Workplace News


Poll: Should Lipton Lower Vacation Limits?


Do you work at Lipton? Please take a moment to complete our quick poll below!

Currently, Lipton has a limit on the number of employees within a job classification who may take vacation at the same time. Management is proposing to lower the current limits as follows:

Operations Technicians – Management would like to lower the current maximum of five people allowed off at once down to three people.
– 2 Perfecta Maximum
– 2 EOL Max
– 1 PP/MM Maximum
– 1 Food Service
– 1 Gamma
– 1 Specialty Tea

Maintenance Technicians – Management would like to lower the current maximum of three people allowed off at once down to two people.
– 1 Perfecta
– 1 EOL
– 1 Food Service
– 1 Gamma
– 1 Specialty Tea

Should management lower the limit? Take our poll below to cast your vote by 3:00 p.m., Friday, May 17th.

We will share the results with Lipton management to make sure our voices are heard.

The poll is now closed. Thank you to everyone who took time to respond!

Bernie Sanders Workers Become First Presidential Campaign Staff to Ratify Union Contract

Bernie 2020 staff union

Jonathan Williams, Communications Director, UFCW Local 400,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 8, 2019) — In a groundbreaking development, Bernie Sanders campaign workers — now proud UFCW Local 400 union members — ratified the first collective bargaining agreement by a presidential campaign.

In taking this historic step forward, they are also revolutionizing the nature of presidential campaign work, which has traditionally been known for its 24/7 demands and difficult working conditions.

Their contract sets new standards for their field, doing so in a way that will dramatically improve their quality of life without hindering the Bernie 2020 campaign’s ability to compete for votes and delegates.

“I am so proud to be taking this historical step of becoming the first-ever presidential campaign with a unionized workforce,” said Krista Harness, a Senior Development Manager who served on the bargaining committee that led negotiations on behalf of the union. “I know that our newly ratified union contract will make our workplace more equitable, fair and resilient, and our overall campaign will be much stronger with the protections we were able to win for the workers.”

“What this union pulled off will change the way presidential campaigns are run in this country,” said Bianca Márquez, a member of the campaign’s digital team. “Representing a talented and diverse group of campaign staffers at the bargaining table and in a contract was no easy task, but we came together in support of one common goal: achieving the best contract possible and setting a new standard for the industry. As a member of the bargaining committee for the Bernie 2020 staff union, I could not be more proud of what we collectively accomplished.”

“Political campaigns are cause-driven and because there is always more work that can be done, staffers are typically worked to the bone,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. Even political work must be subject to minimum standards. I congratulate our members on the Bernie Sanders campaign for making their own revolution.”

For many employees, this was their first experience forming a union at their workplace.

“You feel more at ease knowing you’re backed up by the strength of the union,” explained Reg Ledesma, an intern at the DC campaign headquarters who served on the bargaining committee. “This has been the first union I’ve been a part of, and I’m proud to be part of a historical moment!”

Working long hours is not unusual in the hectic campaign environment, and all too often employees are disincentivized from taking time off even when they need it. To address this challenge, the collective bargaining agreement establishes a clear but flexible workweek, as well as days off each month where the employee is not on call. It provides breaks throughout the day, including meal breaks, as well as mandatory time off between particularly long shifts. The negotiated agreement also doubled paid vacation time from 10 to 20 days per year.

The contract sets clearly defined wages and benefits along with the opportunity for employees to earn performance raises. Field organizers, who will eventually constitute the vast majority of campaign staff, will have 100 percent of their health care premiums paid for by the campaign. And interns in the national headquarters will make a minimum of $20/hour along with full medical benefits. All hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay. In addition to health insurance, the contract provides broad coverage for mental health care services.

And in keeping with Senator Sanders’ emphasis on fighting income inequality, the contract puts a cap on management pay proportional to union employees’ salaries. Pay transparency provisions and a pay equity review process are also established for employees who feel they are being unfairly underpaid.

The first-of-its-kind agreement also includes robust anti-discrimination provisions as well as comprehensive protections for immigrant and transgender workers. And it establishes employee-led Labor Committees to address ongoing working conditions and other issues with management.

All of this was made possible due to the adoption of fair labor practices by the Bernie 2020 campaign. On February 26th, the campaign agreed to remain neutral in the organizing campaign and to recognize Local 400 if a majority of workers signed union cards. This milestone was reached on March 15th, making it the first presidential campaign staff in history to unionize. Contract negotiations commenced shortly afterward, led by a committee of staff from the campaign. Negotiations were productive and the collective bargaining agreement was ratified on May 2nd by a majority vote of union employees.

“This was a model experience in every respect,” Federici said. “First, Senator Sanders walked the talk on unions, agreeing to a truly democratic process — neutrality and card check — that every responsible employer should embrace. And then, the campaign engaged in good faith bargaining, recognizing that it’s in their own interest to have well-treated employees empowered to operate at the top of their games. I urge every other campaign to follow their lead.”

John Marzabadi, who works on the advance team and served on the bargaining committee, echoed the call for other campaigns to organize. “I’m very proud of what our bargaining committee has accomplished to improve the working conditions and overall welfare of our campaign staff. In my view, the most worker-friendly campaign in the race ought to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Our contract sets the standard for others to not only follow, but to expand upon and I encourage fellow campaign workers to organize and collectively bargain for their rights.”


The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Member Wins Grievance, Receives Back Pay

Mary Stephens (left) received a check for more than $12,000 in back pay after settling a grievance with Health Care Services Group (HCSG).

For 29 years, Mary Stephens had worked at the Parkersburg Care Center (now owned by Genesis Healthcare, Inc.) in Parkersburg, W.Va., the first 15 years in dietary and the last 14 years in laundry. By all accounts, she was a model employee and Local 400 member.

Two years ago, a subcontracting firm, Health Care Services Group (HCSG), was hired to run the laundry.  Up until this point, residents’ clothes, sheets, towels and other personal items had been washed with two workers operating the laundry. But HCSG—looking at the bottom line, rather than the actual workload—got the brilliant idea that laundry only required one worker. This person was expected to do the work of two people all by herself.

That’s the impossible position Mary Stephens found herself in. “They cut us down to one and it should have been two,” she said. “They haven’t yet proven it can be done.”

Mary worked as hard as she could but kept falling behind. She had been set up to fail. In October 2018, she was terminated. Adding insult to injury, management did not follow proper discipline procedures. Instead, they just kept a diary of what Mary didn’t get finished, because the workforce had been cut by 50 percent.  “I didn’t like the way they treated me,” she said. That was an understatement.  After she was let go, the members at the facility united together and documented what was taking place in the laundry.  They proved that the laundry job was not able to be done by one person in an eight-hour shift.

Mary and her union immediately filed a grievance. When the case was scheduled for arbitration, HCSG reached out to the Union one more time and we reached an agreement. Under the agreement, Mary received a check for over $12,000.00. “My union did what they could and they did their job,” she said.  Mary has decided not to return to work and start her retirement.

In the meantime, the subcontractor running the laundry operation has been bringing in extra people to help, suddenly realizing the job is too big for one person. Unfortunately, this “epiphany” was too late for Mary. But her union ensured that justice was served.

Local 400 Stands in Solidarity with Striking Stop & Shop Workers

This afternoon, 31,000 UFCW members working at Stop & Shop stores in New England walked off the job. Stop & Shop—like Giant Food in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia—is a banner of the Dutch-Belgian conglomerate Ahold Delhaize.

Stop & Shop workers need your help to win a fair contract. Sign the petition to Stop & Shop management to let them know you stand with UFCW members as they fight for a fair contract.

The workers, represented by UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, have been bargaining with the company since January and remain miles apart. Ahold Delhaize has refused to back down from demands for drastic cuts in employee health coverage and take-home pay.

“This company has shown us that they do not respect you,” said Local 1445 President Jeff Bollen in a message to members. “They do not respect the hard work that you do every day, and we’re done talking. Today, we’re going to take action.”

Local 400 stands in unbreakable solidarity with our sisters and brothers in New England.  We have got their backs and we stand ready to assist and support them in every way possible. An attack on one of us is an attack on all.

The outcome of this strike matters all the more because our own bargaining with Ahold Delhaize (and Safeway) starts this fall and we have every reason to believe the company will go after our pay and benefits, too, unless we help our fellow UFCW Locals win a decisive victory.

As Local 1445 noted, “Ahold Delhaize saw over $2 billion in profit last year and got a US tax cut of $225 million in 2017. The company is claiming the proposed cuts are necessary but is unlawfully refusing to provide financial information to verify that claim. While Stop & Shop continues to propose drastically cutting worker benefits, Ahold shareholders voted on April 10 to give themselves an 11.1 percent raise in dividends over last year. The expected payout will be on April 25 for around $880 million.”

We cannot and we will not let this immoral greed stand—not in New England and not in the DMV. Add your name to the petition to Stop & Shop management and let them know you stand with UFCW members fighting for a fair contract.

Local 400 members working at Giant should check back regularly for updates on the Stop & Shop strike, what we are doing to support it, and our own preparations for this Fall’s bargaining.

Shoppers Plans to Close All 30 Pharmacies

A Shoppers store front in Herndon, Va.

A joint statement from UFCW Local 400 & UFCW Local 27

Today, UNFI, the parent company of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, announced plans to close all 30 Shoppers pharmacies.

Here is what we know:

  • The pharmacies will close on a staggering basis beginning on April 23, 2019.
  • Pharmacy techs at these locations will be informed before their pharmacy closes and will be placed on the stores schedule in a clerk position with no effect to their rate of pay or status (full-time or part-time).
  • CVS purchased the pharmacy scripts and inventory from 24 stores and Walgreens has purchased the scripts and inventory from six stores.
  • The company continues to insist that there are “no immediate plans” to close any Shoppers stores.

This is a frustrating situation for everyone involved, and the lack of information has only made things worse. We are continuing to push UNFI to provide us with more information. We have made it clear that we expect UNFI to respect the terms of our collective bargaining agreement in the event that stores are sold.

In the meantime, we will continue to enforce your rights under your contract and we are committed to sharing any new information with you as we have it.

Sign Up for Text Alerts

We will use text message alerts to keep you updated as things move forward. If you have not already, please sign up for text alerts by texting SHOPPERS to 698-329.

* Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698329.

Meeting with UNFI CEO Provides No New Information

A Shoppers store front in Herndon, Va.

A Joint Statement from UFCW Local 400 & UFCW Local 27

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, we met with United Natural Foods (UNFI) CEO Steven Spinner with other UFCW leaders who represent workers at UNFI owned and operated retail employers. Unfortunately, Mr. Spinner provided no new information about UNFI’s plans for the Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores beyond what has already been reported to you by us and in the news media.

We share your frustration with the lack of information from UNFI about their plans for your stores. It is the employees that have made Shoppers into a successful company and keep customers coming back. We expect UNFI to acknowledge the value of your hard work and commitment when the stores are sold to another operator.

We understand that this has been a difficult situation and the lack of concrete information from the company is not helping. We will continue to demand information from UNFI to ensure that they are complying with our collective bargaining agreements as they discuss a planned sale with potential buyers. In the meantime, we will continue to enforce your rights under your contract and we are committed to sharing any new information with you as we have it.

2019 Giant Food & Safeway Union Contract Survey

What do you want in your next union contract?

In the coming weeks, we will begin negotiating our next union contracts with Safeway and Giant Food. Please help us put together our proposals for the upcoming negotiations by completing the survey below.

Your responses will help us put together proposals well in advance of the actual contract negotiations, and it will help us fight hardest for the things you and other members want most.

Please complete the survey by no later than Friday, April 26, 2019. This will give the negotiators time to compile your information before the first proposal meeting.

*THE SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their input!*

A Message from President Federici to All Shoppers Members

A Shoppers store front in Herndon, Va.

A message from Mark Federici, President, UFCW Local 400:

As we all know, for some time now the future of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy has been in question. For nearly two years, Shoppers’ parent companies (first Supervalu and now UNFI) have cryptically disclosed plans to completely leave the retail business to focus on wholesale distribution. The implication has always been clear – the company plans to sell off all remaining Shoppers locations.

Long before Shoppers was owned by Supervalu, and certainly long before United Natural Foods (UNFI) took any interest in our stores, our members were there day in and day out keeping this company successful.

Throughout this time, our members – the store associates who are the backbone of the Shoppers stores – have been left to wonder what the future will hold. Our repeated requests for information have been met with silence from the company.

Well enough is enough. Just because some far-off corporate office decides to leave the retail business doesn’t mean our members can be cast aside and forgotten.

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the CEO of UNFI demanding answers. The full text of the letter is below.

We are tired of this company communicating to investors and news reporters while leaving us in the dark. It’s long past time for us to have a seat at the table. You deserve to know how your future livelihoods will be affected. More importantly, you deserve respect. You have earned the opportunity to be heard. You have dedicated your careers to this company and we will not stand idly by and allow your employer to ignore you.

In the coming weeks, we expect UNFI to provide us with the information we have requested. If they do not, we will take appropriate action, including actions we will be asking you to participate in, both in your stores and in the communities you serve. UNFI and whichever company they choose to sell to need to respect you and respect your union contract. That means a seat at the table and the information we need and deserve as they look for buyers.

Please be on the lookout for updates and be ready to join your coworkers to take action if necessary.

Sign Up for Text Alerts

We will use text message alerts to keep you updated as things move forward. If you have not already, please sign up for text alerts by texting SHOPPERS to 698-329.

* Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698329.

My letter to UNFI CEO Steven Spinner:

Dear Mr. Spinner:

Over the past days there have been multiple media reports that UNFI has sold Shoppers stores within Local 400’s jurisdiction. UNFI has nevertheless failed to provide Local 400 with any material information regarding these reported sales or the consequences the sales will have on Local 400 members.

Local 400 demands that you provide us with information about these reported store sales immediately. Local 400 will not hesitate to exercise its rights under our previous arbitral award and other laws if we are not promptly  provided  with information sufficient to advise our members. We have learned that the identities of the purchasers have been known to UNFI for some time now.

Our members have been the backbone of Shoppers stores for far longer than UNFI has had any interest in those stores and they deserve far more respect than UNFI has shown them in this process. They deserve to know what the future holds. On behalf of the hardworking people who continue to ensure that Shoppers remains a successful business, we expect an immediate response to this letter.


Mark P. Federici

President and International Vice President

President Mark Federici's letter to UNFI CEO Steven Spinner, March 21, 2019.

Giant Food Member Wins Grievance, Keeps Job, Gets Back Pay

Loan Cao

Loan Cao, a 29-year member of Local 400 from Giant Food, holds up her backpay check for a photo with union representatives Bertha McKiver (left) and Neil Jacobs (right).

For Loan Cao, it was seven-week ordeal, but thanks to her union, it was one with a happy ending.

A 29-year Local 400 member who works in the front end at Giant Food #795 in Springfield, Va., Loan was suddenly fired on December 11, 2018. She was alleged to have done something wrong when she was closing the store one night, but another employee who did the exact same thing received no discipline whatsoever.

“I felt really sad, like they don’t care about me at all,” Loan said. “I try to do the job right. I know I made a mistake but it seemed like they used it as an excuse to tell me they don’t want me anymore.”

“It seems like Giant’s been trying to drive people out who have seniority because they make higher salaries,” she said. “I hope I’m wrong about that, but they don’t seem to appreciate people who’ve worked for them for so many years.”

Fair treatment is a fundamental right under your union contract. As the saying goes, “with a union contract, your boss can’t fire you without just cause. But without a union, your boss can fire you just ’cause.” Management is not allowed to discipline one worker more harshly than another employee who is disciplined for the same thing.

With the help of her Local 400 representative, Bertha McKiver, Loan immediately filed a grievance, charging unfair treatment. The process was delayed by the Christmas and New Year holidays, but Local 400 persisted. Giant tried to fight the grievance, but when it became clear it would go to arbitration, the company settled. It agreed to give Loan her job back and wrote her a back pay check for $6,800. She started work again on February 2, 2019.

“Oh my God, it felt like heaven,” Loan said of learning she had won her grievance. “I never expected this. What my union did for me, I’m so happy.

“When Giant told me I was fired, I was numb and couldn’t cry,” she said. “But when Bertha called me to say I got my job back, this time I cried and cried. I never expected my union to help me so well. I’m so very thankful.”

Kroger Shop Steward Speaks at Canadian UFCW Conference

Courtney Meadows

Courtney Meadows, a Kroger shop steward in West Virginia, spoke to hundreds of attendees at the UFCW Local 401 Members’ Conference in Alberta.

Inspires Sisters and Brothers to Mobilize Members

“There’s an activist in everybody. At some point, you’re going to get pissed off about something enough that you’ll want to make a change. It’s in each and every member. It just needs to be hit on.”

That’s the message Kroger shop steward Courtney Meadows brought to her sisters and brothers in Calgary, Alberta, where she was a featured speaker at UFCW Local 401’s 2019 Members’ Conference, held from March 14-17.

Courtney was invited after Local 401 members heard her speak at the 2018 Labor Notes Conference panel on “Contract Campaigns That Win.” They were so excited by her discussion about Local 400’s innovative tactics and member mobilization efforts around the 2017 Kroger West Virginia contract campaign, they told her they’d like to have her join them this year when they have their own bargaining with Safeway coming up.

“They wanted me to talk about member engagement and also about ‘right to work,’ because some politicians in Alberta want to try to pass similar legislation there,” Courtney said. “I told them about my family history and how I’m a third-generation union member. I explained how when I was first hired at Kroger, I was a model employee, but I got pissed off at how management mistreated my co-workers and me. And I was even more pissed when I learned that Kroger spent $2.6 billion to buy Harris Teeter, and how Kroger’s CEO got a $2 million raise while Harris Teeter employees need food stamps to feed their families. That’s what got me on the Contract Action Team.”

Courtney talked at length about how Local 400 members mobilized for the 2017 Kroger bargaining which resulted in the best contract for Kroger employees nationally that year, how they’ve fought back against “right to work” in West Virginia, and what it’s like to sign up Kroger members in “right to work” Virginia.

“It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had,” Courtney said. “They had different workshops set up for member engagement on subjects like positive action, workers’ rights, empowering women and supporting LGBTQ members. I learned about the history of labor activism in Alberta, including all the strikes they’ve had. We even went door knocking on behalf of UFCW-backed candidates in their upcoming provincial elections.

“And the coolest part was this: They realize they need to get their younger members more engaged,” she said. “They’d been working on this conference for 18 months. They sent out applications. More than 1,000 Local 401 members applied for the 300 available seats. That was really impressive.”

Courtney was deeply moved by the response she received to her talk and her presence. “The whole time I was there, people shook my hand, said, ‘you’re such an inspiration’ or ‘you’re a bad ass.’ They would say they want to be like me and I told them, ‘you already are!’ Everyone’s got the activist in them—it’s just waiting to be tapped.”

With 32,000 members, UFCW Local 401 is nearly as big as Local 400, and due to the size of the province of Alberta, it covers an even larger geographic area. It is currently focused on upcoming bargaining with Safeway, though in Canada, it’s a different corporate entity than in the U.S., because in 2013, Canadian Safeway assets were was purchased by Sobeys, Inc.

Courtney, a resident of  Fairdale, W.Va., who works as lead e-commerce clerk at Kroger #805 in Beckley, has been a Local 400 member for eight years. Local 400 Representative Bertha McKiver accompanied her to the conference.