UFCW 21 - A Voice for Working America

Fall 2012 Newsletter

newsletter_cover_webIn this issue:

» The Big Picture: Historic Vote in Skagit County

» The Inside Story: Growing Support for Striking Walmart Workers

» Members Stand Up for Their Rights

» 2012 Steward Conference

» UFCW 21 Scholarships

» Need Help Paying for Childcare?

» Free Tax Preparation

» 2012 Election Report

The Big Picture: Historic Vote in Sakgit County

900 Health Care Workers Join UFCW 21

“We were one group of people acting together to get to a better place for ourselves and our families.”

“We work for Skagit Regional Health – the largest employer in Skagit County. Everyone works very hard to keep our patients and community safe and give them the medical treatment they deserve. By working hard and doing a good job we expect to be treated fairly. Management has not been treating us fairly by continually asking more from us and expecting that we do it with less. So I called UFCW 21…union organizers helped guide us knowing that if this union was going to work it had to be the workers’ decision. This is our union, we make or we break it.”

This was how Jill Kennedy (shown below, on the far right) introduced herself and co-workers to hundreds of UFCW 21 Stewards at a recent conference.

After a tremendous amount of work by me and my co-workers, we did it.  Jill went on to say, “This was the biggest recent union vote in Washington State history. It didn’t matter whether a worker was a tech or an electrician. It didn’t matter whether a worker was a Republican or a Democrat. It didn’t matter whether a worker was a woman or a man. We were one group of people acting together to get to a better place for ourselves and our families.”

“We are very excited to have this win and get on with the next step and negotiate a fair contract on wages and benefits. Through this we have learned to trust each other, stick together and with hard work, we can win. We are excited for change and are excited to be part of UFCW 21.”

More Success Growing Our Union

Welcome to the workers at the new Maple Valley Fred Meyer and the Metropolitan Market in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. These two recent success stories help grow our union in the grocery store industry. And when we grow our union, we help increase our strength as we bargain for better wages and the protection of our benefits.

The Inside Story:
Growing Support for Striking Walmart Workers

On October 10, 2012, over 100 Walmart workers across the nation – for the first time ever – went out on strike to protest retaliation and other pressure from their employer to silence them. The strikers – which included Walmart workers from several Puget Sound Walmart stores – gained national media attention including a segment on ABC News’ Good Morning America. Click here for video.

Workers and community supporters say they will continue to take action until Walmart stops intimidating and retaliating against its workers. As we go to print in early November, actions are being planned across the nation on Black Friday by more striking Walmart workers.

UFCW 21 members have been taking time off work over the past year to join OUR Walmart members as they organize to gain a voice on the job and get respect from their employer. At the November 2012 General Membership Meetings UFCW 21 members will be asked to donate to support striking Walmart workers.

Are you willing to join others to take action and support striking Walmart workers?

Call Elena Perez local coordinator of Making Change at Walmart at 206-359-1885 to sign up for an action near you. If you cannot join an action, please consider a donation of $35.24 (4 hours at $8.81—the average hourly pay for Walmart workers across the US) or another amount that is comfortable for you. Link to the donation site.

Hundreds of UFCW 21 Stewards heard from Walmart workers at the recent Steward Conference.  The story we all heard is loud and clear: “We are going to keep going until we change Walmart. We work hard for this company. But they don’t respect us. Everyone deserves respect. And we are going to keep pushing until we get it,” Gerry Paladan is a Walmart Associate from the Seattle area who was one of the workers who went to Bentonville Arkansas (Walmart Corporate headquarters) on the 10th of October to call for change.

Members Stand Up for Their Rights...

New Macy’s Contract Improves Fairness

We are all better off when we are all better off. One of the benefits of a merger a few years back with UFCW 44 was the addition of retail and grocery workers from the northwest corner of Washington into our union. Those new UFCW 21 members included workers from the Bellingham Macy’s. And the recently ratified new Macy’s contract achieved by the over 1,500 Macy’s workers in UFCW 21 shows the strength in numbers.

In 2012 workers from all seven of the union Macy’s stores in the region stood together. Bellingham Steward and Bargaining Team member Victoria Gray provides a great example of how members help build strength through action.

This year was the first time Victoria had joined the Bargaining Team. Her leadership helped turn out co-workers to the “Moms Are Magic” events around Mother’s Day.  And when the time came for the contract vote, Victoria showed that she could connect with and organize her co-workers (shown here at the Bellingham vote as they review and discuss the proposed contract).

The new contract improved the equity of the wage scale for Bellingham workers and others in the region. Now that a new contract is signed, the Bargaining Team will be regrouping to make a plan to enforce it.


Big Win for Union Member Rights and Freedom

Arbitration Judge Rules MultiCare Must Allow Union Access in Cafeteria

Having access to our union in the workplace is crucial to our rights as workers. In many health care facilities, access is more restrictive because of the nature of the workplace.

When MultiCare – the largest private employer in Pierce County – tried to bully our union members out of the right to reasonable access with their union at work, members stood together. They stood by the Union Rep as she faced possible arrest when MultiCare called in the Tacoma Police. By acting together, we pushed back against this violation of our rights. And recently we won.

In October an arbitration judge ruled that MultiCare did not have the right to “unreasonably interfere with the cafeteria location or manner in which the Union accesses its members, including display and distribution of Union materials…”

The decision upheld members’ rights to have access to Union Reps in the cafeteria who can sit at a table and meet with members to discuss working conditions, contractual and grievance related issues, and hand out copies of the contracts.

In a big win for union member rights and respect, the ruling states that MultiCare seemed to be placing our union in the same status as an outside vendor: “The Arbitrator finds this offensive not only to the Union, but to the employees who have chosen to have the Union represent them.”


2012 Steward Conference

Stewards are leaders in the workplace. UFCW 21 now has over 1,000 trained Stewards to be the eyes and ears of the union in the workplace. Stewards help make sure our contracts are enforced, help answer member questions, and help organize co-workers during collective bargaining. Additionally, Stewards are often leaders on political outreach to members about important elections. Stewards serve as a constant line of communication between the membership as a whole and Union Reps who often travel to 20 or more worksites every month. Click here to see photos from the Steward Conference.

Each Year UFCW 21 honors the work of all our wonderful Stewards and gives out awards at the Steward Conference. Active Stewards, taking action together with thousands of members is what makes the difference. The following are the 2012 Award Winners.

Tracy Blackwell
RN, Harrison Medical Center
Steward of the Year Award


John Warring
Microbiologist, Grays Harbor Community Hospital
Lifetime Achievement Award


Tim Ota 
Sterile Processing Tech, Jefferson Health Care
Political Activist of the Year Award


Louisa Swenson
Sales Associate, Macy’s
Political Activist of the Year Award


Betsy Bourg-Glasgow 
RN, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
Building a Movement for the 21st Century Award


Nichole Booker 
Sales Associate, Macy’s
Reclaiming the American Dream Award


Dorie Manners 
Sales Associate, Macy’s
Reclaiming the American Dream Award


Monica Smith
Checker, Top Foods
Standing Up for all UFCW 21 Members Award


Patricia Brown 
LPN, MultiCare
Standing Up for all UFCW 21 Members Award


Ralph Orozco
Service Mechanic, Draper Valley Farms
Standing Up to Bullies at Work Award


Reclaiming the American Dream – Acting Together Makes the Difference

This was the theme of our 2012 Steward Conference – the largest ever. By coming together, learning from each other, and deepening relationships that get us through good times and bad, we are building a movement for the 21st century.

Check out the updated “Reclaiming the American Dream” video where members from grocery, health care, retail, and other sectors all tell their version of the American Dream. Watch the video and join hundreds who have already told their “American Dream” story.


UFCW 21 members, their spouse/domestic partner and dependants will be able to apply for a scholarship starting in January. Please visit www.ufcw21.org for application forms and information. Last year UFCW 21 awarded over $40,000 in scholarships to our members and their families.

Need Help Paying for Child Care?

The Working Connections Child Care Program helps low income families pay for childcare expenses while their parents are working, looking for work, or in an approved training program.

If you have any questions, visit the Working Connections Child Care Program website at www.wachildcarehelp.com or call your Union Representative at 1 (800) 732-1188.


Free tax preparation will be available to many UFCW 21 members starting in January. Please contact you Union Rep for information about times and locations.

Last week, we saw some amazing election results that will help working people live a better life. Click here to read more.

On the front cover:

Tracy Blackwell – RN from Harrison Medical Center is our 2012 Steward of the Year. Since becoming a Steward in January 2012, Tracy has done it all – greeted new members, backed up co-workers in meetings with management, expanded union communications in the workplace with new bulletin boards and on and on. Check out the other 2012 Steward Award winners in this issue of the UFCW 21 Newsletter.

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