Tagged as giant food


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.

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!*

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.”

Shop Steward Opens Her Home to Struggling Coworkers

Bernadette Hopkins-Christian (right) poses for a photo with fellow shop steward Christine Mitchell after both received awards in recognition of their service.

It was in the Winter of 2013. The weather was brutally cold and snow was on the ground. A young woman working in the salad bar at Giant #123 in Temple Hills, Md., had fallen on hard times and lost her home. Fortunately, her shop steward was Bernadette Hopkins-Christian.

“I walked up to her,” Bernadette said, “and asked, ‘Where are you going to stay tonight? It’s cold, you can’t stay outside.’ I told her she can stay at my home—we have an extra room in the basement with a bathroom. She lived with us for two and a half years. Now, she’s doing well. She has her own apartment with a friend and is back on her feet.”

Bernadette, who works as a cashier at Giant #123, wasn’t done with her extraordinary acts of generosity. When another co-worker found himself in a similar situation, she put him up in her Clinton, Md. home for a year.

Most recently, Bernadette opened her home to a third co-worker for a year and a half, before she was able to get housing and live independently.

“I take people in all the time,” Bernadette said. “We’ve lived in our house for 18 years and it’s only been just our family for one year. I have a very loving family and I commend them for putting up with my shenanigans. At one point, my son asked me to promise not to take in anyone else, and I said, ‘I can’t promise you that. If someone doesn’t have a place to go, I’m going to try to help them.’

“This is what my calling is,” she explained. “The family and friends we took in have their own places now and it feels good to know they’re doing well. It’s a blessing for them and for us. It’s just the right thing.”

Bernadette takes the same approach in her work as shop steward at Giant #123.

“They call me the Mama Bear in the building,” she said. “If someone’s hungry and doesn’t have enough food to eat, we’ll make sure someone buys them lunch. I take to heart being a steward. I care probably more than I should.

“We have a lot of new managers, so I spend a lot of time putting out fires,” Bernadette noted. “I give guidance and direction every day. I talk to members every day, especially new hires. We have to nurture them—we have to make sure they know what their rights are, what the policies are, what’s in the contract, because management won’t be telling them that.”

Bernadette has always been active in her union and was a member of the Contract Action Team during bargaining in 2016, organizing and participating in rallies and store actions. “It was exciting and very moving to be involved,” she said. “You don’t think people pay attention, but our customers sure did, because we are their families, too.”

In July, Bernadette traveled to Norfolk to speak at a rally for Kroger members whose store was threatened due to the company’s purchase of the Fresh Farm chain, which had its own store located directly across the street. “These companies just want to snuff people’s livelihood away,” she said. “Local 400 members have given up holidays, children’s functions and family functions to make these companies successful. For these companies to think they can wipe these people out and leave them with nothing, it is heart-wrenching to see. To move a store right across the street was such a slap in the face. All of us have to fight for all of our members.”

With 28 years working for Giant, Bernadette calls herself and her family, “Local 400 grown.” Her sister works at Giant #123 as a pharmacy technician. Her son, who is 21 and in college, worked at Giant from the time he was 16 and worked over the summer through his freshman year. And her husband, Terrence Christian, Sr., is grocery manager at Giant #2381 in Washington, D.C. Her daughter is the only exception.

“Whatever I’m able to do for my Local 400 sisters and brothers, I get back a thousand-fold,” Bernadette said. “My parents both passed away within three months of one another, and the support we got from our fellow members was just phenomenal. Thanks to them, we were able to say goodbye to my parents in the right way. There are so many good people at Giant and in our union, it’s wonderful.”

Scholarships Awarded to Four Children of Local 400 Members

MeKel Mock of Manassas, Va. was one of four recipients of the 2017 FELRA Scholarship.

Four children of Local 400 members have been awarded Scholarships to help fund their college education in the 2018-2019 school year.

The FELRA & UFCW Health and Welfare Scholarship Fund provides $2,500 scholarships to help cover the cost of higher education for Local 400 members who work at Giant, Safeway or Shoppers, and their families. It is funded through the union’s collective bargaining agreements with these employers.

Over the years, hundreds of Local 400 members and their children have received a helping hand from their union making it easier to attend college and have new opportunities to realize their dreams.

The 2018 FELRA Scholarship Winners are:

Melanie Alonzo of Springfield, Va.
A freshman at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering, Melanie graduated this spring from West Springfield High School, Over the past four years, she volunteered at her local library year-round, and she was hired as a library page near the end of her senior year. In college, she plans to major in Computer Science. After receiving her degree, she hopes to be able to start a career in government or related agencies. Melanie’s father, Eduardo Alonzo, works at Shoppers. “My first thought was that I was dreaming,” she said of her reaction to learning she had won the scholarship. “After the shock settled in I was immensely grateful for the honor and the opportunities that this award has opened to me.”

Ashley King of Chesapeake Beach, Md.
Ashley graduated from Huntingtown High School in Calvert County, Maryland, this past Spring. She received honors all four years and participated in the varsity soccer program, as well as other clubs. She is now a freshman at the University of Tampa, where she expects to double major in International Business and Spanish. Over the long run, she hopes to work in Spain or another Spanish language country in marketing or domestic relations. Her mother, Virginia King, works at Safeway. “When I received this scholarship, I was very excited,” Ashley said, “not only that I’m one step closer to going to the school of my dreams but I’ll be getting an education that nobody can take away.”

MeKel Mock of Manassas, Va.
MeKel is a freshman at Columbia College in South Carolina, having graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas last spring. There, she took the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, an intensive course of study that also emphasizes community service. To fulfill this requirement, MeKel built a little free library in her neighborhood. She was also part of her high school’s varsity cheer and lacrosse teams, and is a member of the National Honor Society. At Columbia College, MeKel will major in Psychology and has long-term plans to work to ensure that everyone with a mental illness gets treated and helped without fear of being judged. She will also play college lacrosse. Her mother, Patty, works at Giant. “When I found out that I had won the scholarship, I was speechless,” MeKel said. “I am so grateful that I was selected to receive this scholarship, and words cannot describe how thankful I was, and continue to be.”

Justin Smith of Alexandria, Va.
A 2018 graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Justin is attending Old Dominion University this fall. In high school, Justin played varsity basketball and volunteered as a tutor at his local community recreation center. In college, he plans to major in biology, with an eye toward attending medical school and becoming an anesthesiologist. His father, Ainsworth Smith, works at Giant. “I was shocked,” Justin said of receiving the scholarship, and he is grateful for the help it will provide.

Ten Safeway Employees Awarded $11,000 in Back Pay

Alex Falsinotti was awarded more than $1,000 in back pay after Safeway was caught violating the scheduling provisions of his union contract. Nine other Safeway workers were awarded back pay totaling $11,000.

Alex Falsinotti has been working at Safeway #1365 in Fairfax, Virginia for almost two years. Officially he works in the Seafood Department, but on most days whoever is scheduled to work the Meat Department leaves around 2 or 3 p.m., and Alex is forced to man both departments until they officially close at 8:00 p.m.

“I’m expected to clean the counter and help customers and close down the department by myself,” he says. “I try not to get frustrated, but doing this for ten months you get overwhelmed.

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food, the companies are required to staff the Meat Department from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. Furthermore, one person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments at the same time.

Alex didn’t know this was a violation of his union contract, but he knew it wasn’t right. “I didn’t want to be rude to the manager but I came to him more than once and said, ‘The meat cutter left, is someone else coming?’ And he said, ‘No.’”

Management told him that they were short-staffed and didn’t have anyone that they could schedule to help him out.

This problem came to the attention of his union representative, Bertha McKiver, last October. After visiting several Safeway stores throughout Virginia, including Alex’s store in Fairfax, Bertha noticed a pattern – in store after store where meat departments were supposed to be open and fully staffed, the lights were off and the areas were cleaned up.

Bertha filed grievances at five stores throughout Virginia (#1298, #1331, #4002, #1606 and #1365). As a result of the grievances, Alex and nine other Safeway employees were awarded back pay totaling $11,000 for the hours they should have been scheduled to work. One individual had lost so many hours he was awarded $1,300 in back pay after taxes.

Since Bertha’s success with the grievances against Safeway, several people have called her from other stores with similar complaints. If you work in the Meat or Seafood department at Safeway or Giant Food, report scheduling violations using the form below. You could be entitled to back pay if your manager violated the scheduling provisions of your union contract.

Report Scheduling Violations in Meat & Seafood Departments at Giant & Safeway

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food,

  1. 1. The Meat Department must be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day.
  2. 2. One person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments.
  3. 3. The Meat Department can only be closed by a Meat Department employee.

Fill out the form below to report scheduling violations in the Meat and Seafood departments at Giant Food and Safeway. A union representative will follow up with you shortly.

  • Please enter your store number or location.
  • Please check all that apply.
  • Please submit any photo evidence of the scheduling violation.
    Drop files here or
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Local 400 Member Helps Organize Union At His Second Job

Darius Smith, who served on the union bargaining committee, addresses the crowd at a Giant Food mass meeting in Washington, DC.

Two years ago, Darius Smith, a courtesy clerk at Giant #347 in Kettering, Md., was looking for a new job. He was feeling underappreciated, and he often found himself doing tasks that were not in his job description. He thought maybe he had simply gone as far as he could with Giant Food.

But when he talked to his union representative, Heather Thomas, about job opportunities at the union, she had another idea. She told him about the collective bargaining process and asked him to join the bargaining committee, and Darius agreed. He realized that perhaps his work at Giant was not done yet.

Darius had never participated in a union committee before, and he admits, “all I knew [about unions] was paying union dues until I talked to my representative.” He describes being a member of the 2016 Giant bargaining committee and attending listening sessions as “eye opening for me, because it was like, ‘Wow! Everyone is going through the same thing.’”

About a year ago, he started working as a caterer at the World Bank. Although his first impression was of a “family oriented” company, it wasn’t long before, “I started to notice issues [with how they treated us], and we had to deal with them pretty much on our own,” he says. “I don’t know if I was nervous at first but when I saw problems arising I was like, ‘Yeah, we need a union.’”

In April, Darius attended the bi-annual Labor Notes Conference in Chicago with other Local 400 members. He expressed his frustrations about his new job to UFCW Local 400 Mobilization Director Alan Hanson. Darius told Alan about how he and his co-workers were being asked to take on larger tasks than they could handle; how some of his co-workers, many of whom are immigrants, felt that their employer was guilty of discrimination; and how, in January, the World Bank had started cutting hours of both full-time and on-call employees without warning or explanation.

“The World Bank is about ending poverty all over the world but if you look at how they treat us it’s completely hypocritical,” Smith says.

Alan put Darius in touch with UNITE HERE Local 23, which primarily represents workers in the hospitality industry.

Darius was one of the few World Bank catering employees who had experience with a union, and he didn’t hesitate to take the lead in helping his co-workers get organized, although he says they didn’t need much prodding. In fact, he describes going to talk to a co-worker who Darius had heard might be hesitant about joining a union. By the time Darius got a chance to talk to him, he was already wearing a union button. “I guess other people had talked to him already,” he says. “I think he just didn’t really know about it [at first] but by the day of the election he was really ready to go.”

It seems this was true of most of his co-workers, 89% of whom voted to join the union in June.

But Darius knows from his experiences with Giant that the fight is far from over. “I really look forward to bargaining with the company, having everyone come together to formulate a better contract,” he says.

Along with experience and knowledge of the bargaining process, Darius’ contributes a great amount of spirit to his bargaining unit. “At Giant we had a lot of faith, and I think I can bring that, helping people keep faith, keep strong, keep motivated,” he says.

His experience as an assistant pastor at Hope in Christ Ministry helps him do this. It also helps him connect with his co-workers at the World Bank, one of whom is a priest and many of whom he believes to be similarly motivated by faith.

Darius hopes to be on the World Bank bargaining committee, and though formal listening sessions haven’t started yet, it seems that one of his greatest strengths is that he is always listening. He’s already gotten a lot of insight from co-workers about what their demands are, and he says that being part of Local 23 has given him an idea of what wages and contracts look like throughout the industry.

But for Darius, being part of a union means more than a new and improved contract. “When you’re part of a union you have something to look up to,” he says.

He also says that one of the most valuable things he has gotten from his involvement with the union is an education. “I’m not in college, I don’t have a college degree but I’m working with legislators and affecting laws, doing all these things people think you can’t do if you don’t go to college,” he says. “There’s more ways to succeed than college and I feel like I’m on that road.”

Now he is looking for ways to apply all that he has learned, and is learning, to his life beyond work. “Now that I have that union backing and that ministerial backing, it’s just a matter of finding that avenue, of how can I apply my skills to other social and community activism,” he says. “This is still very new for me but I know that the union can open doors for that.”

How to Upgrade to a Full-Time Position at Giant, Safeway, & Shoppers

Preston Brown, now a service clerk in the Seafood Department at Safeway in Alexandria, Va., was recently upgraded to a full-time position after enforcing his union contract.

If you want to work full-time, you should be able to. But all too often in the grocery industry, hard-working men and women aren’t getting enough hours to get by. Thanks to our union contracts, our members have the opportunity to access full-time status.

In recent months, dozens of members have won upgrades to full-time status or better jobs by enforcing the terms of our contracts and winning grievances against our employers.

One is Preston Brown, now a service clerk in the Seafood Department at Safeway #3250 in Alexandria, Va. He was officially part-time, but over an eight week period last year, he worked 48 hours each week. After more than six weeks of working more than 40 hours/week, Safeway should have automatically created a new full-time position at the store and allowed part-time employees to bid for the position. But that didn’t happen.

“I was informed that I had the right to become full-time, so my shop steward and I pushed forward with a grievance,” Preston said. “But once management realized the situation, they cut my hours to around 32 a week. It took more than a month before they recognized that I had completed what I needed to do to be full-time.”

When Preston learned that he had won his grievance and was now a full-time employee, “I was very happy, very pleased to get that status,” he said.

Reginald Richardson faced a different set of circumstances than Preston but had a similar positive outcome. He was hired to serve as night captain at Safeway #2737 in Washington, D.C. But while doing the work of a night captain, Safeway didn’t code him as one, so he wasn’t being paid at the proper rate. “I fought for that position,” Reginald said. “It took a whole year.”

But Reginald won his grievance. “I was blessed,” he said. “I was happy. I got what I wanted after such a long time. I received back pay. I moved to full-time. And I got a supervisor’s position, as well. I am so very thankful for my union.”

Suma Gomes, Diti Rozario and Benny Mercado were working as service clerks in the Deli Department at Safeway #2781 in Wheaton, Md. Under the terms of their contract, 65 percent of the hours in their department must go to deli clerks and 35 percent to service clerks. But at this store, the ratio was reversed. So they filed grievances—and they won, too. All three were upgraded to deli clerks, with improved pay and benefits.

At Safeway #1716 in Bethesda, Md., an unusually complicated situation arose. Yolanda Lopez, a part-time deli clerk, transferred from Safeway #2848 because she was told she would receive a full-time position at her new store. Just prior to her transfer, part-time service clerk Claretine (Smitty) Smith had been working in the store’s Deli Department for 40 hours/week for far longer than six consecutive weeks, but didn’t realize this automatically entitled him to a full-time upgrade. So he submitted a bid for a full-time position during the open bid period.

However, Yolanda had more seniority than Smitty, so when she came to Safeway #1716, she worked 40 hours/week and Smitty’s hours were cut. After Yolanda had worked 40 hours for six consecutive weeks, she filed a grievance to be upgraded to full-time. But the store’s shop steward noted that because Smitty’s bid for full-time status pre-dated her arrival, he should be first in line for the upgrade. Importantly, Smitty had kept a copy of his bid sheet, so he had evidence store management could not refute.

Yolanda’s and Smitty’s Local 400 representative, Linnette Floyd, advocated a win-win solution by arguing that both members had legitimate claims to full-time status. Management insisted there was only one full-time position to be filled in the Deli Department. But after months of difficult negotiations, Safeway agreed to the workers’ demands and made both full-time deli clerks—a huge victory.

The stories of these members demonstrates how critical it is that you know your contract, observe when its terms are not being followed, and take action to enforce it. The results can pay off many times over.

How to Upgrade to a Full-Time Position

If you work part-time at Giant Food, Safeway, or Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, there are three ways you can be upgraded to a full-time employee:

  1. One, as Preston Brown experienced, is to work at least 40 hours a week for more than six consecutive weeks. If you have worked at least 40 hours a week for six consecutive weeks, then the company must create a new full-time position in the store. You may then bid for the position, and the company must offer it to the most senior qualified part-time employee who bids for the job.
  2. The second way is to submit a written request for a full-time job during one of two annual open bid periods—and keep a copy for your records. The open bid periods are March 1-21 and September 1-21 each year.
  3. The third way a full-time position becomes available at your store is if a full-time employee retires, transfers, or resigns. The company must provide that full-time position to another employee. You may bid for the position and the company must offer it to the most senior part-time employee who bids for the job.

If you would like a full-time position, talk to your shop steward or contact your union rep and they can help you through the process.

Reminder: Vacation Requests Due Feb 28 at Giant, Safeway & Shoppers

If you are a Local 400 member working at Giant Food, Safeway, or Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, don’t forget to submit your vacation bids before February 28th!

Under your union contract, you have from January 1st to February 28th each year to select your desired dates for vacation for the year, with no “blackout” dates. You can select any days or weeks you desire. The final selection will be awarded on a seniority basis within each department. Your supervisor is required to respond to you in writing by March 31st with a final decision.

If your manager fails to give you a final decision in writing, or tells you there are certain days or weeks that are “blacked out” and you are not allowed to take vacation during those times, it is a violation of your contract and you should report it to your union representative. Call our headquarters toll-free at 1-800-638-0800 to report violations to your union representative.

Read the official contract language below.

Giant Food:

From January 1 to February 28 of each year, employees shall select their desired date for vacation for that year. Said selection will be awarded on a seniority basis within each department. After February 28 (February 29 in a leap year), employees may select vacant weeks by seniority but may not bump less senior employees who have exercised their vacation selection during the bid period. Employees who have selected vacation during the vacation bid period will be notified of the final vacation decision in writing by March 31. Vacations requested after the bid period will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis. Employees may take vacation in any of the fifty-two (52) calendar weeks, subject to management approval.

The vacation schedule of any employee cannot be changed, except by mutual agreement. The vacation schedule shall be available on request by an employee.


From January 1 to February 28 of each year, employees shall select their desired date for vacation for that year. Said selection will be awarded on a seniority basis within each department. After February 28 (February 29 in a leap year), employees may select vacant weeks by seniority but may not bump less senior employees who have exercised their vacation selection during the bid period. Employees who have selected vacation during the vacation bid period will be notified of the final vacation decision in writing by March 31. Vacations requested after the bid period will be honored on a first come, first served basis. Employees may take vacation in any of the fifty-two (52) calendar weeks, subject to management approval.

The vacation schedule of any employee cannot be changed, except by mutual agreement. The vacation schedule shall be available on request by an employee.

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy:

From January 1 to February 28 of each year, employees shall select their desired date for vacation for that year. Said selection will be awarded on a seniority basis within each department. After February 28 (February 29 in a leap year), employees may select vacant weeks by seniority but may not bump less senior employees who have exercised their vacation selection during the bid period. Effective January 1, 2009, employees who have selected vacation during the vacation bid period will be notified of the final vacation decision in writing by March 31. Vacations requested after the bid period will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis. Employees may take vacation in any of the fifty-two (52) calendar weeks, subject to management approval.

The vacation schedule of any employee cannot be changed, except by mutual agreement. The vacation schedule shall be available on request by an employee.

“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.”