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Spring 2012 Newsletter
In this issue:
It's All Connected
Two years ago we could not take a paid sick day without fear of losing a day’s pay or being disciplined. That’s changed.
How did we win?
The first step was in 2010 when 25,000 union grocery store workers across Puget Sound pushed for a fair contract including paid sick days. While we did not win paid sick days in that contract, we pushed the issue from the bargaining table to the public.
|In contract negotiations, enforcing our rights at work, and taking action in politics, we’re all in this together. And when we act together, we can win.|
In 2011 we continued the public fight as we worked in partnership with others in the community and started to push for a new law in Seattle. Thousands of people working in grocery, health care, and retail jobs ultimately succeeded at passing one of the strongest paid sick days laws in the nation.
Seattle was picked because it was determined it was the most likely place in the state where we could get paid sick days passed. Because we were successful in Seattle, now in 2012 this important policy is being considered for workers in other parts of the state.
|We also need to get registered to vote and make sure to vote. If you don’t think being active in politics makes a difference, we challenge you to tell us why over 100,000 workers in Seattle have paid sick days that did not have them a couple years ago.|
Over 1,500 UFCW 21 Macy’s members are in contract negotiations - both in Seattle where they have paid sicks days by law and other cities in our State where they do not. Recent “Moms are Magic” events around Mother’s Day at all UFCW 21 Macy’s highlighted the need for workers to have more control over their schedule and lives like being able to take care of themselves and family when sick.
Health care employers in and outside Seattle will have the same challenge as we negotiate new contracts. As workers unite – from health care, to grocery to retail and other industries – we show that by acting together, we can make change for the better.
As more and more not-yet union workers seek out and demand respect on the job, the awareness of our connections increase. And that will lead to a louder call to level the playing field and change the laws that currently stack the deck against workers.
The only way we can advance that level of change is for the needs of regular working people to be a bigger part of our politics. And that only happens when we all get involved. A record number of UFCW 21 members have joined our Active Ballot Club. We also need to get registered to vote and make sure to vote. If you don’t think being active in politics makes a difference, we challenge you to tell us why over 100,000 workers in Seattle have paid sick days that did not have them a couple years ago. It is not because employers or politicians wanted to give it to us.
In contract negotiations, enforcing our rights at work, and taking action in politics, we’re all in this together. And when we act together, we can win.
UFCW 21 Scholarships Helping Members Achieve The American Dream
Every student should have the opportunity to learn. And if they seek a higher education, they should be able to go to school regardless of their ability to pay. That is part of the American Dream.
Unfortunately, the cost of higher education is soaring out of reach for many working class people altogether, while others are becoming burdened by huge debt. That’s not right. So as we support changes to policies that would provide more funding for our state’s community colleges and universities, UFCW 21 has also expanded our own scholarship award program. We are excited to announce the names of the 2012 awards.
6-Full Time Student Scholarships: $2,000
Latoya Benjamin, Fife, St. Joseph Medical Center
2-First in Family Scholarships: $2,000
Wendy Au, Seattle, Safeway
4-Part-time Student Scholarships: $1,000
Tionna Jones, Tacoma, MultiCare
2-Social Justice Scholarships: $3,000
Darbie Martin, Seattle, Fred Meyer
1-Four Year Scholarship: $4,000
Pang Vang, Spokane Valley, Providence Sacred Heart
“The community helped me in my time of need. Now it is my turn to give back. I chose the medical field so I can help people in their time of need. By furthering my education I can learn more avenues in which I can help. I want to have the abilities and knowledge to reach as many people as I can.”
—Toni Larson is awarded one of the part-time scholarships and will be attending Boise State University to study Respiratory care.
“My family came to the United States because they wanted me to be able to shine and be successful in whatever I do. I know that having an education will be the first step in becoming successful. I am not only doing this to show my family I will be successful, but I want to do what I love in the future.”
—Wendy Au is awarded a first-in-family scholarship and is planning on attending the University of Washington to study architecture.
“Co-workers look up to her for her guidance and as a desire to better themselves. The one thing that stands out the most about Latoya is that she practices what she preaches….As a young person, she is a breath of fresh air. I hope others learn from her.”
—Laticia Allison a UFCW 21 Certified Registered Lead Surg Tech who wrote in her reference for her co-worker Latoya Benjamin. Latoya was awarded one of the full-time scholarships and will be attending the University of Washington next year to study health care.
Enforced Contracts Protect Workers
Housekeeping in a hospital is hard enough. So when MultiCare Tacoma General Steward Garry Hawkins heard about housekeepers being moved to another work area without notice (something prohibited by our contract), he called foul. Ultimately, MultiCare agreed in the future they will notify Stewards and consider their input prior to the move. Having this protection and standing up when it is violated makes our jobs more secure. This was one of the rights gained in contract negotiations and is good example of the need to secure our rights and then enforce the protections in the contract through standing up for these rights in the workplace.
Helping Co-workers, Helping Customers
Times are tough all over. Many of our customers are struggling to get by. Some are moms with small kids who are on WIC – a federal nutrition assistance program for moms with very young children. Unfortunately, Safeway checkers have been disciplined for small errors in WIC checks and have been disciplined and even terminated for what can be complex transactions that they are under pressure to perform quickly.
And, unlike other chains that have a “WIC mode” on their register and other systems to make it a little easier, Safeway’s approach has been to hand checkers the 30-page WIC document, tell them not to slow down, and then to discipline when there is an error. This does not help workers or customers.
Thankfully, due to the work of members Sue Wilmot (from the Bainbridge Safeway) and other Stewards, things are getting better in her store and across the company. This Spring, a new Safeway WIC training video has appeared in stores. The video is reported to tell checkers that when they get a WIC customer, they should slow down and that this time will not be held against them in their speed rating. A little extra time will help take the pressure off and allow for more accurate check handling. Also, Safeway is to be adding a new screen indicator to the register showing that the item scanned is a WIC allowed product.
None of these improvements are perfect, but they will make it easier for grocery checkers to do their job and provide quality customer service.
Just Cause Can Get Your Job Back
When Ann Rachal got a message at her Fred Meyer Deli job, she waited until her break to call back. Sadly, she learned that a close family member had passed away. She was badly shaken by the news. With the OK from a manager she left work that day and headed home. Over the next couple days she arranged travel to the out-of-state funeral and let the manager know she’d be gone for a week or so. After returning to town the following week, still distraught, she went by her store and learned that she had been placed on the schedule and already missed a couple days of work.
Instead of treating this as a miscommunication, or in the most extreme case, a no show for a scheduled shift with a 3-day suspension, she was told that she was considered a voluntary quit and lost her job for failure to show for two shifts without notice. Ultimately, an arbitration judge ruled in Ann’s favor and she got her job back. Having a union contract that protects workers from unjust firing was what made the difference for Ann.
A worker losing their job without just cause is not against the law. In fact, most workers, because they do not have the protection of a union contract, can be fired at any time without any reason. Fortunately for workers with a strong union and a just cause protection in their contract, they can fight back if they lose their job for no good reason.
Another Fred Meyer example was the case of Sean Mochinski who works at the Bothell store. Sean was also terminated for consecutive no shows without notice. The only problem for Fred Meyer is that Sean actually did give notice – he called and talked to his manager on the days in question and informed the manager that he was not going to be able to make it to work.
In his grievance case, an arbitration judge ruled in Sean’s favor that Fred Meyer did not have just cause for termination for their claim of no shows without notice, and he got his job back.
Contract Campaign Grows New Stewards
A strong and large group of Stewards in every workplace is key to advancing and protecting union members. A great example of recent steward growth is the Sea-Tac Macy’s where six new Stewards have come on board. They include: Cheryl Kirkham, Crystal Cedar, Kennisha Payne, Daniel Garcia, Machelle Fortner, Dorie Manners.
Why become a Steward? Members say it best:
“I want to give support to everybody during bargaining and help get a contract that is fair to us.” —Cheryl Kirkham
“I want to be able to represent my department” —Daniel Garcia
“A lot of employees don’t know the importance of having a union and I want to help inform them.” —Kennisha Payne
Do these sound like reasons you might want to become a Steward? Short and easy to arrange, 45-minute Steward Trainings are now available as a way to get started. Talk to your union Rep or call 1-800-732-1188.
Why Changing Walmart Will Change the World
Walmart is the largest employer in the US. Their 1.4 million employees make them larger than the UFCW members in the US and Canada combined. Unfortunately, they use their influence to drive down wages and benefits – impacting not only their own employees but everyone in retail and grocery. And the health care industry is harmed by Walmart’s low quality, high cost health insurance because of the high use of uncompensated care.
Now Walmart is in some hot water over its alleged bribery scandal and cover-up. The allegations are that they bribed Mexican officials to quickly expand in that country and then covered it up. (Read the New York Times article that broke this story.) This goes to show the company cannot be trusted and will do anything to expand.
UFCW 21 is working closely with Making Change at Walmart (go to MakingChangeatWalmart.org to find out more). And we are supporting OUR Walmart — thousands of current and former Walmart Associates who are organizing themselves to gain a voice and respect in the workplace. By changing Walmart, we will raise wages, increase benefits, improve working conditions and reduce the drain on our communities that result from their bad business practices.
Want to help change Walmart? Contact your Union Representative.
Re-electing President Obama will do more to protect and defend the rights of workers in this nation than any other vote this year. UFCW has endorsed Obama for President and Jay Inslee for Governor. And the election of Jay Inslee as Washington’s next Governor will be very important here in our state. Anti-worker politicians and many corporations would like to take away basic rights of workers to stick together and have a voice. We can’t let them take away our freedom.
Voter Registration Form
Please fill it out and vote.
Friday, July 13
1:00pm – 5:00pm
408 Lebo Blvd., Shelter 1
RSVP 206-458-6162 or 1-800-732-1188 Ext. 6162
Sunday, July 22
11:00am – 4:00pm
Lower Woodland Park
1000 N 50th St., Shelters 1 & 2
RSVP 206-458-6161 or 1-800-732-1188 Ext. 6161
We plan on having a bus from Bellingham and Mt. Vernon coming to the Seattle picnic.
If you are interested in taking the bus please call 360-419-4663.
Sunday, September 9
12:00pm – 4:00pm
5301-5399 N Division St.
2012 STEWARDS CONFERENCE
Thursday, October 4
Every year Stewards come together from across the state to share with each other, learn more skills, and become more inspired to fight and gain respect in the workplace.
On the front cover:
Olga Herzog is a UFCW 21 member at Northgate Macy’s. She’s a mom who spoke at several “Moms are Magic” actions during May as part of the effort to gain a fair contract at Macy’s. Check out the “Moms are Magic” video. The seven actions at all UFCW 21 Macy’s in Northwest Washington brought together hundreds of workers joined by hundreds of community supporters.