Posted on November 11, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
UFCW Local 21, UFCW Local 367 and Teamsters 38 bargained with representatives from major supermarkets, including Kroger, to keep their health benefits. (mcsquishee / Flickr / Creative Commons)
Unions representing about 30,000 grocery workers in the Puget Sound region claimed a victory last week in a labor contract fight that centered on the implementation of Obamacare in the area’s biggest supermarket chains.
Western Washington state locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters have been bargaining for months with representatives from Kroger, Safeway and Albertsons, all among the largest supermarket chains in the country. In addition to the elimination of health insurance coverage for 8,000 part-time workers, the initial demands from the grocery retailers included extended wage freezes and selective elimination of overtime pay, according to Seattle-based UFCW Local 21. The workers were within hours of beginning a strike before a last-minute deal was reached on October 21. (more…)
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: grocery workers, Teamsters, UFCW | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 23, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Bruce Vail
Department store chain Macy’s, known for its lavish Thanksgiving Day parade, is taking heat for canceling the holiday for many of its 175,000 employees. On Oct. 13, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the news that Macy plans to break with its 155-year practice of closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day.
Macy’s spokesperson Holly Thomas confirmed to Working In These Times that about 750 of the company’s 850 stores nationwide will be opened at 8 pm, requiring some 87,500 workers to give up a part of their traditional family holiday. But she stressed that no employees would be required to report to work against their will and that a sufficient number of volunteers had already been recruited. Further, those workers will all receive time-and-a-half holiday pay for their full shifts, Thomas says.
And surprisingly, the largest union local representing Macy’s workers had a similar take. Gail Rogers, Secretary-Treasurer of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 1-S, which has over 3,500 members in New York City and nearby Westchester County, says she sees no reason to criticize Macy’s as long as the company honors its union contracts. “We received notice a couple of months ago, and Macy’s will be honoring our contract. Nobody is going to be forced to work if they prefer to celebrate the holiday, and the volunteers will all be getting time-and-a-half. Plenty of our members are willing… so there aren’t a lot of complaints,” she says. (more…)
Filed under: Organizing | Tagged: Macy's, RWDSU, UFCW | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 13, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
Last Thursday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)—the 1.3 million-member union of retail workers, chiefly supermarket employees—announced that it was leaving the breakaway mini-labor federation, Change To Win, and rejoining the AFL-CIO. Of the six unions that left the AFL-CIO in 2005 to form Change To Win—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, the UFCW, UNITE HERE, the Laborers, and the United Farm Workers (UFW)—only SEIU, the Teamsters, and the Farm Workers (the last with probably fewer than 10,000 members) remain. Two-point-zero-something unions do not a federation make, but then, Change To Win, despite all its lofty ambitions, never amounted to a federation.
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Organizing | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Change to Win, UFCW | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 8, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced today that it is affiliating with the AFL-CIO. UFCW President Joe Hansen said, “We join the AFL-CIO because it is the right thing to do for UFCW members, giving them more power and influence.”
It is about fostering more opportunities for workers to have a true voice on the job. It is about joining forces to build a more united labor movement that can fight back against the corporate and political onslaught facing our members each and every day.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention | Tagged: AFL-CIO, UFCW | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 19, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Mike Elk reports
in In These Times that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union will rejoin the AFL-CIO.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Change to Win Federation, SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW, Unite Here, United Food and Commercial Workers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 7, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Street Heat
While encouraging, the recent uptick in discussions regarding the future of the labor movement will be limited in its impact unless the strategic nature of the U.S. south is included in the exchange.
It is somewhat mystifying that while acknowledging the urgency of labor to address its shortcomings, the critical role that the U.S. south plays in stymieing labor’s ascendancy has received little to no attention. More concerning is the fact that the south’s centrality to labor’s resurgence and ultimate survival is not even acknowledged in this increasingly vigorous discussion.
The combination of anti-worker laws, repression against people of color and reactionary politics has allowed the enemies of labor to define an entire geographic area as a bulwark against movements for social justice. The south provides the critical majority of electeds who have held the line against pro-worker reforms (along with most other progressive legislation) and its laws have provided a template for laws passed in the “war on workers” in northern states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and New Hampshire.
Filed under: Organizing, Politics | Tagged: #1ufuture, Nissan, Savanah port workers, Smithfield, South, Teamsters, UAW, UFCW, Working America | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 12, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
“Instead of spending the money on setting up these [replacement worker] hiring centers, why don’t they spend the money on their existing employees?” asks Taunette Greene, a 39-year Stop & Shop employee on the union’s negotiating team.
A leading supermarket chain in New England began recruiting scabs on a large scale this week as the union representing some 40,000 of its workers girds for a potential strike later this month.Stop & Shop, with more than 250 grocery stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, opened 14 recruitment sites across the region with the goal of hiring “replacement workers,” confirms company spokeswoman Suzi Robinson. The recruits would replace members of five local units of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union in the event of a strike or lockout on February 24, when current collective bargaining agreements expire. The hitch in negotiations has been over the implementation of the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.“We must prepare for the worst,” regional union leaders told rank-and-file members in an online contract negotiations update
on February 1. Talks are continuing, but the core disagreement of healthcare costs remains unresolved.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Scabs, Stop and Shop, UFCW | 6 Comments »
Posted on December 4, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Street Heat
I participated in the Black Friday action. No workers struck at my location but dozens of supporters held a spirited and effective action that a) received really good media attention that highlighted the demands of the Wal-Mart associates and b) successfully rattled the cage of store management. All in all a fun day. Nationally the picture was much more varied from strikes with dozens of strikers and hundreds of supporters to a single supporter or striker (yes one striker) picketing a store by themselves. I wanted to share some thoughts on the implications of the Black Friday strike and protests.
- The strike was a successful escalation. The number of workers participating increased. A new layer of leaders seems to have stepped up since the earlier strikes. A broad spectrum of allies showed up to support the workers. Wal-Mart desperately tried to dismiss the actions as tiny and irrelevant. The key was to for OURWalmart to successfully show thatWalmarts intimidation campaign had not pushed the Associates back, in fact that new additional leaders stepped forward to carry out this series of strikes showed the capacity or OURWalmart to grow despite management’s campaign.
- The strike was a watershed moment for labor. Not because any Wal-Marts were shut down or not, but because WalMart’s image as a benevolent employer has been effectively challenged in American public discourse. Illustrated by John Stewart on the November 27 Daily Show
[To watch the John Stewart segment, click here.]
The degree to which the strikers and the supporters were portrayed as leading a just fight by many media outlets was a critical blow to anti-worker PR in general.
- The notion that changing Wal-Mart was key to change America and creating a new economy is now firmly established among American progressives. Before there was tepid support among many liberals who perceived the Wal-Mart struggle as just another union “pet issue”. It is now common wisdom among the progressive blogosphere and academia that Wal-Mart’s role in the supply chain is a key roadblock to economic justice for ALL workers.
- This is where I piss people off. I was disappointed when I noticed that a broad swath of the labor movement sat out the Black Friday action. I was mortified to find out that some large UFCW locals opted to not build or participate in actions. The more this campaign is seen as simply a project of the UFCW International by local UFCW unions, the more difficult it is going to be to build the grassroots infrastructure needed to expand the campaign. The active support and participation UFCW local unions and the full support of labor councils and other labor organizations are key to generating community support and protection for the OURWalmart activists that will give them the much needed “breathing space” to continue to organize and grow. Bureacratic abstention, Grudges and petty divisions blocking particpation in these HISTORIC actions are the equivalent of high treason in the moment of both peril and opportunity for our entire movement.
There I said it. Let me have it.
Street Heat is a a union activist in the south, He blogs at It’s About Power Stupid! Thinking Strategically About Labor’s Survival,
Filed under: Strikes and work action | Tagged: Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart strikes, Walmrart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 28, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bob Simpson
As I was writing this blog post on Sunday morning, news came from the Associated Press about the real human cost of our Black Fridays:
“DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — At least 112 people were killed in a fire that raced through a multi-story garment factory just outside of Bangladesh’s capital, an official said Sunday. Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe. Bangladesh’s garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.”
Walmart stocks up on products manufactured under deadly sweatshop conditions. It organizes Black Friday sales knowing they can touch off riots in their stores. Then Walmart sends security guards and police after peaceful demonstrators who only seek justice in the global workplace. Who said irony is dead?
I didn’t hear of any Black Friday shopper nastiness in Chicagoland, but there were a number of peaceful demonstrations against Walmart and other retailers who exploit and abuse their own employees and supply chain workers around the world.
My Black Friday began at around 4:30 am with a drive from my home in Oak Park to Bedford Park, a suburb south of Midway Airport. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) had rented a hotel meeting room there as a staging area for Walmart protestors, plus buses to carry them to several Chicagoland Walmart stores and eventually to downtown to support food and retail workers there.
It was dark and deserted within the complex of hotels, but when I found the yellow school buses, I knew I was in the right place. Once in the lobby, a UFCW staffer saw me and guided me to their meeting room where staff people were already giving away lime-green Our Walmart tee shirts, buttons and signs. About 30 people were there drinking coffee and munching on donuts.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Strikes and work action | Tagged: Chicago, OurWalmart, retail workers, UFCW, Walmart strikes | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 23, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Amy Dean
United Food and Commercial Workers’ Pat O’Neill talks about the difficulty of organizing retail and the new tactics that have been developed, shoppers’ support and Walmart workers’ extraordinary courage in the rolling actions leading up to Black Friday.
This fall has witnessed a wave of rolling strikes and other employee actions at America’s largest private-sector employer: Walmart. The actions, spread across more than a dozen cities, have been the first in the retailer’s 50-year history. This week, things are set to get bigger: Walmart associates across the country are now promising pickets, leafleting, and creative flash mobs on and around Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
One of the main groups involved in planning the actions has been OUR Walmart, a labor-community organization for Walmart employees, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Rather than going through the arduous process of forming a traditional union by signing up majorities in each store, they have developed a more flexible process for employees to get involved early on. Smaller groups can use OUR Walmart to take collective action to advocate for rights and for better conditions. Such advocacy harkens back to the early days of the US labor movement, before the labor laws of the New Deal institutionalized processes for collective bargaining. It may also be a bellwether for future employee action, reflecting an age in which labor law has again failed to catch up with the reality of the American economy.
To get inside insight on the new activism taking place at Walmart, I talked with UFCW Organizing Director Pat O’Neill. We discussed the rolling strikes, the revived use of “minority unions,” and why OUR Walmart is not calling for a boycott.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing, Strikes and work action | Tagged: minority unions, Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart strike | 2 Comments »