The 555 Bulletin 2/3/2016

Upcoming Union Events and Announcements

NW Hope Foundation Scholarships

UFCW Local 555 is proud to work with the Northwest Hope Foundation which offers this Scholarship Program to UFCW Local 555 members and their families.

This year we are pleased to announce that there will be up to a total of thirteen (13) scholarship awards of up to $2,000 each. The scholarships must be used at; any accredited college or university, technical or vocational school, or junior community college for any course of study. The award is to help pay for tuition, fees, books, educational expenses and educational materials for the 2016-2017 academic year.

In addition to the awards above, The L Walt Derry Scholarship is for those motivated students seeking a career in the labor movement advancing worker rights and fighting for working families. There will be one scholarship of $2,500.00 awarded this year. The Scholarship is to offset costs in traditional college and trade school programs including but not limited to: Human Resources; Labor Relations; Arbitration; Collective Bargaining; Investigation; Counseling; and Public Relations.

Click here for more information.

Retail Unity Negotiation Committee Update

From 1/28/2016

For the last three days your Retail Unity Negotiation Committee met with the employers mostly over non-economic language. In fact, the companies spent, including previous bargaining sessions, almost four days on a single issue delaying economic discussion to the very last day of scheduled bargaining.
Once economic discussions began, your Retail Unity Negotiation Committee proposed pension increases, wage increases for Journeypersons and Apprentices, and a plan to address wage inflation.

The employers’ counter proposal included NO pension increases, NO apprentice wage increases, NO wage increases for Journeypersons, reducing the starting wage in most contracts, and offered only 15¢ bonuses for some employees spread over three years.

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee is committed to the original goals: Obtain wage increases, protect healthcare benefits, strengthen pension benefits, improve scheduling practices, secure and improve sick pay benefits, and standardize where possible contract language throughout the jurisdiction.
What do you think of your employer’s “offer?” Do you think your committee should have jumped at a 15 cent bonus?

Click here to download a flyer to print and hang in your break-room to help spread the word.

Member Spotlight

Robert Flath has worked for Safeway twenty eight years. Peggy his wife pictured with him has been a member for as long. He was given a certificate of merit last month by the Portland Fire department for saving a choking infant’s life. An infant in the back of his store was not breathing. Supporting the baby in his arms, he delivered a series of blows to her back and dislodged the object choking her, and she was breathing normally when paramedics arrived. Had it not been for Robert, the outcome would have been gravely different. Way to go Robert!
“Thanks to my Union contract, I have great sick pay benefits! After a recent stay in the hospital, I was told I needed to use vacation days, until I asked my Union Rep. She got it straightened out. An adjustment was made and vacation added back to my bank! It’s great to be Union and have the benefits in my contract.”
Desiree Durbin
UFCW 555 Member

Pictured here are Glen Espersen, Longview Safeway Steward/Executive Board VP, Gail Brundage, Steward, St Helens Safeway, and Robert Bellew, Steward, Longview Fred Meyer! These three dedicated UFCW 555 members are part of the Retail Unity Negotiations Committee, working to bring you a solid contract.
“I appreciate all the hard work our leaders and stewards do to ensure decent living, wages, and the benefits we receive.”

Michele Myers
UFCW 555 Member

Sue Bacon, a 24 year union member that works in the pharmacy at the Sunset Fred Meyer, says that she loves being union and having the protection of the union contract in the workplace.
Richelle Cain was terminated from Foster Farms for allegedly leaving her shift early without notifying anyone. After an investigation and a fact finding meeting with Foster Farms by Union Rep, Lynda Hart, and Shop Steward, Ahren Belden, it was determined that the union would take Richelle’s case to an arbitrator for a decision. Short of presenting the case to the arbitrator the company settled with Richelle with $3,000, along with removal of discipline from her file and a clean job referral. Since her termination, Richelle, has enrolled in college and made the “Dean’s List.” Now with her settlement she will continue with her education and is very appreciative of her Union putting her best interest first and going to bat for her. Congratulations, Richelle! Keep up the great work in school!

“The Union helps me secure a good job with fair wages”
Kimley Neth
UFCW 555 Member
Forty plus year member Steve Burbach and ten plus year member Melody Lino keep the meat and fish case at Lamb’s Thriftway on Olson Road looking fresh and well stocked every day. They are as proud of their UFCW 555 pension plan as they are of their case display. Melody knows that her retirement is as secure several decades into the future as is Steve’s, which he could take advantage of at most any point. “I’m fully vested and have my financial future pretty well planned out,” says Steve. “But right now a job that I enjoy and great customers keep me going.”
“I love working here for the very same reasons,” says Melody. Both eager followers of the stock market and their pension fund’s performance, Melody and Steve both take comfort in the fact that their retirement benefits are safe, solid, and secure.

“The reason I became a shop steward is because I like being a voice to help people settle problems and make their working experience a great one. We are all one big family and spend a lot of time together and should help stand together united.”

Erin Olp
UFCW 555 Member
“I feel fortunate to be employed at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market for the past twenty-seven years and a member of UFCW Local 555 for twenty-six of those years. During this time, our Union has gotten stronger under the leadership of Dan Clay and his crew. By merging southern Oregon with the greater Portland area, healthcare has improved tremendously proving there is really strength in numbers. With contract negotiations underway, I feel confident that under Dan’s direction, we will be offered a workable agreement that will be beneficial to members and employers alike.”

Regina Sample
UFCW 555 Member

“I would like to take this time to thank Local 555 for their support and attention they have given me when I needed it. I left the Union in 1991 with a bitter taste in my mouth. Since I came back to 555, I feel they truly do care about me. I am thankful for my insurance and very glad that I now have a pension.”

Dewayne Gobble
UFCW 555 Member
“I would like to thank my Union for the support I get from my rep and from our leadership in the office. My insurance is great and I look forward to having a great pension. I am also the shop steward for my fellow members in Lakeview and enjoy helping them when I can.”

Suzie McCully
UFCW 555 Member

Bad Economic Policy Is Hurting (you)…

When I first took over as President of UFCW Local 555, we had some pretty serious problems with our pension trust and our two health trusts. Jeff and I traveled around Oregon and SW Washington talking to hard working UFCW members and telling everyone that we could get this fixed if they gave us a little time. Over the next couple of years, we added money to the pension and, frankly, adjusted some benefits to make sure that the fund would be stable for when you want to retire. We also merged our two health trusts into one and we increased funding substantially.

As of the last report, your pension trust was about 93% funded (which is pretty darn good) and your health trust had the necessary reserves to pay claims for months if there was a problem.

Back before the trusts were fixed, I recall a member from Vancouver asking me a very profound question. She said, “If I didn’t know about these problems and now my benefits are being affected, how am I going to know if there is a problem in the future?” I still remember my exact answer today. I said, “I will tell you if there is a problem ahead, so you don’t need to worry too much.” Today is that day.

As I said before, your health trust is in very good shape. There is nothing to worry about there. It is your pension trust that prompted my previous story. Your pension is inextricably tied to various stock markets around the world and if you have been watching the news, you know the news isn’t good for investors. As of this writing, the Dow Jones and NASDAQ were down about 10% for 2016.

At our recent high point, we had about 880 million dollars in your pension fund. While your fund is diversified in foreign markets, hedge funds, bonds, infrastructure, housing, and numerous other strategies, our exposure to stocks will have a noticeable impact on our plan. My guess is 40-50 million dollars in losses will be reported at the end of the quarter just based on January alone. The Markets have a tendency to bounce back, but if they don’t rebound, we will likely see your pension slip from “Green Status” which is good, to “Red Status” which is not good. You don’t need to worry about whether your pension check will arrive and I don’t want anyone to panic. At this point, this problem is manageable. However, I made a promise to keep UFCW members informed about the good news and the bad news. These recent returns are bad news and could spell trouble if the trend continues.

So you now know the “what”. Let’s talk about why. There are a few obvious answers and a few not so obvious answers. One obvious contributing factor might be that this is a Presidential election year. Financial markets historically perform below average in these years, likely due to investor uncertainly in what the new President will change. Thankfully, these “bad” years are usually followed by a recovery.

Since 2008, it could be reasonably argued that the economy has slowed down due to NAFTA. NAFTA allowed corporations to send American jobs overseas, but it didn’t require that they share the benefits; shoes that once cost $27 to make started costing $3 to make. And what did the American worker get? A pink slip. I know what you are thinking… NAFTA was way before 2008. How could this be? After NAFTA, American jobs were sent overseas. American workers were laid off. These workers took the jobs that were left, which most paid less because the good jobs were gone. People turned to credit to keep up their standards of living. The credit ran out in 2008, once it became clear that mortgage backed securities were in many cases worthless. The Stock Market crashed. Any investments that these workers had often took a huge hit. It all happened and it wasn’t a mistake. It was wealthy people manipulating the markets to become more wealthy.

Ready for the next “mistake” that is going to hurt you and your pension? We already know what it is going to be. This one comes from the Supreme Court. A few years back they decided that corporations were people. I remember Mitt Romney’s infamous defense of that ridiculous idea. Second, the Court ruled that corporations (and actual people) could spend unlimited money to buy politicians. There is no need to explain how that works. Finally, the Court has now taken up Friedrichs vs. the California Teachers Association (CTA). There is a strong belief that the Court will rule against the CTA and in doing so limit the rights of all public sector union members to act collectively to defend the quality of their worklife. It is a tortured argument that they will likely follow, but that doesn’t matter much as the Supreme Court has the final say on any particular law.

If this ruling comes down as expected, every public sector worker’s united voice will be muffled and it will become unconstitutional for public workers to speak with one voice like they do now. Once the Supreme Court eviscerates public sector workers, the politicians that vote to their right to unified action will be unelected. Workers will be in worse shape. And many of the politicians that fought against the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be eliminated.

Soon American workers will be competing head-to-head with workers who make less than a tenth of what we do and these hard-working Americans will have even less to spend. The economy will suffer. The stock market will continue wild swings in the absence of a robust economy that investors can trust. Workers’ pension money will grow slower because of the lower stock market returns. We end up having a big problem. In a nutshell, working people won’t have the money to buy the things they make.

Don’t get me wrong. UFCW Local 555 will be fighting this all the way, but that is what corporations are trying to do to you.

Dan Clay
President, UFCW Local 555

Posted in Membership Spotlight | Comments Off on The 555 Bulletin 2/3/2016

Negotiations Update 1/28/2016

1.28.2016 message and mailer

For the last three days your Retail Unity Negotiation Committee met with the employers mostly over non-economic language. In fact, the companies spent, including previous bargaining sessions, almost four days on a single issue delaying economic discussion to the very last day of scheduled bargaining.

Once economic discussions began, your Retail Unity Negotiation Committee proposed pension increases, wage increases for Journeypersons and Apprentices, and a plan to address wage inflation.

The employers’ counter proposal included NO pension increases, NO apprentice wage increases, NO wage increases for Journeypersons, reducing the starting wage in most contracts, and offered only 15¢ bonuses for some employees spread over three years.

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee is committed to the original goals: Obtain wage increases, protect healthcare benefits, strengthen pension benefits, improve scheduling practices, secure and improve sick pay benefits, and standardize where possible contract language throughout the jurisdiction.

What do you think of your employer’s “offer?” Do you think your committee should have jumped at a 15 cent bonus?

Click here to download a flyer to print and hang in your break-room to help spread the word.

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Negotiations Update 1/28/2016

Retail Unity Negotiations Update (1/15/2016)

Negotiations have concluded for the day between your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee and your boss’s bosses for the Grocery, Meat, CCK, and Non-Food contracts. The next negotiation dates are set for January 26th and 27th, two weeks from now.

Your Negotiating Committee has been successful in getting your boss’s bosses to pull some of the negative contract proposes they originally put forth. We hope the employers will make the necessary movement to begin economic discussions at the next meeting.

We have finally received the requested information around drug testing language and will be researching the outcomes before negotiations resume on the 26th.

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee is still working towards the goals originally set. Those goals are to obtain wage increases, protect healthcare benefits, strengthen pension benefits, improve scheduling practices, secure and improve sick pay benefits and standardize where possible contract language throughout the jurisdiction.

The committee would like to thank you for your support in these ongoing negotiations. Your committee continues to stand strong at the table in order to deliver you a solid contract.

Please click here for a PDF of the update you can print and post in your store’s break-room! 

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Retail Unity Negotiations Update (1/15/2016)

Retail Unity Negotiations Update (1/14/2016)

Negotiations have resumed between your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee and your boss’s bosses for the Grocery, Meat, CCK, and Non-Food contracts. When we last left the table, your boss’s bosses were still standing by a list of takeaways previously made in several contract proposals, which would hurt you and your families.

  • Eliminate contractual sick leave language.
  • Reduce the lowest pay in the CCK and Grocery contract to minimum wage.
  • Add one additional non-union manager per store, potentially taking hundreds of thousands of hours away from Union members.
  • As if excessive blackout dates and denial of vacation wasn’t enough, they want to make it so workers who don’t use their vacation time must lose it instead of having it roll over in a vacation bank.
  • Eliminate any prior experience credit for non-union workers.

Instead of tossing aside these takeaways and making the lives of you and your families better, your boss’s bosses most recent proposal revolved around contractual acceptance of the employer’s policies regarding drug testing. Whether the committee eventually agrees to recommend the proposal will depend upon a number of factors. Your union finally received some of the information requested this morning, 6 weeks after it was requested, and will be researching it throughout the day.

It is important to note, your boss’s bosses have yet to offer ANY proposals that are not a takeaway or a restriction.

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee is still working towards the goals originally set. Those goals are to obtain wage increases, protect healthcare benefits, strengthen pension benefits, improve scheduling practices, secure and improve sick pay benefits  and standardize where possible contract language throughout the jurisdiction.

As negotiations continue today and tomorrow, you will be kept up to date on any progress that occurs. There are also negotiation dates set for January 26th and 27th.

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Retail Unity Negotiations Update (1/14/2016)

First Day Sick Pay comes to Oregon. Next up, Washington State!

It took over three and half years, but your union has won Paid Earned Sick Leave for all of Oregon, making us the fourth state in the nation to adopt such a law. This is a victory for every one of our members who testified in Portland and Eugene and then again at state hearings held earlier this year, as well as for every hard working family in Oregon.

The Active Ballot Club (ABC) contributions were critical to funding canvassing, communications, and member education that helped to create this law. Effective January 1, 2016, workers in Oregon will have access to sick pay on the very first day, with some delayed hour’s accrual.

A general outline of the law from BOLI can be found by clicking here.

I worked hard on these laws because I know how difficult it is to have to make the choice between making rent by going to work sick, and staying home to get better. No one should have to make that choice. Your union worked so hard to pass these laws because they are needed, and more importantly, because you deserve them.

Next up, Washington State! Your union is working with labor and community partners to put an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that provides workers in Washington State the same or better laws that Oregon adopted on sick leave.

Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year,

Jeff Anderson
Secretary-Treasurer UFCW Local 555

Posted in News | Comments Off on First Day Sick Pay comes to Oregon. Next up, Washington State!

Local 555 Member Spotlight, December 12, 2015

“I appreciate our Union for always doing their best in contract negotiations for our members.”

Cynthia Kline
UFCW Local 555 Member

“I just attended the new member meeting, it was very informative and well worth the $50.00 credit.  Good luck to the Negotiations Team and thank you for fighting for more hours!”

Kimberly Thomas
UFCW Local 555 Member

“I like being a union member because of the benefits we get through unity negotiations. I also like that they fight for working families for a better way of life.”

Melody Gramley
UFCW Local 555 Member
Executive Board Member
Retail Unity Negotiations Committee Member
“I am glad to be a union member because labor unions can raise the employment standards of the entire industry just by being present and active! The existence of unions helps us all.”
Andrew Busch
UFCW Local 555 Member
Retail Unity Negotiations Committee Member

“I’m glad to be a union member, and I am especially grateful for those two magic words: Weingarten rights.”

Alice Grassl
UFCW Local 555 Member
Executive Board Member
Retail Unity Negotiations Committee Member
Tomi Jo Lorentzen and Carmen Riddle from the Fred Meyer in Longview are looking rather festive this holiday season, and both love their UFCW Local 555 Medical benefits.

“I love the fact that my union cares about me. Thank you for the cash that I won in the raffle for signing up for Active Ballot Club.”

Jaymee Acoba
UFCW Local 555 Member

“I won one of the ABC Raffles, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.  I just turned 21, and am taking a camping trip vacation.  This is going to make it much more fun.  Thank you UFCW and the ABC.”

Jerold Graves Jr.
UFCW Local 555 Member

“I signed up for the ABC because I thought it would do a lot of good things.  Now we have first day sick pay .  Thank you UFCW for the things you do through the ABC.”

Molly Ayres
UFCW Local 555 Member
“What I like about being Union is that my Union makes sure that I get what is in my contract. It is rare that I need to call them, but when I do, they are there for me. They will also help me fight for a fair contract.”
Ross Villegas
UFCW Local 555 Member
Posted in Membership Spotlight | Comments Off on Local 555 Member Spotlight, December 12, 2015

Retail Unity Negotiations Update (12/10/15)

After returning to the negotiations table today, your boss’s bosses are still standing by most of the takeaways previously made in several contract proposals that harm you and your families. The employers have proposed to:

  • Eliminate contractual sick leave language, and only leave the bare minimum the law allows.
  • Reduce the lowest paid workers under the CCK and Grocery contract to minimum wage.
  • Add one additional non-union manager per store, potentially taking hundreds of thousands of hours away from Union members.
  • Make it so workers who don’t use their vacation time lose it instead of having it roll over in a vacation bank; as if excessive blackout dates and denial of vacation wasn’t enough.

Instead of tossing aside these remaining takeaways, and working with your union to make the lives of you and your families better, your boss’s bosses are spending precious negotiation time proposing the addition of “clarifying” language to your contract. The employers have presented to your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee a proposal concerning acceptance of the employer’s policies regarding drug testing. Whether the committee eventually agrees to recommend the proposal will depend upon a number of factors. In order for the union to evaluate the employer’s proposal, the union needs the following information, which has been requested:

  • A copy of all current company policies, procedures, guidelines, or internal memos with respect to drug testing.
  • A copy of all current company work rules, house rules, or similar kinds of rules pertaining to drug testing.
  • A definition or list of “related substances” the employer is referring to when they say in their proposal, “…prohibit the use of marijuana and related substances.”
  • A list of all “prohibited drugs” which the employer says an employee may not take.
  • A list of all “prohibited drugs” which the employer tests for during a drug test.
  • The type of testing procedure the employers utilizes for each drug it tests for.
  • The testing threshold that would constitute a failed test for each drug for which the employer tests for.
  • The testing company utilized by each employer for any units under contract with UFCW Local 555.
  • A copy of all forms or reports used either internally by the employer, or externally by a drug testing company, as part of a drug test.

It’s important to note, your boss’s bosses have yet to initiate ANY proposals that are not takeaways or restrictions, and they have not offered any improvement on the contract for you, the worker.

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee is still working toward the goals originally set by the membership survey. Those goals are to:

  • Obtain wage increases to protect long-term members’ buying power and increase wages for new members to support adequate staffing in stores.
  • Protect the affordability, and access to, healthcare benefits.
  • Strengthen pension benefits while protecting the security of, and access to, the defined benefit plan.
  • Improve the scheduling practices with a bias toward full time employment.
  • Secure and improve sick pay benefits.
  • Standardize, where possible, contract language in the various contracts.

Your union is excitedly waiting for when your boss’s bosses stop with the takeaways and present something meaningful that will help you and your family. Once the language proposals are tentatively agreed upon between the committee and your employer’s representatives, discussions on economic topics such as wages and fixing apprentice brackets, can begin. Negotiations are set to resume on January 14.

Click here to join the join the discussion on Facebook

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Retail Unity Negotiations Update (12/10/15)

Negotiations will resume Wednesday

After a morning of continued negotiations with the employer, discussions have ended for the day. While no new proposals were exchanged between today and yesterday, discussions continued on the language portion of your contract. Your Unity Retail Negotiating Committee will be researching the proposals to prepare responses to the employers before talks resume next week, on Wednesday the 9th.

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Negotiations will resume Wednesday

Quick update on Retail Negotiations

Your negotiating committee and your boss’s bosses resumed talks today. Discussions were had about a variety of issues and proposals, and the committee has clarified with the employers some of the language within previous proposals. The employers did give your negotiating committee a non-economic counter proposal, but it was not much different from their previous position. Negotiations will resume tomorrow morning.

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Quick update on Retail Negotiations

Contract Negotiations Resume Tomorrow (12/3/15)

Your Retail Unity Negotiations Committee will resume talks with your boss’s bosses tomorrow morning. This will be the the third set of bargaining dates your committee has met with your boss’s bosses to negotiate for new contracts. Your union remains dedicated to getting a fair settlement for all members working under the Grocery, Meat, CCK, and Non-Food contracts with the following goals in mind:

  • Obtain wage increases to protect long-term members’ buying power and increase wages for new members to support adequate staffing in stores.
  • Protect the affordability, and access to, healthcare benefits.
  • Strengthen pension benefits while protecting the security of, and access to, the defined benefit plan.
  • Improve the scheduling practices with a bias toward full time employment.
  • Secure and improve sick pay benefits.
  • Standardize, where possible, contract language in the various contracts.

Below is an article from the upcoming Labor Press on your Contract Negotiations:

You Still Deserve Better

Two and a half years ago, shortly after ratifying the last Grocery, Meat, & CCK contracts, I wrote about how You Deserve Better! At that time I had just spent the majority of two months meeting with members throughout our jurisdiction talking with them about the then recent contract settlements. Some members were happy with the result of that settlement agreement, some were not happy with it, and others had mixed feelings about it. The one thing I observed in all the conversations I had with members, and the one thing that we all agreed on, myself included . . . YOU DESERVE BETTER!

You deserve to have your employer treat you better in the workplace. You deserve to be respected and valued in the workplace. You deserve a fair hourly wage for a fair hour of work. You deserve to receive enough hours to earn a paycheck that will allow you to take care of your family. You deserve health care that is affordable for you and your family. You deserve to be able to take a day off sick and be paid for it. You deserve all these things and so much more, because you give to your employer day in and day out, allowing the company you work for to exist and make a profit. Unfortunately your employers seem to be only concerned about the profit they make, and the service you bring to them.

Your staff, your bargaining committee, and some of your peers are working hard through the current bargaining process to try and help you and your family have a better life, because YOU DESERVE BETTER!

I have had members ask me, “What can I do to help with the contract negotiations?” If you are not going to them already, it’s time for you to start attending those Union meetings you may have been missing. If you’ve been going to them, it’s time for you to bring your co-workers along with you. If you aren’t already, it’s time for you to start talking with your co-workers about takeaways your company has proposed at the bargaining table, and how the would negatively impact your life. Now is the time for you to begin preparing to fight back against your employer when they tell you that you don’t deserve a better life. Now is the time to become a part of your Union and take back your workplace and let your employers know who puts the money in their pocket. By standing up, getting involved, enforcing your contract, and pushing back against your employer, you put us in a better position when we sit across the bargaining table from your employer.

Mike Marshall
Director of Membership Services

Posted in Bargaining Updates | Comments Off on Contract Negotiations Resume Tomorrow (12/3/15)