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Congratulations to ABC Drawing Winner, Amadou Diallo

Active Ballot Club drawing winner, Amadou Diallo (left), poses for a photo with his Local 400 union rep, Johnnie Perry.

Local 400 member Amadou Diallo from Giant #780 in Falls Church, Va. is the most recent winner of our Active Ballot Club drawing! Congratulations, Amadou!

All across the country, corporations and the ultra-wealthy are funneling unprecedented amounts of money into our political system. Their goal is to create an unbalanced and unfair economy where wages are as low as possible and profits replace respect for the workers that created them.

The UFCW Active Ballot Club (ABC) seeks to level the playing field. By bringing together thousands of workers, our political concerns can be amplified to a decibel that is impossible to ignore. ABC supports pro-worker candidates and incumbents from all political parties and is the prominent political action committee dedicated to the interests of UFCW members nationwide.

By joining ABC, active members are automatically entered to win a monthly drawing. Learn more about the UFCW Active Ballot Club and talk to your rep about signing up today!

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)

Local 400 Member’s Son Hits the Big Time: Performs on “The Voice” April 17th!

TSoul, son of Local 400 member and representative Kenny Pinkard, is a contestant on Season 12 of NBC’s “The Voice.”

Father’s Union Activism Inspires TSoul’s Music Journey

Growing up in a union family in a small town in the Northern Neck of Virginia, Terry “TSoul” Pinkard learned early in life that through dedication and hard work, you can make a significant impact to those around you. That’s exactly what TSoul is doing as he embraces his journey on the NBC singing talent show, “The Voice.”

The son of Local 400 member and representative Kenny Pinkard, who works for Omega Protein, TSoul’s journey has been shaped by his father’s dedication to union activism and changing his community for the better.

“As a kid growing up in such a small town, my outlet and the way I was able to see more of the country was through going with my father to UFCW International conventions,” said TSoul. “There was this one time at the Chicago convention, I think I was around 11 or 12, that I somehow wandered into one of the ballrooms in the hotel, and Michael Jordan and the entire Chicago Bulls team was in there — it was my first time seeing all that TV stuff was real — it made it tangible for me.”

The opportunity to travel with his father led to countless hours in the car listening to music and singing along. The one genre that resonated to TSoul during this road trips was soul music. And that’s defining the path he’s paving for himself as an artist in the music industry.

“It’s a classic genre that many young people my age have forgotten about,” said TSoul. “What’s more amazing is I have a sense that I’m helping to revive soul music and bring awareness to generations today that this type of music exists.”

TSoul told Local 400 that after he sang  Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” on Tuesday’s show — the first time that song that had ever been performed on the show — his recording of the song was catapulted into iTunes’ Top 10 R&B chart!

“It shows me that I’m doing what I set out to do,” said TSoul. “Stay true to who I am as an artist while educating and impacting younger generations to the classic soul songs.”

Reaching “The Voice” stage was no easy feat for TSoul. He auditioned for the show seven times before making it to the blind audition stage to sing for the panel of celebrity coaches, including country artist Blake Shelton, Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, R & B singer Alicia Keys and Rock artist Gwen Stefani.

“I got all these nos, but I stayed steady, released more music and more projects,” said TSoul. “It made sense to get it another try this year — it’s really about trusting the timing of your life.”

TSoul began his singing career performing at his local church and entertaining Local 400 members, staff, and community at the Annual Northern Neck Fish Fry and at Gospel Fests in Danville, Va.

Before reaching Hollywood, TSoul sang at his local church and entertained Local 400 members, staff, and community at the Annual Northern Neck Fish Fry and at Gospel Fests in Danville, Va.

“When I sang at the fish fry one year, it was my first time singing in front of strangers or people that weren’t my friends from church,” said TSoul. “And when I received the same response and applause I knew I was on to something.”

For TSoul, music is a healer, which he directly correlated to the union and the work we do together to make the lives of working people better. Now that he’s on “The Voice,” he’s energized knowing that others who are watching him are feeling his passion through their television screen.

“Music is my way of serving people, just as my dad and those he’s worked with at Local 400 have done for countless others,” said TSoul.

Get the latest on TSoul at tsoulonline.com

Vote for TSoul

TSoul made it through the blind auditions, choosing country artist Blake Shelton as his coach. He then went head-to-head with fellow contestants in the Battle Rounds and Knock Out round. What’s next for TSoul? The LIVE shows! The Live show was always the goal for TSoul and this is our chance to back one of our own as the shows go live April 17th.

Here’s how to vote: This year you must vote during the show! (You have to vote during the show, because as the show wraps up people will be sent home.)

  1. Download “The Voice” Official App for Android or iPhone.
  2. Use Twitter to tweet out your vote with the proper hashtags that appear at the bottom of the screen when TSoul is singing!

May 13: DanChem & Ennis Solidarity Picnic

UFCW Local 400 cordially invites you and your family to our DanChem & Ennis employee Solidarity Day Picnic on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Good Year Park in Danville!

Solidarity Day Picnic

Saturday, May 13, 2017
12:30pm
Good Year Park
1901 Good Year Blvd, Danville, VA

The picnic is open to all DanChem and Ennis Local 400 members and their families. We’ll have a DJ and plenty of games for the kids. Please join us!

For more information, contact Donna Waddell at 202-674-7305.

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)

Member Spotlight: John Ruiz Is a Force for Solidarity

John Ruiz gave a fiery speech and received a standing ovation at the Safeway contract ratification meeting in November 2016.

John Ruiz believes in solidarity with every fiber of his being. During our recent contract negotiations with Safeway and Giant, Safeway workers reached a tentative agreement, but Giant workers faced a looming strike vote. John took action immediately to show he and his co-workers at Safeway would stand in solidarity with their fellow union members at Giant.

A night grocery manager at Safeway #1365 who served on the Bargaining Advisory Committee, John went into his store, gave his co-workers an update, made up signs saying “Giant workers, we are with you until the end,” took photos, and posted them online. He also got each of them to “adopt a Giant” and commit to picketing or helping their sisters and brothers in other ways if a strike took place.

“I told them, ‘we might have an agreement, but don’t expect it to always be this way,’” John recalled. “‘Next time it could be us. We might wear Safeway uniforms, but Giant members are our brothers and sisters, and we’re in this fight with them until the end.’”

John showed this same spirit of unity and leadership at the ratification meeting on November 16th, when he gave a fiery speech and received a standing ovation.

“Management came crying claiming employees cost too much,” he told his sisters and brothers. “They blamed us for not being able to man the stores. They claimed we were paid too much. We took that as a slap in the face. It was appalling to hear what the company thinks of us. But we’re the ones who keep the engine running. The companies’ proposals were extra motivation for us. In the end, we accomplished our goal of achieving a fair contract, with no extra health care costs and our pay increases. We defeated all cuts. The contract is very good compared to where we started. This is a win for all of us. United we stand, divided we fall. Solidarity is the only way. Union strong!”

In explaining why Local 400 overcame enormous adversity to win a fair contract, John said. “Solidarity was number one. Sticking together and being there for all of us. No matter how high that mountain was, we were going to climb it until we reached the peak. This was a total team effort.

“I was glad to be a part of the Bargaining Advisory Committee,” he added. “Tough as it was to sit across the table from management, hear them claim the stores are understaffed because we’re paid too much, even though they’re all profitable, and not be able to give them a piece of my mind back, I enjoyed being a part of it every single day. As the end result will tell you, it was well worth it—very gratifying.”

John has worked at Safeway for nearly 30 years and his leadership skills were clear to his co-workers for much of this time. Approximately 10 years ago, when his store needed a new shop steward, his sisters and brothers voted him in even though he was out on workers’ compensation after injuring his ankle in an accident with a powerjack. “They told me, ‘we know you’ll stand up for us and fight for us,’” he said. “I enjoy helping the employees out and working to make sure that no one takes advantage of them or violates the contract language.”

John has also gotten involved in other battles for his union. On November 29th, he spoke at a “Fight for $15” rally in Richmond, where the local NBC News affiliate aired footage of him saying, “Minimum wage workers should not have to work a full week and still have to worry about putting food on the table for their families or paying their rent on time.”

Looking to the future, John is ready to help his brothers and sisters out in any way possible. “I’m always there to do my part, no matter how small or how large, to make sure our union stays strong, that we fight for working families, and that we fight to keep and enforce language in the contract that treats employees the right way,” he said. “Too many times the contract isn’t followed, which is why so many grievances are filed. That’s why we need strong shop stewards who are not intimidated or scared to approach management, and who have been trained in how to handle grievances.”

John is a resident of Springfield. He’s married with 18- and 20-year-old children, and has two stepchildren, as well. And for him, being a Local 400 member has meant everything. “It has given me an opportunity enjoy life and have a secure job,” he said. “I was born in Trinidad. I came here with just $50 and one small bag of clothes. I signed up right away and everything I have now, I owe to Local 400. It’s given me great opportunities, helping me rise from courtesy clerk up to grocery manager. And our union is always there when we need it—including for me. I am so grateful for everything.”

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)

Anita Anderson: Organizing for a Better Life

Anita Anderson (front row, third from the left) celebrates with her coworkers at Lipton after winning a union election in August 2016.

For Anita Anderson, working as an operator/trainer at the Lipton Tea factory in Suffolk, Va., could not have been more stressful. For two full years, she and her co-workers were forced to put in 12-hour shifts for 13 consecutive days before they could get a single day off.

“We were off only two days out of every 30,” she said, due to the company policy known as “drafting.” “There wasn’t enough time to be with our families or see our children, and we knew that families would be torn apart if it kept up. And people were getting hurt because they were too tired. Back strains, hand lacerations, slips and falls were common. One injury is one injury too many.

“Making matters worse, if we spoke up, we were reminded that our jobs were voluntary and if we didn’t like how things were or if we were unhappy, we had the option to leave, as in QUIT,” she added. “This left several employees feeling unappreciated and it definitely sent us the message that management was unbothered by our feelings.”

Anita was also frustrated by minimal cost-of-living pay increases and rising health care costs. But then, a co-worker suggested they join Local 400. “When he approached me, I was excited about it, I wanted to know more about it,” she said. Before being hired by Lipton 11 years ago, Anita worked at the Newport News shipyard where she was a union member, so she knew what union representation could do for them.

Anita and her co-workers started meeting in a parking lot at a restaurant near the plant, and soon they met with Local 400 organizer Kayla Mock. “We felt that for the first time, someone was listening to us,” Anita recalled. “We took our union cards to work with us and spoke to our co-workers about why they should sign. Then, workers from other plants came down to stand with us.”

A pivotal moment in the campaign was when Anita and her co-workers spoke by telephone with Chicago Hellman’s workers, who are members of UFCW. Hellman’s and Lipton are both owned by Unilever, an international conglomerate. “We got to ask about their pay, benefits and working conditions. And we learned that what they have is much better than what we’ve gotten until now. As soon as we showed our co-workers the difference, cards started coming in left and right.”

Another key development happened in June 2016, when Lipton hired a new plant manager, who stopped the drafting policy. “This was a very good thing,” Anita said, “But we also saw clearly that our efforts to get a union were at least part of the reason why they decided to do this.”

In late July, the Lipton workers filed an application for a union election, and the date was set for August 26th—which also happens to be Anita’s birthday. Throughout election day, Anita recalled, “I was in the room with the judge representing the government. I wasn’t allowed to hold a conversation, but I couldn’t sit still, either. I was so anxious and so excited. Then, after the polls closed, as we tallied the vote and saw the yes votes pile up, I was literally screaming inside because I knew we had won. That night, it felt so good. We walked away knowing we finally had a voice. We let management know you can’t keep treating us any way you want, can’t keep taking away our benefits, can’t do drafting anymore.”

Anita and her coworkers wore “No Forced Overtime” stickers while negotiating their first union contract with Lipton.

In the wake of their remarkable victory, Lipton workers are now in the process of negotiating their first contract, and Anita is an alternate on the Bargaining Committee. While no outcome is guaranteed, she said she’d like to see “Better health coverage. Every year our health care costs go way up, but we’re only getting basic cost-of-living increases. We’re the driving force making Lipton money. The corporation says we’re doing well and always in the green. They should reward us for that. We don’t want to see forced overtime come back either.”

A resident of Chesapeake, Va., and the mother of two children and two stepchildren ranging in age from 19 to 27, Anita said that since she joined Local 400, “I am learning more and more about my workplace rights. I can ask a co-worker to be present at a meeting. And management can’t put something in my personnel file without them notifying me—something they did all the time before.

“Being a Local 400 member means I don’t have to take everything the company says or does to me,” she said. “I don’t have to sit back and let them treat me any way they want. I can go to management and voice my opinion and even if they try to turn a deaf ear, someone is there to listen and to act.”

Congratulations to ABC Drawing Winner, Tracey Anne Goroza

Active Ballot Club drawing winner, Tracey Anne Goroza (left), poses for a photo with her Local 400 union rep, Johnnie Perry.

Local 400 member Tracey Anne Goroza from Safeway #1300 in McLean, Va. is the most recent winner of our Active Ballot Club drawing! Congratulations, Tracey!

All across the country, corporations and the ultra-wealthy are funneling unprecedented amounts of money into our political system. Their goal is to create an unbalanced and unfair economy where wages are as low as possible and profits replace respect for the workers that created them.

The UFCW Active Ballot Club (ABC) seeks to level the playing field. By bringing together thousands of workers, our political concerns can be amplified to a decibel that is impossible to ignore. ABC supports pro-worker candidates and incumbents from all political parties and is the prominent political action committee dedicated to the interests of UFCW members nationwide.

By joining ABC, active members are automatically entered to win a monthly drawing. Learn more about the UFCW Active Ballot Club and talk to your rep about signing up today!