Tagged as maryland


Local 400 Police Officers Support Special Olympics with Polar Bear Plunge

Last week, Local 400 members from the Annapolis Police and Takoma Park Police participated in the Police Plunge to support Special Olympics Maryland.

The officers joined nearly 800 participants in the event on Friday, January 25, as part of the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge taking place last week.

The frigid dives into the Chesapeake Bay raised hundreds of thousands of dollars overall, while the Annapolis Police Department alone raised more than $12,000 in about 12 hours. All proceeds benefit athletes with Special Olympics Maryland.

Most Local 400-Backed Candidates Win in 2018 Elections

Union Members Play Key Role in Recapturing House for Working Families

Led by Local 400-backed candidates, the critically important 2018 mid-term elections resulted in major victories for working families.

Pro-worker forces recaptured control of the U.S. House, with Virginia front and center. Three candidates recommended by Local 400 — Elaine Luria (2nd), Abigail Spanberger (7th) and Jennifer Wexton (10th) — all defeated anti-worker incumbents. These victories alone accounted for more than 10 percent of the seats won nationally to gain a majority.

Three senators backed by Local 400 were re-elected: Tim Kaine in Virginia, Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Ben Cardin in Maryland.

Local 400 won key local races, as well. In Washington, D.C., Councilmember Elissa Silverman was re-elected to her at-large seat despite facing a strong challenge from a corporate-backed candidate. And Marc Elrich won a landslide victory in his race for Montgomery County Executive over two opponents, one of whom was lavishly funded by developers.

In Maryland, while endorsed candidate Ben Jealous lost his race for governor, Democrats maintained veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate, which means that pro-worker legislation can still become law even over the opposition of re-elected Gov. Larry Hogan.

In West Virginia, pro-worker forces gained seats in the state House and Senate, but not enough to win control of either body.

In total, of 165 candidates recommended by Local 400, 125 won, 36 lost and four are in races yet to be decided.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work put in by Local 400 members to elect candidates who will fight for us, and against billionaires and big business,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “By pounding the pavement, working the phone banks, and getting people out to the polls, our members played a central role in winning back the U.S. House and making gains at every other level of government. This will have important consequences over the next two years in passing legislation that benefits our members and blocking efforts to harm working families.

“I want to congratulate all of our recommended candidates, whether they won or lost, for having the courage to fight for what’s right and to stand up to the big money that’s poisoning our politics,” Federici said.

“This election showed the power of working people to fight back,” he added. “But it’s just the beginning. Now, we have to fight at the federal, state and local levels for policies that will raise workers’ living standards and protect our rights – and gear up for the massively important election of 2020.”

UFCW Local 400 2018 Voter Guide

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2018. This is one of the most important elections in recent history. Make sure your voice is heard and make a plan to vote!

Your vote is a personal decision. As your union, it is our job to recommend candidates who share our values and will fight to make a better life for our union family. We have endorsed the following candidates for office because we believe they will fight on behalf of our members and all working families.

Find Your Polling Place

Visit Vote.org to find your polling place and learn everything you need to vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

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.

2018 UFCW Local 400 Voter Guide


Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
Eleanor Holmes Norton

Muriel Bowser

Attorney General
Karl Racine

City Council
At-Lg. Elissa Silverman
1st       Brianne Nadeau



Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Ben Jealous/Susan Turnbull

Peter Franchot

Attorney General
Brian E. Frosh

U.S. Senate
Ben Cardin

U.S. House of Representatives

3rd      John Sarbanes

4th      Anthony Brown

5th      Steny H. Hoyer

8th      Jamie Raskin

State Senate

14th    Craig Zucker

15th    Brian Feldman

16th    Susan Lee

18th    Jeff Waldstreicher

19th    Ben Kramer

20th    Will Smith

21st     Jim Rosapepe

22nd   Paul Pinsky

23rd    Douglas J. J. Peters

24th    Joanne Benson

25th    Melony Griffith

26th    Obie Patterson

27th    Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.

28th    Arthur Ellis

39th    Nancy King

47th    Malcolm Augustine

House of Delegates

Anne Kaiser
Eric Luedtke
Pamela Queen

David Fraser-Hidalgo
Kathleen Dumais
Lily Qi

Ariana Kelly
Marc Korman

Jim Gilchrist
Julie Palakovich Carr
Kumar P. Barve

Al Carr
Emily Shetty
Jared Solomon

Bonnie Cullison
Charlotte Crutchfield
Vaughn Stewart

David Moon
Jheanelle Wilkins
Lorig Charkoudian

Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Ben Barnes
Mary Lehman

Alonzo Washington
Tawanna Gaines
Anne Healey

Geraldine Valentino-Smith

Ron Watson
Marvin E. Holmes, Jr.

Jazz Lewis
Erek L. Barron
Andrea Fletcher Harrison

Darryl Barnes
Dereck Davis
Nick Charles

Kris Valderrama
Veronica Turner
Jay Walker

Susie Proctor

Michael Jackson

Jason Fowler

Debra Davis
Edith J. Patterson
CT Wilson

Lesley J. Lopez
Gabriel Acevero
Kirill Reznik

Melissa Wells

Diana M. Fennell
Julian Ivey

Wanika Fisher

Montgomery County Executive
Marc Elrich

Montgomery County Council
At-Lg.  Will Jawando
4th      Nancy Navarro
5th      Tom Hucker

Montgomery County State’s Attorney
John McCarthy

Prince George’s County Council
1st       Tom Dernoga
2nd     Deni Taveras
5th      Jolene Ivey
9th      Sydney Harrison

Prince George’s County States Attorney
Aisha Braveboy



U.S. Senate
Tim Kaine

U.S. House of Representatives
1st       Vangie Williams
2nd     Elaine Luria
4th      Donald McEachin
5th      Leslie Cockburn
7th      Abigail Spanberger
8th      Donald S. Beyer Jr.
10th    Jennifer T. Wexton
11th    Gerald Connolly



U.S. Senate
Joe Manchin

U.S. House Of Representatives
1st       No Endorsement
2nd     Talley Sergent
3rd      Richard Ojeda

State Senate

2nd     Denny Longwell
3rd      James Leach
4th      Brian Prim
5th      Mike Woelfel
6th      Charles Sammons
7th      Ron Stollings
8th      Richard Lindsay
10th    Stephen Baldwin
11th    Bill Hamilton
12th    Mike Romano
13th    Bob Beach
14th    Stephanie Zucker
17th    Terrell Ellis

State House Of Delegates

Lissa Lucas

David Bland

Jim Marion

Andy Daniel
J.Morgan Leach
Harry Deitzler

Missy Morris

Dem Scott Brewer

Brianne Solomon

Sean Hornbuckle
Matt Spurlock
Vera Miller

Chad Lovejoy
Matthew Rohrbach

Karen Nance

Ken Hicks
Robert Thompson

Phylis White

Gary Mccallister
Zack Maynard

Rodney Miller

Ralph Rodighiero
Timothy Tomblin

Ed Evans

Rick Moye

Richard “Rick” Snuffer Ll

Margaret Anne Staggers
Mell Kessler
Luke Lively

David A Walker

Brent Boggs

Andrew Byrd
Renate Pore
James Robinette
Doug Skaff Jr.

Larry Rowe
Andrew Robinson
Amanda Estep-Burton

Mike Pushkin

Tom Tull

David “Woody” Holmes

Melissa Huffman

Frank “Ed” Larry

Barbara Fleischauer
Evan Hanson
Rodney Pyles
Danielle Walker
John Williams

Gary Knotts

Cory Chase

UFCW Local 400 Endorses Sydney Harrison for Prince George’s County Council

United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 has endorsed Sydney Harrison for Prince George’s County Council representing District 9. President Mark Federici issued the following statement regarding the endorsement:

“Syndney Harrison shares our commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 for all hard-working families in Prince George’s County. We are proud to lend our support to Mr. Harrison and we look forward to his leadership on the council.”

Dyana Forester, UFCW Local 400 Political & Community Affairs Director, added the following:

“It has come to our attention that another candidate, Tamara Davis Brown,  mistakenly included our logo on some of her campaign materials, but to be clear, Local 400 did not make any endorsement in the primary.”

UFCW Local 400 is one of the largest private sector labor unions in the region. In Prince George’s County, the union has approximately 4,800 active members predominantly working in Safeway and Giant Food grocery stores.

Marc Elrich for Montgomery County Executive

Marc Elrich (right) poses for a photo with Safeway #1956 shop steward Sharon Glaser.

After years of leading many fights for working families—including passage of a $15/hour minimum wage—Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich more than earned Local 400’s enthusiastic recommendation in his campaign for Montgomery County Executive.

Local 400’s support in the June 26th primary helped Elrich win a narrow victory over a wealthy opponent who spent $5.4 million. Normally, the Democratic nominee is all but assured of victory in the general election in deep blue Montgomery County, but Elrich’s courage in championing workers earned the hostility of developers and other wealthy special interests. They have taken unprecedented action to try to stop him by convincing a pro-business county councilmember, Nancy Floreen, to enter the race as an independent. Elrich is abiding by the County’s public financing law, which prohibits corporations from donating to his campaign and requires him to raise small donations from county residents. Meanwhile, Floreen is using public financing in order to take advantage of all the special interest money flowing her way.  As a result, Elrich will be outspent. It will take people to put him over the top.

“On every issue that matters, from the $15 minimum wage to paid family and sick leave legislation, Marc Elrich has stood with us,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Now, we must stand with him.

“Anti-worker special interest money is flooding into Montgomery County to try to elect a council member who didn’t have the guts to get into the primary, who voted against the $15 minimum wage the first time Marc put it before the Council, and who sponsored legislation undermining County employees’ collective bargaining rights,” Federici said. “We cannot let private profits trump the public good in this election, and that’s why I urge Local 400 members to volunteer and vote for Marc Elrich.”

As Elrich has noted, ​“Raising the minimum wage has already tangibly improved the lives of over 100,000 people and will continue to improve those lives and more in the years to come. An adequate minimum wage is life-altering for families and disproportionately benefits women and people of color. As a Montgomery County public school teacher for 17 years, I also know that the biggest barriers to students’ success are the inequalities that impact their lives, and that raising the minimum wage is thus particularly important for children.

“I have sponsored two successful minimum wage increases,” he added. “Several years ago, I helped convince lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County to join forces and push for higher minimum wages together. I then championed the cause of the workers behind the Fight For $15, and we succeeded last year in passing legislation that will gradually increase Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“My vision is a modern economy that encourages entrepreneurship, moves people and goods efficiently, develops today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, ensures regulations are sensible, and promotes opportunity for all,” Elrich said.

“The only way to have pro-worker progressive leadership in Montgomery County is to elect Marc Elrich as county executive,” Federici said. “All of our members living or working in Montgomery County have a lot at stake in ensuring that Marc wins.”

Election day is Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Early voting takes place from October 25th through  November 1st.

Why We Support Ben Jealous for Governor of Maryland

Local 400 Strongly Recommends Progressive Champion

Local 400 members living in Maryland would benefit greatly if they help elect Ben Jealous (D) their next governor, because he will fight for a $15 minimum wage, debt-free college tuition, bottom-up economic growth, universal health coverage, and a host of other pro-worker policies.

By contrast, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has repeatedly vetoed legislation our members need, like the Healthy Working Families Act. Fortunately, at Local 400’s urging, the General Assembly overrode Hogan’s veto and made paid sick leave state law.

That’s why Jealous, the former National President & CEO of the NAACP, received Local 400’s enthusiastic recommendation for his campaign to unseat Hogan.

“Ben has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to economic and social justice,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Now more than ever, we need bold, visionary leaders like Ben to lead us on a new path to ensure every Marylander has the opportunity to earn a better life. We look forward to Ben bringing his much-needed fighting spirit to Annapolis.”

“I’m proud of the movement of working people we’ve put together over the past year,” Jealous said at a press conference announcing his endorsement by Local 400 and four other unions. “As a lifelong community organizer, I know that building a broader, more robust coalition than anyone thinks is possible is the only way to move forward on Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and fully funding our schools.”

Jealous’ agenda for Maryland’s working families includes:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and tying it to the state’s median wage, while also gradually eliminating the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
  • Implementing an economic policy that increases wage growth, supports small businesses, and expands prosperity across every sector and region of the state.
  • Ensuring that the more than 300,000 Marylanders who currently lack health care are covered through a Medicare-for-All system that delivers better care for less cost.
  • Making community college free for every Marylander and making all four-year public colleges debt-free for state residents.

By contrast, Hogan has continually opposed measures designed to improve the living standards and quality of life for Maryland workers. Specifically, he:

  • Vetoed the Healthy Working Families Act, which would have denied paid family leave to workers in the state had the General Assembly not overridden his veto.
  • Opposes a $15/hour minimum wage.
  • Let health insurance premiums in the state rise by a whopping 120 percent, while opposing efforts to lower prescription drug prices.
  • Rejected needed increases in school funding. He tried to cut $144 million from Maryland’s public schools in his first budget. In 2016, he pushed to cut $30 million in investments for after-school programs, college preparation, and teacher retention. And he has diverted $18 million from public schools to subsidize expensive private schools.
  • Allowed Maryland workers to fall behind their counterparts, taking home less than $1,000 in inflation-adjusted wage growth during his time as governor while workers nationwide took home more than $5,500 in wage growth, and Virginia workers gained an additional $8,000.

“Wage growth for Maryland’s families has fallen behind under Larry Hogan and we need new leadership to create an economy that is truly inclusive and meets the needs of our state,” Jealous said. “As a businessman and civil rights leader, I know how to build an economy that leaves no family behind, no worker behind, no young person behind, and no person behind who has paid their debt to society and deserves a second chance. With new leadership, we can increase wage growth, support our small businesses, retain more of our own start ups and expand prosperity across every sector and region of our state.”

Federici urged Local 400 members in Maryland not only to vote for Jealous but to work for his election. “The more our members volunteer to make calls, knock on doors, and take other steps to elect Ben our next governor, the greater our chances of getting a true ally, advocate and fighter for our interests in the governor’s mansion,” he said. “I encourage everyone to do their part.”

Clinton Healthcare Center Workers Awarded $1,500 in Back Pay

From left to right: James Smith, Joyce Jackson, Claudene Fletcher and Dora Young, along with shop steward Tawanna Gray, received $1,500 in back pay after filing a grievance at Clinton Healthcare Center.

Like most Local 400 members, the contract covering employees at the Clinton Healthcare Center in Clinton, Md., requires scheduling to be based on seniority. Workers with the most seniority are scheduled for 10 days in each two week period, and those with less tenure might find their hours more varied, based on staffing needs.

But shortly after Clinton was purchased by CommuniCare Health Services, a for-profit company that operates 50 health care and rehabilitation centers in five states, scheduling started to change. “The new management wasn’t looking at our contract or our needs, it was just doing whatever it wanted,” said Local 400 shop steward Tawanna Gray. “I told them, ‘we have seniority and you have to follow our collective bargaining agreement.’ But they didn’t listen.”

So Tawanna spoke with her Local 400 representative, Heather Thomas, who filed a grievance on behalf of Clinton employees against management.

At first, progress was slow. But then a new general manager was hired who recognized the company was in the wrong and who worked cooperatively with Local 400 members to put things right.

“It took a while, but we let him know how many hours each affected employee was denied, and eventually, they wrote back pay checks,” Tawanna said. “And from that day forward, they’ve always looked at seniority first in scheduling.”

The total amount of back pay was nearly $1,500 for the five members who had been wrongfully denied their hours — Claudene Fletcher, Joyce Jackson, Rose Proctor, James Smith and Dora Young.

“I didn’t get any money back myself, but I was so happy for everyone who did,” Tawanna said. “The people who deserved it got it. And they were very, very grateful.

“I think it’s always a plus when the company and union agree together,” she added. “An even greater plus is when you have a GM from the company who says, ‘I see a mistake, I’ll take care of it, and it won’t happen again.’ It was a real morale booster, especially for me because I didn’t feel I had to do it all by myself. We had our union to back us up.”

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.”