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District’s Largest Retail Union Condemns Prosecution of Inauguration Protesters

On Tuesday, January 16th, the executive board of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 passed an official resolution condemning the “arbitrary, overbroad detention and arrest of hundreds of citizens exercising their right to free speech” during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017.

During the presidential inauguration last year, more than 200 individuals – including journalists, street medics, legal observers, as well as demonstrators – were surrounded and trapped by police, arrested and charged with the same six felonies and two misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of up to 60 years in prison.

Over the course of the year, defendants have slogged through months of court dates and legal procedures. In the opening trial against the first group of defendants, which included an independent journalist covering the events that day, prosecutors admitted to having no evidence against any of the individuals but proceeded with the case anyway. A jury found all six defendants not guilty on all charges last month.

Yesterday, prosecutors announced plans to dismiss all charges against 129 defendants, but 59 people are still being charged with a number of felonies and face up to 70 years in prison.

“Several of our members were participating in protests that day, and it is only a matter of happenstance that they were not rounded up, thrown in jail and charged with felonies along with hundreds of others – simply for being there,” explained UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “While we are pleased that the Justice Department has chosen to dismiss charges against 159 of the defendants, the truth is, they should never have been arrested in the first place. Rounding up people and forcing them through months of legal headaches simply for being in the proximity of a protest is a clear violation of every citizen’s right to free speech.”

The resolution acknowledges the central role that protest and freedom of speech has held throughout the history of the labor movement. It further states that Local 400 “stands in solidarity with all protesters who face excessive and undue criminal charges.”

The resolution was approved by a majority vote of the executive board at a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. Local 400 has more than 3,500 members who live and work in Washington, D.C., where the protests occurred.

The full text of the resolution is below:

UFCW Local 400 Resolution in Support of Inauguration Protesters

WHEREAS, more than 3,500 United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 members live and work in the District of Columbia;

WHEREAS, we are proud that our membership reflects the broad diversity of political ideas and opinions of the nation’s capital and our great nation;

WHEREAS, the United States was founded by the courageous actions of political dissidents;

WHEREAS, the right to free speech and free expression of ideas is enshrined in the first amendment of the Constitution;

WHEREAS, the darkest periods of American history are characterized by the persecution of political dissidents by the wealthy and powerful;

WHEREAS, the labor movement was formed by workers bravely exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech;

WHEREAS, members of UFCW Local 400 at times participate in protests and other exercises of their right to free speech, including at the presidential inauguration;

WHEREAS, on January 20, 2017, when tens of thousands of citizens gathered in our nation’s capital to exercise their first amendment right to protest the inauguration of President Trump, a crowd of more than 200 individuals – including journalists, medics, and bystanders – were rounded up without warning and mass arrested without individuated probable cause;

WHEREAS, 190 of those arrested are now facing outrageously inappropriate and draconian multiple felony charges and up to 61 years of prison time for exercising their first amendment rights, and such reprisals constitute a dangerous chilling effect on the right to speak out and all forms of free expression;

THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that UFCW Local 400 wholeheartedly condemns the arbitrary, overbroad detention and arrest of hundreds of citizens exercising their right to free speech while protesting the Presidential Inauguration;

LET IT FURTHER BE RESOLVED, that UFCW Local 400 stands in solidarity with all protesters who face excessive and undue criminal charges, and calls for the dismissal and/or reduction of all charges brought against them by federal prosecutors.

Maryland Paid Sick Days Law Takes Effect February 11

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

In a resounding victory for Maryland’s working families, the House of Delegates and Senate voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Healthy Working Families Act, making it the law of the state.

As a result, workers at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to five full days per year. Workers will begin accruing sick leave on Sunday, February 11, once the new law takes effect 30 days after the veto override vote.

“This is a huge win for Local 400 and all Maryland working families,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “No one should have to choose between a paycheck and their health or the well-being of a family member. Thanks to every state senator and delegate who voted to override the governor’s misguided veto, paid leave is now a right in Maryland.

“Local 400 members and activists—including five who lobbied full-time—deserve the lion’s share of credit for this great advance in workers’ rights, along with our allies in the Working Matters coalition.” Federici said.  “This shows the power of collective action to make a profound difference in the lives of hardworking Marylanders.”

The House voted to override the veto by an 88-52 margin on January 11th and the Senate voted 30-17 the following day. The Healthy Working Families Act had been passed by the General Assembly in the 2017 legislative session, but Hogan vetoed the bill after the legislative session ended last year. The override votes were among the very first acts of the 2018 legislative session.

In addition to guaranteeing paid time and providing greater income stability for Maryland workers, the new law will:

  • Enable the thousands of working Marylanders who are underemployed and piecing together part-time jobs to receive earned sick days.
  • Allow victims of domestic violence or abuse to earn “safe time” in order to obtain medical attention, victims services, counseling, relocation or legal services that will keep their families safe.
  • Support healthy workplace policies for Maryland businesses and enable employers with existing earned sick leave standards to maintain those policies as long as they comply with the minimum regulations of the law.

This advance follows Local 400’s success in winning paid leave laws in Montgomery County, Md., and the District of Columbia.

The Next Battle: $15 Minimum Wage

The next big battle for Local 400, the Maryland labor movement and our community allies is to pass a $15/hour statewide minimum wage bill in this current legislative session. As with paid leave, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. have passed $15/hour minimum wage laws, and the goal is to extend this needed rise in living standards to all Marylanders.

“We’ve seen in recent negotiations how higher minimum wage laws have helped us gain contracts with needed pay increases,” Federici said. “Putting the entire state of Maryland on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage will further increase our power at the bargaining table in future negotiations.

“In a high-cost state like Maryland, an hourly wage below $15 just isn’t good enough,” he added. “Anyone who works full-time should be able to earn a living you can raise a family on. That’s why I urge our Maryland members to contact their state delegates and senators and demand that they pass a $15 statewide minimum wage this year.”

To contact your Maryland state legislators, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free number at (800) 492-7122.

Local 400 Endorses Donna Edwards for Prince George’s County Executive

Local 400 joins three other local labor unions to endorse former Congresswoman

Today, a coalition of four labor unions jointly announced their endorsement of former Congresswoman Donna Edwards for Prince George’s County Executive, including UFCW Local 400, UNITE HERE Local 25, LIUNA Mid-Atlantic, and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO. Together, the organizations represent more than 10,000 workers in the county.

“We are proud to once again lend our support to Donna Edwards,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “Donna stays true to her progressive values, even when the odds are stacked against her. These days, Donna is just the kind of champion we need. In Congress, she consistently fought to bring better opportunities to working families. But beyond fighting for strong policies, Donna understands the importance of bringing every aspect of the community together to get things done. As executive, we know she will bring much-needed opportunities to the hardworking men and women of Prince George’s County.”

“The members of UNITE HERE Local 25 proudly endorse Donna Edwards,” said Linda Martin, President of UNITE HERE Local 25. “As hotel workers, our priority is to ensure that our next County Executive is a true champion of working people, and there is no better champion than Donna. She stood with Local 25 members when we organized at the Gaylord hotel in National Harbor, and her unblemished record of supporting unions and progressive policies is exactly what Prince George’s County needs as we look to the future. Local 25 understands that for Prince George’s County to fulfill its potential, we need a County Executive with a fresh vision who puts people before special interests and developers. Donna is that person.”

“She has remained a champion for working people throughout her career,” said Dennis Martire, Vice President and Regional Manager of LiUNA Mid-Atlantic. “She fights for working families every day, and that is why LiUNA proudly stands with Donna Edwards.”

“Donna Edwards has defended our community as a member of Congress, an organizer and a non-profit leader,” said Gino Renne, President of UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO. “It is because of Donna’s fearless integrity that she will bring our community together to ensure government is transparent and accountable to the people and ensures that our economy benefits Prince George’s working families.”

Maryland Primary Elections: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Maryland Primary elections are on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Make a plan to vote on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

Not registered to vote in Maryland? Click here to register online through the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

How Candidates Are  Recommended

Local 400 recommends candidates for office only after an exhaustive process of getting to know them, analyzing their records, and reviewing their positions on issues impacting our members’ lives. These issues include jobs, the economy, workers’ rights, health care, retirement security, workers’ compensation and education. We recommend those candidates judged to have your best interests in mind.

In order to decide on a candidate to endorse, we:

  1. Review the voting records of incumbents on labor issues.
  2. Participate in the AFL-CIO interview process and schedule one-on-one interviews between Local 400 and many of the candidates.
  3. Discuss with other union members and leaders the interviews and the written questionnaires candidates submit.
  4. Make recommendations to the executive boards of the relevant area labor councils.
  5. Participate in state AFL-CIO meetings, where delegates from Local 400 and other unions vote to give labor’s recommendation to a limited number of candidates.
  6. After acceptance, these recommendations are communicated to Local 400 members.

UFCW Focuses on Worker Safety & Immigration in Meatpacking Industry

 

For Local 400 representative Misty Wrenn, it was an eye-opening, powerful experience.

Having once worked for five years at the Smithfield pork plant in Smithfield, Va., Misty knew first-hand how tough conditions could be inside the facilities where animals are slaughtered, and meat is cut, processed and packaged. But what she heard from her sisters and brothers at the recent UFCW Meatpacking and Food Processing Chain Conference in Omaha was still shocking.

“What really got me is that now, the poultry companies want to speed up their lines to the point where they’re processing 175 birds a minute,” Misty said. “That’s insane. There is no way you can be doing this. I can’t imagine working like that.

“It just isn’t right, no one can do that much,” she noted. “How many workers will hurt themselves, lose a finger, or get carpal tunnel?”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates meat and poultry processing, is currently considering a petition by the National Chicken Council to eliminate the current line speed limit of 140 birds per minute. This not only threatens worker health—it threatens consumer health, too. As retired USDA food safety inspector Phyllis McKelvey told National Public Radio, “These machines will pull the viscera, which is the guts of the chicken. And a lot of times the guts hang on their prongs and those machines just get covered up in guts, which is slinging manure all over the product.”

Click here to learn more about how increasing poultry line speeds could make jobs more dangerous and chicken unsafe to eat.

Misty was also deeply moved by Conference attendees’ stories about the Trump Administration’s changes in immigration policy. Meat and poultry processing plants will be directly impacted by this because they employ a high proportion of immigrants.

“It really tore me up to hear about how so many immigrants are exploited, harassed and mistreated, and now are at risk of being sent back to countries where they haven’t lived in years, even decades,” she said.

“They have families here; what’s going to happen to their kids if they’re sent back?” Misty asked. “The repeal of DACA is threatening young people who have lived in the U.S. since they were little children and have no memory of the country they were born in. There are deportations. And people from Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras are about to have their visas revoked next year. This is really sad.”

Again, the UFCW is fighting back, lobbying Congress to undo Trump administration policies, advising immigrant members about how to protect themselves, and mobilizing public opinion against the cruel impact of immigration raids.

“Immigrants are used by greedy employers for their own selfish reasons,” Misty said. “And the more crackdowns there are, the more immigrants will be driven into an underground economy, where they’re paid even less and have no rights at all. And that, in turn, will drive down wages for all workers.

“I’m proud UFCW is leading the fight for processing plant workers, for immigrants, and for all workers,” she added. “We’re helping people and saving jobs, and that’s why Local 400 is here.”

How Increasing Poultry Line Speeds Could Make Chicken Unsafe to Eat

Oxfam estimates that each person eats 89 pounds of chicken a year – which means as a country, we’re eating close to 9 billion birds per year. It’s a major, multi-billion dollar industry that supplies us with chicken nuggets, wings, and the foundation for so many of our favorite, home-cooked meals.

It’s easy to cook, it’s affordable, and a mainstay in the meals American families share with one another.

But jobs inside poultry plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. The National Chicken Council, which is the poultry industry’s main trade association and functions to represent its interests to Congress and other federal agencies, wants to do away with a key protection to keep workers safe on the job: line speeds.

Three Things You Should Know About Poultry Line Speeds

1.) By law, most poultry plants can run their processing lines at 140 birds per minute. That’s already insanely fast.

Federal law currently sets the line speed maximum at 140 birds per minute at most poultry facilities. To give you a sense of what that translates to in real life, that’s just a hair faster than the tempo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” except where each beat is a chicken.

On the line itself, one employee can process more than 14,000 chickens each day. Depending on the job, each worker can process around 35-45 birds per minute – which rounds out to about 2,000 chickens per hour or nearly one chicken every two seconds.

Some plants are even allowed to operate at 175 BPM (for background on why some plants are allowed to be faster than others and for more examples of songs that match different line speeds, check out this great article from The New Food Economy). There are few things that we do each and every day that can even compare to that level of repetition.

2.) As line speed increases, safety decreases. And they want to eliminate line speeds entirely.

While there’s currently a speed limit in poultry plants, the National Chicken Council wants to eliminate them entirely.

As line speeds increase, so does the risk of injury—including serious and bloody cuts and amputations.

But faster line speeds also mean less time for federal meat inspectors and quality control workers to do their jobs and ensure the chicken you’re eating is safe to consume.

Want a better idea how fast poultry lines could move if they eliminate line speed limits? Here’s what 200 BMP sounds like, which is how fast Germany already allows their plants to run (with negative side effects, as explained in #3):

3.) Faster line speed also means inspectors have less time to watch out for food safety issues. That should make anyone feel queasy. 

If current line speeds are eliminated, federal inspectors who are tasked with spotting contaminated birds may be forced to examine more than two per second for abscesses, tumors, or other diseases.

The National Chicken Council argues that increased line speeds will help modernize the system, and keep up with international competitors.

But countries which allow faster line speeds have more issues with food safety. Germany allows line speeds up to 200 BPM and their poultry meat is found to have higher levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination.

Retired USDA food safety inspector Phyllis McKelvey spoke out about the dangers of increasing line speed in an interview with NPR earlier this year:

“These machines will pull the viscera, which is the guts of the chicken. And a lot of times the guts hang on their prongs and those machines just get covered up in guts, which is slinging manure all over the product,” she says.

In the live hang section, McKelvey said equipment failures would also occur in the stun bath, where birds are shocked with electricity. That would send fully conscious birds to a machine that would sever their necks.

“If the line is going too fast you have a lot of birds that don’t get stunned,” she says. “So you’ve got some birds going into the scald vats, alive.”

The USDA describes the new inspection system as more science-based in that it requires that all poultry facilities perform their own microbiological testing along with two federal inspectors. This leaves one inspector to view the carcasses.

But with fewer inspectors, McKelvey argues, plants are relying on more chemicals like peracetic acid or food bleach to reduce the chance of food contamination.

“And if they don’t have a proper air system, these chemicals are causing people to sneeze and cough. And even at that rate it gets so bad we’d have to shut the line down,” McKelvey says.

Here’s how you can take action to keep poultry workers safe on the job and chicken safe on your plate:

The USDA is currently accepting public comments on increasing line speed limits in poultry plants. Click here to submit your comment by December 13 and tell them we deserve safe food, and America’s poultry workers deserve safe workplaces. Tell the USDA today and to reject the National Chicken Council’s petition and keep safe line speed limits in poultry plants.

Originally posted on UFCW.org

Montgomery County Passes $15 Minimum Wage

Members of the Montgomery County Council were joined by County Executive Ike Leggett at a ceremony on Monday, November 13 where a $15 minimum wage was signed into law. Photo courtesy of 32BJ SEIU.

Today, at a ceremony in Rockville, county council members signed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The council unanimously passed legislation last week to raise the wage to $15 per hour for businesses employing 51 or more workers by 2021, for businesses employing 11-50 employees by 2023, and for businesses employing 10 and fewer employees by 2024.

After it reaches $15/hour, the bill requires the minimum wage to be indexed to inflation, so wages will continue to rise without having to work to pass a new bill every few years!

The county joins neighboring Washington, D.C. in providing a $15 minimum wage. More than 100,000 Montgomery County workers earn minimum wage, currently $11.50/hour.

In Montgomery County today, a single worker without family responsibilities needs to earn more than $21 per hour just to meet basic needs. A worker raising children needs much more. A majority of the people earning minimum wage are women and people of color.

UFCW Local 400 was part of a coalition of organizations who led efforts to pass this legislation, including 32BJ SEIU,  CASA, Jews United for Justice, Progressive Maryland, AFL-CIO Labor Council, Maryland Working Families, and the National Employment Law Project (NELP). While the bill ultimately passed unanimously with the full support of the council, councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro, George Leventhal, and Hans Riemer championed the legislation from the very beginning.

Research has shown that overwhelmingly, cities that have raised the wage have not experienced job loss and the local economy continues to prosper. Moreover, a wage increase can reduce reliance on public assistance from a safety net that faces extreme cuts from the Trump administration, placing a heavier burden on local taxpayers.

Huge Issues at Stake In Virginia Elections – Vote November 7th!

Local 400 members in Virginia—and all the commonwealth’s working families—have much at stake in the Tuesday, November 7th elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the House of Delegates.

The Local 400-led Fight for $15 in Richmond has been blocked until now by anti-worker members of the General Assembly, but if opponents of the $15/hour minimum wage are defeated and control of the House shifts to pro-worker forces, victory will be within reach.

Another vitally important issue is whether Medicaid will be expanded—just as Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia have done—to cover 400,000 uninsured Virginians living between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level.

In all the key races, the choices could not be more clear. Local 400 recommends Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam for governor, Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor, and Attorney General Mark Herring for re-election in the statewide contests.

“Ralph Northam will be on our side as governor, just as he has been throughout his career as a state senator and lieutenant governor,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “He’ll fight for higher wages and better jobs, expand Medicaid, and look out for the interest of working families. By contrast, his opponent is a longtime lobbyist who’s made millions representing corporate, anti-worker interests—and who would continue to do their bidding in Richmond.”

Northam is a veteran Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, and volunteer medical director for a pediatric hospice care facility who moved into public service a decade ago with a focus on improving Virginian’s health and economy. His opponent, Ed Gillespie, has represented companies like the corrupt Enron and Bank of America, which sold defective mortgages that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition to wages and health, another key issue in this campaign is redistricting. Today, Virginia is carved into congressional and state legislative districts that minimize the votes of workers and people of color, and rig the outcome in favor of anti-worker forces. If pro-worker forces can keep the governorship and take control of the General Assembly, Virginia can have fair representation again, one that reflects the true will of the commonwealth’s voters.

“I urge our members to volunteer in our efforts to go door to door and operate phone banks, as we spread the word about how much this election matters to Virginia’s working families,” Federici said. “And above all, please vote on November 7th.”

VOTE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH!

Recommended Candidates

Governor

Ralph Northam

Lieutenant Governor

Justin Fairfax

Attorney General

Mark Herring

Virginia House of Delegates

2nd–Jennifer Foy

12th–Chris Hurst

13th–Danica Roem

21st–Kelly Fowler

31st–Elizabeth Guzman

32nd–David Reid

34th–Kathleen Murphy

42nd–Kathy Tran

50th–Lee Carter

51st–Hala Ayala

67th–Karrie Delaney

87th–John Bell

93rd–Mike Mullin

94th–Shelly Simonds

100th–Willie Randall

How Candidates Are  Recommended

Local 400 recommends candidates for office only after an exhaustive process of getting to know them, analyzing their records, and reviewing their positions on issues impacting our members’ lives. These issues include jobs, the economy, workers’ rights, health care, retirement security, workers’ compensation and education. We recommend those candidates judged to have your best interests in mind.

In Virginia, we:

  1. Review the voting records of incumbents on labor issues.
  2. Participate in the AFL-CIO interview process and schedule one-on-one interviews between Local 400 and many of the candidates.
  3. Discuss with other union members and leaders the interviews and the written questionnaires candidates submit.
  4. Make recommendations to the executive boards of the relevant area labor councils.
  5. Participate in state AFL-CIO meetings, where delegates from Local 400 and other unions vote to give labor’s recommendation to a limited number of candidates.
  6. After acceptance, these recommendations are communicated to Local 400 members.

Please note that for offices not listed above, Local 400 has made no recommendation.

Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. If you cannot cast your ballot on election day, please apply for an absentee ballot no later than 5:00 p.m., October 31st by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Labor, Community Groups Host Meet & Greet with Former Congresswoman Donna Edwards

On Wednesday morning, former Congresswoman Donna Edwards shared reflections on our country’s current political atmosphere and her vision of the future of her community with a crowd of labor leaders, local politicians and interested residents of Prince George’s County. The event was hosted by UFCW Local 400, along with UNITE HERE Local 25, CASA in Action and LiUNA Mid-Atlantic, representatives of which enthusiastically introduced Edwards as an advocate and friend of working families.

Edwards, a former congresswoman from Maryland’s fourth district, lost a closely-watched Senate race last April in which she was endorsed by Local 400. As she explained to the crowded room, after leaving office, she seized the opportunity to go on a three-month road trip across the country. Edwards said this time away from home gave her space to reflect on her pride in her community and her ability to serve it. She returned from her trip more aware of the “promise and opportunity” of her county, and resolved to capitalize on this potential.

In her search for local solutions, Edwards recalled the community activism she was involved in beginning in 1999, when plans for a development project in Fort Washington included turning a two-lane road into a four-lane road. The road bordered Fort Foote Elementary School, and Edwards and other members of her community were determined to keep it a safe and welcoming place for children and their families. They saw the fruits of their activism in the completion of this re-developed road two years ago – still two lanes, but with added sidewalks, roundabouts, and bike trails.

“Progress is slow,” Edwards said, but for her this was a clear reminder of what can happen “when you organize in your community and fight for what you want in your community and don’t let up.”

She reiterated this message of collective community activism throughout a discussion in which constituents expressed concerns about education, immigration, health care, prison reform, and protecting the environment. She emphasized the fact that county governments have more flexibility than many realize in how they use taxpayer dollars, regardless of the policies of the federal government. “It’s tough for a county to push back against the federal government, but it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “Four years is a long time, but four years is a short time.”

She envisions refocusing county resources toward protecting and supporting the county’s large immigrant population, helping residents get the health care they need, and improving the area’s lowest performing schools. “Education doesn’t work trickle down, it works bottom up – just like, actually, a lot of things,” she said.

Indeed this seems to be Edwards’ strategy for enacting change in general: start at the bottom, with local issues like trash collection. Edwards recalled encountering a woman at the pharmacy who recognized her as an elected official and began complaining about her infrequent trash pick-up. “Little things can start to get on your nerves because they start to mirror some of the bigger problems,” Edwards said. “Structural problems become even more difficult to solve if people don’t trust you to pick up their trash.”

Edwards closed by addressing rumors that she is gearing up for another political campaign. “I haven’t decided if I’m going to run for anything,” she said. “What I have decided is that there are so many different ways that we can contribute to and strengthen our communities.”

While Edwards was sure to make clear that she has not made any decisions about whether she will run for political office in upcoming county or state elections, there is no doubt that she intends to remain a leader in determining the future of the county. For now she intends to think about how she can best serve, whether as an elected official, in the non-profit sector or somewhere else. “When I figure that out, y’all will know,” she said.

Congress Reintroduces Legislation to Curb Abusive Scheduling Practices

Kim Mitchell, a Local 400 member and Macy’s employee, speaks at a press conference announcing the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts announced the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act, a bill that would allow workers to request greater stability in their work scheduling.

The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. The bill includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers with two weeks advanced notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.

Warren was joined by Representative Mark Takano of California’s 41st District and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut’s 3rd District, as well as speakers from the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Women’s Law Center, and UFCW Local 400 member and Macy’s employee Kim Mitchell.

All of the speakers emphasized the toll that irregular and often insufficient scheduling can have on families. Several speakers also mentioned how this issue is compounded by an unreasonably low minimum wage.

Senator Warren described her particular connection to the issue, as the child of a woman who was able to support her family because of a minimum wage job that offered her a regularly scheduled forty hour work week.

Mitchell echoed much of Warren’s sentiment, recalling a time when retail was seen as a more economically viable lifelong career. As a member of Local 400 with a union contract at Macy’s, Mitchell receives her schedule a month in advance. But advance notice alone is not enough to offer workers the stability they need. All of the speakers expressed hope that this bill would help workers keep the jobs they value, and in turn be valued appropriately for the work they provide.

Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, issued the following statement regarding the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act.  

“When a person’s work schedule varies widely from week to week, it brings chaos to both family life and family finances. The Schedules That Work Act is a common sense piece of legislation that will help hard-working men and women have more control over their lives. Smart, flexible, and reliable scheduling is the best way to ensure every family is able to build the better life they’ve earned and deserve.”

When asked about the possibility of some overlap between the Schedules that Work Act and a bill introduced by House Republicans that would allow employers to offer paid time off instead of overtime pay, Representative DeLauro expressed little hope for cooperation and was skeptical that the two bills had potential for common ground.

Updated with a statement from UFCW International President Marc Perrone

Four Candidates Recommended by Local 400 Win Elections in Virginia

The results are in from yesterday’s closely-watched primary election in Virginia. Local 400 recommended candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates in six districts. Four of the candidates won their races:

In House District 31, Elizabeth Guzman won the Democratic primary with 52.16% of the vote. In District 51, Hala Ayala won with 66.34% of the vote. Karrie Delaney won in House District 67 with 65.33% of the vote. And in District 92, Jeion Joyner Ward won with an overwhelming 87.54% of the vote.

In District 42, Tilly Blanding lost to Kathy K. L. Tran. Meanwhile, Josh King was defeated by Jennifer Carroll Foy in District 2 by a mere ten votes.

Local 400 made some of these recommendations in conjunction with Take Action Virginia, a partnership of major community and labor groups representing tens of thousands of the commonwealth’s workers fighting for policies to raise the standard of living and protect people’s rights.

For a complete list of election results, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.