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Annapolis Police Win Take-Home Cars, 20-Year Pensions in New Union Contract

Pictured left to right: Johnie Perry, Local 400 Representative; Ofc. Deborah Sauriol-Inoni; Cpl. Hil O’Herlihy; and Det. Aaron Stein.

Annapolis Police Officers represented by Local 400 recently ratified a strong new contract that addressed their top priorities and improved the recruitment of qualified candidates by enabling all officers to receive take-home vehicles and reducing the time needed to receive full pensions from 25 to 20 years.

The negotiations took an unusually long time because a new mayor was elected and the city manager and finance director both resigned in the middle of contract negotiations. But the officers stayed strong and won on all the key issues before them.

“I’ve been in past negotiations where it feels like ‘us versus them,’” said Corporal Hil O’Herlihy, chief steward and a member of the Bargaining Committee. “But here, at the end of the day, we got together and worked out a deal that was beneficial to everybody. I was very happy. Everyone on both sides stepped up and did their jobs. This sets the Police Department up well for the future, and that will benefit the citizens of Annapolis.”

What was critical to the process was member solidarity. The primary goals benefited younger officers, because senior officers already had take-home vehicles and 20-year pensions. “Everyone understood that the younger officers were just looking for what the older officers already have,” Corporal O’Herlihy said. “People recognized that this is what matters for the agency going forward. It gives us a chance to get better qualified candidates, and all officers benefit when we’re able to recruit good people.”

Key provisions in the contract include:

  • Half of all officers will receive a take home vehicle in 2019 and the other half will receive them in 2020.  The city will purchase more than 40 additional vehicles to make this possible.
  • All officers will be eligible to receive full pension benefits after 20 years, including those hired after 2012, who had previously been on a 25-year schedule.
  • The City for the first time agreed to fully fund the Police and Fire pension by paying the amount “actuarially determined by the plan.”
  • Members will receive cost of living increases totaling 5.5 percent in addition to any step increases.
  • Military members will receive 120 hours of leave instead of “two weeks” for annual training.
  • Members will be eligible to accumulate 120 hours of compensatory time, up from 80 hours.
  • Key language surrounding Detective on call, SWAT team response and Field Training pay were included in the contract for the first time.

In addition to their solidarity and perseverance, the members benefited from the fact that competition is fierce to hire qualified police officers. Local 400 members serving on the Annapolis Police Force persuaded city management that the take-home cars and improved pension benefits were essential to the Department’s ability to be fully staffed with the best possible officers in the future.

Annapolis Police Officers Hailed As Heroes in Capital-Gazette Shooting

When the horrific mass shooting took place at the Annapolis Capital-Gazette on June 28th, Local 400 members serving as Annapolis police officers were the first to respond.

Even though the newspaper’s offices are outside the city borders in Anne Arundel County, Annapolis police officers were near the scene and arrived first. Not knowing what they would find, they charged into an active shooter situation, found and subdued the shooter, and worked to help the victims until emergency medical personnel arrived.

“My fellow officers went right in to the scene with no hesitation,” said said Corporal Hil O’Herlihy, Local 400 chief steward. “They ran towards the shooter and eventually placed him under arrest. They followed their training and their performance under the worst of circumstances couldn’t have been more impressive.

“Needless to say, it was incredibly traumatic to arrive in a room where people are screaming, bleeding and horribly injured,” Corporal O’Herlihy said. “Fortunately, the Department provides peer-to-peer support and other assistance to help them cope and heal. I was off-duty that day, but all of us know this is part of our commitment to service, and we’re all here to support one another—and support our community.”

Five Capital-Gazette journalists tragically lost their lives that day. But had it not been for the courage of Local 400’s Annapolis police officers, the outcome could have been even worse. They deserve our thanks and our admiration.

Peapod Stocker Awarded Back Pay After Being Unjustly Disciplined

Marcia Williams was awarded full back pay after being unjustly sent home from her job at Peapod in Hanover, Maryland.

Marcia Williams’ husband calls her every day during her 30-minute break, just to check in and see how her day is going. “Because he loves me,” she says. Marcia has worked as a stocker for Peapod for almost three years and according to shop rules, she’s allowed to have her phone with her on the floor. She can even listen to music with one earbud, but phone calls must take place in the break room.

One day in March, Marcia wasn’t watching the clock and realized that she had worked ten minutes into her break when her phone rang. She answered as she hurried toward the break room, explaining to her husband that she had missed the start of her break and she would call him back as soon as she got to the break room.

She looked up to see her supervisor watching her. “I wasn’t even on his time, I was on my time,” she says, but even after explaining the situation to three different supervisors, Williams was sent home for the remainder of her shift.

“So I said, I’ll call my union rep,” she says. “I’ve worked at a job that had a union before and I knew I wasn’t wrong.”

And she also knew that her representative, Aretha Green, would do everything she could to win her case. “She’s good,” says Marcia. “She will even walk the floor. She is on her job, everybody likes her.”

Aretha immediately got to work and filed a grievance. In less than a week, Marcia received notice that she had won her case and would be receiving back pay for the hours that she should have been working.

To ensure the problem didn’t happen to anyone else, Aretha went even further. She worked with Peapod to completely rewrite the cell phone policy to include a progressive discipline process. Progressive discipline is the idea that disciplinary action taken against you by your employer must gradually increase in severity. The new policy requires supervisors to first issue a warning before taking more drastic action. An employee cannot be suspended or sent home until they have been warned at least once, and an employee can’t be terminated without first having been suspended.

Progressive discipline is a cornerstone of union workplaces and ensures everyone is treated fairly. If she hadn’t been a union member, Marcia would have had no recourse. But thanks to her union contract, Marcia was awarded back pay for unjustly being sent home. It’s just another one of the reasons a union contract is the best protection you can have on the job.

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.”

Most Candidates Backed by Local 400 Win Maryland Primary Elections

Photo via Twitter @BenJealous

Jealous Receives Nomination for Governor

Elrich Narrowly Leads Montgomery Executive Race

Candidates backed by Local 400 won more than they lost in the 2018 Maryland primaries, with a huge victory in the nomination of former NAACP President Ben Jealous for governor. Jealous (D) will face off against incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the November 6th general election.

In addition, Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, a longtime Local 400 ally and champion of the $15 minimum wage, is holding a narrow lead of 473 votes in the race for Montgomery County executive as of Wednesday afternoon. This contest won’t be decided for days if not weeks due to the need to count absentee and provisional ballots.

Other winning candidates recommended by Local 400 include:

  • Attorney and community activist Will Jawando, who won the Democratic nomination for a Montgomery County Council at-large seat.
  • Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (District 4).
  • Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker (District 5).
  • Civic activist Tom Dernoga, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County Council in the 1st district.
  • Prince George’s County Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2).
  • Former State Del. Jolene Ivey, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County Council in the 5th district.
  • State Del. Aisha Braveboy, who won the Democratic nomination for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.

In addition, community activist Krystal Oriadha was trailing by just nine votes as of Wednesday afternoon in her race for Prince George’s County Council in the 7th district.

“Local 400 members worked hard for our recommended candidates in this all-important primary election, and I am especially pleased that we have a dynamic Democratic nominee for governor in Ben Jealous,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “He will be the fiercest fighter for working families we’ve ever had in Annapolis if we can help propel him to victory over Larry Hogan in November. His work as a civil rights leader and community organizer is beyond compare, and his agenda of a $15/hour minimum wage and a free community college education for all is exactly what Marylanders need. We’re going to do everything in our power to elect this great pro-worker champion as Maryland’s next governor.

“While it will take some time to be certain, we are also very pleased that Marc Elrich is leading in the race for Montgomery County Executive,” Federici said. “His sponsorship of Montgomery County’s $15/hour minimum wage law and the consistent strong support he gives to our hardworking members will make him a great progressive leader of this large, diverse county.”

Local 400 recommended candidates who were not nominated include Brandy Brooks and Chris Wilhelm (Montgomery County Council at large), Ben Shnider (Montgomery County Council-3), Donna Edwards (Prince George’s County Executive), Gerron Levi and Karen Toles (Prince George’s County Council at large), and Tony Knotts (Prince George’s County Council 8th district).

“My congratulations to all our recommended candidates, no matter the outcome of their primaries, for running strong campaigns and advocating pro-worker policies,” Federici said. “Now, it’s on to the November general election, where our members will have so much at stake and so much to fight for.”

Maryland Elections: Local 400 Recommends These Candidates

Tuesday, June 26 is election day in Maryland. Make a plan to vote!

As your union, we have endorsed the following list of candidates because of their track record of fighting for economic and social justice. They have committed to passing a $15 minimum wage and supporting efforts to improve the quality of life for our members and all Marylanders. We strongly recommend you give them your vote on Tuesday, June 26th.

Candidates Recommended By UFCW Local 400

Governor & Lieutenant Governor
Ben Jealous & Susan Turnbull

Montgomery County

Montgomery County Executive
Marc Elrich

County Council, At-Large
Brandy Brooks

County Council, At-Large
Will Jawando

County Council, At-Large
Chris Wilhelm

County Council, District 3
Ben Shnider

County Council, District 4
Nancy Navarro

County Council, District 5
Tom Hucker

Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County Executive
Donna Edwards

County Council At Large
Gerron Levi

County Council At Large
Karen Toles

County Council, District 1
Tom Dernoga

County Council, District 2
Taveras Deni

County Council, District 5
Jolene Ivey

County Council, District 7
Krystal Oriadha

County Council, District 8
Tony Knotts

State’s Attorney
Aisha Braveboy

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.

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.

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.