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November 14, 2012

UFCW Members Roll-Up Their Sleeves to Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

UFCW members help with Hurricane Sandy relief

A few weeks after Hurricane Sandy, families continue to struggle in communities where people have lost their homes and are still without power in the face of winter weather.

Sonia Tirado has family who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. Born and raised in Coney Island, Tirado was eager to help her community get back on its feet. Tirado is a home health aide at Americare and is a member of UFCW Local 348-S in Brooklyn. When her fellow UFCW members contacted Tirado asking if she would be interested in volunteering to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, she jumped at the chance to help.

“It’s just the right thing to do, to help other people,” Tirado said.

Along with nearly 20 staff and members from UFCW Local 348-S, Tirado spent a day last week distributing supplies, assisting with storm clean up, and helping almost 1,000 Coney Island residents take care of basic needs. UFCW members also coordinated with New York Communities for Change to bring donations of blankets, diapers, and food for the areas devastated by the storm.

Sonia’s work in her community is a great example of the ways UFCW members across the country give back every day. To learn more about UFCW’s community partnerships, click here.

November 13, 2012

Statement from the UFCW International Regarding the Resolution of the Raley’s and Nob Hill Strike

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from the UFCW regarding the resolution of the Raley’s and Nob Hill strike: 

“Today, grocery workers around the country are acknowledging the tremendous resolve and solidarity of Raley’s and Nob Hill workers who took tremendous risk to protect middle class grocery jobs. Nearly a million union grocery workers and their families count on grocery jobs that provide meaningful benefits and a middle-class paycheck. The fight in California was truly a fight against lowering the bar in this industry, and worker solidarity with loyal customers and allies from around the labor movement secured a real victory for grocery workers.”

“Workers at Raley’s and Nob Hill stores in Northern and Central California ended their nine-day strike against the company today when a tentative agreement was reached between Raley’s/Nob Hill management and members of UFCW Local 5 and UFCW Local 8.”

“More than 7,000 UFCW members went on strike against the grocery chain on Sunday, Nov. 4 after 15 months of highly contentious bargaining.”

“Ordinarily, the terms of a tentative agreement are not released prior to the members having an opportunity to vote. However, UFCW Locals 5 and 8 confirmed that Raley’s agreed to retain and fund the union’s health benefit plan, the same plan agreed to by Save Mart and Safeway.”

“The settlement will be submitted to members of UFCW Locals 5 and 8 for review and ratification. The proposed agreement also will be submitted to workers at Raley’s Bel Air chain.”

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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 join our online community at http://www.facebook.com/ufcwinternational and https://twitter.com/UFCW.

November 7, 2012

UFCW PRESIDENT HANSEN STATEMENT ON THE REELECTION OF PRESIDENT OBAMA

WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), yesterday released the following statement regarding the reelection of President Obama.

“President Obama’s reelection is a victory for UFCW members and workers across the nation. The President stabilized a failing economy, put in place new rules to prevent another financial crisis, and made important investments in the middle class. He reformed health care, made college more affordable, and helped guarantee women equal pay for equal work.

“There is much more to be done in a second term. It is time for immediate and bold action to create good-paying jobs. It is time for a tax code that is fair and helps close the gap between the rich and the poor. It is time to strengthen our labor laws so workers can join a union freely and fairly. And it is time to reform our immigration system so those who work hard and play by the rules can become American citizens. Only then can we truly recognize the President’s vision of shared prosperity and shared sacrifice.

“Achieving these goals will require leadership by President Obama. But he also needs a partner in Congress. Tea-party legislators tried—and failed—to defeat the President at any cost, calling it their top priority. I hope they will now put as much effort into addressing the great challenges facing our nation.

“The American people have spoken. It is time to get to work on their behalf.”

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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.

November 6, 2012

UFCW ANNOUNCES UNION-WIDE SUPPORT FOR RALEY’S WORKERS

STATEMENT FROM JOSEPH T. HANSEN, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION ANNOUNCING UNION-WIDE SUPPORT FOR RALEY’S WORKERS

(Washington, D.C.) — The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union President Joseph Hansen:

Raley’s employees went on strike Sunday morning, November 4, 2012.

Following months of intense negotiations, workers from UFCW 8-Golden State and UFCW Local 5 have been forced on strike against Raley’s supermarket chain.

Nearly one million union grocery workers and their families across the country count on grocery jobs that provide meaningful benefits and a paycheck that can support a family. We cannot allow Raley’s to lower standards for working people in Northern California. Our full union stands in solidarity with the UFCW members standing up to keep grocery jobs middle class jobs.

Workers are fighting back against the company’s unlawful implementation of contract proposals and lowered job standards that were put in place without the input or approval of union employees. Workers have also filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, citing violations of laws prohibiting harassment and intimidation of union members, circumventing the union’s authority as a bargaining agent, and “regressive bargaining” — submitting proposals that are worse than previous offers.

The strike affects more than 7,000 workers in Northern and Central California .

UFCW 8-Golden State and UFCW Local 5 have been negotiating with Raley’s (which owns Bel Air and Nob Hill stores), Safeway/Vons and Save Mart/Lucky for more than a year, seeking agreement on new contracts for grocery workers in Northern and Central California. While an agreement was ratified with Save Mart/Lucky and negotiations are continuing between Safeway/Vons, Raley’s management has been bargaining in bad faith since contract negotiations began 15 months ago.

For further updates please visit www.yourbreadandbutter.com and www.supportgroceryworkers.com/.

 

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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, http://www.ufcw.org/, or join our online community at http://www.facebook.com/ufcwinternational and https://twitter.com/UFCW.

November 2, 2012

Richmond Walmart Workers Walk Off the Job

As Walmart Supercenter Holds Grand Re-Opening, Workers and Community Protest Attempts to Silence and Retaliate against Workers

Richmond, CaliforniaOn the heels of first-ever strikes by Walmart workers across the country, workers at the Walmart Supercenter in Richmond walked off the job this morning as the store held its grand re-opening.  Joined by community leaders who have been calling for changes at Walmart, workers are on strike in protest of the attempts to silence and retaliate against workers.  At the Richmond store, Walmart workers have been working hard to help the store reach today’s grand re-opening date all while facing illegal intimidation from a store manager, including racist remarks and threats of physical violence.

“We will not be silenced by Walmart for standing up for respect and against harassment, intimidation and retaliation,” said Mario Hammod, a worker at the Richmond Walmart.   Hammod is one of thousands of members of the national worker-led Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) that has been calling for changes at the company.  “In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, I am taking a stand against Walmart’s illegal bullying tactics and practicing my right to peacefully hold a sit-in.  We want to be able to celebrate the store’s re-opening, but we cannot continue to work under these conditions of retaliation.”

In an expression of the building frustration that Walmart has not only ignored workers calls for change in Richmond and across the country, but actually retaliated against workers who do speak out, national leaders from civil rights, immigrant rights and women’s rights communities, religious institutions, unions and community leaders have committed to join striking workers in a wide range of non-violent activities on and leading up to Black Friday, including rallies, flash mobs, direct action and other efforts to inform customers about the illegal actions that Walmart has been taking against its workers.

“We cannot stand by while Walmart retaliates against workers who are standing up for a better future for their families,” said Rev. Phillip Lawson, Co-Founder of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Rev. Lawson, along with other supporters and community groups across the country, has been calling for change through the Unified Call to Change Walmart. “Racist and threatening comments from Walmart will not be tolerated here in Richmond or anywhere.  Walmart should be creating good jobs, not threatening workers and turning its backs on the hard-working people that made this ribbon-cutting possible.”

Walmart workers in Richmond, CA on strike

The group protested outside the Supercenter with signs reading, “Stand Up, Live Better, Stop Retaliation” and “Stop Trying to Silence Us.” This comes just weeks after Walmart workers walked off the job in more than a dozen states, including stores in the East and South Bay. At the same time, workers went on strike at Walmart’s largest distribution center outside of Chicago, IL and were joined by hundreds of clergy and community supporters, some of who were arrested by riot police during the peaceful protest. And earlier this fall, workers in Walmart-controlled warehouses in Southern California went on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs.

Walmart Associates at Richmond have been calling on management to end the retaliations against workers who speak out against harassment and poor working conditions, as well take home pay so low that many Associates are forced to rely on public programs to support their families and understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service. As frontline Walmart workers face such hardships, the company is raking in almost $16 billion a year in profits, executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year.  Meanwhile, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – is the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.

Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of workers and communities has been building.  In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting workers, communities and our economy.

The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain.  The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee.  In the company’s warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of dollars of goods, workers are facing rampant wage theft and health and safety violations so extreme that they have led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines.   The Department of Labor fined a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondage were cited.

Financial analysts are also joining the call for Walmart to create better checks and balances, transparency and accountability that will protect workers and communities and strengthen the company.  At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service.  A resolution proposed by Associate-shareholders to rein in executive pay received unprecedented support, and major pension funds that voted their shares against Walmart CEO and members of the board this June amounting to a ten-fold increase, and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by the Walton family against the company’s leadership.

These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for growth, particularly in urban markets.  Calling the company a “bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city without addressing labor and community relations’ problems.  This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped would be its first location in New York. In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the city after facing significant community opposition.

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November 2, 2012

STATEMENT FROM JOSEPH T. HANSEN, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION ANNOUNCING UNION-WIDE RELIEF FUND FOR HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS

Nation’s largest retail workers’ union providing funds and support for members impacted by the catastrophic storm

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union President Joseph Hansen:

“Inspired by President Obama’s declaration that we will get through this together, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has established a Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund to provide vital financial support for the nearly 200,000 UFCW members living in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and surrounding areas.

“Hurricane Sandy’s impact on our members was catastrophic.  Homes were destroyed or severely damaged by flood waters.  Many have not had power to their homes or businesses since Monday and it may be many more days before electricity is restored.  The UFCW is deeply concerned for the physical safety and well-being of our members in New York and New Jersey.

“Apart from the physical stress of keeping their homes and families safe, workers in the region’s grocery stores, retail stores, food processing facilities and other private industry are suffering from the loss of income from missed hourly wages as their stores and worksites are unable to open for business.  I am calling on UFCW local unions across the U.S. and Canada to open their hearts and checkbooks and donate to the UFCW Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund.”

Contributions can be mailed to:

UFCW Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund
c/o UFCW International Union
1775 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

OR

Donate here.

 

For further updates, please visit www.ufcw.org

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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.

November 2, 2012

STATEMENT FROM JOSEPH T. HANSEN, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION ANNOUNCING UNION-WIDE RELIEF FUND FOR HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS

Nation’s largest retail workers’ union providing funds and support for members impacted by the catastrophic storm

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement issued by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union President Joseph Hansen:

“Inspired by President Obama’s declaration that we will get through this together, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has established a Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund to provide vital financial support for the nearly 200,000 UFCW members living in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and surrounding areas.

“Hurricane Sandy’s impact on our members was catastrophic.  Homes were destroyed or severely damaged by flood waters.  Many have not had power to their homes or businesses since Monday and it may be many more days before electricity is restored.  The UFCW is deeply concerned for the physical safety and well-being of our members in New York and New Jersey.

“Apart from the physical stress of keeping their homes and families safe, workers in the region’s grocery stores, retail stores, food processing facilities and other private industry are suffering from the loss of income from missed hourly wages as their stores and worksites are unable to open for business.  I am calling on UFCW local unions across the U.S. and Canada to open their hearts and checkbooks and donate to the UFCW Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund.”

Contributions can be mailed to:

UFCW Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund
c/o UFCW International Union
1775 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

OR

Donate here.

 

For further updates, please visit www.ufcw.org

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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.

October 22, 2012

Walmart and its Temp Agencies Violate Federal, Illinois Labor Law

Class action suit alleges Chicago-area temp workers weren’t paid minimum wage or provided with proper employment notices

CHICAGO—Walmart Stores Inc. and its staffing agencies broke federal minimum wage and overtime laws by requiring temporary workers to appear early for work, stay late to complete work, work through lunches and breaks and participate in trainings without compensation, a class action suit filed Monday alleges. The suit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

Labor Ready and QPS, two of the staffing agencies Walmart uses in the Chicago area, failed to provide workers assigned to Walmart stores with information related to their employment, such as employment notices and proper wage payment notices as required by Illinois law.

Walmart itself failed to keep accurate records of workers’ time as required by federal and state law and has failed to provide workers with forms verifying hours worked. This made it impossible for workers to make claims that they were not paid by the temp agencies for all hours worked.

Walmart and its staffing agencies also failed to pay the plaintiffs and others in similar situations a minimum of four hours pay on days when they were contracted to work, but not utilized for a minimum of four hours, as required by Illinois law. This prevented the workers from seeking other work.

“I only get paid minimum wage and yet Labor Ready and Walmart still try to cheat me by not paying me for the time I actually work,” said Twanda Burk, the primary plaintiff on the lawsuit. “I’ve proven that I’m a good worker, and they just want to take advantage of that.”

The violations of state and federal law are alleged to have occurred in early 2009 and continuing up until the present time. In addition to seeking all unpaid wages for the workers, the suit calls for an injunction against Walmart and its temp agencies preventing them from future violations of state labor laws.

“There have been so many times I’ve been told to stay late after my shift to finish stocking the shelves, but I didn’t know they wouldn’t pay me for it,” said Anthony Wright, a temp worker at Labor Ready who has worked at a couple of the Walmart stores in the area since late last year.

Walmart contracts with staffing agencies for the services of hundreds of temporary laborers—many of whom earn minimum wage—in Chicago-area stores. The company has said it would hire 50,000 temporary workers to staff its stores for the upcoming holiday season.

“The practices that Walmart and its staffing agencies are engaging in are exactly why the Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Day and Temporary Services Act,” said Chris Williams, of Workers’ Law Office PC, the workers’ attorney. “Workers need critical information to make sure they don’t get cheated on their pay, as they did here. These workers are required to be paid for the time they’ve worked.”

Walmart got the green light to expand in Chicago when it committed to the Chicago city council to set starting wages at $8.75 per hour, however Walmart has failed to live up to its word to the people of Chicago.

Leone Jose Bicchieri, of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, who has been working to gain rights for agency temporary workers in Chicagoland for more than a decade, said, “Walmart has broken its promises in Chicago. It came into this city promising good, permanent jobs, but has reneged on this pledge. Instead of providing decent jobs with career potential and opportunities to access benefits, Walmart is outsourcing jobs to temp agencies that barely pay minimum wage with no benefits and who has broken multiple Illinois labor laws.”

Elce Redmond, the Executive Director of the South Austin Community Coalition, said, “By outsourcing these jobs, the company is taking advantage of Chicago residents in neighborhoods that had hoped Walmart would provide real employment opportunities, not the dead-end jobs that keep residents in a cycle of poverty.”

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Making Change at Walmart is a movement of community leaders, elected officials, civil rights and immigrant organizations, religious leaders, women’s organizations, Walmart associates, small business owners and members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union challenging Walmart to help rebuild the economy, starting with America’s families. (www.ChangeWalmart.org)

 

 

October 4, 2012

America’s Retail Union Stands with Striking Walmart Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — America’s retail union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), stands in strong solidarity with Walmart workers in Southern California who have gone on strike.

Thousands of Walmart associates across the country have joined together in OUR Walmart, a worker-led organization that stands up to make change in their company. For more than a year now, associates have been working together for a company that pays a living wage, provides affordable health care, is a contributing member of communities and treats their associates with respect. Instead of listening and working with OUR Walmart members, Walmart has retaliated against workers and tried to silence them.

On Thursday, October 4, these workers responded to Walmart’s refusal to treat its employees with fairness by going on strike at several Los Angeles-area stores. The strike is a protest of Walmart’s attempts to silence and retaliate against associates who speak out.

Today’s actions by Walmart associates are part of a growing movement of Walmart workers who are standing together and taking action.  Workers at Walmart-controlled warehouse and distribution centers in California and Illinois struck their employers over the last two weeks to demand an end to retaliation for speaking out for real change at work.

“The more than a million members of the UFCW across America know the need for real change at Walmart,” said Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW. “We’re incredibly proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these courageous associates who are taking action to demand that Walmart workers can, and should, be able to speak out for real change without fear of retaliation.”

To join with UFCW members and supporters from across the country and stand up for the rights of Walmart workers, click here or sign the petition of support below.

“Making a change for the better at America’s largest retailer can improve America’s middle class, America’s economy and America’s most common job,” said Hansen. “These brave workers have lit a fire for justice at Walmart that will be hard to extinguish.”

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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.

September 11, 2012

A Star Steward

Penny Gibson

Penny Gibson is a meat-cutter at Kroger, a union member, a political activist, and definitely a star steward for UFCW Local 876.

One of the great things Penny is doing to help her coworkers and her community is helping people to register for this year’s election.  With the help of her local union’s Voter Registration Toolkit, Penny working hard to make sure all her coworkers, friends, and neighbors, have a voice in November.

Penny has also dedicated her time and energy to the Protect Our Jobs effort, a drive to put a measure on the November ballot allowing voters to decide on a proposal to add the right to collective bargaining to the Michigan constitution. She secured over 50 signatures, the most of any Local 876 steward. With collective bargaining under attack in so many states across the country, Michigan has a chance to lead the charge for the basic freedoms of speech and association that collective bargaining represents.

Penny says she’s dedicated herself to protecting collective bargaining in part because “many young workers do not realize it is their union contract that provided that raise, that $3 prescription refill, and that week-long paid vacation up north. It is not the company that provided these benefits, it was the union who negotiated these on our behalf.”

With Penny on the case, those young workers will be activists in no time! UFCW member activists and stewards keep their union running. To learn more about how to get involved with your local union, email submissions@ufcw.org or send us a message on Facebook.