“Sign-Up” Queen Retires

Laurette Ford, a Local 400 shop steward affectionately known as the “sign up queen,” retired after 29 years of service at Giant Food.

Laurette Ford Organized Tenaciously

Laurette Ford is a force of nature. For more than a decade as a Local 400 shop steward, she made it her mission to build her union by signing up as many new members as humanly possible. And she succeeded brilliantly.

On June 30, Laurette retired from Giant after 29 years as a proud Local 400 member—and she did so with the knowledge and satisfaction that she is leaving her union better than she found it.

“I joined our union in 1988,” Laurette said. “I was making $5.25 an hour. When the kids today complain they don’t make enough money, I tell them that—and make the point that because of their union, they can expect to do a whole lot better in the future just like I’ve done. That’s usually enough to pull them in.

“I also explain that I’m here to work with them if they have any issues inside our store,” she added. “And I tell them about how our union protects our jobs and gets us  benefits few workers have anymore, like good health insurance and pensions. That also persuades them to join.”

“Laurette’s a very hard person to say no to,” said Johnie Perry, her Local 400 representative. “I call her the ‘Sign-Up Queen’ because every day, she worked to build our membership. All of us at Local 400 and especially her sisters and brothers at her store will miss her—but I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a happy retirement.”

For the past three years, Laurette worked as an HBC clerk at Giant #2742 in Arlington. About 10 years ago, at another store, she was asked to serve as a shop steward because she had long been speaking up for and helping her fellow associates. Ever since, she developed a reputation not only for organizing but for solving problems in her stores. “I never had any grievances,” she said. “I always tried to work things out with the manager before issues would get to that point.”

An Alexandria resident, Laurette is looking forward to retirement. “I plan to travel a lot,” she said, “and spend more time with my son, my four granddaughters, and my great grandson.” All live nearby in Manassas.

“I’ve really enjoyed being a shop steward and a Local 400 member,” Laurette said. “Our reps do a wonderful job and it’s great to be able to help people. My co-workers were coming up to me before I retired saying, ‘What are we going to do Miss Laurette when you’re gone?’ I’d always reply, ‘You’ll be okay.’ And that’s true—because our union’s in great shape.”

Members Lead Fight for Maryland Earned Sick Leave Bill

A team of Local 400 members played a pivotal role in winning passage of the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

Local 400 Shop Stewards Darlene Butler-Jones and Bill Osborn had never gone to Annapolis to meet with their state legislators, testified before the Maryland General Assembly or spoken out at rallies before. So when they were asked to help lead Local 400’s campaign to pass the Healthy Working Families Act, they were a bit taken aback. But after four months of working full-time to make paid leave a right for all Maryland workers, they were fired up and thrilled with the results.

“I wouldn’t trade it for a dime,” said Darlene, who is a meat cutter at Giant #347 in Largo. Bill, a dairy clerk at Giant #339 in La Plata, echoed her sentiments, saying, “It was a really enriching experience.”

Darlene, Bill and three of their Local 400 brothers and sisters played a pivotal role in winning passage of the legislation by a 29-18 vote in the Senate on March 16 and an 87-53 margin in the House on April 7. The bill would allow full-time and part-time workers at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to five full days per year for full-time workers, benefiting more than 510,000 Marylanders who are currently unable to earn paid sick leave.

Darlene Butler-Jones (left) poses for a photo with a fellow Local 400 member. Darlene was part of a team of union members gathered support for the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

For Darlene, this was personal. “When I started work at Giant 20 years ago, I was widowed with young children,” she said. “I had no sick leave. When my children came home with bumps and bruises or when they got sick, I had to choose between their health and my paycheck. That’s a position no one should ever be placed into.”

Bill Osborn testified about the challenges the single mothers he works with face. “I see them struggle when their kid is sick,” he said. “If they can’t take their kid to day care, how do single parents make it if they don’t have paid leave?

“It’s only fair to have paid leave,” Bill said. “Employers owe it to their employees.”

Darlene and Bill were invigorated by their experience. “It’s been very educational because I’ve learned a lot—I didn’t know how long and tedious it is to get a law passed,” Darlene said. “But it’s rewarding, too—you get to meet people from all walks of life telling their stories. You realize how sick leave and a higher minimum wage means so much and makes people better citizens and more productive workers.

“Today, I can tell my 12-year-old granddaughter, ‘When you go to work, you’ll have paid sick leave, and you can know that your grandmother and her friends were a part of making that happen,’” she said.

“From the very first day, the first rally in Annapolis, we learned the process,” Bill said. “We encouraged our members to support the bill. We canvassed door to door in certain areas. We sat in on a lot of the committee meetings and legislative sessions. Each of us testified and talked about how it affected us.

“It was so satisfying knowing we were there from right at the beginning to all the way when the bill was sent to the governor,” he said. “It was inspiring and it motivated me to be more involved in other bills and to take steps in our union to help others understand the process.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has threatened the veto the Healthy Working Families Act. Darlene, Bill and the three other team members are mobilizing public pressure on Hogan to sign the bill, but if he vetoes it, they’ll fight to get the House and Senate to override his vetoes. If no senator and delegate changes his or her vote, then the override will be successful and the bill will become law.

“If he vetoes it, I’ll be right back doing this all over again,” Darlene said.  “Without a doubt. Call me and I’ll be there.

“Each and every Local 400 member should get out, stand up for themselves, learn about politics and don’t be afraid to talk,” she added. “That’s the real lesson of this experience.”

Congratulations to ABC Drawing Winner, Amadou Diallo

Active Ballot Club drawing winner, Amadou Diallo (left), poses for a photo with his Local 400 union rep, Johnnie Perry.

Local 400 member Amadou Diallo from Giant #780 in Falls Church, Va. is the most recent winner of our Active Ballot Club drawing! Congratulations, Amadou!

All across the country, corporations and the ultra-wealthy are funneling unprecedented amounts of money into our political system. Their goal is to create an unbalanced and unfair economy where wages are as low as possible and profits replace respect for the workers that created them.

The UFCW Active Ballot Club (ABC) seeks to level the playing field. By bringing together thousands of workers, our political concerns can be amplified to a decibel that is impossible to ignore. ABC supports pro-worker candidates and incumbents from all political parties and is the prominent political action committee dedicated to the interests of UFCW members nationwide.

By joining ABC, active members are automatically entered to win a monthly drawing. Learn more about the UFCW Active Ballot Club and talk to your rep about signing up today!

Montgomery County Members Now Eligible for Paid Sick Days

Thanks to the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2015, a new law championed by UFCW Local 400 and our allies, if you work in Montgomery County, you can take paid time off if you or a loved one get sick.

Starting October 30, 2016, as a UFCW Local 400 member working at Giant or Safeway in Montgomery County, you earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours you work, and you can earn up to 56 hours a year.

You can use your paid sick leave to:

  • stay home when you get sick
  • go to a doctor’s appointment
  • take care of a sick family member
  • get services for domestic violence or sexual abuse

At UFCW Local 400, we fight hard to pass innovative laws like this one, so our union members and their families can focus on getting better, not just getting by.

If you have questions about this new law or if you have been denied sick leave, contact your union representative immediately or call our headquarters toll-free at 1-800-638-0800 (Mon – Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).

How To Report Scheduling Violations at Giant & Safeway

Report scheduling violations at

Report scheduling violations at

Is management violating your union contract?

We all know how hectic life can get. Between work, family, and other obligations, your time is precious. That’s why our union contracts with Giant & Safeway outline strict rules for managers who assign schedules at your store.

Unfortunately, all too often, managers ignore these rules and fail to post schedules on time or make changes to your shift without informing you properly. This not only makes it harder for you to plan your week, but it is a serious violation of our union contract.

Examples of scheduling violations:

Schedule is posted any time after 1:00 pm on Friday.

Schedule is incomplete when posted.

Schedule is changed without individually notifying employees.

Manager posts a sign telling employees to check schedule for changes instead of informing each employee individually.

Schedule does not list employees in order of seniority.

Report Scheduling Violations at Giant & Safeway

You can help us to ensure managers post schedules properly by reporting scheduling violations using the form below. We will file grievances to make sure every reported violation is addressed so you know your schedule and you can get back to what matters: planning your life on your time.




New Contracts Ratified With Safeway & Giant


Local 400 members working at Safeway and Giant stores throughout the region voted to ratify new union contracts today.

We didn’t get everything we wanted, but both contracts include several key improvements over our previous collective bargaining agreements, including:

  • Higher starting pay
  • More frequent wage progression increases
  • Wage progression increases by months of service, instead of by number of hours worked
  • No cost increases to employee health insurance
  • A plan to secure our pension

For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with us, but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, we stuck together as Safeway and Giant union members. Thanks to your support in the stores, we successfully rejected proposals by both companies to decrease our pay, increase our costs, or make us work longer for less.

Without your support, we would not have been able to defeat any of the company’s proposals or win any of our new gains. By participating in store actions, by engaging your customers and your community, you made it clear to both companies that we would not accept a bad contract.

We’re proud of the gains we’ve made, but we know it’s not everything we deserve. In order to get a strong contract, we must have a strong union. Those of us that sit across the table from Giant and Safeway negotiators know firsthand that it is our power in the stores, not the arguments we make in negotiations, that makes progress possible. If we want to continue to make gains in our contracts, we must continue to build our strength as a union.

Let’s continue to stand together, let’s continue to build our union, and let’s keep up the fight every day to get what we deserve.

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Stronger Together: Giant Reaches Tentative Agreement

Be There to Vote November 16

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with Giant that we’re prepared to recommend for ratification. We reached a similar tentative agreement with Safeway last week, and we’re eager to present both proposals to you at our contract meeting on Wednesday, November 16. As a member of Local 400, it is critical that you make every effort to attend your meeting.

Giant & Safeway Contract Meetings
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
8:00 a.m. Safeway members | 1:00 p.m. Giant members
D.C. Armory, 2001 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003

After marathon negotiations, which lasted through the night, we were able to stand strong thanks to your support. In the end, we were able to settle on what we believe is a fair agreement.

Standing together as Safeway and Giant workers, keeping all of our options on the table going into the holidays, and being prepared to do whatever it takes, got us an agreement that, while not perfect, we can be proud of.

We stood together. We successfully prevented takebacks. The proposals we will present are the strongest offers we have seen, and are far better than where we started. We are proud to unanimously recommend ratification on both agreements.

Once again, thank you for all your support. Every bit of progress we made in negotiations is thanks to your actions in the stores. By sticking together as Giant and Safeway workers, by participating in the actions together, by engaging our customers and our communities, we made it clear to both companies that we would not accept a bad contract. Thank you for all your hard work. We’ll see you at the DC Armory!


Your Bargaining Advisory Team

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Strike Preparations Begin at Giant

Tentative Agreement Reached with Safeway, But Giant Refuses to Budge

We have reached a tentative agreement with Safeway that we are prepared to recommend for ratification at our contract meeting on November 16.

After more than a month of negotiations, after extending our current union contract, and with the holiday season rapidly approaching, Giant continues to refuse to agree to a similar fair deal. Negotiating with each company separately has been a challenge, but we will remain united as Giant and Safeway workers to get what we deserve from Giant.

Giant is still insisting on huge takebacks, including undermining our retirement security, taking away or capping Sunday premium pay for current members, and making Sunday part of the regular work week. We will not give these things away. It is our hard work that has made Giant the number one grocery store in the region. We deserve to share in the success we have built.

Our current contract extension expires on November 18, leaving all options on the table leading into the holidays. We need to act now, before our contract meetings on the 16th, to show Giant that we are a united union family. As both Giant and Safeway union workers, we must show Giant that we are willing to do whatever it takes to get a fair deal for all of us. As always, it remains our goal to get the fair contract we deserve, not to go on strike or disrupt business. We remain committed to negotiating in good faith until we get a fair deal.

Starting today, we will begin preparations in the event we need to strike. We will share information you will need to prepare yourself financially, as well as picket schedules and other materials, so we will be ready if we need to be. Safeway workers will stand with Giant workers in the event that we need to strike at Giant. We will remain in this together.

Union reps will continue to be in all stores, both Safeway and Giant, and it is important for everyone from both companies to tell your store managers now that you plan to attend the November 16th contract meeting. Everyone is allowed to attend and you should contact your rep immediately if you are denied time off. We are ready to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract and we will continue to stand together and fight until we all get the agreement we deserve.

Sign Up for Text Alerts: Text FELRA to 698-329

As we negotiate our next union contract with Giant and Safeway, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text FELRA to 698-329. 

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

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November 16: Giant & Safeway Union Contract Meetings

No Deal Reached Yet, Negotiations Continue

On November 16, we will hold meetings for all Giant and Safeway union members at the D.C. Armory in Washington. As a member of Local 400, it is critical that you make every effort to attend this meeting. Request time off now – you can’t be denied time off to attend this union meeting. If your manager denies your request for time off, call your union rep immediately.

November 16, 2016
8:00 am – Safeway Union Contract Meeting
1:00 pm – Giant Union Contract Meeting 

D.C. Armory
2001 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Free Parking Available in Lot #3 and Lot #8
Short walk from the Stadium Armory Metro Station

Please note: unlike last time, we will be holding our meeting with Safeway members in the morning and Giant members in the afternoon.

We have scheduled negotiations with both Giant and Safeway next week. We hope to reach a tentative agreement to present to you for a vote on November 16, but we will not be pressured into a bad deal. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to get the fair contract we have earned.

In order to keep all options on the table, we have given notice to both companies, as required under our current contract extension, to cancel the extension in 14 days. This means the current contract will remain in effect for the next 14 days and will expire on November 18. In the meantime, we will continue making every effort to reach a fair deal with Giant and Safeway.

Union staff will be in stores every day between now and November 16. It is important that we continue to stick together and everyone participates in store actions. It is our strength and solidarity that will get us a fair contract.

Sign Up for Text Alerts: Text FELRA to 698-329

As we negotiate our next union contract with Giant and Safeway, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text FELRA to 698-329. 

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

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Progress Remains Slow

Contract Extended – All Current Benefits & Protections Still Apply

Contract Negotiations Update #5

Today we agreed to extend our current collective bargaining agreements with both Giant and Safeway on a day-to-day basis. This means that all of the benefits and protections of our current agreements remain in effect as we continue bargaining. We can end this extension, if necessary, by giving 14 days’ notice to either or both companies.

We agreed to these extensions because we have not yet reached a tentative agreement with either company. We have made some progress over the last week, but we still have a lot of work to do before we can reach agreements that we could recommend for ratification. It remains our goal to get the best agreement possible, and we will not be rushed into a bad deal.

The activity and support in the stores and from our customers is being felt by the companies. The progress we have made is a result of both companies recognizing that we are willing to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract. We will not slow down now.

We resume negotiations on Monday and we know we can count on you to have our backs every day. We will continue actions in the stores and building our customer support, and we need everyone to continue to participate and keep up the good work. We will not stop until we get a fair deal for all of us.

Sign Up for Text Alerts: Text FELRA to 698-329

As we negotiate our next union contract with Giant and Safeway, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text FELRA to 698-329. 

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

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