Friday, January 15, 2016

Top 12 Stories This Week: Walmart to Close, MLK, Gutting Unions

Cuomo to Create $15 Minimum Wage for New York State Workers - See more at:

Walmart to Close 269 Stores - Over 10,000 U.S. workers affected
154 stores will close in the United States, including their entire 102 Walmart Express small-format stores.
Read more here and more in depth at Supermarket News.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In court documents filed this week, A&P said Acme had offered $1.3 million for the leases of closed A&P stores located in Patterson, N.Y., and Boonton, N.J., as well as a wine and liquor store in Old Greenwich, Conn.
Welcome our newest brothers and sisters, @HuffPost, the largest digital media outlet to unionize. What's better? Management's response: "Assuming a majority, we will recognize the union," she continued. "We look forward to a great relationship with our union as we work together to take The Huffington Post to new heights across the world."

Scheduling has become the number 1 issue in our new economy.
The family-owned and operated chain of convenience stores and gas stations announced plans to devote upwards of $15 million to increase employee wages across the board. The company states in a press release that it’s doing so without cutting back on employee hours.
Read more here:
“We believe that paying wages at the upper end of the retail scale is necessary to achieve that goal.”
This week President Perrone announced the UFCW's endorsement for President of the United States. “We announce this endorsement with the full belief that the frustrations felt by the American people are real, and that they deserve an America where better wages and better benefits are enjoyed by all who help make this nation great."
This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The case pits the right of public employees to band together and form effective unions to pursue the common interests of workers against the free speech rights of dissenting public employees to abstain from funding collective bargaining efforts with which they disagree.
This major case will change the landscape for unions in our country forever; all union members must pay close attention.
This month in 1914, Henry Ford doubled the wages of his production workers to  $5 a day.
Adjusted for inflation, that would come out to $118.67 in 2015 dollars, almost $15 an hour for an eight-hour day (in 1926, Ford Motor became one of the first major corporations to adopt a five-day, 40-hour workweek). This applied to male workers and was extended to women in 1916.
New calculations quantify how much the decline of unions contributes to economic inequality.
Three mergers between enormous grocery chains will change our entire industry. They've created three new super chains that now employ over 1 million people in America. Mergers and the emergence of technology are having a dramatic effect on workers lives.  President Both sums up how our union and industry needs to react.
Elsewhere & Out there:
Environment: If you haven't heard, Flint Michigan has an enormous water problem and now people are dying due to a 'cost-saving' measure. A federal probe has just been announced to investigate.
via Washington Post: The city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making. The city opted out of Detroit's water supply and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, part of a cost-saving move. Eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled.
Humans of New York's photo.
“Everyone has a hard on for the union. They think we’re lazy or this or that, or maybe that there’s mafia influence, but honestly I just think they don’t like the little man having a voice. More and more construction sites are non-union these days. Nobody wants to pay $30 an hour plus benefits if an immigrant will do the same job for $14 an hour. And if everything goes non-union, I might as well go work at McDonald’s because I’ll be making the same amount of money. If the union collapses, I’m going to lose my pension. The way pensions work-- each generation pays for the previous generation. So without a new generation of union workers, there’s not going to be any money left for me. And I’ll have to work until I die.”
Thank You:
It's often a thankless job, so we'd like to say, thank you. And thank you for being a subscriber. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

UFCW Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Former President Clinton visited Pathmark in the 90's
Some breaking news from our International President Marc Perrone. As the early primary and caucus states are gearing up to vote in just three weeks, the UFCW is announcing its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

Please read the message from International President Perrone below:

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Since last year, we have actively engaged and reached out to our diverse 1.3 million members about the issues they care about and the positions they want the next President of the United States to fight for.  Based on this feedback, the UFCW is announcing today its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

We have been completely committed to pursuing a thorough presidential endorsement process. This effort included a series of nationwide meetings with current members and UFCW Local Union officers, internal polls of our union members, as well as focus groups with working and middle class non-union families from across the country who currently work or have worked in retail. By doing this, we were able to determine the issues that matter most to UFCW members and the workers we fight for every day.

Based on these results, as well as additional discussions with UFCW Local Union Presidents and the UFCW International Executive Board, the collective decision was that Hillary Clinton is indeed the best qualified and positioned candidate to win in 2016 and fight for the issues--such as job security, fair scheduling, paid leave, raising wages, immigration, and health care reform--that matter most to our diverse union family.

Hillary Clinton has also held consistent polling leads with women, African Americans and Hispanics.  The broad diversity of the people who support her, coupled with her robust stances on the most important issues, point to our members’ having a strong belief that Hillary Clinton is not just the strongest presidential candidate, but the right one.

Our incredible members, both retail and non-retail workers, who help feed and serve this nation, deserve a president like Hillary Clinton who will fight to make sure that paid leave, stable schedules, and higher wages become more than an election promise--they’ll become a reality.

In Solidarity,


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Union-Made New Year's Eve

Celebrating New Year's Eve with some spirits tomorrow?

Here's a some union-made spirits to enjoy.

If you plan on celebrating, please do so responsibly and safe!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!  Thank you for your tireless work this season!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Our New Union

By: Tony Speelman

As I mentioned in my September column, 2015 year was an enormous test for our entire union. It feels like years ago that we negotiated eight new excellent contracts in the early months of 2015. The new contracts provide a better life for over half of the 22,500 hard working men and women in our union.

After negotiating the new contracts with eight different companies, A&P (the parent company of Pathmark) filed for bankruptcy and announced it would be closing its stores. The A&P bankruptcy has affected tens of thousands of lives, displaced thousands of hard working men and women, and now that the last Pathmark store has closed, its changed the entire landscape of our union.  In January of 2015, 27% of our members worked at Stop & Shop. As it sits today after Pathmark stores were sold off in the bankruptcy, over 40% of our union will now bargain under the Stop & Shop contract.  
  In January of 2015, 27% of our members worked at Stop & Shop. As it sits today after Pathmark stores were sold off in the bankruptcy, over 40% of our union will now bargain under the Stop & Shop contract.
The bankruptcy has displaced many men and women, however it has also created many new opportunities for our members who worked for the unreliable, greedy, A&P corporation. Because of the work of our entire union, over 2,000 of our members have continued their careers, kept their benefits, and continued their pension contributions with Stop & Shop, Key Food, ShopRite and Food Town. In addition we also gained more than 700 new members through Key Food, ShopRite and King Kullen purchases of former A&P stores. That’s the definition of what it means to be union. We stick together through good times and bad, find solutions for problems, and we don’t abandon our brothers and sisters.  

This wasn’t done overnight. Stop & Shop, like every company we work with, runs a business. Management’s number one concern is saving money. When it was announced that Stop & Shop would be purchasing a number of A&P stores, we immediately began negotiating with them to insure all union-members would keep their jobs, their pay-rates and benefits.   I would like to thank Stop & Shop for reaching an agreement that did just that.

For the many workers at Pathmark stores that were bought by other employers, you know that wasn’t the case for every transition agreement. Some new store owners wouldn’t guarantee jobs, and when they did, most said they’d only hire at reduced rate! This is the battle we have fought tirelessly over the last six months and will continue to fight in the future. Securing jobs, benefits, pensions and better lives for all Local 1500 members is our number one goal.

We are working on getting new jobs for our Pathmark members at stores that were not bought. We initiated a Pathmark Bench, a rolling detailed list of members affected by the bankruptcy who are looking for a new job. I’m pleased to say we placed over 100 of our members in new jobs. In a few cases we were able to help people get new jobs at stores that were not Union. That may turn some faces of readers out there, but let me make myself clear: Our union members are our partners and our family. We will help one another in any way possible during times of need.

In contrast, I encourage you to read the story on page 11 about Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, which suddenly closed its Hartsdale store. You can clearly see the difference between having a union as your partner and being alone. The company gave no warning to its employees, in fact some employees heard about the closing through an email. The workers at the store had no information and no one to turn to. Hundreds of questions arose in their heads about, what’s next? They immediately contacted our Union’s Organizing Department.  Just as our department was there for the eight Mrs. Green’s workers when they were fired illegally and left out in the cold last year, they were for these new workers with no clear future.

Which brings me to why it’s even more important that our entire union knows this. We need to organize new shops. Best Yet has purchased four of our Pathmark stores, and six other former A&P stores. Some of our former members are now working throughout the chain based on an agreement we fought for in bankruptcy court, which required every store to hire at least 25% of former A&P employees. This gives us an excellent opportunity to organize a union at these stores.

Every hard-working person has earned the right to better wages, better benefits, and a better life. We need to bring this message to all the men and women working at Best Yet. I believe we can.

With your support and partnership, we have helped thousands of men and women who would be without a job and benefits keep their jobs or transition to a new one. That’s especially important during this time of year. I thank you for your support, and as always encourage you to contact me for anything you need (message or tweet me on twitter @aspeel1500 or call me 516-214-1305).

Have a wonderful holiday season, and god bless you all!

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