Tagged as Suffolk

RSS

Lipton Shop Stewards Wanted

The shop steward is a key “link” in our union.

Apply by Friday, August 11, 2017

Being a shop steward means stepping up to play a key role in building our union. While not always an easy job, the role of a steward can be deeply rewarding—and something to be proud of.

The shop steward is a key “link” in our union. As a steward, you will lead your coworkers in enforcing their contract and defending their rights daily. Being on the shop floor makes you a first responder in understanding your coworkers’ concerns and priorities, organizing with them to take action, and educating them about their rights on the job. Apply to be a shop steward today!

In the meantime, four members have stepped up to the plate to serve as interim shop stewards while we process applications. You can pick up and turn in applications from one of the interim shop stewards below. Applications are due by Friday, August 11, 2017.

How to Apply:

Four members have stepped up to the plate to serve as interim shop stewards while we process applications. You can pick up and turn in an application from one of the interim shop stewards below. Applications are due by Friday, August 11, 2017.

Interim Shop Stewards:

A-Shift:   Paul Garrison

B-Shift: Anita Anderson

C-Shift: Terrell Owens

D-Shift: Corey Hicks

Lipton Tea Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Ratify First Union Contract

Check out more photos from the day on the Local 400 Facebook page.

Workers from the nation’s only Lipton tea plant voted overwhelmingly to approve their first union contract at a mass meeting in Suffolk on Monday, July 24, 2017.

This represents the first time in the history of the plant when workers were given the opportunity to vote on the terms and conditions of their employment.

“It was a long process, but we couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” said Anita Anderson, an Operator at Lipton for 11 years.

The contract covers 240 employees at the facility and includes significant improvements to working conditions and healthcare benefits. The union deal will result in many workers saving more than $4,000 a year on healthcare costs while greatly improving coverage.

“Our new healthcare plan is a huge weight off my shoulders. Personally, I take medication every day and I can’t go without my health insurance. But I’m also a dad, and saving $4,000 a year goes a long way for me and my family,” said Terrell Owens, who has worked as an operating technician at Lipton for the past nine years.

Last Spring, several people working at the Lipton facility reached out to the UFCW to explore the possibility of forming a union at the plant. At the time, many workers were required to work up to 12-hour shifts for as many as 13 days in a row with only one day off in between. The widespread practice of forcing employees to work overtime was known as “drafting” and went on for several years.

“A lot of us missed a lot of quality time with our families because of our forced commitment to the company – times that we will never get back,” said Robert Davis, a maintenance technician who has worked at the plant for more than 25 years.

The union contract places strict limits on when management can require employees to work overtime. The agreement provides workers with four days per year to opt out of mandatory overtime, in addition to two weekends off each month in which they can’t be forced to work overtime.

In an election last August, a majority of workers at Lipton voted to unionize with Local 400. Negotiations on the first collective bargaining agreement at Lipton began last Fall. A team of eight Lipton employees served as the union’s bargaining committee and lead negotiations with Lipton representatives that resulted in the contract ratified today.

“For the last ten years, we saw so many of our benefits taken away,” said Paul Garrison, a 16-year mechanic. “But now that we have a union, we’re getting them back again.”

Philip Surace, a mechanic at Lipton, said his first experience with a union was when he called UFCW Local 400 last Spring. “I didn’t know much about unions, but I knew something had to be done. Enough was enough. I was looking for help and the union sent people right away.” Philip quickly pulled together a meeting with his coworkers to learn about their rights to form a union. “Two months later, we had our union. I would encourage anyone who wants to make their workplace better to do the same thing we did.”

“As a longtime Virginia resident, I know all too well how decades of regressive legislation and outdated federal labor law have stacked the deck against workers, particularly in the South,” explained Local 400 President Mark Federci. “This unfortunate reality only makes me more proud of what the workers at Lipton have accomplished.”

Lipton is owned by Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational corporation jointly headquartered in London, U.K. and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Lipton plant in Suffolk has operated for more than 60 years and produces nearly all of the Lipton tea sold in North America.

Check out photos from the ratification vote on Facebook.

Lipton Update: Tentative Agreement Reached!

CORRECTION: Contract Ratification Vote July 24*

Contract Negotiations Update #8

On August 26, 2016 we took a leap of faith together and decided that it was time to have a union. We joined the campaign at different times and for different reasons but our collective goal has always been the same: building a better Lipton, together. We have had months of long, difficult negotiations, full of tough decisions, but we are thrilled to announce that we just completed our final bargaining session and have a tentative agreement that we are unanimously recommending for ratification!

We are close to our first collective bargaining agreement, the final step will be voting, and like our decision to have the union, it will be up to all of us.

BE THERE TO VOTE: MONDAY, JULY 24
Registration: 9:00 a.m.
Meeting: 10:00 a.m.
Hilton Garden Inn, 100 East Constance Rd, Suffolk, VA

*CORRECTION: A previous announcement stated voting would take place over two days, July 23-24, but since then, Lipton unilaterally decided on their own to close the plant. The vote will now take place at a single meeting on July 24 so everyone can participate in the same meeting and vote at the same time.

Only Lipton employees who have completed and submitted a union membership application will be allowed to attend the meeting and vote, so if you haven’t filled one out yet, do it now! We will mail entry cards to those who have filled out and submitted their application, but you will still be allowed to enter and vote if you fill one out any time before the meetings. We will answer any questions and/or get an application to you, but we aren’t permitted to share details about the tentative agreement until the meeting.

Sincerely, Your Negotiating Committee

Print the Flier (PDF)

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

 

Lipton Contract Negotiations Continue July 10-11

Contract Negotiations Update #7

After several long days of talks, we’ve wrapped up with Lipton contract negotiations for the week. We’re back at it July 10-11.

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

 

Lipton Contract Negotiations Resume June 7

Contract Negotiations Update #6

We have a philosophy as your negotiating committee: all or none of us. Unity and solidarity are how achieve every improvement in our workplace. By sticking together as a union family, we can get the better lives we deserve.

This is our guiding principle as we work towards the best contract possible. We are here to get the best deal for all of us – not some of us. Our goal is to make a positive impact for all of our coworkers.

This week, one of our core team members was unable to participate in negotiations due to business needs at the plant. But we will not be divided. Rather than allow business needs to split up our team, we chose to postpone negotiations.

We will continue bargaining with the company on June 7 when our entire team can participate.

April 25 & 26: Lipton Union Membership Meetings

This week, we’re holding union membership meetings for all Lipton employees. These meetings are an opportunity to ask questions about the contract negotiations, bring new issues to our attention, and learn more about the union.

Join us for one of the meetings this week. You only have to attend one meeting. All meetings will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Suffolk.

Lipton Union Membership Meetings
Hilton Garden Inn, 100 E Constance Rd, Suffolk, VA 23434

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
or
7:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
or
7:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the bargaining committee, or call Kayla Mock at 571-435-1817.

Lipton Contract Negotiations Advancing Steadily

Contract Negotiations Update #5

Bargaining Sessions Scheduled Through June

As this round of contract negotiations comes to a close, we continue to be proud of everything we have accomplished at the bargaining table.

This process is long and tedious, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through all of the very important issues that affect our work lives at Lipton. We know everyone is anxious to see what has been achieved and we are excited to share the details with you once we have gotten through these negotiations. We continue to make progress on nearly every front and we are confident you will be pleased with the outcome.

Even before our settling first contract, we have already gained so much by standing united. For the first time, we have a voice at Lipton. Already, we are helping shape the policies and procedures that impact us at work. We are now able to sit down together and freely discuss how employees would like to see things work at Lipton. We were able to hold the line on rising healthcare costs, and if we are disciplined, now we have the right to representation in meetings with management.

We are proud of the work we do, the tea we make, and the things we can accomplish when we stand together. We are confident the contract we are building will be a foundation for sustainable lives and futures at Lipton Tea.

In the meantime, don’t forget to join us for one of our upcoming membership meetings. We’ll see you there!

April 25 & April 26: Membership Meetings
Hilton Garden Inn, in the Chuckatuck Room
100 E Constance Rd, Suffolk, VA 23434
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. or 7:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

Sincerely,
Your Negotiating Committee

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

Print the Flier (PDF)

Lipton Contract Negotiations Moving Forward Steadily

Contract Negotiations Update #4

Hello all!

We were back at bargaining this week. After three more days of negotiations, we are excited to say we are still making progress. We know it seems like things have been slow-moving, but we want to make sure that we leave nothing on the table. And, as we know, every little thing counts! We know everyone is anxious to hear what’s been going on, and we understand.

Don’t lose hope! We started this strong together, and we will end this strong by continuing to stand together. As we all know, united we bargain!

While we continue contract negotiations, we will keep you updated as much as we can. In the meantime, please make a plan to join us for an upcoming membership meetings:

April 25 & April 26: Membership Meetings
Hilton Garden Inn, in the Chuckatuck Room
100 E Constance Rd, Suffolk, VA 23434
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. or 7:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

For the latest updates, be sure to sign up for text alerts. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the bargaining committee, or call Kayla Mock at 571-435-1817.

Sincerely,
Your Negotiating Committee
Corey Hicks, Ricky Gregory, Juanita Hart, Paul Garrison, and Philip Surace

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

Print the Flier (PDF)

Lipton Contract Negotiations Proceeding Well

Contract Negotiations Update #3

Mark Your Calendars: Lipton Union Membership Meetings April 25 & 26

After another two days of negotiations with Lipton this week, we are all in high spirits. We still have a few remaining issues to work out, but we have made significant progress on a number of fronts.

We are excited to share a contract proposal with you once this process is complete. At this moment, we are confident you won’t be disappointed with the outcome. While the process has been slow, we have made definite progress. We have scheduled a round of negotiations with Lipton next week, March 22-24, as well as another round in early April.

Please save the date for our next Lipton union membership meetings, April 25 & 26. We’ll announce the times and locations as soon as possible. These meetings are an opportunity to ask questions about the contract negotiations, bring new issues to our attention, and learn more about the union.

As we move forward, we’ll continue to update you every step of the way. In the meantime, please reach out to us any time. Your voice matters. We welcome your input and we’re more than happy to answer your questions. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Your Negotiating Committee
Corey Hicks, Ricky Gregory, Juanita Hart, Paul Garrison, and Philip Surace

Never Miss An Update: Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our first union contract with Lipton, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text LIPTON to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

Print the Flier (PDF)

Workers at Nation’s Only Lipton Tea Factory Vote to Unionize

Lipton workers announced the victory at a press conference outside the plant on Monday, August 29. They were joined by several supporters, including Virginia Senator L. Louise Lucas, Doris Course-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO, and Renee Browder, Financial Secretary Treasurer of ATU Local 1177.

Lipton workers announced the victory at a press conference outside the plant on Monday, August 29. They were joined by several supporters, including Virginia Senator L. Louise Lucas, Doris Course-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO, and Renee Browder, Financial Secretary Treasurer of ATU Local 1177.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 29, 2016

CONTACT
Jonathan Williams, UFCW Local 400, jwilliams@local400.org

Hundreds of workers in southeast Virginia manufacturing plant vote to unionize with UFCW Local 400

SUFFOLK, VA – Last week, nearly 200 workers at the Lipton plant voted to unionize with Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

“I woke up this morning feeling wonderful,” said Lisa Gayle, who’s been with the company for 14 years. “As a unified group, now we can make Lipton the best place it can be. I’m so excited!”

The Lipton plant has operated in Suffolk, Virginia for more than 60 years and produces nearly all of the Lipton tea sold in North America. More than 200 employees currently work at the plant, but that number could as much as double in the coming months as the company expands its workforce.

“I couldn’t be happier to welcome such a wonderful group of people into the UFCW family,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400. “Their courage, commitment and tireless efforts bolstered my faith in the power of working people to stand up for themselves and improve the lives of all hardworking men and women.”

On Monday morning, the workers held a press conference outside the plant to announce the victory.

“For the last ten years, we’ve seen our benefits decline. By standing together as one, as a union, we hope we can stop the bleeding now before it’s too late,” explained Alvin Brown, an Operations Technician who celebrated his 21st year with the company on Monday.

“I’m so proud of all of us for coming together and standing as one,” said Rodney Hart, who has worked at the company for 24 years. “We come a long way in a few weeks, and now we have to stand as one and support each other in order for our union and our company to be the best at what we do.”

The workers were joined by several supporters, including Virginia Senator L. Louise Lucas, who represents the district where the plant is located.

“I just wanted to say how proud I am of what you’ve accomplished here,” Senator Lucas told the workers in attendance. “It takes a lot of hard work and courage to do what you’ve done and I know our district is better off for it. I know you’ve worked hard to make Lipton the success it is today. Congratulations on taking the bold step to form a union and stand up for your rights at work.”

“Welcome to the union family,” said Doris Course-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO, who also attended the event. “You may not know this, but you’re not alone. You have union brothers and sisters throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia behind you today.”

Renee Browder, Financial Secretary Treasurer of ATU Local 1177, the union of transit workers throughout the region, echoed the sentiment. “Unions are all about unity – not just unity with your brothers and sisters at work, but unity with everyone that works hard for a living. When we stand together, we all do better.”

Earlier this year, several people working at the Lipton facility reached out to the UFCW to explore the possibility of forming a union at the plant. At the time, many workers were required to work up to 12-hour shifts for as many as 13 days in a row with only one day off before doing it again. The widespread practice of forcing employees to work overtime was known as “drafting” and went on for years. The workers claimed they needed the guarantees and protections of a union contract to ensure fair treatment and accountability from plant management, including putting an end to involuntary overtime drafting.

“We just want a voice. A lot of us missed a lot of quality time with our families because of our forced commitment to the company – times that we will never get back,” said Robert Davis, a maintenance technician at the plant who recently marked his 25th year with the company. “Now, we’re looking forward to having a seat at the table and negotiating a fair contract with Unilever.”

Following last week’s vote, the workers will now collectively negotiate their first union contract with Unilever, the parent company of Lipton, which could cover several aspects of employment, including wages, benefits, safety measures, and workplace policies.

“I have such a wonderful group of coworkers,” explained Anita Anderson, who has worked at the plant for 10 years. Like many of her coworkers, she’s looking forward to the next step in the process. “Whether you voted for the union or not, whether you’re a worker or a manager, now it’s time to move forward, together. Let’s let our unity and smiles warm the hearts of many. Working together is the only way we will ensure we have a fair contract that treats us all as equals.”

With the support of their union, UFCW Local 400, the workers will begin the bargaining process by surveying coworkers to gather input on their first contract, then forming a committee of employees to negotiate with management. Once negotiators reach a tentative agreement with the company, the proposal will be presented to the entire workforce for a ratification vote. The contract will take effect once ratified by a majority of the workers.

Last week’s vote by a majority of workers at Lipton means the employees will soon collectively negotiate a union contract, which will apply to all employees once ratified, but does not require the workers to join the union to receive the full benefits and protections of the contract. Because of the state’s so-called “right to work” law, union representatives in Virginia are required to provide their services for free to all workers, even if the employee is not a member of the union and does not contribute to covering the costs of union representation.

“As a longtime Virginia resident, I know all too well how decades of regressive legislation and outdated federal labor law have stacked the deck against workers, particularly in the South,” explained Local 400 President Mark Federci. “This unfortunate reality only makes me more proud of what the workers at Lipton have accomplished.”

While many companies notoriously fight tooth and nail to prevent their employees from exercising their right to form a union, Unilever’s own Human Rights Report states the company is “committed to the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.” In a letter to employees earlier this year, Lipton factory director Katie Ingersoll emphasized the company’s commitment to “remain neutral when it comes to employee’s right to organize.”

“We must commend Lipton and Unilever for upholding their commitment and honoring their employee’s right to organize,” said Tiffany Flowers, Director of Organizing at UFCW Local 400. “Too many companies intimidate, threaten, or even outright fire workers who dare to exercise their right to have a voice on the job. We’re happy to say that wasn’t the case here.”

###