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Local 400 Members Speak Out on Capitol Hill

Local 400 members and staff pause for a photo on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as part of the first-ever Local 400 Lobby Day on March 23, 2017.

Local 400 Members Descend on Capitol to Urge Opposition to “Right to Work,” Immigration Raids, Trumpcare

Sometimes it seems like members of congress don’t listen to us. They don’t seem to understand the needs of ordinary, hardworking men and women who just want a better life. All too often, it appears that they’re too busy listening to corporate lobbyists and special interest groups instead of the voters who elect them.

On Thursday, March 23, members of Local 400 decided to do something about it. More than 35 members of Local 400 descended on Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives in congress as part of our first-ever lobby day.

While the House was poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 24 million Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, Local 400 activists met with their members of Congress, urging them to oppose this bill (also known as Trumpcare), oppose national “right to work” legislation, and oppose immigration raids on workplaces.

“You are the most important people here today,” Local 400 Mark P. Federici told the member lobbyists before they fanned out across Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives. “You own these buildings. You own these offices. The people you’re meeting with work for us.

“Some people would rather we be quiet,” Federici said. “That’s not what we do. Real people speaking to real power is a uniquely American experience. We deserve to have our voices heard. If it wasn’t for us, nobody would be talking about wages, health care, pensions, and working conditions.”

The members had three central messages for the senators and representatives they met with.

1) Oppose “Right to Work”

Republicans in Congress have introduced national “right to work” legislation that would drive down wages and benefits for working Americans. In the states that have enacted “right to work” laws, including Virginia, earn about $6,000 less per year than those in other states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These laws undermine union members’ bargaining power by letting freeloaders benefit from the dues of their co-workers.

“Sooner or later, everyone needs help,” said Charlene Haley, a shop steward who works at Safeway in Fairfax, Virginia. “And then you have to represent them, even if they haven’t contributed anything. It happens all the time.

“When an employee gets in trouble, I coach them what to say and that’s usually enough so they can keep their job,” she said. “Afterward, they join Local 400 because they understand the value of union membership. But it shouldn’t have to come to that.”

“‘Right to work’ laws are unfair to our members, drain our resources, and push down wages,” Federici said. “That’s why we demand that our representatives join us in leading the fight to defeat this legislation in Congress.”

2) Oppose Trumpcare

While Local 400 members were meeting with their elected officials, the U.S. House was considering the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare), legislation that would undo the Affordable Care Act, take health care coverage away from 24 million Americans, and give massive tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy.

Isoline Pistolessi, a shop steward at Kaiser Permanente’s Falls Church Care Center who just won Kaiser’s National Extraordinary Nurse Award, has seen first-hand the impact of the Affordable Care Act and fears what would happen under Trumpcare. “I’ve seen patients who just got health insurance for the first time; that’s what enabled them to come in and get care. We can’t take that away from them.

“We need to make health care more affordable, not less,” Pistolessi said. “But this bill will send premiums sky-high, especially for older people. That means if we’re ready to retire before we’re eligible for Medicare, we won’t be able to afford health insurance.

“As someone who provides medical care, I’m especially concerned about the impact of this bill on emergency rooms, hospitals and urgent care centers that have to treat everyone who comes in the door, whether they have insurance or not,” she added. “With 24 million people losing insurance, that’s going to be a real problem.”

Taralyn Pike, a shop steward at Giant #748 in Arlington, expressed her concern about Trumpcare’s huge cuts to Medicaid. “My son has had strep throat six times over the last six months,” she said. “He’s on Medicaid. If not for that, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“This bill won’t fix anything that’s a problem with the Affordable Care Act,” said Local 400 Chief of Staff Mike Wilson. “It’s a handout for wealthy people. It transfers wealth from the poor and middle class to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. And it makes insurance a lot more expensive.”

In a number of recent collective bargaining agreements, health care for Local 400 retirees has shifted to the state insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, supported by stipends from employers and federal premium subsidies. But Trumpcare could upend that.  “This bill will make it tougher for older people to afford health care,” Federici said. “We represent lots of retirees. I shudder to think about how they will get their health insurance if this bill passes.”

3) Oppose Immigration Raids

The UFCW has bitter experience with immigration raids. In 2006, a series of raids at six Swift & Company meatpacking plants in the central U.S. resulted in UFCW members—including U.S. citizens and green card-holders—being rounded up, detained and criminalized. The rhetoric and policies of the Trump Administration raise the threat that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could launch a new round of raids at UFCW workplaces, and Local 400 members urged their elected officials to oppose any such efforts.

Isoline Pistolessi offered personal testimony about why raids are so wrong. “My family came to this country from the Dominican Republic when I was six years old,” she said. “My father was going to be assassinated and came here as a political exile. Before we left, our neighbors were raided and it was very scary—I could hear the screaming. No one should ever have to go through that—especially here in the U.S.

“I became a U.S. citizen eight years ago,” she noted. “I had to work really hard to get my citizenship. We need to make it possible for others to follow the same path.”

“You walk into any grocery store in our area and it’s like Ellis Island,” Federici said. “We’re proud of that. Our workplaces—and especially our union—offer opportunity for those who come to America to seek a better life. We don’t want to see any ICE raids. And we want our members of Congress to have our backs if any do occur.”

Following the meetings, the members were energized by the supportive response they received from most of the senators, representatives and staff they met with. Many in attendance said they gained a lot from the experience and they would speak to their sisters and brothers about the key issues before Congress and the importance of activism.

“I would definitely do this again!” said Charlene Haley as the group wrapped up for the day.

“Bad things happen when good people stand back,” Federici said. “But good things happen when we speak out and fight back. That’s a lesson we all gained today.”

Check out photos from the Local 400 Lobby Day on Facebook.

May 11 & 16: Shoppers Contract Meetings

What do you want in your next union contract?

In the coming weeks, a team of your coworkers at Shoppers and Local 400 staff will begin negotiating our next union contract with Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. But first we need to hear from you!

Join us for an upcoming union contract meeting to help us to shape our strategy and prioritize our goals for contract negotiations. Your input 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 your coworkers want most.

Thursday, May 11, 2017
6-8 pm
American Legion Falls Church Post 130
400 N. Oak Street, Falls Church, VA  22046

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
6-8 pm
UFCW Local 400, 1st Floor Meeting Room
8400 Corporate Drive, Landover, MD 20785

Please plan to attend either one of these contract meetings. Both meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You should receive a card in the mail inviting you to the meetings. We need to hear what YOU want to see in your upcoming contract, so make sure to be there!

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our next union contract with Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. Sign up for text alerts and you’ll never miss an update!

To sign up, text Shoppers to 698-329.

Please note: Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

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Lipton Contract Negotiations Proceeding Well

Contract Negotiations Update #3

Mark Your Calendars: Lipton Union Membership Meetings April 25 & 26

After another two days of negotiations with Lipton this week, we are all in high spirits. We still have a few remaining issues to work out, but we have made significant progress on a number of fronts.

We are excited to share a contract proposal with you once this process is complete. At this moment, we are confident you won’t be disappointed with the outcome. While the process has been slow, we have made definite progress. We have scheduled a round of negotiations with Lipton next week, March 22-24, as well as another round in early April.

Please save the date for our next Lipton union membership meetings, April 25 & 26. We’ll announce the times and locations as soon as possible. These meetings are an opportunity to ask questions about the contract negotiations, bring new issues to our attention, and learn more about the union.

As we move forward, we’ll continue to update you every step of the way. In the meantime, please reach out to us any time. Your voice matters. We welcome your input and we’re more than happy to answer your questions. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Your Negotiating Committee
Corey Hicks, Ricky Gregory, Juanita Hart, Paul Garrison, and Philip Surace

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, 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 LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

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Congratulations to ABC Drawing Winner, Tracey Anne Goroza

Active Ballot Club drawing winner, Tracey Anne Goroza (left), poses for a photo with her Local 400 union rep, Johnnie Perry.

Local 400 member Tracey Anne Goroza from Safeway #1300 in McLean, Va. is the most recent winner of our Active Ballot Club drawing! Congratulations, Tracey!

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!

New Law Guarantees Eight Weeks of Paid Leave for New Parents in D.C.

Photo via Pexels

Starting in 2020, D.C. workers can take up to two weeks of paid sick leave, six weeks paid time off to care for sick loved ones and eight weeks of paid time off for new parents

In a landmark victory for workers in the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia has enacted universal paid leave legislation, providing one of the nation’s most progressive packages of family and medical leave benefits.

The Universal Paid Leave Act provides that workers can take up to two weeks of paid leave to treat their own personal health issues and up to six weeks of paid leave to support a loved one who is seriously ill or dying. New parents will have the right to take up to eight weeks of paid leave, making D.C. the first jurisdiction in the country to provide equal parental leave to all mothers and fathers, regardless of whether they are adoptive, foster or birth parents.

It covers anyone who works in D.C.’s private and nonprofit sectors, including part-time workers, tipped workers, and self-employed residents. It is funded by a 0.62 percent payroll tax on employers. The law provides for the payroll tax collection to begin in 2019 and eligible employees will begin receiving the benefit in 2020.

The D.C. Council passed the measure by a 9 to 4 vote in December, and Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to veto the legislation in February. As with all laws in the District, the bill now goes to Congress for review and is expected to become law in early April.

The overwhelmingly popular legislation was supported by about 80% of District residents. Washington, D.C., now joins California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island in mandating paid leave. Only 12 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave from their employer, and unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States does not provide any form of paid time off for new mothers.

“No one should ever have to choose between a paycheck and their family,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Thanks to the D.C. City Council, most workers in the nation’s capital won’t have to make that horrible choice anymore. They will be able to take care of themselves when they’re sick and take care of their loved ones without sacrificing their ability to feed their families and pay the rent or mortgage. We congratulate all nine Council Members who had the courage to do the right thing in the face of fierce business opposition.”

“Passage of the Universal Paid Leave Act demonstrates the power of families who united across the District around the shared need for vital benefits,” said Local 400’s Dyana Forester, who lives in Ward 7, and helped organize a broad-based coalition of more than 200 organizations that led to victory.

The Universal Paid Leave Act was introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and David Grosso (I-At Large). Also voting for it were Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Robert White (D-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large).

We Are Making Progress: Lipton Contract Negotiations Scheduled Through April

Lipton Contract Negotiations Update #2: March 3, 2017

We know that you are eager for an update on where we are with our contract negotiations, and we are pleased to report that real progress is being made. We heard your requests to share more information and that’s why we felt it was important for us to write to you.

Negotiating a first contract is a long and difficult process that takes a lot of time. Any first contract sets the foundation for all future contracts. While we may not get everything we want, we must ensure we have a strong foundation on which to build. This means negotiations are long and challenging. We must carefully examine each and every document. We must take extra care to ensure that the final contract addresses the central concerns of all Lipton employees, especially the issues that brought us together to form a union in the first place.

Last year, we took a vote and decided to form a union together. We knew that Lipton could be a better place to work, but only if we worked together to make it happen. We took surveys and determined our contract priorities together. We’ve only come this far because of the work we’ve done together. Now, we must stick together to see this through.

We are confident about the progress that we’ve made in negotiations so far. When we are done, we will be proud to present a contract proposal to you. Our first contract represents real change in our lives at Lipton. For the first time in the history of this plant, we will all have a say in the terms in conditions of our employment.

As your negotiating committee, it is our duty to work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone.  We take our responsibility very seriously and we carry your concerns with us every time we go to the table. All we ask is that you to keep the faith that change is on the horizon.  We must continue to be supportive of one another and steer clear of negativity and misinformation.

We have negotiations with the company scheduled for the next several weeks and we will continue to keep you updated every step of the way. Thank you for your continued support.

As always, we are here to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.  If you see one of us around, don’t hesitate to talk to us.  We want to hear from you. Your voice matters.

Sincerely,
Your Negotiating Committee
Corey Hicks, Ricky Gregory, Juanita Hart, Paul Garrison, and Philip Surace

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, 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 LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

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Lipton Contract Negotiations Update #2: March 3, 2017

April 29: March for Climate, Justice and Jobs

Learn more about the People’s Climate March at peoplesclimate.org

Join Local 400 for the People’s Climate March on April 29th in Washington, DC

Climate change is already causing major problems. We see it in record high temperatures, increasingly severe weather, and rising sea levels. And unless we take bold action now, it will only get worse, ultimately threatening human survival.

That alone is reason enough to combat the root causes of climate change. Unfortunately, too many elected leaders are ignoring the facts, and in many cases, they’re making matters worse.

At Local 400, we know we can’t ignore the facts. Our members will be directly impacted by effects of climate change. Across the globe, research suggests climate change will hurt working families the most. It will impose the greatest hardships on lower-income and working class communities because they are especially vulnerable to flooding, toxic air and water, and other environmental problems. And it will devastate our economy, causing massive job losses.

That’s why Local 400 is proudly joining many other labor unions in the April 29th People’s Climate March on Washington.

“It’s no accident that the Trump Administration and congressional extremists are undoing policies to fight climate change and undermining workers’ rights at the very same time,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Their agenda is to enrich big business and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working families. They’re putting everyone from Big Oil to union-busting employers first and the interests of hardworking Local 400 members last.

“So we must join together with every individual and organization committed to social, environmental and economic justice to resist Trump’s anti-worker agenda,” Federici said. “That’s what the People’s Climate March is all about. I encourage all our members to join us on April 29th.

The march’s agenda includes support for a $15 minimum wage, a demand for a “just transition” for workers negatively impacted by the shift to clean and renewable energy, and a call for bold investments in communities threatened by climate change.

Join us on April 29th in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March. Learn more at peoplesclimate.org and help the spread the word with these helpful resources.

Why This Local 400 Organizer Protested Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

Local 400 organizer, Michael Sampson (center), poses for a photo with six other protesters after facing trial for disrupting the nomination hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January. (Photo courtesy of Kim Propeack).

For Local 400 Organizer Michael Sampson, it was “an opportunity to speak truth to power.”

Then-Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-Ala.) was testifying at a hearing on his nomination by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. attorney general. But Sessions had a decades-long history of holding racist beliefs and undermining voting rights.

Michael Sampson chants “black lives matter!” as police escort him out of the hearing.

So in a courageous act of civil disobedience, Michael joined with activists from civil rights, immigrant rights and other organizations to attend the hearing and protest Sessions’ nomination.

“Sessions has a history of calling vital organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP un-American,” Michael said. “He once called a black staffer ‘boy.’ That’s why he was rejected by the Senate for a federal judgeship in the 1980s.” In addition, Sessions worked as a prosecutor and senator to undermine voting rights laws, to support efforts to disenfranchise African American citizens, and to deport immigrants. And his record of support for anti-worker laws stands second to none.

Michael attended the hearing “to give voice to communities under attack, especially with the executive orders Trump has been signing,” he explained. “It’s important that we speak up for those who are marginalized by this administration and make clear people will resist.”

When Sessions spoke, Michael and other activists stood up and chanted, “Sessions is a racist!” He and four other protestors were then arrested by the Capitol Hill Police.

“I spent six to seven hours in jail,” he said. “I was sentenced to 32 hours of community service and banned from the Capitol grounds for four months. This was not a vacation day, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. The strength of the people I was arrested with was inspiring. We must stand up to racism, oppression, and attacks on working families.”

Footage from NBC News captures Michael’s arrest after protesting the nomination of Jeff Sessions for U.S. attorney general. (Screenshot via @frankthorp).

Michael, who organizes retail employees in Washington, DC, encourages Local 400 members and unorganized workers to take action. “We need to continue get involved with our union and speak out against the bosses working hand-in-hand with the Trump Administration,” he said. “Many of these CEOs are working with Trump to pass laws like national ‘right to work,’ which is a direct attack on Local 400 members. As attorney general, Sessions is the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and will play a role in implementing the anti-labor laws Trump will be pushing.

“Many people, both inside and outside the labor movement, are being awakened about how we need to come together, speak up and keep resisting,” Michael emphasized. “For the marginalized people we serve and those we want to serve in the future, we’ve all got to be out there making change happen.”

Work at Shoppers? Complete the 2017 Contract Survey

By Illegitimate Barrister (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What do you want in your next union contract?

In the coming weeks, we will begin negotiating our next union contract with Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. Please help us put together our proposals for the upcoming negotiations by completing our 2017 Contract Proposal Survey.

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.

Click here to fill out our online survey. It only takes a few minutes!

Please complete the survey by no later than Noon, Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our next union contract with Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. With so many ways to stay in the loop, don’t get left out of the conversation!

Text “Shoppers” to 698-329 to sign up for text alerts.

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

As always, follow us on FacebookTwitter and visit us right here on the web.

Free Workshop: How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

On April 1, Local 400 will host a FREE workshop on how to apply for U.S. citizenship.

FREE Workshop: How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship
April 1, 2017
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Community Mennonite Church, 110 S High St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

An estimated 8.8 million permanent residents living in the United States are eligible for citizenship, but too many of these hardworking men and women don’t know how to apply or lack the resources to do so.

All across the country, UFCW Locals are leaders in efforts to register new voters and educate workers about their voting rights and the democratic process. We’re proud to help guide those eligible for citizenship through the process so they can become fully participating members in our democracy.

There are many benefits to citizenship. As a U.S. citizen, you can:

  • vote in all local, state and national elections
  • bring your spouse or minor children to the U.S. without delay, or bring adult children and siblings within 3 to 10 years
  • travel freely and visit family abroad
  • apply for certain federal jobs

To be eligible you must:

  • Have been a Legal Permanent Resident for 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen.
  • Have NO problems with the law.
  • Speak, write and read Basic English.

What to bring to the free workshop on April 1:

  • Your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). Drivers License or any other Photo ID
  • Social Security Card
  • List of home addresses for the past 5 years and the dates which you lived at that address
  • List of employer names and addresses for the past 5 years and the dates you worked for that employer
  • Dates you have been outside of the U.S. for the past 5 years, and the countries you traveled to
  • Bring your passport, itineraries, tickets, etc. for all trips made outside of the U.S.
  • Complete names, dates of birth, addresses and A#s (green cards) for all your children, and your most recent tax return
  • A money order for $725.00 payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

If you are applying for citizenship based on marriage, please bring:

  • Marriage certificate and/or divorce decrees, if applicable
  • Evidence that your spouse has been a resident for at least 3 years, such as his/her birth certificate, passport or certificate of naturalization
  • Documents referring to you and your spouse: bank statements, leases, mortgages, IRS tax returns for the last 3 years
  • If you changed your name, the court decree that legally changed your name

If you think you may be eligible for a fee waiver, please bring your most recent tax returns and proof that you are receiving food stamps, public housing assistance, medical assistance, etc.

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