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May 27, 2015

Workers in LA begin 24-Hour fast & will rally for an end to retaliation and call for $15 an hour and full-time hours

While Walmart continues to dodge questions about the recent sudden layoff of 2,200 workers ahead of upcoming shareholder meeting

DSC_6643LOS ANGELES – Ahead of the company’s June 5 shareholder meeting, Walmart workers in major cities across the country are holding rallies and marches this week, calling for CEO Doug McMillon and the Walton family to end the retaliation against workers who speak out for change, and to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 and provide access to full-time hours. Here in Los Angeles, two dozen Walmart workers will begin a 24-hour fast today to highlight the hunger many Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages and insufficient hours.

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Walmart has failed to offer any conclusive evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Workers at the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, Calif., one of the stores closed for alleged plumbing issues, are calling on the company to commit publicly to reinstating all laid off workers when the store reopens for business and to allow all workers, for the time being, to be transferred to one of the nearby 45 Walmart stores.

Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. Worker shareholders will present two resolutions intended to reign in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

 

              WHAT:   Walmart workers rally against retaliation and for $15 and full-time

              WHEN:   Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

              WHERE:   Cesar Chavez & Broadway Blvds in Chinatown, Los Angeles

              WHO:       Fasting Walmart workers, community leaders, members of the clergy, elected  officials

              RSVP/FOR MORE INFORMATION: Marc Goumbri, 202-257-8771,mgoumbri@ufcw.org

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

May 27, 2015

Workers in LA begin 24-Hour fast & will rally for an end to retaliation and call for $15 an hour and full-time hours

While Walmart continues to dodge questions about the recent sudden layoff of 2,200 workers ahead of upcoming shareholder meeting

DSC_6643LOS ANGELES – Ahead of the company’s June 5 shareholder meeting, Walmart workers in major cities across the country are holding rallies and marches this week, calling for CEO Doug McMillon and the Walton family to end the retaliation against workers who speak out for change, and to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 and provide access to full-time hours. Here in Los Angeles, two dozen Walmart workers will begin a 24-hour fast today to highlight the hunger many Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages and insufficient hours.

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Walmart has failed to offer any conclusive evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Workers at the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, Calif., one of the stores closed for alleged plumbing issues, are calling on the company to commit publicly to reinstating all laid off workers when the store reopens for business and to allow all workers, for the time being, to be transferred to one of the nearby 45 Walmart stores.

Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. Worker shareholders will present two resolutions intended to reign in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

 

              WHAT:   Walmart workers rally against retaliation and for $15 and full-time

              WHEN:   Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

              WHERE:   Cesar Chavez & Broadway Blvds in Chinatown, Los Angeles

              WHO:       Fasting Walmart workers, community leaders, members of the clergy, elected  officials

              RSVP/FOR MORE INFORMATION: Marc Goumbri, 202-257-8771,mgoumbri@ufcw.org

###

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

May 21, 2015

Local 1776 and Its Members Give a Helping Hand to Our Veterans

(From left:) Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, WMGK radio personality Jen Posner, WMGK radio host John DeBella, Acme member Jim McClosky, Local 1776 Executive Vice President Don McGrogan, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Mary Owens, WMGK radio personality Dave Gibson and Local 1776 Director of Communications Tara Innamorato.  After an initial commitment to donate $3,000, Local President Young pledged to contribute an additional $2,000 to the VMC – making Local 1776 the largest donor among other sponsors.

(From left:) Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, WMGK radio personality Jen Posner, WMGK radio host John DeBella, Acme member Jim McClosky, Local 1776 Executive Vice President Don McGrogan, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Mary Owens, WMGK radio personality Dave Gibson and Local 1776 Director of Communications Tara Innamorato. After an initial commitment to donate $3,000, Local President Young pledged to contribute an additional $2,000 to the VMC – making Local 1776 the largest donor among other sponsors.

This Memorial Day, Local 1776 will be sponsoring a local radio station’s Veteran’s Marathon, which assists veterans who have bravely served our country.

The WMGK 201.9 Radiothon lasts for 12 hours to raise money for the area’s Veterans’ Multiservice Center (VMC).

As a sponsor of last year’s Radiothon, Local 1776 directly donated $3,000 to the VMC, and ran radio commercials recorded by Local members to promote the event to raise awareness.

One of the Local 1776 members helping with the commercials named Bill Jillard was a vet himself. For the commercial, he shared his story about serving our country in the Army during Vietnam, and how he continues that service by helping out in his community today. One way Bill serves as a union member is by urging Big Box companies to not just hire vets, but to ensure they provide good jobs and safe workplaces for them, as well as contribute to a better economy for vets to come home to after serving. To hear Bill’s commercial, click here. After 47 years of service at Acme markets, Bill is now enjoying retirement.

(From left): Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Jim McClosky, Acme member Mary Owens

(From left): Wine Specialist and 1776 member Ethan Thomas, Retired Acme Member and Vietnam Veteran Bill Jillard, Acme member Jim McClosky, Acme member Mary Owens

 

 

 

May 20, 2015

UFCW Constituency Groups Hold Summit to Strategize for the Future

CGS Group Photo

On May 11-13, all four of the UFCW constituency groups held a summit to lay out goals and strategize new organizational plans for the next few years. More than 20 members attended the summit to represent the different groups which include the UFCW Women’s Network, United Latinos, UFCW Minority Coalition, and UFCW OUTreach.

During the summit, members worked together to identify ways the constituency groups can help the UFCW grow along with recommitting to support locals unions by assisting in organizing campaigns, mentoring workers, and helping to amplify the voices of minorities and women in the workplace. Members also came together to create a civil rights agenda to better serve UFCW members. Another priority from the summit was for the constituency groups to strive to have a more geographically diverse board leadership with a focus in the South.

The constituency groups left the summit with four specific goals that reflect the larger goals of the UFCW set by International President Marc Perrone. For the next few years, the constituency groups agreed to create transformational change within their organizations by:

-Recommitting to better tracking and organizing constituency membership information

-Creating new relationships with community allies

-Serving as a resource for local unions by supporting their members and helping to grow their membership

-Playing an active role leading up to, and during, the 2016 election and supporting “Get Out the Vote” efforts

The constituency groups left the summit as a united force ready to empower their group members and serve as a resource for all UFCW members.

Kathy Finn from UFCW Local 770 attended the summit on behalf of the UFCW Women’s Network.

“The constituency group summit gave us the time and space to look critically at how the constituency groups can more effectively further the overall goals of the UFCW. One of the most important things to come out of the summit was a commitment from all of the constituency groups to work together on developing a broad civil rights agenda for the UFCW. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop our agenda further and present it the rest of the UFCW,”said Finn.

Pete Maturino is from UFCW Local 5 and is the president of the United Latinos.

“For me, the highlight of the constituency group summit was that the four constituency groups were able to come together and come up with a unified agenda that highlights the valuable role that these constituency groups play in our union. During the summit, I was surprised to learn from the UFCW political department about the lack of voting among UFCW members in the 17-35 age range. 2016 will be a very important year in politics and we came together to map out a plan on what we can do this election cycle,” said Maturino.

Tonya McCoy has been a part of UFCW Local 75 for more than 20 years and attended the summit as a member of the UFCW Minority Coalition.

“I’m excited that all four constituency groups came together to create a robust civil rights agenda and committed to promoting diversity within the UFCW. Following the summit, I was excited to come back to my local and inspire members to take an active role in our union. The constituency groups are a vital part of the UFCW because they are another tool that will help the UFCW to grow,” McCoy said.

Laura Kelley is an organizer for UFCW Local 655 and is the Vice Chair for UFCW OUTreach.

“It was a “think tank” of brilliant minds for one common goal, making the UFCW the best, most diverse, and powerful union possible! The in-depth discussions, ideas, and open dialogue were very interesting, and everyone who attended added to the dynamic of the energy of the summit. It was a great opportunity to share our needs and set expectations for the future of our great union. Working together as one group instead of four individual groups will  help push the agenda of becoming an all-inclusive union. Politically, our members and our communities can be a powerful force, and we talked about how to build coalitions around our issues and educate voters for the 2016 elections,” Kelley said.

CGS Table CGS Boards CGS Group

May 19, 2015

Local 23 Member Who Served in Army Now Fights Against Privatization, Volunteers In His Community, and Isn’t Slowing Down

Bill SchwartzTo continue honoring those who have fallen defending our country and its freedom as we approach Memorial Day, here is another Member profile, this time of Local 23 member Bill Swartz, who served in the Army:

For some folks, service to others – whether through the military or charitable endeavors – is just a way of life.

Local 23 member Bill Swartz is just that kind of guy.

At 76 years young, Bill is employed as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) and still has the energy and makes the time to look out for other people.

In his earlier years, Bill began a career with GTE/Verizon and then answered President Kennedy’s call to service when he joined the army during the Cuban Blockade in 1961.  He attained the rank of Sergeant and was part of the Defense Atomic Support Agency which handled communications for all branches of the armed forces.  “When I was stationed in Arlington, I worked next to the National Cemetery,” he remembered fondly.

Bill returned to enjoy a 36-year career at GTE/Verizon, where he was a steward, an executive board member and served on the bargaining committee with IBEW Local 1637.  After retiring, he went to work for the PLCB “to make a little extra money.”   Under their contract with UFCW, the PLCB provides preferred hiring practices to veterans.  As a member of UFCW Local 23, Bill has been politically active in fighting against the privatization of that valuable state asset.  He really likes the job and recently decided to accept full-time hours.

Bill has a genuine love of working with people and volunteered at the Salvation Army, where he was assigned to the warehouse.  “That wasn’t what I had in mind,” he laughed, “I wanted to work WITH people,” so he went to work for his church, Our Lady of Mercy in Harbor Creek, PA.

“My wife and I have led the bereavement ministry in our church for over 20 years,” he said.  “They were so good to me after I lost my father that I wanted to give back.”

“Upon the death of a parishioner or family member, we assess their needs for the funeral, provide counseling for the ceremony, and arrange for the lector, greeters, altar servers and whatever else is required,” he explained.  With a kind, compassionate demeanor, he is exactly the right person to reach out to grieving families.

Until very recently, Bill was also the Church’s volunteer groundskeeper, maintaining 13 acres that includes a ball field, pond and picnic area. “I had to give that up when I went full-time at the store,” he laughed.

He has also been a regular volunteer at the Harbor Creek Food Pantry for many years.

With energy that belies his age, Bill shows no signs of slowing down.

“I’ve been a union man all my life,” he said, “and it’s been good.”

 

 

May 6, 2015

Celebrating UFCW Moms: Local 1189 Rep and Single Mother Tamara Jones on The Importance of the Labor Movement and Why She Loves Being Union

Tamara Jones has been a proud UFCW member for 14 years, and has been on staff since 2007.  She worked in activities at Viewcrest Health Center, in Duluth, Minnesota where she was a union steward and then became a member of the UFCW Local 1116 Executive Board prior to becoming a Union Representative.  She is also the Region 6 Coordinator for the UFCW OUTReach , a member of the UFCW Women’s Network, leader of the Northern Division Community Services Committee, board member of the 7th Senate District DFL Board, Fightin’ 15 Precinct Chair, President of the Carlton County Central Labor Body, member of the AFL-CIO/United Way Community Services committee, serves as a member of the Northeast Area Labor Council Executive Board, serves as a member of the Duluth Central Labor Body Executive Board, serves on the United Way Executive Board, is immediate past-President of the International Labour Council, and is a master Trustee with the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

This is her story:

One of my favorite mothers, Mother Jones (sadly, no relation) said that we should mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

Growing up, I remember learning about the labor movement in my history classes. I learned about the railroad strikes, the Chicago Teamsters’ strike, the Pullman strike – and what I remember the most is that people died to make what we take for granted now possible.

It’s a sobering thought, but even today, all over the world, the labor struggle is real. It is violent. And people die. It’s why you should call your Senators and your Representatives and tell them to oppose fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The countries involved, namely Brunei and Malaysia, have horrific records of human rights abuses, and if we condone entering into trade with these countries, we are no better than they are.

It’s a grim reality.

However, there are glimmers of hope. Our union, UFCW, has been a strong advocate for workers around the globe. Through our partnership and support of UNI Global Union, they have successfully negotiated Colombia’s first ever collective agreement in the retail sector at Carrefour Colombia. It has a woman as president and it is thousands strong. UNI Global Union has over 52 agreements signed with multinational corporations across the globe, aimed at improving working conditions, better wages, and ensuring that corporations act responsibly with regards to their workers.

Here at home, UFCW has been blazing trails with its newly-formed constituency group, UFCW OUTReach. UFCW OUTReach is dedicated to building mutual support between our union’s International, regions, and locals and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and their allies in order to come together to organize for social and economic justice for all, regardless of age, race, gender, creed, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

I’m proud to sit on the UFCW OUTReach executive board. Since our formation, we have worked to advocate inclusion of transgender health care benefits in our insurance plans. We have worked to educate our locals about the specific issues transgender individuals face when encountering immigration, and have advocated for immigration reform, especially ensuring that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters aren’t sent back into situations where they may be persecuted to death. We have educated many locals about the issues that are important to us as workers and as LGBTQ people, and encouraged them to educate their members as well as their legislators so we can avoid discriminatory legislation. We have partnered with excellent organizations to make sure that we are at the forefront of LGBTQ workers’ rights and are constantly advocating and empowering our rank-and-file members in their workplace to take a stand against discrimination.

The things listed above are things that I’m so proud of our union being involved in, I could burst.

However, what I’m most proud of in our labor movement has a more personal side. I am a single mom of four kids, two girls, aged 9 and 2 ½, and two boys, aged 7 and 5. My seven year-old has sensory processing disorder and ADHD. It has been a long journey to get him to where he is today.

Through my contractually-provided health insurance, he has access to the therapies and medications he needs to be successful in the world.  Through the contractually-obligated medical leave I have, I was able to not worry about being off and meeting my bills when I nearly died when my 2 ½ year-old was born.

Through the support of my brothers and sisters in the union, who have helped me countless times with transporting my children here or there or watching them while I advocate for them at the capitol, or have to take another child to an appointment, or handle a grievance, my children have learned and seen what the union is really about: taking care of each other. Not just in the workplace, but in our daily lives.

They’ve marched on the picket lines, they’ve been to rallies, and they’ve helped with food drives. To them, union isn’t a dirty word or joke. To them, it means family.

I probably overuse this quote from Paul Wellstone, but it really encapsulates everything that is good about the labor movement: “We all do better when we all do better.”

Being part of the labor movement is the only way to ensure that my children will be able to do better, no matter what they choose to do in life. Be it a spy nurse (7 year-old), a construction engineer (5 year-old), a fashion designer-teacher (9 year-old), or the world’s most stubborn person (2 ½ year old), the union has paved their way and will continue to pave their way.

Tamara's daughter Hazel, age 5

Tamara’s daughter Hazel

The whole gang: (From Top to Bottom) Walter, Leo, Marjorie, and Hazel

The whole gang: (From Top to Bottom) Walter, Leo, Marjorie, and Hazel

Tamara's son Walter, age 6

Tamara’s son Walter,

May 5, 2015

Celebrating UFCW Moms: Single Mom Sought Education and Career for Better Life, Gives Back to Union and Community

At age 25, Amy was a single parent raising two children with no job, no car, no education and no place to live. She knew the only way to give her children the life they deserved would be through hard work and determination – and when Amy walked across the stage to receive her GED, her two children, Chassity and Joey, sat in the front row cheering her on.

Amy’s determination to give her kids a better life led her to her get a job at Kroger where she found that having a union contract could give her the stability she and her family needed. She saw right away that there was a place for her to take a leadership role in her union. She became a steward because she saw that her co-workers needed a strong voice on the job. 

Over the course of the last decade, Amy has helped to negotiate her union contract three times, serving as part of the team that meets with Kroger management and bargains the wages, benefits, and working conditions for more than 12,000 UFCW Local 227 members across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Now, in her capacity as the Chief Steward at her store, Amy helps ensure that Kroger implements the union contract correctly, and makes certain that her co-workers understand and take advantage of the full range of benefits they’re guaranteed. 

Amy’s hard work and commitment to improving her family’s life and her workplace has spilled over into the community. She served as the PTA President at Tates Creek Elementary for three years, and in 2014 ran for City Council – losing narrowly in a primary.

Determined, committed UFCW moms like Amy continue to inspire us and are an important part of our union family! Stay tuned as we celebrate more moms across the UFCW in our lead up to Mother’s Day.

Amy, shown here with former President Clinton while she was representing UFCW Local 227 at a rally

Amy, shown here with former President Clinton while she was representing UFCW Local 227 at a rally

 

May 4, 2015

Celebrating UFCW Moms: New UFCW Member Loves Her Job and Security of Being a Union Member

maggieTo continue our celebration of UFCW moms, we’re sharing the story of Local 1000 member Maggie Duhig-Freeman.

Maggie is a single divorced mom working at Kroger Marketplace in Lewisville, Texas, supporting her family and finishing college.

A little over a month ago, Maggie began working at her store and had started training. After her orientation, a 25 year UFCW member and rep came by the store to reach out to new folks and let them know about the union, and to see how members were doing.

Texas is a right to work state, but after Maggie learned about what a union is, she said she definitely wanted to give it a try.

“It sounded like a great idea,” Maggie says, “We talked about how the union can help facilitate interventions if there is ever a workplace dispute. They are there to really support the employees. I haven’t had any trouble at my store, but you never know what can happen!”

Maggie loves the people and her job as a cashier at Kroger Marketplace, and has now been a union member for about a month.

Maggie has never been in a union before but she had many people tell her that she should go for a union job.

“Belonging to the union is inexpensive, and in our store which is very big, it’s nice to have UFCW people, who have relationships with management and other employees who you may not have ever met help you get to know everyone and how things operate. Everyone here is awesome,” she says.

She also notes that if her store were to ever go on strike, the employees have the option to choose whether or not to join it, but as union member she would be out there fighting. “When you’re invested in something, they will go to bat for you.”

Another thing Maggie values about being in the union is her union benefits. The paid family and sick leave and the good union benefits in her contract will be very helpful someday, she says, adding that as a single mom, she needs that sort of support.

In her spare time, Maggie also volunteers, a lot. She is a notary official for the state of Texas, helping her community members get the important documents they need notarized. She has also been volunteering at her community food bank for six years, helping unpack donations—many of which come from her own workplace, where employees including herself and customers can buy bags of groceries as part of a donation program to the Denton County Food Bank.

When she was younger, Maggie also volunteered at several political conventions, where she enjoyed listening to various candidates speeches. This inspired her to be even more involved politically—she now volunteers at polling places and worked the polls for President Obama’s campaign during his second election.

Maggie is a wonderful member of her community, and we are happy to welcome her to the union family and congratulate her on her union job that enables her to take care of her family!

Are you a union mom too? Share your story with us at  http://www.ufcw.org/resources/members/share-your-story/

April 21, 2015

Following Retaliatory Closures, Walmart Workers Take Legal Action

Supported by elected officials, clergy and community members, group files for injunctive relief with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of workers

Local school board launches resolution calls on Walmart to consider economic impact to local community, transfer and reinstate workers

11174655_1092389480778107_6579073321344252761_oNATIONWIDE —Yesterday Pico Rivera Walmart workers with OUR Walmart filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response to Walmart’s retaliatory store closings. Last week, Walmart abruptly closed 5 Walmart stores in four states due to an alleged national plumbing emergency. However, city officials point out that the company has obtained no permits to begin repairs in any of these locations. Walmart has failed to offer any evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Among the five stores was the Pico Rivera, California Walmart Supercenter, which has been the hotbed for worker action. The store is also of symbolic important to the low-wage worker movement, as it sparked the Walmart and fast food strikes when it was the first store to go on strike in October of 2012. Workers from the store also held the first large sit-down strike and participated in civil disobedience in the weeks prior to last Black Friday.

“This is a new low, even for Walmart,” said Venanzi Luna, an eight-year Walmart worker and long-time OUR Walmart member. “It’s just so heartless to put thousands of your employees out of a job with no clear explanation on just a few hours’ notice. We know that Walmart is scared of all we have accomplished as members of OUR Walmart so they’re targeting us. Through OUR Walmart, we’re going to keep fighting back until the company gives us our jobs back. It’s unfortunate that Walmart has chosen to hurt the lives of so many people, just to try to conceal their real motives of silencing workers just like they’ve always done.”

Workers are asking the National Labor Relations Board to see injunctive relief under section 10j of the National Labor Relations Act. They are calling on the National Labor Relations Board to compel Walmart to rehire all of the workers who were terminated in all five stores and reinstate them to their own stores or transfer them without loss of pay until they can be reinstated to their stores. A 10j injunction is designed to allow the court to act quickly to remedy such extreme violations without the long delay which is anticipated for NLRB proceedings.

As the filing notes, this is not the first time Walmart has taken dramatic action to quell worker action. In June of 2014, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Walmart had violated labor law when it closed the Jonquiére, Quebec Walmart store. The workers in that store had voted to join a union, becoming the first unionized store in North America just before it closed. In 2000, butchers in a Jacksonville, Texas Walmart voted to join UFCW Local 540. Two weeks later, Walmart closed its 180 meat departments in stores nationwide and switched to prepackaged case ready meat only. More recently, Walmart fired and disciplined more than 70 workers who participated in strikes in June 2013. An Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB has found merit to claims against Walmart and additional claims are currently being prosecuted by the General Counsel of the NLRB against Walmart.

“Walmart’s choice to close one of the most vocal stores in the fight for $15 and full time is a clear and direct assault on all workers’ rights,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “As a country, we cannot sit back quietly as our nation’s largest private employer is allowed to lay off thousands of people in an attempt to silence them from speaking out for better wages, hours and respect on the job.”

Community members and elected officials have also come out in support of Walmart workers. The El Rancho Unified School District, in which the Pico Rivera store is located, will vote on a resolution in support of the laid off Pico Rivera Walmart workers. The resolution “calls on Walmart to consider the economic hardship their decision has caused for their 530 Associates from the Pico Rivera store and their families and commit to transfer all of the Associates to surrounding Walmart stores before new people are hired to fill positions in those stores…”

Other community members also attended yesterday’s press conference to call attention to the impact of Walmart’s actions on their neighborhoods, congregations and communities.

“It is a scandal against all that is righteous, though it is unfortunately not surprising, that Walmart, the economic Pharaoh who cannot see workers as people but only as expense lines, has again decreed unemployment and poverty and suffering on 530 workers here, and similar numbers in four other stores,” said local Rabbi Aryeh Cohen. “In November, I joined other clergy and community leaders and workers in an act of civil disobedience to support the brave workers who sat down and struck in order to stand up with dignity. We then demanded $15 an hour and access to full employment. Today our demands have not changed. However, we also demand that Pharaoh rehire all 530 workers, give them priority before hiring other workers for less pay, and support the fired workers beyond the mandated 60 days.”

Workers promised that they would continue to fight the company’s retaliatory closures with bold action until the company meets their calls for reinstatement, transfer with equal pay and compensation in the interim and finally, the opportunity to return to their stores when they reopen.

“Allowing Walmart to get away with such a blatant attack on the rights of workers’ in our community would open the door for any employer to simply develop ‘plumbing issues’ whenever workers stood up for change in their workplace,” said SEIU 721 Chief of Staff Gilda Valdez. “We need to send a message to Walmart and all employers that in our community, the rights of working people must be respected. That’s why we’ll continue to stand with Walmart workers as they fight to get back to work and for change at the world’s largest private employer.”

April 2, 2015

UFCW Local 655 Hosts Diversity Training for Local Leaders

UFCW Local 655 members and staff in Saint Louis, Mo., attended the first Equity and Inclusion Diversity Leadership Training put together by the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department. Over the course of two and a half days, about a dozen UFCW Local 655 leaders from a variety of backgrounds participated in the first session of the three-part diversity training series. The training was developed to help increase staff and members’ knowledge and awareness of diversity issues and elevate the importance of inclusiveness in local unions. The program focuses on local union leaders developing cultural competence with a new set of attitudes, skills, and behaviors in order to have themselves and their organizations work effectively in cross-cultural situations and workplace diversity. Ultimately, the trainings are designed to empower participants to take action and help steer their local union to develop and promote organizational equity and focus on fairness in order to create change in a local union’s culture.

“Stepping outside of my comfort zone may be uncomfortable, but it can be a stepping stone for my future responsibilities as a leader in my local union. Thanks to the diversity training, I am ready to go back to work and start taking action to build relationships with other members to empower us to stand united for justice and equality in our union and in our communities,” said UFCW Local 655 member Amy Nichols.

UFCW Local 655 hosted their diversity training for local union leaders in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and the impact that the Ferguson events have had on the labor movement in the state. The first session in the diversity training is titled “Why Diversity Matters.” During this session, participants were involved in an open dialogue about the origin of racism, and the history of racial inequality and its roots in economic injustice. They examined different identities and how they relate to people in the workplace and society. Participants discussed the ways people experience or observe different forms of discrimination at work and in the community. They also learned about what being an ally and having solidarity means in a labor context.

“We need to have the difficult conversations with our coworkers, members, and the community about why this fight for equality is so important. We need to take the conversations from the trainings out to our workplaces and communities if we want to start taking real action to create change and an environment of inclusiveness,” said UFCW Local 655 staffer Theresa Hester.

During the first session, participants were later joined by young activists from Missouri, who are fighting for social and economic justice in Ferguson and throughout the state. Participants will follow up the training with recruiting members and coworkers for the April 15 Workers’ Day of Action activities.

“In today’s America where we are more diverse as a country than ever, it is incumbent on current labor to develop future leaders that act and look like our society. If our current labor leaders do not provide the needed training to a young diverse workforce our labor leaders tomorrow will not reflect the make-up of our society. On a broader spectrum, I would hope all leaders not just labor leaders would be training for a more diverse leadership team in the future. I believe the best possibility to end the wealth disparity in America is to have diverse leaders in the future and the only way to achieve this is to provide leadership training today to a diverse group of workers,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook.

“The training for new UFCW leaders is critical at this juncture of the union movement. Union leaders will need to have new skills to recruit and engage members in a changing workforce demographic. I’m encouraged to see union leaders such as UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook, taking the initiative to embrace this challenge of diversity and racial equity and getting leaders in the local involved. Unions must take on the dual fight against the various “isms” both inside and outside the union. Unions are a critical part of the social justice movement that’s building power for all workers,” said Jamala Rogers, one of the diversity program trainers, a retired teacher and member of AFT.

UFCW Local 655 will complete the other two parts of the diversity program in the coming months. The second session will be “Race and Politics,” which will take place in July, and the third session “New Generation Diversity: I Am Today’s Leader,” will take place in November.

To see some great discussion and other highlights from this training session, click here.

To learn more about the diversity trainings and hosting a training at your local, contact the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department at civilrights@ufcw.org.

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