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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

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

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

Mayor
Muriel Bowser

Attorney General
Karl Racine

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

 

MARYLAND

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Ben Jealous/Susan Turnbull

Comptroller
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

14th
Anne Kaiser
Eric Luedtke
Pamela Queen

15th
David Fraser-Hidalgo
Kathleen Dumais
Lily Qi

16th
Ariana Kelly
Marc Korman

17th
Jim Gilchrist
Julie Palakovich Carr
Kumar P. Barve

18th
Al Carr
Emily Shetty
Jared Solomon

19th
Bonnie Cullison
Charlotte Crutchfield
Vaughn Stewart

20th
David Moon
Jheanelle Wilkins
Lorig Charkoudian

21st
Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Ben Barnes
Mary Lehman

22nd
Alonzo Washington
Tawanna Gaines
Anne Healey

23A
Geraldine Valentino-Smith

23B
Ron Watson
Marvin E. Holmes, Jr.

24th
Jazz Lewis
Erek L. Barron
Andrea Fletcher Harrison

25th
Darryl Barnes
Dereck Davis
Nick Charles

26th
Kris Valderrama
Veronica Turner
Jay Walker

27A
Susie Proctor

27B
Michael Jackson

27C
Jason Fowler

28th
Debra Davis
Edith J. Patterson
CT Wilson

39th
Lesley J. Lopez
Gabriel Acevero
Kirill Reznik

40th
Melissa Wells

47A
Diana M. Fennell
Julian Ivey

47B
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

 

VIRGINIA

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

 

WEST VIRGINIA

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

7th
Lissa Lucas

8th
David Bland

9th
Jim Marion

10th
Andy Daniel
J.Morgan Leach
Harry Deitzler

12th
Missy Morris

13th
Dem Scott Brewer

14th
Brianne Solomon

16th
Sean Hornbuckle
Matt Spurlock
Vera Miller

17th
Chad Lovejoy
Matthew Rohrbach

18th
Karen Nance

19th
Ken Hicks
Robert Thompson

21st
Phylis White

22nd
Gary Mccallister
Zack Maynard

23rd
Rodney Miller

24th
Ralph Rodighiero
Timothy Tomblin

26th
Ed Evans

29th
Rick Moye

31st
Richard “Rick” Snuffer Ll

32nd
Margaret Anne Staggers
Mell Kessler
Luke Lively

33rd
David A Walker

34th
Brent Boggs

35th
Andrew Byrd
Renate Pore
James Robinette
Doug Skaff Jr.

36th
Larry Rowe
Andrew Robinson
Amanda Estep-Burton

37th
Mike Pushkin

38th
Tom Tull

39th
David “Woody” Holmes

40th
Melissa Huffman

47th
Frank “Ed” Larry

51st
Barbara Fleischauer
Evan Hanson
Rodney Pyles
Danielle Walker
John Williams

52nd
Gary Knotts

53rd
Cory Chase

22-Year Kroger Member Triumphs Over Adversity

Margie Landers poses with her 20-year service award from Kroger.

To say that Margie Landers has never had it easy is an understatement.

Twenty-two years ago, she was living in a homeless shelter in Amadaville, W.Va. and she was determined to make it on her own. During the year she lived in the shelter, she took GED classes, and classes in accounting and bookkeeping. She also got a job as a cashier at Kroger #725 in St. Albans.

Without a car or driver’s license, Margie had to walk the nearly two miles from her shelter to Kroger every working day, but she was grateful to have a job and income.

“The woman who ran the shelter—we called her ‘Grammy’—she never gave up on me,” Margie recalled. “She even helped me get my driver’s license, which made it easier to get to work and keep my job. If not for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Not long after joining Kroger, Margie was able to get a place of her own. She also received her certificate in accounting and bookkeeping. And she stayed at Kroger #725, becoming full-time in 2007 and doing almost every job in the store outside of the Meat Department. “I’ve been backup dairy, head produce for a year, backup deli, you name it,” she said. Today, Margie is assistant front-end manager.

However, she recently had a huge scare. One day in August, the head front-end manager was off work, so Margie was to receive an upgrade in pay for the day. It was also the day that payroll was to be transmitted, and she wanted to make sure she was paid the proper amount, but an employee cannot adjust her own pay. So Margie got another employee’s ID and password and made the entry.

“This had been going on for years,” Margie said, “so I didn’t think anything of it. And my entry was correct—I wasn’t trying to get more than I was owed.”

Unfortunately, a co-manager witnessed the event. Rather than tell Margie she wasn’t allowed to use another employee’s ID and password, he said nothing, let her do it and then reported it to the manager. She was immediately suspended.

“When it happened, I filed a grievance,” Margie said. “I was freaking out. This is my first job and I’d never done anything wrong until now. It was insane. I could have lost everything—my home, my car, my dogs.

“But I also got statements from two employees that this had been happening for years and no one had ever done anything about it until now,” she said. “My shop steward, Kelly Snyder, was awesome, and so was Gary Southall, my representative. They know I’m a person of my word.”

When the grievance reached the second stage, Margie’s evidence—plus her moving testimony about how much her 22 years at Kroger meant to her, how far she had come, and how she would never do it again—won the day. After three weeks, she got her job back as assistant front end manager.

“Ever since I’ve been back, my attitude’s changed,” Margie said. “I’m so grateful to have my job and so grateful for what my union has done for me.”

Margie has always made a point of attending ratification meetings and staying informed about union affairs. She has also found her Local 400 sisters and brothers to be an endless source of support over her 22 years at Kroger, during which time she endured far more adversity.

“I lost my son in 2003 when I was here,” Margie said. “Two years later, my mom passed away. More recently, my fiancé passed away. Kelly has been with me all 22 years and she has been my rock, along with so many other co-workers. They’ve been amazing—tremendously supportive—every step of the way.

“It’s been crazy, but it’s made me who I am today,” she said.

West Virginia 2018 Voter Guide

 

West Virginia’s general election is on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. We must vote to change our current legislative leadership’s war on working families which has stifled workers’ voices, lowered wages, and made workplaces less safe.

It is vital that you vote in the election Tuesday,November 6, 2018. 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 to turn around the anti-worker, anti-union legislature in West Virginia.

Check your registration status!

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office has purged more than 100,000 voters this year. Take a minute right now to check your voter registration status online at the following link: http://bit.ly/WVvoter

Don’t know where to vote?

You can look up your registration status and find your polling location by visiting  the WV Secretary of State website at this link: https://services.sos.wv.gov/Elections/Voter/FindMyPollingPlace

UFCW Local 400 West Virginia 2018 Voter Guide

U.S. Senate:

DEM. JOE MANCHIN

 

U.S. House Of Representatives:

1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
No Endorsement

2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
DEM. TALLEY SERGENT

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
DEM. RICHARD OJEDA

 

State Senate:

2ND SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. DENNY LONGWELL

3RD SENATORIAL DISTRICT:
DEM. JAMES LEACH

4TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. BRIAN PRIM 

5TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. MIKE WOELFEL

6TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. CHARLES SAMMONS

7TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. RON STOLLINGS 

8TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. RICHARD LINDSAY

10TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. STEPHEN BALDWIN

11TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
REP. BILL HAMILTON

12TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. MIKE ROMANO

13TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. BOB BEACH

14TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. STEPHANIE ZUCKER 

17TH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
DEM. TERRELL ELLIS 

 

State House Of Delegates:

7TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. LISSA LUCAS

8TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. DAVID BLAND

9TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. JIM MARION

 10TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. ANDY DANIEL
DEM. J.MORGAN LEACH
DEM. HARRY DEITZLER 

12TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. MISSY MORRIS

13TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM SCOTT BREWER

14TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. BRIANNE SOLOMON

16TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. SEAN HORNBUCKLE
DEM. MATT SPURLOCK
REP. VERA MILLER

17TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. CHAD LOVEJOY
REP. MATTHEW ROHRBACH

18TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. KAREN NANCE

19TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. KEN HICKS
DEM. ROBERT THOMPSON

21ST HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. PHYLIS WHITE

22ND HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. GARY MCCALLISTER
REP. ZACK MAYNARD

23RD HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. RODNEY MILLER

24TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. RALPH RODIGHIERO
DEM. TIMOTHY TOMBLIN 

26TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. ED EVANS

29TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. RICK MOYE

31ST HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. RICHARD “RICK” SNUFFER ll

32ND HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. MARGARET ANNE STAGGERS
DEM. MELL KESSLER
DEM. LUKE LIVELY

33RD HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. DAVID A WALKER

34TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. BRENT BOGGS

35TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. ANDREW BYRD
DEM. RENATE PORE
DEM. JAMES ROBINETTE
DEM. DOUG SKAFF JR.

36TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. LARRY ROWE
DEM. ANDREW ROBINSON
DEM. AMANDA ESTEP-BURTON

37TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. MIKE PUSHKIN

38TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. TOM TULL

39TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. DAVID “WOODY” HOLMES

40TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. MELISSA HUFFMAN

47TH HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. FRANK “ED” LARRY

51ST HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. BARBARA FLEISCHAUER
DEM. EVAN HANSON
DEM. RODNEY PYLES
DEM. DANIELLE WALKER
DEM. JOHN WILLIAMS

52ND HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. GARY KNOTTS

53RD HOUSE DISTRICT
DEM. CORY CHASE

Kroger Shop Steward Retires After 42 Years

Fought for Fair Treatment, Served on Four Bargaining Committees

Over the course of 42 years working for Kroger—40 as a shop steward—Ray Jones saw a massive amount of change. But every step of the way, through good times and bad, there was always one constant—he made sure management treated his sisters and brothers fairly.

“Back in the day, everything was done at the store level,” Ray said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, I could take care of any issue that arose in-house. If not, I could make a call, get a regional manager on the line, and take care of it on the phone. I could nip things in the bud the day they happened.

“Today, it’s not like that,” he said. “Managers are too scared for their jobs to resolve problems, so they immediately get corporate involved. This leads to a long, drawn-out process and grievances that can take months.

“Before, managers knew the employees and knew their work ethic,” Ray noted. “If a worker makes a mistake, he or she might get a slap on the wrist and later may go on to become a manager. Today, we lose good employees over minor infractions because of zero tolerance policies. That’s one reason turnover’s so high.”

During his more than four decades at Kroger, Ray has served on four bargaining committees—one with UFCW Local 347 and the other three with Local 400 after the two locals merged. He raised the issue of turnover in his most recent three negotiations. “I told Kroger, we’ve got to find something to keep people here, we’re losing too many good workers,” Ray recalled. “They told me three different times, ‘We like the churn.’

“In the earlier years of bargaining, we were a smaller group and so were the Kroger negotiators,” Ray said. “We could sit around and air out our issues. Today, Kroger alone has 12 to 15 people there and they’re a lot less willing to listen. Their approach seems to be, ‘There’s only so many jelly beans in the bowl. You can decide how much goes to wages, health care and pensions, but we’re not going to give you any more jelly beans.’”

Ray’s passion for fairness and justice led him to become a shop steward when he was just 20 years old. “I had worked at Kroger in Morgantown, W.Va. for about a year and some of the employees felt there was favoritism, and they felt like I was fair, so I was asked to be an assistant steward,” he recalled. “At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, but a couple of days later, I was having lunch in an Arby’s. I asked for my roast beef sandwich without sauce and the young woman behind the counter told the manager that. But when I got my sandwich, it had sauce. So I brought it up to the counter. Then, the manager reamed the poor woman out for his own mistake, and told her to punch out and go home. She was in tears. So I gave the manager a piece of my mind and I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t let anything like that happen at Kroger.

“I’ve always treated both sides fairly,” Ray said. “If I saw a manager doing something wrong, I’d let them know. There was an atmosphere of mutual respect. Kroger used to be a fun place to work. Now, managers are so afraid for their jobs, it’s taken all the fun out of it and makes everything harder.”

Ray, who worked most recently as assistant deli manager at Kroger #730 in Elkins, W.Va., retired on August 31st partly out of frustration with the way the work has become more automated and rigid. “I found myself having to spend more time doing reports than stocking shelves,” he said. “They took a two-hour job and turned it into a four-hour job. And that took me away from serving customers.”

At age 60, Ray is not ready to call it a day, and he now works as a real estate broker and property appraiser. He lives in Elkins with his wife, Peggy. Together, they have four children and five grandchildren. And while he no longer works at Kroger, he deeply values his service and activism with Local 400.

“Being active in your union makes you a better person overall, because your fellow members hold you to a higher standard, and so does management,” Ray said. “Everyone has eyes on you. So you’ve got to be policing yourself about being on time, doing the job right, behaving right. Above all, you try to treat everyone fairly. So you’ve got to step up and you’ve got to be on top of your game. Being a shop steward has helped me achieve greater success in all aspects of my life. I’m very grateful for that and for all I was able to do to help my brothers and sisters.”

Hundreds of Kroger Associates Win $90,000 Settlement in West Virginia

Pictured left to right, back row first: David Simpson, Gary Southall, Shawn Cantrell, Chelsea Snow, Stephen Bumgardner and Randy Fields at Kroger #725 in St. Albans, W.Va.

Hundreds of Local 400 members are about to receive back pay checks after winning a $90,000 settlement against Kroger, following a grievance against the company over lengthy delays in implementing raises provided for under the terms of their contract.

Kroger members in West Virginia ratified a new contract last Fall that provided raises for backups and night crew workers. The contract was ratified on November 6, but the raises were supposed to take effect retroactively to October 7, 2017—the date the previous contract expired. But Kroger didn’t start paying the new raises until February 2018, leaving a roughly four-month gap when hundreds of people should have been paid at the higher rate.

“When we went to a meeting on the contract, I saw that DSD [direct store delivery] people got their raises immediately and someone in pharmacy got a raise in December, but they made us wait until February,” recalled David Simpson, a 38-year Kroger veteran who is shop steward and backup meat cutter at Kroger #725 in St. Albans, W.Va.

“That wasn’t right,” he said. “So I looked into it. I talked to the night crew and meat cutters and they thought they should be getting their raises too.”

David filed a grievance against Kroger and with the assistance of his Local 400 representative, Gary Southall, worded it to ensure that it covered all 522 members affected by the company’s contract violation.

The grievance went through first, second, and third level meetings and each time, Kroger refused to budge. It was finally slated for arbitration and at that point, the company realized it was unlikely to win and negotiated the $90,000 settlement.

“I was very excited about the victory,” Dave said. “A little extra never hurts anybody. I thought I was right all along and this shows Kroger knew it. I told the night crew and everyone was happy.

“Kroger’s always trying to put one over on us and this time we got them instead,” he added.

The $90,000 settlement is being divided equally among the 522 members who were affected. Settlement checks have been mailed and should arrive in members’ mailboxes over the next several days.

West Virginia Shop Steward Hosts His Own Union Meetings at Home

Jim Logan holds a sign at a Kroger rally in West Virginia.

Jim Logan has been a Kroger employee and union member in West Virginia for 42 years. He lives in Caldwell and works in Fairlea, but to people who don’t live there, it’s all Lewisburg – the town with a population of around 3,800 that was named “the coolest small town in America” by Budget Travel in 2011. While Lewisburg may be celebrated for its “breathtaking vistas,” and “eclectic food scene,” the area around it is often overlooked.

“It’s considered a good retirement place, good hunting, good fishing,” Jim says. “You have a wide gamut of people, [you have people] who live at the sporting club at Greenbrier, which is beyond our imagination, and then you have people who are just squeaking by.”

Jim’s coworkers know this better than anyone. “Everyone knows how tight things have gotten in the last ten years,” he says. “And it used to be that it didn’t affect everybody, but no one has any sense of security nowadays.”

But he sees in this economic hardship an opportunity for building solidarity. “Everyone needs to feed a family, and they may differ on certain viewpoints, but beyond that everyone agrees that a livable wage is an important thing, insurance is an important thing,” he says. “We need to focus on those issues and then respect everyone else’s position on different issues, and be willing to allow a diversity of people to come to the table. […] And that’s what the union does in the workplace — it allows people to have a voice in their future. And that’s a precious thing.”

Jim served as a member of the Contract Action Team during negotiations with Kroger last year. “I had really hoped to be at the table negotiating, but instead they put me on the action committee, and I was like, this is not what I want to do,” he admits. “But then I thought, well, if I’m going to be a positive impact, I can’t back down now, I have to do this.”

And he learned a lot in the process, about organizing informational picket lines, connecting with other unions and members from elsewhere, and communicating with customers about workers’ needs.

When the local started organizing demonstrations at Kroger stores throughout West Virginia, Jim and his coworkers were invited to participate at the protest in Beckley, about an hour away. They certainly had cause to demonstrate – turnover was high and only getting higher and many of Jim’s coworkers, especially the younger and newer employees, felt undervalued and disrespected by the company.

Now more than ever, they needed to know that their union was fighting for them and that they could and should participate in that fight. “We just really needed to say, enough is enough,” he says, and they needed to say it in Fairlea.

So they held their own demonstration. “We had a good turnout,” he recalls. “People were coming out on their lunches and breaks and joining in, and it was really well received in the community. [Customers] would literally come up and say, ‘Do you want us not to go in and shop?’ And we would say, ‘No, we just want you to understand what’s going on and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

With mounting public pressure on Kroger, an agreement was reached and a new contract was ratified a few weeks later with zero cuts. This certainly was a victory, but Jim knows there is always more work to be done. And since West Virginia became a right-to-work state in 2016, he’s learning to play a whole new ball game.

“There’s no way someone can just start at a job and grasp all of the dynamics that are involved in having a decent job,” he says. “So [with right-to-work] there’s this huge educational curve, right from the get-go, of what it means to belong to the union and what it can accomplish. And what I’m learning is that in that little 15 minute introduction, without any kind of established relationship with a new person it’s almost an impossible thing to accomplish.”

As an ordained Baptist minister, Jim used to formally pastor a church, but since he’s lived in Caldwell, West Virginia he’s been “unchurching,” or holding services in people’s houses. On Tuesday nights he hosts bible study in his own home, and every once in a while, he hosts a union meeting. Otherwise, Jim and his co-workers have to drive an hour to get to union meetings, which he says can be economically burdensome.

He usually only hosts union meetings at his house for special occasions, but he’s been thinking about hosting more casual get-togethers, “bridge-builders” he calls them, to help create a stronger sense of community in his store.

“It’s probably the direction we need to go,” he says. “Now in an environment of right-to-work, you’ve got those issues of trust and truth again. You can say you care but sometimes you have to show you care.”

With 42 years of experience under his belt, Jim Logan sounds patient, almost calm, but part of what allows him to connect with younger workers is that he remembers how frustrating it was to be in their position.

He has a saying: “A bunch of straws are harder to break than just one.” He knows that all of his co-workers complaints are valid, no matter how long they’ve been working for Kroger, but he also knows that the best way to address them is to stand together.

“I try to articulate it’s a long-term investment,” Jim says about union dues. “And when [new employees] look in that contract they can see some of those better wages, [and realize] that it took everyone a long time to get there but the only way to get there is to stick together.”

Both his patience and his passion are manifestations of how much Jim Logan cares. He says he doesn’t know why he became a shop steward. But then he says, with absolute certainty, “I really care about people. And I’ve got this thing, if someone is an underdog or at a disadvantage, if someone takes advantage of that, that just really lights me up. It’s something in my nature.”

And it’s not changing any time soon. As he looks forward, Jim has a bunch of ideas for how he can better support his fellow union members and build community relationships, both in his corner of West Virginia and throughout the region. He hopes to retire from Kroger soon, but not from union activism.

“If and when I get to retire, I think that then I will become more and more politically active, because the union needs friends,” he says. “And I will do it without compromising, because I’m not doing it for a career or economics, just because it’s the right thing to do.”

Montgomery General Workers Prevent Major Cuts With New Union Contract

Local 400 members working at the Montgomery General Elderly Care Center in Montgomery, W.Va. recently ratified a strong new union contract after months of difficult, rancorous negotiations.

At the start of negotiations, management presented a list of 34 takeaway proposals.  These included eliminating the workers’ pension, reducing health benefits, cutting vacation time and taking away two holidays.

Needless to say, the workers were having none of it.

“I’ve worked for this company for 30 years and this was the third bargaining I’ve been involved with,” said Pam Barron, a Local 400 shop steward who works in housekeeping/environmental services. “This was by far the toughest set of negotiations, but in the end, we turned it around.”

The workers stood strong in solidarity in opposing Montgomery General’s extreme demands. On Fridays, they are allowed to wear t-shirts to work, so every Friday during bargaining, they wore their Local 400 t-shirts, hats and buttons. They also wore their Local 400 t-shirts to the company picnic.

“Everyone was wonderful and once the company saw we were strong, that helped out,” Pam said. “If we hadn’t gotten a deal, we were ready to strike, too. Cynthia Davis, our other shop steward, was terrific, keeping us all together, fired up and ready to act.

“I think the company also finally realized how hard we work and how dedicated we are,” Pam added. “That’s what led to our contract.”

The final agreement provides for a three percent raise, and it maintained the workers’ pension, holidays and vacations.

“This is a good company and they’ve been good to me,” Pam said. “I just thank God we got through this and hopefully, we won’t have to again. I’m also thankful for our union, which was wonderful every step of the way.”

Dr. Pepper Workers Win Major Wage Increases in New Union Contract

Local 400 members working at the Dr. Pepper plants in Fairmont, West Virginia, and Belpre, Ohio, recently ratified a new union contract that includes the largest wage increases since the facility was organized.

Warehouse workers will receive as much as $3.50/hour more over the four year term of the contract, while drivers and others who are paid by the case or by the mile will also receive large pay hikes. All workers will have a slight reduction in out-of-pocket costs for health insurance in 2019 and the employer has agreed to a 100% match into the 401(k) plan.

“We gained on everything,” said Rod Plauger, a bulk delivery driver and shop steward who organized the plant approximately 20 years ago and served on the bargaining committee. “This gave us more than we ever have.  We got everything we asked for.

“This round of bargaining was a lot calmer than the way things used to go,” he said. “In the past, the company would never give us a penny. The company was doing a changeover with new ownership and that might have played a part.”

Still, the road to a contract was not smooth. In fact, the members rejected the company’s first contract offer.

“Our members are strong-willed,” Rod said. “It was surprising to a lot of people that the first offer was rejected. We were prepared for anything, even a strike. But when we went back to the company, they moved some money around until everybody was satisfied.

“I was very impressed with the way negotiations were handled on our side, and the result speaks for itself,” he added.

Aug 18: “Labor Day” at Appalachian Power Park

Night game at Appalachian Power Park vs. Lexington Legends, June 12, 2010. Photo by ChristopherLocke.

Free Game Tickets for Union Members & Their Families!

Join us for “Labor Day” at Appalachian Power Park on Saturday, August 18. Free game tickets are available for union members and their families (four tickets per family).

2:00 p.m. Tailgate
Charleston Building & Construction Trades
600 Leon Sullivan Way, Charleston, WV 25301

5:00 p.m. Gates Open

6:00 p.m. Game Time

To get your free tickets, contact:

Paul Breedlove, Charleston Building Trades, 304-542-6952
Kris Mallory, Reconnecting McDowell, 800-222-9838
Dena Fields, West Virginia AFL-CIO, 304-344-3557

Presented By:

Charleston Building & Construction Trades Council
West Virginia State Building & Construction Trades
West Virginia AFL-CIO
AFT-West Virginia
USW #12625
AFT – Putnam
Kanawha Valley Labor Council
UMWA International
WV CWA#2001
Reconnecting McDowell
UMWA #2286