage and worse, and it sure made an impression on Amber. “Being in a union assures my family and me that I will always have a fair contract with my employer,” she says. The good wages she earns as a union member are helping Amber save for college; she’s planning to major in chemical engineering and spend her career making consumer products better and more eco-friendly.

Megan Byrne
Megan’s many volunteer and service commitments attest to her strong desire to help others. So does her career aspiration: she wants to become a physical therapist. Of course, Megan understands that good physical health begins with safe working conditions, and that’s why she’s grateful for the protection and job safety UFCW has provided to her, as well as to her both her parents. “My parents and I are proud to be part of a union,” she says.

Robert Clifford
Today many industries depend on computers to operate. Robert wants to work in the medical field, but not as a doctor – instead, he is majoring in computer science with the goal of designing programs and software that can help save lives. Of course, industries also depend on skilled workers, and that’s why Robert is proud to be part of a family with a strong union history, including his father in UFCW and many uncles in their unions. “Most of my family has made a living and survived in the working world thanks to the unions,” he says.

Casey Cooper
“Like father, like son,” Casey says. He followed his father into UFCW and has been grateful for the good wages and benefits that come with holding a union job. Yet, Casey also sees the hardship many other people face, including customers who work hard but still need food stamps to purchase their groceries. He is planning to major in social work and help people to receive all the rights and liberties to which they are entitled, he says, “such as a livable wage, a family, property and happiness.”

Robyn Jordan
Robyn is a graduate student with a vision for improving people’s lives. Having completed her undergraduate work in two majors, Hispanic studies and nutrition, she has now begun studying for a graduate degree in public health, which she hopes to follow with a medical degree and a career spent improving and saving lives. Robyn feels that the extraordinary education she has received, from Catholic schools to the Ivy League, would not have been possible without her mother’s more than 30 years of hard work and good pay as a member of UFCW.

Lynne Rader
Lynne’s career goal is to become an optometrist and travel to the developing world to provide treatment for vision problems. Her many volunteer and service commitments – such as being a Girl Scout Leader, and raising money for water relief programs in Africa – have helped to prepare her for this career, and so has her work as a member of UFCW. “My job has helped to shape who I am today,” she says. “I have learned not only invaluable interpersonal skills, but I have also had the opportunity to work with customers and coworkers of various cultures, religions, perspectives and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Datavia Sherman
Datavia enjoys the prospect of solving problems, gathering clues and protecting her community. She’s studying criminal justice, and hopes to become an FBI agent someday! There are many challenges ahead of her, including completing her degree and meeting all the physical requirements to become an agent, but she is confident she can make it. “I want to put criminals away,” she says, “so that the world can be a safer place to live.”

Martha Solis
Martha, a nursing student, has faced many challenges on the course to completing her education. “The road to college can be even more complicated for a first-generation student like myself,” she says. “My family is Hispanic and many of them have never been able to pursue an education.” And while Martha deserves much credit for her hard work and achievements, so does her mother who has spent 18 years as a member of UFCW and created opportunities for her daughter. Martha is grateful not only for her mother’s good pay and benefits, but also for the way her mother and her coworkers at Safeway pitch in to support the community.

Learn More About the Union Plus Scholarship Program

Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school. Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $3.6 million in educational funding to more than 2,400 union members, spouses and dependent children.

In addition to the scholarships, Union Plus also offers the following benefits to help union families afford higher education:

  • Discounts of 15 to 60 percent on college and graduate school test preparation courses from The Princeton Review. Discounts are available for classroom, online and private tutoring for the SAT®, ACT®, GMAT®, LSAT®, GRE® and MCAT® as well as college affordability and admissions online courses. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegePrep or call 1-888-243-7737.
  • Discounts on textbooks – Save 5% or more when you rent or buy textbooks. New, used and digital textbooks are available. And, you get free shipping on orders over $59.  Visit UnionPlus.org/Textbooks.
  • College Counseling Discounts: Union families can save 15% on college counseling from Collegewise, the admission division of The Princeton Review. College counselors help high school student find, apply and attend the correct college. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegeCounsel for more information.

Union Plus is committed to helping union members and their families fund their college education.  They have recently introduced two NEW programs to help members pay down their student loan debt:

  • $500 Student Debt Eraser – grants to help Union Plus Credit Card, Mortgage and Insurance participants pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/DebtEraser for more information.
  • $20K Student Loan Giveaway – All union members can enter by August 15 to win up to $10,000 to pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/Contest for more information.

Visit UnionPlus.org/Education for applications and benefit eligibility.

Union Plus also provides a wide range of money-saving benefits and services for Union members and families, including discounts on all-union AT&T wireless service, a credit card and mortgage with unique financial assistance, savings on travel and recreation, and more. To learn more, visit UnionPlus.org.

July 1, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement regarding the one-year anniversary of Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

“One year ago last week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that created a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans and strengthened protections for immigrant workers. The bill, which also included a ‘border surge’ provision that we strongly opposed, was an exercise in compromise. I said at the time that we could not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Senate passage was supposed to kick off the process of fixing our broken immigration system.

“Instead, one year later, it remains the only meaningful step taken toward reform. The inaction of House Republicans on this issue—save for a precious few—is a national embarrassment. The only pieces of legislation that have moved through committee might as well have been drafted at a Tea Party convention. No bills have gone to the House floor. The American people, including most Republicans, support comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, Speaker John Boehner has chosen to put the demands of an extreme minority over the wisdom and compassion of the sensible majority.

“The unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border further highlights the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system and create a clear and fair path to citizenship. Yet some Congressional Republicans are using the plight of immigrant families to call for even stricter enforcement policies. It’s shameful.

“I was pleased that yesterday the President announced his intention to take executive action on immigration. He should move boldly and decisively to stop the deportation of those who would qualify for citizenship under comprehensive immigration reform.

“A year has passed and families are still being torn apart. A year has passed and aspiring Americans are still living in the shadows. A year has passed and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to exploitation. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time for our leaders to act—or be replaced by those who will.”

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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.

June 30, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision in Harris v. Quinn

UFCWnewsJoe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn. “In today’s Harris v. Quinn ruling, the anti-worker Supreme Court sided with those who want to deprive employees of any ability to collectively bargain with their employers. This decision primarily affects home health care workers, but sets a terrible precedent for other Americans seeking a voice on the job.

“This is the Supreme Court’s latest attack on the foundation of our democracy. From weakening the Voting Rights Act to allowing unfettered corporate money in politics, the conservative justices are all too willing to do the bidding of anti-worker special interests. Workers and unions will respond to this latest attack as we always have—by redoubling our efforts to bring a voice on the job and fair wages and working conditions to all Americans.”

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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.

 

June 23, 2014

UFCW Member Attends White House Summit on Working Families

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C.—Kim Mitchell, who works at Macy’s in Washington D.C. and is a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400, today attended the White House Summit on Working Families to bring attention to the union difference in the retail industry.

As a result of the strong union contract between Macy’s and its workers, Mitchell has been able to live comfortably and support her family. Mitchell, who is a single mother, earns $20 an hour and benefits from “predictive scheduling” which helps ensure her hours are both adequate and predictable.

“I am here with a simple message—union jobs are the best jobs,” she said. “My membership in the UFCW has allowed me to achieve my dream of financial security and peace of mind. Our contract is more than a document—it’s my family’s livelihood.”

Also attending the summit were a group of “Walmart Moms” who are speaking out for fair wages and respect on the job. “Millions of workers, especially working women, have stories similar to mine,” said Bene’t Holmes, a Walmart worker and single mother from Chicago. “They are trapped in a cycle of low wage jobs with unpredictable hours that make it so difficult to raise a family. My hope is this event will help elevate the ongoing national conversation about making today’s workplaces better for everyone, including working mothers like me.”

Detailing the widespread problems retail moms face on low-pay and erratic scheduling, national public policy organization Demos released a report earlier this month showing how these conditions keep millions of hard-working women and families near poverty. The report also concluded that if large retailers established a new wage equivalent to $25,000 per year for full time work it would improve the lives of more than 3.2 million female retail workers and lift 900,000 women and their families directly out of poverty or near poverty.

The summit convened businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families. Last Tuesday while at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, President Obama credited the labor movement with building the middle class and said the United States “should do everything we can to strengthen unions in this country.”

“I am glad the President is focusing on these important issues,” Mitchell said. “I am here to tell the White House that the best way to lift up working families is to make sure everyone who wants to join a union is able to do so freely and fairly.”

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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.

June 17, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers from Discrimination

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to reports that President Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Denying someone a job or a promotion because of who they are runs counter to the American values of equality and opportunity. Yet in more than half of all states, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) workers can be targeted based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“An executive order banning federal contractors from this type of discrimination is a step in the right direction and could benefit as many as 16 million workers. But tens of millions of others still need the protections that can only come with adoption of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan basis.

“At the UFCW, we have long been proud to have nondiscrimination language in our contracts. It is time for the law to catch up. The President is poised to act. The House should follow suit.”

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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.

June 6, 2014

Bhang Chocolate Workers Ratify First Contract

Agreement Sets New Standards, Raises Floor for Cannabis Industry Workers

Bhang ChocolateOakland,CAWorkers at Bhang Chocolate, a cannabis chocolate company in Oakland, Calif., voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ratify their first union contract, becoming members of the 33,000 member-strong United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, which is based in San Jose, Calif.

“We’re working towards a better future and this new contract is just the beginning,” said Beny Valencio, a chocolatier who has worked at Bhang Chocolate for more than two years.

Among other significant gains and protections for workers in the cannabis industry, the newly ratified contract provides for wage increases, employer health care contributions, paid sick leave and vacation benefits.

UFCW Local 5 members work primarily in retail grocery and meat processing with growing numbers employed in department stores, retail drug stores, candy stores, jewelry stores, agriculture and food processing, wholesale meat, seafood processing, financial services, education and the cannabis industry among others.

“This union contract means everyone at Bhang Chocolate has a voice and everyone will be heard,” said Becky Strider who has worked as a packer at Bhang Chocolate for the past four years.

In the United States and Canada, UFCW is the union for workers in the cannabis and hemp industries. UFCW members in the cannabis industry work predominantly in dispensaries, coffee shops, bakeries, patient identification centers, hydroponics stores, and growing and training facilities.

Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., Bhang Chocolate, an award-winning cannabis chocolate company, is the premier medically infused chocolate company.

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UFCW Local 5 is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. Visit cannabisworkers.org or Facebook.com/CannabisWorkers to learn more about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights in the cannabis and hemp industries.

 

 

May 23, 2014

Southern California Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Contract

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 60,000 grocery workers in Southern California, represented by UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442, have reached a tentative contract agreement with Ralph’s, Albertsons and Vons.

The agreement was reached after 4 months of negotiations. Workers from across Southern California took action to show their solidarity and earn the support of their customers by wearing “Stand Together” buttons at work.

UFCW members from across the region will vote on the proposal in meetings scheduled over the coming weeks. Details of the agreement will not be released until members have had an opportunity to read, discuss, and vote on the tentative agreement.

The current contract expired in early March, and workers are currently on a day to day extension. Private hedge fund Cerberus, which owns Albertsons, recently made a tentative purchase of Safeway, the corporations that owns Vons and Pavilions. That sale could take as long as a year to finalize because it is subject to Federal anti-trust approval.

May 7, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on President Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Walmart

UFCWnewsJoe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s visit to a California Walmart to discuss energy efficiency.

“On Friday, President Obama will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and yes, environmental degradation. Despite promising to be a leader on climate, Walmart’s greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise. According to its own Global Responsibility Report, the company’s emissions grew 2 percent, nearly half a million metric tons, in the last year alone. In addition, Walmart still lags badly behind other large companies when it comes to renewable power, with its projects and purchases deriving only 3 percent of electricity from these sources.

“More than anything, the President’s visit sends a terrible message to workers across America. He is lending credibility to a bad actor when he should be joining the calls for Walmart to change. A federal agency—the National Labor Relations Board—is prosecuting Walmart for retaliating against workers who stand up and speak out. Taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart which pays many of its own workers so little that they must rely on food stamps and Medicaid. And at a time when there is a renewed conversation about addressing income inequality, Walmart’s business model is making the problem worse.

“After the pep rally in California, I invite the President to meet with Walmart workers who can tell him firsthand about their struggles.”

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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.