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June 21, 2007

HOUSTON COMMUNITY MEMBERS STAND WITH KROGER WORKERS IN FIGHT FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE


Participants in
 Houston Press Conference today will Rally and Walk the Block to Let Community Members Know About Kroger’s Plans to “Wal-Mart-ize” Health Care

HOUSTON–United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 408 and 455 members working at Kroger stores in the Houston area will join with local community leaders and supporters today in asking Kroger to stop attacking workers’ health care. A press conference will be held at 3:00 p.m., at the Kroger Store, 10306 S. Post Oak Rd., (just outside of the 610 S. Loop) in Houston, and will be followed by a neighborhood walk to let community members know about Kroger’s greed.

Joining Houston Kroger workers at the press conference and rally will be prominent community and religious leaders, including representatives from the Houston Interfaith Workers Justice Center, ACORN, the Coalition for Workers and the Poor, LCLAA, and the Latino Labor Council, as well the President and Secretary Treasurer of the Harris County AFL-CIO, the President of the of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the President of the Houston NAACP Branch, and other supporters and community activists.

This broad coalition of community and religious supporters are standing with Kroger workers for affordable health care. With Kroger’s latest contract offer, workers will be forced to choose between paying the electric bill and taking their children to the doctor.

Meanwhile, Kroger continues to be the most successful company in the industry, with rising profits and growing market share—and throughout contract negotiations the company has refused to share any of that success with the workers who made it possible.

Houston community members don’t believe that people who go to work everyday should have to rely on public assistance for health care coverage, or that Kroger should be allowed to shift their health care costs to local taxpayers like Wal-Mart does. Please join Houston community leaders and workers in saying “no” to Kroger’s attacks on employee health care and the community.

Members throughout the country are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities.   For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at: www.groceryworkersunited.org.

April 24, 2007

LABOR AND COMMUNITY GROUPS URGE LAWMAKERS TO COSPONSOR KEY BANKING BILL

Yesterday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, along with fellow labor unions and community groups, sent a letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives in strong support of the Industrial Bank Holding Act of 2007 (H.R. 698). The letter outlines the benefits of H.R. 698, a common-sense approach to addressing the huge growth of industrial loan companies (ILCs), and urges the Representatives to join 104 others in cosponsoring the bill.

“We need to close the loophole, and end the threat to the soundness and security of the U.S. financial system,” said UFCW International Vice President and Director of the UFCW Legislative and Political Action Department, Michael J. Wilson.

On Thursday, April 26, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on H.R. 698.

Click Here to read the letter and list of cosigners.

September 1, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA KROGER WORKERS, COMMUNITY LEADERS, AND SUPPORTERS “”WALK THE BLOCK FOR HEALTH CARE””

(Durham, NC) – On Tuesday, August 29th, 2006, at 2:30 p.m., United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 204 members working at Kroger stores in the Raleigh-Durham area joined with local community leaders and supporters in asking Kroger to stop attacking workers’ health care. A press conference and neighborhood walk were held near the Durham Kroger on Highway 54.

Supporters like Barbara Zeltner of the North Carolina Council of Churches and Reverend Nelson Johnson of the Southern Faith and Labor Alliance, as well as Kroger workers and members of UFCW Local 204, got the chance to speak out on how Kroger’s plans to raid employee health care funds would hurt local communities.

“”I think the customers have a right to know how Kroger really treats their employees,”” said Monique Wilkerson, a local Kroger employee. Wilkerson has worked for Kroger for ten years but says that the last two have been difficult, with a young child at home and the strain of the long hours she has to work. “”Customers don’t realize that we work every holiday but Christmas, we work long hours, overnight sometimes, we have to do several jobs at once since we’re so understaffed–and now Kroger wants to take away the one thing they do well, our health care benefits. It’s just not right.””

Under Kroger’s current proposal, the company would take money out of workers’ health care funds and force workers to pay over $1.4 million to make up the difference.   Workers would have to choose between health care and things like rent, food, and other basic necessities.

Members of UFCW Local 204 have been attempting to negotiate a new contract with Kroger for over a month. Workers are frustrated by Kroger’s failure to put forth any reasonable proposals after weeks of bargaining.  UFCW members have made numerous fair and equitable proposals that would benefit both the company and workers, but Kroger has rejected these.  UFCW members are currently into the second day of a new bargaining session with Kroger.

UFCW members and supporters wanted to participate in the walk because they wanted to let their neighbors know what Kroger was up to.   “”The company?s not being fair to us, and they’re not being fair to the community,”” said 12-year Kroger employee Nina Tilley.  “”This affects everybody.  The people who shop here will still get charged the same or more, and now their families and neighbors will have less because they?ll be paying more for health care.””

May 18, 2005

Omaha Community Calls for Free and Fair Elections at Nebraska Beef

Omaha, Neb-Community leaders and activists from Omaha are urging Nebraska Beef to live up to community standards and guarantee its workers their democratic right to vote for union representation without coercion or intimidation.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 271, Omaha Together One Community (OTOC), members of the clergy, and elected officials are calling on Nebraska Beef, one of the largest beef-kill operations in the country, to drop its systematic and illegal anti-worker tactics and allow workers to participate in an upcoming union election without fears of reprisals. The Community leaders are calling for Nebraska beef to allow fair-minded, community monitors to bear witness in the run up to the voting and to ensure that the company lets the election take place in an environment free from coercion and intimidation.

On April 6, 2005, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new election at Nebraska Beef after citing the company for violating workers’ rights in an August 2001 election, after UFCW had filed charges on behalf of the workers. The NLRB upheld a hearing officer’s findings that the company used a broad range of intimidation tactics to deny workers a voice on the job in the 2001 election, including:

  • Illegal interrogation of employees concerning their union sympathies;
  • Illegal threats of job and benefit loss if workers selected a union as their collective bargaining representative; and
  • Illegal threats to change working conditions if they selected the union.
  • Deliberately providing an inaccurate eligible vote list, which the hearing officer ruled was a “”bad faith effort to impede the union’s access to voters.

The mostly Latino workforce has endured continued mistreatment at the hands of company managers. Jose Guardado a worker at Nebraska Beef for more than seven years and union supporter said, “”I was fired for standing up for a voice at work. They made up some excuses, but I know it was because of my union activism. I would expect this to happen in El Salvador, but I was hoping workers had grater liberties in America.”” Guardado was an observer in the 2001 election and rendered testimony at the NLRB hearings. “”Only if the company allows the community to be witness of how they treat the workers we can hope for things to be different,”” Jose added.

UFCW Local 271 successfully fought on behalf of seven workers who had been fired in retaliation for standing up to management and demanding safer working conditions. In addition, the company has had to pay back wages in settlement charges filed by UFCW Local 271 for illegally firing three employees who protested unsafe working conditions.

July 8, 2004

Community Mobilization Secures Health Care for ACME Workers

Health care for working families is not just a workplace concern – it’s a community concern. More than 3,000 workers at Acme Supermarkets in South Jersey faced the threat of cuts to health benefits when their contact expired at the end of April. The members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1360 reached out to local religious leaders, elected officials and union members for support that helped secure a new contract that protected health benefits for workers and their families.

Acme is owned by Albertsons, a national chain that forced tens of thousands of its Southern California workers into the streets for nearly five months to fight back against the employers’ draconian demands to eliminate health benefits for workers. Acme workers and supporters in South Jersey supported the California strike/lockout by mobilizing customers and raising public awareness of the struggle facing supermarket workers across the country.

When bargaining began in South Jersey, Acme faced a room full of religious leaders, labor supporters and other UFCW local unions along with representatives from UFCW Local 1360. The message was loud and clear: we stand united to protect health benefits for Acme workers.

“This contract proves that solidarity works. UFCW local unions working together with other unions and, most importantly, community and religious leaders made sure Acme and Albertsons understood that we will hold the line for health care,” said International Vice President and Regional Director Mark Lauritsen.

The new five-year agreement:

• Maintains health care for workers and retirees;

• Improves worker retirement benefits; and

• Increases wages, including higher starting rates for new employees

UFCW members are currently bargaining with Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger in the Pacific Northwest where the contract covering nearly 20,000 workers expires this month. In September, nearly 50,000 workers at the same three supermarket chains in Northern California will head to the bargaining table with similar resolve to hold the line for health care.