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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.

Local 400 Members Ratify New Contract at Peapod

Local 400 members working at Peapod, the grocery home delivery service from Giant Food, unanimously ratified a new union contract last night.

The new collective bargaining agreement increases wages and holiday pay and improves working conditions for more than 200 members of Local 400 working at the facility in Hanover, Md. The four-year contract is in effect until May 31, 2021.

Members Lead Fight for Maryland Earned Sick Leave Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discounted Bowie Baysox Baseball Tickets All Season Long

As a member of our UFCW Local 400 family, you not only earn a union contract that protects your rights at work, you also receive remarkable benefits that can save you and your loved ones thousands of dollars each year. These benefits range from discounts on wireless services, and legal services to letting loose and having some fun at the movies and sporting events.

This season the Bowie Baysox (AA Affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) invites Local 400 members and their families as honored guests to not just the games, but one of the 19 fireworks shows and fun promotions in a great fan-friendly atmosphere. For more details on how you can save all season long, download the flyer below or follow the instructions below to purchase your discounted Bowie Baysox game tickets.

  1. Log on to Baysox website at baysox.com
  2. Go to purchase single game tickets
  3. Select game and enter special offer code: UFCW400 (in all capital letters, no spaces)
  4. Play Ball!

Print the Flier (PDF)

Montgomery County Members Now Eligible for Paid Sick Days

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

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

You can use your paid sick leave to:

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

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

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

Hundreds of Employees, Customers, Allies Deliver Thousands of Petitions to Giant Demanding Save My Store

20160511-Save My Store Rally (1200px Album) - 18

Company Responds with Words, Not Action

Hundreds of Local 400 members, Giant customers, brothers and sisters from other unions, community allies, elected officials and faith leaders today marched from Local 400’s office to Giant headquarters to deliver thousands of petitions telling the company, “Save My Store!”

The boisterous rally was prompted by Giant’s announcement in March that it would sell eight stores in the region due to a corporate merger between Ahold and Delhaize, the European-based parent companies of Giant and Food Lion. Since that time, workers and customers at the stores slated to be sold have heard nothing about their fate and have received no assurances that their jobs and the protections of their union contract will be observed by store buyers.

“This is an example of corporate America run amuck,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Why in the world is it right for the people who work and make profits for this company to be the last to know about their fate? That’s wrong.

“We’ve had enough of our work, our sweat, our blood making it possible for these big deals to happen, but then we’re immediately forgotten about,” he charged. “We’re here to say, ‘go close somebody else!’”

“I was devastated when I heard about our store being sold,” said Robyn Wheeler, who has worked at the Fredericksburg, Va., Giant for 36 years, and is both the daughter and mother of longtime Giant employees. “We’re there every day doing our jobs. They’ve left us in the dark big time—no lights at all. We’re here to get answers and especially a good outcome.”

“We’re talking about our livelihoods,” said Jeannie Weaver who works at Giant #338 in Accokeek, Md. “Giant management aren’t the ones who are affected. We’re the ones who have to stand firm and tell them, ‘No way! Don’t shut our doors. Don’t keep us in the dark.’”

“When I think of Giant, I think of community,” said Eric Masten, secretary treasurer of UFCW Local 27. “Our store in Salisbury has been there since 1959 and it’s an integral part of the community. For a long time, it was the only Giant on the Delmarva Peninsula. It makes me sick to see what has happened to corporate finance.

“We’ve submitted 1,200 ‘Save My Store’ petitions from Salisbury alone,” Masten said. “Our customers don’t want to lose their Giant. Our customers identify with our workers. It would be a sad day if the company shuts down a store with good wages and benefits while leaving open stores where people make low wages and benefits.”

Joe Wood, a Local 27 member who has worked at Giant #351 in Salisbury for 30 years said, “This goes beyond everybody in this room. I’m a receiver and this affects every vendor. If Giant closes us down, it closes a million dollar store. It affects Salisbury. It affects the taxes our city collects. For each of us, this affects another 15 to 20 people.

“If our store gets sold to a non-union business, we go from middle class wages to Section 8 housing wages,” Wood said. “We’ll be spending less in our community. When you stop cutting meat in the store, what happens? Management thinks they save money. But what about the shoppers they lose?”

Deborah Snyder of Stafford, Va., attended the march and rally, noting, “I’ve shopped at my Giant for close to 40 years. When I heard this was happening, I knew I had to support the workers.”

After rallying in front of Giant headquarters, a group of marchers delivered four shopping carts full of signed petitions to company representatives. Afterwards, they told the crowd that while Giant offered to meet with individual workers and claimed its “priority” was to sell the stores to unionized companies that pay good wages and benefits, managers made no commitments.

“I was not satisfied with Giant’s answer,” Federici said. “No disrespect to the offer, but we want facts. We want them to put this in writing. We want them to respond to the official request by Local 400 and Local 27, and they still have not done so. Rhetoric does not put bread and butter on the table.”

Throughout the rally, a host of other union members, elected officials, community activists and religious leaders lent their voices of support. Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays, said, “We stand with you in this fight. How much is enough? You make $2 billion and that’s not enough? Enough’s enough. Don’t destroy lives and communities.” Ritchie Brooks, president of Teamsters Local 730, noted, “Local 400 has had our backs whenever we’ve needed you. And we’ve got your backs.”

Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ, told the marchers, “You do not stand alone. On this issue, we stand as one people. Folks will take away from you anything you’re not willing to fight for. When we stand together, when we fight together, when we stand arm in arm, we can take back the forces of greed every single day.”

Virginia State Sen. Scott Surovell (36th district), noting that Ahold and Delhaize are European-based companies, observed, “There, workers get taken care of. They shouldn’t come here and act like Walmart.”

Maryland State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (26th district) said, “No way you’re going to take these jobs way. No way we say Maryland is business friendly but not worker friendly. We’re telling Giant, this is not just about these stores [slated to be sold]. Your stores are throughout our state and we have a long memory.”

Monica Sarmiento, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “Shame on Giant for keeping UFCW in the dark. Their wealth was built off of your hard work. We will not be silent while you are robbed. You are not alone.”

Rally attendees pledged to keep fighting—and then some—to save their stores. “We’re not stopping now,” Federici emphasized. “This is not an end. We are not going to walk away.”

Other speakers at the march and rally included Md. Del. Edith Patterson (28th district), Washington Metro Labor Council Executive Director Carlos Jimenez, UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO member Gabriel Acever, Prince George’s County Southern Christian Leadership Conference President McArthur Bishop, DC Jobs With Justice Executive Director Nikki Lewis, DC Working Families Director Delvone Michael, Maryland Working Families Executive Director Charly Carter, Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford, and Rev. Jamila Jaye Woods-Jones, pastor of Jabez Christian Community Church.

Photos from the Rally

Growing List of Elected Officials Lend Support to Grocery Workers Threatened by Corporate Merger

Local elected officials show outpouring of support for hundreds of Giant Food employees in the region threatened by a corporate merger overseas

Prince George’s County Councilmember Mel Franklin sharing his support at the #SaveMyStore Town Hall in Accokeek, Maryland.

Prince George’s County Councilmember Mel Franklin sharing his support at the #SaveMyStore Town Hall in Accokeek, Maryland.

In March, employees at eight Giant Food grocery stores in the region were told their stores could be sold thanks to a corporate merger between Ahold and Delhaize, the European-based parent companies of Giant Food and Food Lion.

They weren’t told when this would happen or even what would happen to their jobs. Instead, they were told to keep it to themselves and get back to work. As one cashier recalled, “management told me, ‘don’t tell the customers, you might scare them away!’”

 But with hundreds of their jobs at stake, they weren’t going to keep this quiet. Together with their union, UFCW Local 400, the employees launched the #SaveMyStore campaign to bring together Giant employees, union members, and the communities they serve to save these stores.

From the start, the campaign drew support from elected officials and political leaders in the area, and that momentum has only continued to grow.

Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, who recently won re-election to a second term, was among the earliest to lend her support to the Giant employees and spoke at the campaign’s kickoff event in March. She was joined by former city councilmember, Rev. Hashmel Turner.

In neighboring Stafford County, Timothy J. Baroody, Deputy County Administrator of the Stafford County Department of Economic Development, wrote an open letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging them to allow the Giant stores to remain open.

“They, and the people they employ, are great contributors to our collective quality of life in Stafford County,” Baroody explained.

Scott Surovell, who represents District 36 in the Virginia state senate, has agreed to speak in support of the campaign at the upcoming #SaveMyStore rally on May 11, while at the federal level, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and and Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland’s 5th congressional district also expressed their support for the workers’ efforts.

Over in Maryland, state and county leaders have been equally enthusiastic in their support.

At a campaign event in Accokeek, Maryland, Prince George’s County councilmember Mel Franklin shared wisdom from his years of experience at the Federal Trade Commission, the agency which must approve the merger before it can move forward.

“We have to get organized, get to the FTC and weigh in with them so they know our concerns,” Franklin said. “At the end of the day, we need to win.”

Delegate Edith Patterson from Maryland’s 28th district was similarly supportive. “You are more than workers, you are family,” she told attendees at a town hall in La Plata, Maryland, while holding up her Giant bonus card.

“I will be with you,” Patterson added when asked if she would attend the rally on May 11. Maryland SenatorAnthony Muse from district 26 has also pledged to attend, while Delegate Kris Valderrama also expressed support for the campaign.

Campaign representatives have also met with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s staff in Virginia, as well as the state’s attorney general, Mark Herring, in an effort to influence the outcome of the FTC process.

But with the company refusing to provide additional details on the store sales as the FTC process continues, union leaders and Giant employees will continue to reach out to every elected official in the region to gather support.

On May 11, the campaign plans to deliver thousands of signatures on a petition to the company directly to Giant Food headquarters in Landover, Maryland.

 

Four Facts You Should Know About the Potential Ahold/Delhaize Merger

Delhaize-Ahold

There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about the potential sale of eight Giant Food stores as a result of the potential merger of Ahold and Delhaize, the parent companies of Giant Food and Food Lion. While the company has been less than clear about the future of these stores, we would like to get the facts straight.

  1. The merger of Ahold and Delhaize is not complete. It has been approved by shareholders of both companies, but in order for the merger to go forward, it must first be approved by federal regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has not approved the merger yet.
  2. The stores being marketed for sale were chosen by Ahold/Delhaize – the Federal Trade Commission did not order the company to sell any of these particular stores. While reviewing a potential merger, the Federal Trade Commission does not issue public statements until the process is complete. The FTC did not tell Ahold, Giant, or Delhaize which stores should be sold.
  3. Giant Food has not met with UFCW Local 400 to share details about the merger. Union staff received notice regarding which stores could potentially be sold on the same day employees at all eight stores were informed. Since then, there has been some back and forth with Giant, including a request for additional information, but they have not shared further details, a list of potential buyers, the reasons for choosing to sell these stores, or even a timeline.
  4. Your collective bargaining agreement protects you in the event your store is sold. As your union, it is our position that the seniority rights guaranteed in your contract will be in effect in the event your store is sold. See Article 5 and the addendum “Seniority Rules of the Fredericksburg addendum.”

Questions?

If you have questions about your job and work at one of the eight Giant Food stores slated for sale in Maryland and Virginia, contact us! Your union is here to help.

Contact UFCW Local 400

By phone: 1-800-638-0800
Monday-Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm

By email: ufcwlocal400@local400.org

Or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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Text SAVEMYSTORE to 698329 to sign up for mobile alerts (message & data rates may apply).

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Four Facts Every Employee Should Know