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Grocery Worker Retention Act Becomes Law

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Mayor Bill de Blasio (at desk) signs Grocery Worker Retention Act as RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum (de Blasio’s right) and UFCW/RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso (far right) look on.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday signed the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA) into law. The GWRA provides for a 90-day transition period to eligible employees following a change in ownership of a grocery store.

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the city council for passing this important legislation,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “It provides protection for the 50,000 Supermarket workers in New York City – who until now faced a sudden loss of income and benefits when their stores were purchased by new operators. This law provides stability within the grocery industry, protecting workers’ rights and promoting retention while providing for a workforce experienced and knowledgeable in food preparation, health regulations and sanitation procedures. That means that this law will help maintain safe and reliable service to families that depend on their local supermarkets for dietary and nutritional needs.”

The grocery industry makes up a significant portion of New York City’s retail workforce with over 50,000 employees and roughly two-thirds of this workforce coming from immigrant labor. This industry, however, currently suffers from a volatile condition with the eminent merger, closing or the establishment of new ownership of our supermarkets jeopardizing the future of workers and the quality of life of countless communities.

The recent A&P bankruptcy has provided a vivid example of this, rippling through the city with 52 stores impacted throughout the five boroughs including subsidiary brands such as Pathmark, Waldbaum’s, Food Emporium, and Food Basics. Some stores have been closed, others sold or auctioned, or even transformed into non-supermarket entities.

“New owners can’t just discard workers, some of whom may have worked for years at the store, in an effort to lower wages.  The bill also protects our communities by maintaining experienced staff that understand proper sanitation procedures and can maintain health standards.   It’s a common sense approach to bring some stability for workers, consumers and businesses. We thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member I. Daneek Miller for their leadership and the City Council for supporting this important piece of legislation,” Appelbaum added.

Stand with Price Rite Workers–Sign the Petition!

PR_group_L (1)A new petition in support of Price Rite workers is now available online. Now more than ever, it is time for companies like Price Rite to do the right thing and publicly commit to provide better wages, better benefits, and better schedules that help improve the lives of workers. The petition features the story of Price Rite worker Corey Reed and his struggle to make ends meet due to low wages and unfair schedules. These workers only want to be better providers for their families and continue their work of serving their communities.

Sign and share the petition and call on Price Rite to do the right thing and publicly commit to providing:

-Better wages so Price Rite workers earn more to support their families

-Better benefits so that every Price Rite employee’s hard work is rewarded

-Better schedules so that every Price Rite worker can spend time with their families

Better communities are created by improving the lives of every hard-working family. By making the necessary changes to improve the lives of workers, Price Rite has the opportunity to create real change in the community and become a responsible employer that offers the wages, benefits, and schedules that workers like Corey deserve. Learn more about the Price Rite campaign on Facebook.

 

Link: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/standing-with-price-rite-workers

UFCW Local 400 Applauds Introduction of “Just Hours” Legislation in D.C.

Just Hours L400Last week, Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400, which has more than 3,000 members living in Washington, D.C., released the following statement in response to the introduction of the “Hours and Scheduling Stability Act.”

“If you ask anyone who works at a retail store in D.C. how to improve their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Stable hours and predictable scheduling make it easier for people to plan their future and spend time with their families. Unfortunately, in the interest of maximizing their bottom lines, numerous retail stores in D.C. rely on erratic and last minute scheduling that forces people to work harder and longer and be unaware of their shift until the last moment.

“The Hours and Scheduling Stability Act would begin to curb these abusive scheduling practices by giving retail workers advance notice of their schedules, stopping on-call practices, and promoting full-time work opportunities by offering available hours to current employees before new ones are hired.

“The bottom line is that uncertain work schedules are too common in this city and they’re making it increasingly difficult for people who work at retail stores throughout D.C. to make ends meet.

“The legislation introduced today would go a long way towards ensuring retail workers in D.C. are given the consistent hours and schedules they need to create better lives for themselves and their families.

“We urge the D.C. Council to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act as soon as possible.”

Summary of Bill’s Key Provisions:

 Scheduling with advance notice so that people aren’t living day-to-day:

  • Employers must post schedules 21 days in advance.
  • If an employer initiates a schedule change thereafter, the employee will receive one hour of pay as compensation for the change.
  • If the change occurs within 24 hours of a shift, the employee is awarded four hours of pay.

 Promoting full-time work opportunities so that people have enough hours to make ends meet:

  • Employers will offer available hours to qualified current employees before hiring new employees.

 Stopping abusive “on-call” practices so families can plan their lives:

  • If an employer cancels an employee’s shift or declines to call in an “on-call” employee with less than 24 hours’ notice, the employee will receive four hours of pay.
  • The law already guarantees employees a minimum daily pay of four hours when they report to work – this provision would simply close the “on-call” shift loophole.

 Ensuring equal treatment for hourly employees:

  • An employer may not discriminate against employees of the same job qualification with regard to rate of pay, leave and promotion opportunities regardless of hours worked.

 Who does this legislation apply to?

  • Chain retail employers with at least five establishments nationwide; and chain fast-food and full-service restaurants with at least 20 establishments nationwide.

For more information, please visit the DC Just Hours website.

Making Change at Walmart Launches National “Are You With Us” Campaign

Are You With Us Leaflett Revised VersionMaking Change at Walmart’s national “Are You With Us?” tour will include rallies at Walmart stores and other retail locations in cities in all 50 states across the country in the coming weeks. The kick-off is in Quincy, Mass., on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The tour and campaign are meant to showcase and highlight the negative impact that the country’s largest employer has on all American retail workers, which includes paying employees poverty-level wages, cutting hours and schedules to force workers into part-time jobs and salaries, and insufficient benefit offers.

The “Are You With Us?” grassroots initiative is part of the MCAW 5-week holiday campaign that is seeking to mobilize hard-working Walmart workers and Americans to help change Walmart into a responsible employer. The initiative will include targeted rallies and actions at hundreds of different Walmart stores. The targeted national ad campaign, which includes current and former Walmart workers, will air in over two dozen states.

The ad can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_OLGPsTtU4

“Give Back Friday” is First in Series of Holiday Actions to Help Support Workers

Give Back FridayYesterday, the UFCW and Making Change at Walmart officially released a series of holiday actions against Walmart; beginning with a call to action during the week leading up to Black Friday called the “Give Back Friday” initiative.

Give Back Friday is all about helping the hundreds of thousands of hard-working Walmart employees who are paid so poorly that they must rely on assistance from food banks and use food stamps. During this entire Black Friday week, Making Change at Walmart, our progressive partners, and countless other organizations will be hosting food drives in cities across the country the week leading up to Black Friday with a goal to feed 100,000 Walmart workers and families though the holidays.

Locals Unions are asked to share and sign the pledge to donate to a food drive or a food bank in their area. By working together, we can help Walmart workers and their families.

TAKE THE PLEDGE TO HELP US FEED 100,000 WALMART WORKERS AND FAMILIES

Help us feed 100,000 Walmart workers and families and make sure to post about it using the hashtag #GiveBackFriday and #feedhungryworkers.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of over 100,000 families because no one in America, especially the men and women who work for one of the richest companies in the world, should have go to hungry this Thanksgiving and through the holidays.

FORMER WALMART WORKERS LAUNCH SECOND LEGAL ACTION AGAINST COMPANY

12002035_1109405492420680_8214577125137660520_nYesterday, former Walmart workers, with the help of the UFCW, Making Change at Walmart, and OUR Walmart, announced at a press conference that they had filed a second charge against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding the retaliatory closing of the Pico Rivera, Calif., Walmart store. In the charge, workers allege that they were discriminated against in the transfer process due to their participation in protests for better wages, hours and working conditions.

“When Walmart closed our store, I knew it was because we had been leading the nationwide movement for $15 an hour and access to full-time, consistent hours,” said Jenny Mills, a nine-year Walmart worker who was listed on the charge. “Seeing who they did and did not transfer just reaffirmed that. Walmart intentionally refused to transfer those of us who have been the most vocal in standing up for fair wages and hours. That’s simply not just a coincidence.”

The workers were joined at the conference by community leaders, clergy and city residents calling for the reinstatement of all 530 laid off Pico Rivera Walmart workers. Despite the fact that there are 45 Walmart stores within 20 miles of the closed Pico Rivera store, Walmart has failed to transfer the most vocal workers in the fight for $15 an hour and access to consistent, full-time hours since the closure back in April.

“The Walmart store in Pico Rivera has been a valuable contributor to our local economy. However, as a massively profitable company like Walmart knows, for a vibrant economy to grow, people need a steady paycheck,” said Pico Rivera Mayor Gregory Salcido. “That’s why I’m urging Walmart to reinstate the 530 employees it laid off as soon as the store reopens. These families are an important part of our community and our economy. I’m hopeful that by working together, we can help our businesses and our families thrive.”

“Punishing workers by denying them a livelihood in this fashion isn’t only legally wrong; it’s morally wrong,” said Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “Brave workers entitled to a better life for their families now face spirit- and body-crushing stress because of Walmart’s unconscionable choice. We cannot let such injustices prevail. We must hear the voices of those fighting for what is right.”

A Victory for Retail Workers in Indianapolis

liftLast week, the Indianapolis City-County Council voted 15-14 to pass a resolution supporting the creation of a “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” The Lift Retail Jobs campaign, a coalition of retail workers, local businesses, and community groups, has been advocating for this resolution to promote full-time work, fair scheduling practices, affordable benefits, and a pathway to the middle class.  Members of the coalition reacted to the victory.

“Here in Indianapolis, the retail industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy and a major employer of women and people of color. But unfortunately, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions with erratic hours that are preventing retail workers from climbing up the economic ladder,” said Mary Kate Dugan, executive director of Central Indiana Jobs with Justice.

“A Retail Workers Bill of Rights would change that by promoting full-time work, access to hours, paid sick leave, and other protections for both full- and part-time workers,” Dugan said.

Shaunteka Campbell has worked a variety of retail and fast food jobs for the past 15 years. She called the vote a “step in the right direction.”

“I’m happy that the resolution passed and proud that many of our City-County Councilors stood with us,” said Campbell. “But our work isn’t done. We’re going to keep fighting for good jobs and a living wage for all retail workers in this city. And we’re going to win because we’re committed and we’re growing.”

For more information about the Lift Retail Jobs campaign, visit www.LiftRetailJobs.org.

Petition Calls on FTC to Investigate Walmart Commercial

raise in payEarlier this year, Walmart released a commercialhighlighting Walmart’s commitment to invest “over $1 billion this year in higher wages, education, and training.”

The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (NAD) had questions about whether that commercial unfairly implies that Walmart is raising workers’ wages enough so that they can support themselves and their families. The NAD wanted to conduct a review of the claims, but Walmart declined to participate so now the NAD is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in.

When Walmart announced it would raise entry level wages to $9 an hour this year and that all associates would earn at least $10 an hour next year, it was a step in the right direction. But it is not accurate to suggest that this increase makes it possible for workers to support their families, especially since so many workers struggle to get full-time, consistent hours.

With $16 billion in profits and $150 billion in wealth for the owners, Walmart can afford to do more. And until they do, the FTC should not allow Walmart to make these claims in its commercials.

Click here to share the petition and sign your name and tell the FTC to investigate Walmart’s “Raise in Pay” commercial today.

Walmart Workers Propose Major Reforms at Shareholder Meeting

venanzi shareLast week, following two weeks of events in cities across the country, Walmart workers held a series of public actions at Walmart’s HQ, as well as at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. During the events, Walmart workers called on the company to make immediate changes across an array of issues, including increasing hourly wages and ending workplace intimidation.

“The time has come for Walmart to take real actions to help improve the lives of Walmart workers and their families. It is simply wrong for Walmart to ignore our calls for change and look the other way as hundreds of thousands of hard-working associates continue to struggle to make ends meet. Walmart must change, and it must change now,” said Cindy Murray, a current Walmart associate.

As part of the actions at the shareholder meeting, Walmart workers called on the company to help lift hundreds of thousands of their dedicated employees out of poverty by paying a living wage, as well as providing stable full-time hours for all associates.

Two leaders of the workers group also presented two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for all workers across Walmart. The resolutions, including a proposal supported by the Sierra Club, also called on Walmart to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by international marine shipping.

“Despite some recent efforts on the company’s part to reduce its carbon footprint, Walmart is still one of the largest and fastest-growing polluters in the country,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “If Walmart is really serious about driving climate solutions, they should put their money where their mouth is, by setting goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international marine shipping, reporting progress toward those goals to their shareholders, and setting a deadline for 2020 to meet their commitment for 100% clean energy in the U.S.”

During the shareholder’s meeting, the Walmart workers proposed a new policy establishing an independent chairperson for Walmart’s Board of Directors, and called on company leaders to immediately address the recent closure of stores and the laying off of more than 2,200 Walmart workers around the country.

“Mr. Rob Walton, the current non-independent chair of the board, is the most powerful person at our company. The buck stops with him. He could stop these layoffs. He could stop the retaliation. He could stop this company from repeatedly breaking the law. But he has not. That’s why we need an independent chair. ”said Venanzi Luna, a former Walmart employee, who has worked for Walmart in Pico Rivera, Calif., for eight years.

Ms. Luna worked at the first Walmart store to strike in 2012 and one of five stores the company abruptly closed in April, citing “plumbing issues.” More than 2,000 workers were laid off following these sudden closures.

“Our fight to change Walmart will never stop until Walmart does the right thing for all its workers and their families. We’re going to continue to speak out until every hard-working associate is paid a real living wage, full time work that allows them to support their families, and is allowed to stand with their co-workers without fear of retaliation.” said Mary Watkines, a 15-year Walmart associate and shareholder.

 

 

Los Angeles Walmart Workers Rally for $15 and Full-time Hours

rjawmYesterday, ahead of the Walmart’s  June 5 shareholder meeting, Walmart workers and community allies in Los Angeles called for CEO Doug McMillon and the Walton family to end the retaliation against workers who speak out for change, and to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 per hour and provide access to full-time hours. Two dozen Walmart workers also began a 24-hour fast to highlight the hunger many Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages and insufficient hours.

“I’m standing with Walmart workers because no one in our community should have to choose between paying rent and buying food—and especially not someone who works for the richest company in the world,” said Pastor Bridie C. Roberts, program director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “It is unconscionable for Walmart to punish their workers for standing together to improve their livelihoods.”

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Walmart has failed to offer any conclusive evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Workers at the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, Calif., one of the stores closed for alleged plumbing issues, are calling on the company to publicly commit to reinstating all laid off workers when the store reopens for business and to allow all workers, for the time being, to be transferred to one of the nearby 45 Walmart stores.

“It’s no coincidence that many OUR Walmart members from my store, including myself, have not been transferred to other Walmart stores even though we made the request shortly after the company unilaterally decided to close our store with just a few hours’ notice,” said Venanzi Luna, a Walmart worker from Pico Rivera.

Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. Worker shareholders will present two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

Teresa Adams, one of the Pico Rivera store workers the company laid off, plans to join her coworkers at the shareholder meeting. “Walmart’s business model only works for the people at the very top, and that’s not right,” Adams said. “We’re fighting for $15 and full-time because that’s what we need to support our families.”