Taking Care of Each Other

One value of having a union at work is someone has your back. That’s part of what it means to be union – standing united to protect and support each other in times of need. Because we all deserve fair treatment and respect regardless of our age, income, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.

Our union has trained over 1,000 member leaders, your co-workers. These UFCW 21 leaders represent workplaces across the state to help make sure our rights are protected and workers aren’t bullied. The more workers stand together, the more our union will be a force for positive change that can push back against irresponsible and selfish corporations, CEOs, and politicians who use their huge wealth to influence policy.

Injustice, income inequality and racial inequities are still very much a part of daily life in America. While progress has been made, recent headlines show that injustices are still there. Women are paid far less per hour than men for doing the same work. That’s not right. People of color, especially African American youth, are disproportionately put in prison, victims of pollution, discrimination in hiring and police practices, and on and on. Just one example is from Flint, MI where people, disproportionately people of color, have been poisoned by drinking lead contaminated water. That’s not right. A front-runner for the President says that an entire group of people should be refused entry to the United States because of their religion. That’s not right.


Sue Wilmot (Checker, Safeway Bainbridge Island) joined by a MaryAnn Schroeder (Meat Wrapper, Safeway Seattle) right and left of the speaker, take part in a candlelight vigil opposing the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society. Sue and others came together around the memorial site of the Japanese expulsion from Bainbridge as a way to raise awareness of a past time when fear led to hundreds of thousands of people with Japanese ancestry being rounded up and put on trains and jailed. That was not our finest hour as a nation and we today have the responsibility to resist reliving these dangerous decisions. 

Some Good News

The good news is that people are standing up and taking action. UFCW members in Flint are coming together to support their community and UFCW 21 members here in Washington are supporting them through donations at our winter General Membership Meetings. UFCW 21 members have been marching in the streets to support Black Lives Matter and pushing against unfair hiring practices.

More good news is that most people in our society agree that injustice, income inequality and racist, sexist, and anti gay/lesbian/transgender policies and speech are bad. Most people in America agree that workers who want a union at work should have one without interference from their employer. However, most people believing something is not enough. People need to take action in order to resist and push back against fear and hatred. 

Making Lives Better

When we take action in a union, we can make change for the good. When we work together to organize workplaces and achieve strong contracts that are enforced we improve lives. When we advocate for new and improved laws and take collective action with our community partners we can make things better for everyone. When we commit to action, we move our workplaces and communities away from fear and intolerance and toward economic, political and social justice. That is the mission of UFCW 21.

Members Stand Up for Their Rights

United For Quality Care

When UFCW 21 health care members at Providence Everett joined together with OPEIU Local 8 members at the hospital on a common petition to Management for improved contracts and working conditions, they found greater strength than if either had acted alone. That is the story we know to be true and we need to repeat time and again. Taking action together works. This helped both groups of workers from two unions win improved contracts. 

Taking a Break is Good for Everyone

For health care workers breaks are not only an issue for our own health and safety but for all of our patients and co-workers too. In many hospitals and clinics people work through breaks and/or get disciplined if they report missing one. For two years our members at Capital Medical Center have taken action together and documented problems, pushing a grievance and recently winning new contract language for taking breaks and documenting missed breaks. The new language secures all employees’ right to take a paid 15 minute break for each four hours of working time and requires employees to record any missed meal/rest periods without any retaliation. Way to go Capital Medical Center members!

Another Job Saved by Strong Contract & Action

People believing something is not enough. People need to take action in order to resist and push back against fear and hatred…When we commit to action, we move our workplaces and communities away from fear and intolerance and toward economic, political and social justice.

Renee Gebre is a cashier at Safeway (1845 Greenwood). Every day grocery store checkers process WIC checks (a federal program to help moms with lower income get better nutrition for their kids). One day Renee made a mistake when processing a WIC check and was suspended. Our agreement with Safeway is that there must be two written warnings before a suspension for this type of violation. After contacting the employer’s labor relations, the suspension was reduced to a written warning and Ms. Gebre was paid for the hours of work she missed for her suspension. 

Steward Trainings Keep Growing our Union

Eight members from PCC, led by Deli worker Atsuko Koseki (second from right) were recently trained up to be Stewards. Though PCC workers negotiate their contract independently, when they heard that the vast majority of UFCW 21 grocery store workers were soon to be going into their own contract negotiations, these PCC workers wanted to be trained up as Stewards and help as much as possible for everyone to achieve better wages, benefits and working conditions. Great work Atsuko and all the other PCC Stewards who went through the training pictured here.

New Initiative for Statewide Paid Sick Days & Higher Minimum Wage

UFCW 21 members Ariana Davis, a grocery store worker at Safeway, and Jane Teske, an RN at Providence Everett, both spoke at the press conference in the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia on January 11 to file a petition for a new state law. We need higher wages. Especially for those with the lowest incomes in the state who find it next to impossible to make ends meet. We also need to have access to paid sick days when we are ill and be allowed to use paid sick days without getting disciplined.

Why are we working on this Initiative? 

For years we have pushed for a higher minimum wage on the lowest wage scales as well as proposed paid sick days without discipline. Neither proposal had gotten very far in most contract negotiations. UFCW 21 members successfully fought to pass higher wage laws and paid sick leave in cities across the State–like Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Seatac. The decision was made that 2016 is the right time to push for this change in our state law to help everyone. 

Higher Minimum Wage Raises Entire Economy

The promise of America should be for everyone, not just the wealthy few. Yet over the years our economy has swung more out of balance. While the richest 1% and big corporations made record profits, working families have been left behind. Recent studies have shown that a fair wage for working families benefits the economy. Individuals would have more money to spend, training costs are reduced, employee turnover rates go down and customer service goes up. Supporting workers in their fight for a living wage will ultimately benefit our entire community.

Paid Sick Leave for All – Better Health, Stronger Communities, Improved Workplaces

At least one in four grocery store workers say they have come to work sick in the last year because sick leave was not available when they needed it. Many health care workers who have paid sick days don’t use them because they get disciplined when they do. Grocery store workers and health care workers and others are on the front lines of food and patient safety. It is important to the health of our entire community that these workers have paid sick leave so workers aren’t forced to go to work sick.


The Benefits of Being UFCW 21 Members

Your union (UFCW 21) is the largest private sector union in the state of Washington, with over 46,000 workers in grocery stores and retail, health care, service sector, and other industry jobs. Our collective voice is what gives workers the power to bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. 

Free Film Screening

This Changes Everything, based on the best selling new book by Naomi Klein, explores how the issue of climate change is a question of equity, worker rights and justice as much as it is an environmental issue. 

Seattle, Free Dinner & Film
Thursday, March 3, 6:00pm – 8:30pm
UFCW 21, 5030 1st Ave. S. Seattle

RSVP for your seat kbeifus@ufcw21.org

Call Community Organizer Kristen Beifus at 206-436-6595 to set up a screening near you. 

Help Fight Hunger


In addition to fighting for higher wages, better laws and fair taxes, UFCW 21 and other UFCW locals all across the nation are sponsoring the US Postal Services “Stamp Out Hunger” day. Keep an eye out for a collection bag left by your postal carrier in early May 2016. 

This is the largest single day of
food collection in the nation.

Need Tax Help?

Call 2-1-1 and you can get connected to free tax preparation services near you and pay no fees. For households making under $62,000. You can also go online to do your taxes for free at: United Way www.unitedway.org/myfreetaxes