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Montgomery County Passes $15 Minimum Wage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH!

Recommended Candidates

Governor

Ralph Northam

Lieutenant Governor

Justin Fairfax

Attorney General

Mark Herring

Virginia House of Delegates

2nd–Jennifer Foy

12th–Chris Hurst

13th–Danica Roem

21st–Kelly Fowler

31st–Elizabeth Guzman

32nd–David Reid

34th–Kathleen Murphy

42nd–Kathy Tran

50th–Lee Carter

51st–Hala Ayala

67th–Karrie Delaney

87th–John Bell

93rd–Mike Mullin

94th–Shelly Simonds

100th–Willie Randall

How Candidates Are  Recommended

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

In Virginia, we:

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

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

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

Sep 12: Join Us for the Moral Day of Action!

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Join us for the “Moral Day of Action” in Richmond on Monday, September 12!

Moral Day of Action
10:30am @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219

On Saturday, August 13, we made history in Richmond. Thousands and thousands of us marched through the streets of Richmond to demand economic justice for the 64 million Americans working for less than $15 an hour. The march brought together people from across the country working too much for too little – from Kroger associates to fast food workers to childcare providers and even college professors.

Now, we’re taking our message to Virginia legislators. On Monday, September 12, we’re rallying to call on the governor, state legislators and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people. As we rally in Richmond, simultaneous rallies will be held at state capitals throughout the country as part of a national Moral Day of Action. Join us!

10:30am @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219

About the Moral Day of Action:

On Monday, September 12, 2016 at State Capitols around the nation, at 11 AM in every time zone, justice will roll across the country as faith leaders from diverse traditions, people impacted by poverty, racism, and injustice, advocates, and activists come together rally and to deliver to our elected leaders and candidates the Higher Ground Moral Declaration, which calls on governors, senators, state legislators and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.

The Moral Declaration that has already been delivered to the RNC as well as the DNC will be read, proclaimed, and delivered to our Governors, US Senate candidates and state party officials. The format will be simple and will be the same in every state.

The Moral Day of Action on Monday is part of “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values,” a national tour to redefine morality in American politics and challenge leaders of faith and moral courage to be more vocally opposed to harmful policies that disproportionately impact the poor, people who are ill, children, immigrants, communities of color, and religious minorities. The first part of the national revival tour has over 19 stops from April 2016 to January 2017 including New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington DC, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The Revival is co-led by the Rev. Dr. James A Forbes Jr. and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, architect of the historic Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. They will be joined in some states by other national social justice leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries, and Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” and executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK in Washington, DC.

Print the Flier (PDF)

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Thousands Gather in Richmond for Historic Fight for $15 March

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On Saturday, August 13, we made history in Richmond.

Thousands and thousands of us marched through the streets of Richmond to demand economic justice for the 64 million Americans working for less than $15 an hour. The march brought together people from across the country working too much for too little – from Kroger associates to fast food workers to childcare providers and even college professors.

The march culminated the first-ever national Fight for $15 convention, which brought together thousands of underpaid workers to strategize next steps for our growing movement.

The Fight for $15 movement shows us what we can accomplish when we stand together. It all started four years ago when fast food workers in New York went on strike. Since then, it has grown to thousands of cities across the world and has scored victory after victory for working people. Just last month, we passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. to $15 an hour by 2020. New York and California have already done the same thing. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles have also gone to $15.

Marja Tippin, a teacher from Oakland, California, explained the importance of the movement to millions of hardworking men and women:

“We need to get a livable wage across the board, and possibly, hopefully, end poverty. We work really hard to provide, and can’t maintain, and that is not right. This is not the American dream, at least not the way I was taught.”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, leader of North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP who recently made headlines after delivering a speech at the Democratic National Convention, was a featured speaker at the convention. With his piercing moral perspective, the reverend put the crisis facing underpaid workers today in stark relief:

“Right now you’re helping to fight for a third Reconstruction in this country. Labor without livable wages is nothing but a pseudo-form of slavery. When you pay people more, it’s good for them, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for America.”

It’s time for an economy that works for us ALL. It’s time for $15 and union rights. We are thousands strong, and we are tired of struggling to get by no matter how hard we work. We deserve better. We know that by standing together, we’ll get the better lives we deserve.

Photos on Facebook

Check out photos from the march on Facebook.

August 13: March for $15 at Kroger

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On Saturday, August 13, thousands of people like us will be marching through the streets of Richmond calling for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Can you make it?

March for $15 at Kroger
1:30 pm, Saturday, August 13
Monroe Park, Richmond, VA
Part of the first-ever Fight for $15 National Convention

The Fight for $15 has grown to become a household name in our country for a reason. Thousands of hardworking men and women have refused to stay silent about the challenges of making ends meet on today’s poverty wages.

Just look at the facts. Nearly 64 million Americans work for less than $15 an hour, including many members of Local 400. Over the last few decades, the real value of our wages has plummeted. Today, the minimum wage in Virginia is only $7.25. But in 1968, it was $1.60 –equivalent to $11.08 today. Not only that, we’re more productive today than we were in 1968. If the minimum wage kept pace with our productivity, it would be $18.85 today!

20160804-EPI_Chart_Min_Wage_Productivity

Even if you make more than the minimum wage, your pay is affected too. When the value of the minimum wage goes down, so does the value of your paycheck. It’s simple: the lower the bottom goes, the deeper we all sink. That’s why we’re fighting to raise wages up and down the scale – because like the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

It’s not that Kroger can’t afford to pay more. Kroger made $2.4 billion in profits last year. Kroger’s CEO, Rodney McMullen, was richly rewarded for your hard work: he got a 17% pay raise this year. He now makes $11.2 million a year. A part-time Kroger associate making $9 an hour would have to work 1,204 years to make what he made last year alone.

We’re tired of CEOs getting all of the reward off of our hard work while we struggle to make ends meet. We’re tired of working harder than ever but earning less than we did decades ago. It’s time for change.

Join us on Saturday, August 13, for a historic Fight for $15 march through Richmond. We’ll be marching with thousands of McDonald’s cashiers and airport baggage handlers, truck drivers and early education teachers, retail employees and home care workers. And so many others.

To those of you that doubt us, those of you that think we’ll never get $15 an hour (or worse, think that we don’t deserve $15 an hour) – think again. We’re already doing it. Just last month, we passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. to $15 an hour by 2020. New York and California have already done the same thing. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles have also gone to $15.

This isn’t just a fight worth winning, it’s a fight we ARE winning. Help us keep up the momentum! Join us on Saturday, August 13 to Fight for $15 at Kroger!

Print the Flier (PDF)

20160813-Richmond Fight For 15 March

District of Columbia Set to Enact $15 Minimum Wage

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Nation’s capital will join Seattle and San Francisco to become third major city to enact $15 minimum wage

On Tuesday, July 21, the District of Columbia City Council passed historic legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour in a major victory for the “Fight For $15” movement. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has pledged to sign the bill, which will make the nation’s capital the third major city to pass a $15 minimum wage, along with Seattle and San Francisco.

The $15 hourly wage could impact as many as 114,000 working people in the District, or around 14 percent of the city’s workforce, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.

On July 1st, the city’s minimum wage will increase from $10.50/hour to $11.50/hour under previous legislation championed by Local 400 and others. The new bill will provide annual increases to the minimum wage beginning in 2017 until it reaches $15/hour in 2020. After that, it will be adjusted for inflation each year.

Yearly Minimum Wage Increases in Washington, D.C.

July 2016 – $11.50

July 2017 – $12.50

July 2018 – $13.25

July 2019 – $14.00

July 2020 – $15.00

Local 400 has been leading the Fight for $15 in the District of Columbia and other states where our members live and work. But while we praise the D.C. Council members and Mayor Bowser for enacting the $15 minimum wage, we’ve also called on them to take two other steps essential to improve the lives of D.C. workers:

Pass Just Hours legislation (also known as the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act) to guarantee stable hours and predictable scheduling for  men and women working in chain restaurants and retail stores in the District.

Pass the Universal Paid Leave Act to help low-wage workers safeguard themselves and their families in the event they are without income for an extended period.

“While wage increases are a crucial and necessary step, wages alone are not enough to give every hardworking District resident a fair shot at a better life,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We look forward to seeing the Council demonstrate this same leadership in passing Just Hours legislation, which will guarantee District workers won’t struggle with too few hours on too short notice, as well as Paid Family Leave, which will bring the U.S. up to speed with other developed nations by providing reasonable accommodations to workers who choose to start a family.

“It’s important that all workers earn the income that would allow them to support a family—and that their jobs provide the predictability and flexibility that allow them to actually raise a family,” Federici said. “That’s why paid leave and fair scheduling practices are so essential—because parents must be empowered to both provide for and be present for their children.”

Take Action

Do you live or work in Washington, D.C.?

Call the city council at (202) 724-8000 and Mayor Muriel Bowser at (202) 727-2643 and urge them to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act and the Universal Paid Leave Act.

For the latest information on each bill, visit dcjusthours.org and dcpaidfamilyleave.org.

Virginia Members Take Concerns to Legislature in Annual AFL-CIO Lobby Day

by Rick Howell

The Virginia Senate Commerce and Labor Committee ignored the voices of working Virginians and once again struck down a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage, currently a paltry $7.25 per hour.

The Virginia Senate Commerce and Labor Committee ignored the voices of working Virginians and once again struck down a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage, currently a paltry $7.25 per hour.

Monday, February 1, dawned unusually warm as a team of UFCW Local 400 activists walked from the Richmond Marriott to the state legislature to participate in this year’s “Lobby Day” activities.

Each General Assembly session, the Virginia AFL-CIO invites activists from various labor unions to help make the case to lawmakers for that year’s labor agenda.

Many Virginia legislators, Democrat and Republican, are determined that the state’s “right-to-work” law wind up in the Constitution of Virginia. They passed that measure last year, and would like to see it pass in 2016 and be on the ballot this fall.

However, as UFCW activists discussed this with lawmakers, there was talk about moving it to 2017, to avoid “long lines” at the polls in a presidential race. This prompted Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays to say “If they’re worried about long lines, why don’t we have early voting?”

Our activists watched as the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage. This happened in spite of testimony from one woman, who asked: “Have any of you had your water turned off, because you paid the gas bill? Or had your gas turned off when you paid the water bill, because you couldn’t pay both?”

Her questions were met with silence. Once again, the GOP-controlled Virginia legislature was refusing to respond to the needs of hardworking men and women struggling to make ends meet.

Nevertheless, it was an opportunity to show our presence as an organized labor force in a state long run by businessmen. Some legislators, including Sen. John Edwards, Del. Charniele Herring, Del. David Toscano, and Del. Jeion Ward, met with our delegation and we had the opportunity to thank them for their long support of organized labor.

The fight against “right to work” and the struggle to raise the minimum wage will continue in Virginia, and UFCW Local 400 will be there!

UFCW Local 400 staff and members were out in force at the Virginia General Assembly as part of the AFL-CIO's annual lobby day.

UFCW Local 400 staff and members were out in force at the Virginia General Assembly as part of the AFL-CIO’s annual lobby day.

Rick Howell, pictured on the left, is a UFCW Local 400 member from Roanoke, Virginia, where he has worked for Kroger for many years. Rick is also a writer and journalist. You can read his regular column in The Bedford Bulletin.

 

 

 

 

 

#PayVA Campaign Continues Though November Elections

Last year, Local 400 and its labor allies succeeded in raising the minimum wage in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia, leaving Virginia lagging behind at $7.25/hour.

To get Virginia’s living standards closer to the level of its neighbors, Local 400, the Virginia AFL-CIO and many other state advocacy groups joined together in the #payVA campaign, backing legislation sponsored by Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) and Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) to lift the minimum wage to $10.10/ hour by 2017. A similar bill passed the Virginia Senate last year on a 20-20 party-line vote, with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam breaking the tie in its favor, but it was defeated in the Republican-controlled House.

This year, the Virginia Senate is controlled by Republicans 21-19 after the scandal-tainted resignation of Sen. Phil Puckett. Yet despite having only a one vote margin, Senate Republicans stacked the Commerce and Labor Committee with 11 of their members to only three Democrats. So when the committee considered Sen. Marsden’s minimum wage bill, it was defeated on a party-line vote, 11-3. Del. Plum’s bill was also voted down in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

“It’s anti-democratic to stack committees in this way, and it’s anti-worker to block the minimum wage bill, denying the full Senate and House the right to vote on this urgently needed legislation,” said Local 400 Secretary-Treasurer Lavoris “Mikki” Harris. “That’s a set-back, but not a defeat, because we are going make sure voters in this fall’s elections know where their senators and delegates stand on the minimum wage. We will keep fighting until all workers in Virginia have the same minimum wage as our brothers and sisters in neighboring states.”

Local 400 members are out in force battling for a higher minimum wage. Activists have been in stores getting signatures on cards for the General Assembly and recruiting volunteers. And members have come to the state Capitol in Richmond to participate in the Virginia AFL-CIO lobby day and to testify at committee hearings on the bill.

Join the fight in Virginia:

  • To raise the minimum wage to $15
  • To guarantee retail and service workers the right to full time hours
  • To repeal the harmful, unfair “right to work” law so all workers have a voice on the job

“Many politicians in both parties now talk the talk about the need to reduce inequality and get wages on the rise again,” Harris said. “A higher minimum wage is where we find out if they can walk the walk. We are going to make sure it’s the number one issue in November, when all members of the General Assembly are up for election.”

 

In Case You Missed It: Minimum Wage is on the Up & Up!

MinimumWage_ALLIn case you missed it January 1, 2015 the minimum wage increased in 21 states, including Maryland and West Virginia. (D.C.’s wage increased July 1) Be sure to check and double-check your pay checks.

 

And those that are included in the West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio Kroger bargaining agreement you should all be getting pay increases as well. Click here for more information.

Hundreds Rally & March In Support of Walmart Associates “Fight for $15” and Full Time Hours

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Report by Union City—Hundreds of labor and community activists shut down K Street on Thursday as they marched on the Walton Family Foundation’s 18th Street offices to call out the big-box giant for paying low wages while amassing huge wealth for the Walton family. “This is so empowering!” 14-year Walmart Associate Cindy Murray told Union City. “It’s not just about Walmart workers, it’s about everyone who’s underpaid, under-appreciated and overworked in America. We’re taking our country back!”

The Waltons are now worth more than 150 billion dollars, more than nearly half the workers in the country combined. A huge sign saying “Waltons are Robbing America” led the demonstration, along with dozens of Walmart workers with bullhorns. Demonstrators tried to deliver a petition from Walmart workers across the country calling on Walmart to publicly commit to raise pay to $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time work, but the foundation claimed to be closed for the day. Undeterred, the crowd of activists promised “We’ll be back!” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd that “sometimes it’s not enough to rally and march” and fifteen Walmart strikers and activists were arrested after sitting in at 18th and K Streets; in New York City, 25 were arrested during a simultaneous Walmart action there.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

If the Waltons fail to respond, protesters promise to return to Walmart stores on Black Friday. The march was preceded by a rally at the AFL-CIO at which a number of political and community allies, including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Maryland State Senator Roger Manno pledged their support for the “Fight for $15.”

Check out the photos from the event here! Our favorites? The aerial views of the street take over! 

You can also track the discussion from the event by searching for the hashtag #Fightfor15 on Twitter