UFCW Local 1776 Double Standard on Lobbying Disclosure

UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV spent 8% of his time on lobbying and political activities, but is not listed as a lobbyist.ufcw-local-1776-lobby-money

It seems the president of UFCW Local 1776, Wendell Young IV, has been lobbying but failing to register his lobbying activities:

According to U.S. Department of Labor records examined by Media Trackers, Young reported 8 percent of his time as being spent on “political activities and lobbying”…
When confronted by a Pennsylvania Independent reporter, Young replied, “Clearly I do lobby, but it’s not my primary function as president of the union.”
Young was paid $23,421 (8 percent of his $292,765 salary) for political activity and lobbying in 2013. Registration is required by the commonwealth if payment for lobbying exceeds $2,500 per quarter.

This comes despite Young’s dubious claims that “We shouldn’t be held to a different standard than everyone else.” Unfortunately, it took until now for someone to investigate this fact. Despite the fact that lobbying may not be Young’s “primary function,” he makes no bones about the fact that he does, in fact, lobby.

This is not the first time the UFCW Local 1776 has pushed the boundaries of the law to promote policy positions:

Recently, some absurd ads vilifying the prospect of selling wine in grocery stores have blanketed the state. (They claim, “It only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child.”) Those ads were paid for by the UFCW, which funded a similarly over-the-top $1 million ad campaign last year.

The UFCW crossed that legal line by calling its ads—and even payments to lobbying firms—representational activities. Liquor store clerks who’ve jumped through every hoop to prevent their money from being spent on politics are still being forced to fund union political activity.

The UFCW’s actions here are far from transparent and accountable. This willingness to avoid transparency in the matter of money into politics is also entirely hypocritical, as the UFCW Local 1776 actually took part in a “Rally against big money in politics” (emphasis added):

UFCW Local 1776 Representative Eric Thomas took part in a rally of representatives from a variety of groups and PA State Representative Mark Cohen.  The groups gathered to push back on the power of big money in elections.
Thomas said, “The time has come to change the culture here in Pennsylvania and Washington DC.  Citizens United is an assault to our country’s democracy.  Distorting the idea of freedom, Citizens United only works to serve big business and promote corporatist agenda, not your average citizen.”

With apologies to Eric Thomas, the time has come to change the culture in UFCW Local 1776. Disregarding the law is an assault to our country’s democracy. Distorting the idea of freedom, UFCW Local 1776 ignores both the law and the wishes of their membership to push their own agenda, not the best interests of the state.

UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV spent 8% of his time on lobbying and political activities, but is not listed as a lobbyist. It seems the president of UFCW Local 1776, Wendell Young IV, has been lobbying but failing to register his lobbying activities: According to U.S. Department of Labor records examined by Media […]






UFCW Local 23 Sues Grocer to Stop Higher Pay

ufcw-sues-giving-raisesUnited Food and Commercial Workers UFCW Local 23 is filing a lawsuit against Giant Eagle grocery to defend seniority practices

Ironic, coming from the union advocating for a $10.10 minimum wage… Defending this industrial-era practice is stopping a local UFCW union from letting their members earn more money:

Why did UFCW Local 23 oppose higher pay for its members? Because it upended their seniority system, allowing junior employees to make more those with more seniority. Local 23 wanted uniform pay scales—even if that meant cutting some of their members’ wages.

This kind of thinking is very much in line with the kinds of jobs that were prevalent in the days when unions were being started. In those days, there was a real concern that there would be employers that would show favoritism as a method to separate employees from their union. There were many jobs that were interchangeable, such as production lines or industrial positions.

Nowadays, the labor market has changed significantly. While automation has significantly reduced low-level industrial jobs, customer service as a service is becoming a commodity. Manufacturing jobs are disappearing as service jobs increase. This means less people are on production lines and more people are dealing with customers directly in a personal way.

Additionally, there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards long-term jobs. During the industrial era, it used to be more common for one person to stay with a single company for many years. Now millennials, the youngest generation in the job market, are more likely to hop from one job to the next. This undercuts another key benefit of seniority, that employees staying with the company longer get paid more. In an economy where there’s been a lot of turnover and many people have lost their jobs and found new ones, longevity is less and less of a motivating factor in payment.

This shift creates a different motivation for service-based companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A company known for good customer service can set itself apart from their competitors even if they offer a more expensive product because of the experience customers have buying their product. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, poor customer service is the biggest reason why people discontinue business with a company.

The fact of the matter is that people respond to rewards. Without added incentive for people to invest more effort into their work, why would they put any more energy into it than what’s required? The concept of seniority only works if there are no additional benefits for additional work. And in today’s consumer service-based economy, that is no longer the case.

Seniority is outdated. What today’s worker needs is a system that rewards extra energy and effort, and rewards doing a good job. These days, seniority only protects those who don’t care to invest more in their own work. The only people who benefit under seniority system are workers who may not care about their work as much, but stay at their jobs longer.

Today’s worker also needs a union that provides benefits for what they need, not just taking their money and spending it on their own needs. And it’s not just UFCW Local 23. The UFCW International has its own share of corruption, mismanagement and scandals that they should be focusing on rather than trying to make sure their workers don’t get paid more.

United Food and Commercial Workers UFCW Local 23 is filing a lawsuit against Giant Eagle grocery to defend seniority practices Ironic, coming from the union advocating for a $10.10 minimum wage… Defending this industrial-era practice is stopping a local UFCW union from letting their members earn more money: Why did UFCW Local 23 oppose higher […]






UFCW Strikes at Giant and Safeway over Obamacare Hurts Union Companies

United Food & Commercial Workers UFCW Local 400 members authorized strikes against Safeway and Giant over Obamacare, could push customers to nonunion stores

The UFCW has authorized strikes against two major unionized grocery stores prominently located in the mid-atlantic region surrounding Washington, D.C. – Giant and Safeway:

Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to authorize a strike against Safeway, joining their fellow members working at Giant who also voted this morning to authorize a strike against their employer. At both stores, UFCW Local 400 members are fired up about management’s refusal to offer a fair contract.

And the issue at the heart of the strikes should seem pretty familiar to those who have been following our recent coverage of UFCW:

“The big issue at the table has been health care and today, our union brothers and sisters refused to go backward and authorized our local union leadership to call a strike,” said Vivian Sigouin, a Bargaining Advisory Committee member who works at Safeway #1431.

That’s right – UFCW members are worried that they may end up on the Obamacare exchange systems and lose their current health care plans that they’ve bargained for through their union. The irony that Obamacare was pushed for- and celebrated by- the UFCW should not be lost. We’ve already discussed at length about how the UFCW’s support of Obamacare has backfired, and now the union is trying to take it out on employers.

What makes this potential strike fascinating is the area and locality. As mentioned, the vote merely authorizes a strike – whether the strike happens remains to be seen. Strike authorizations are a step in the direction towards an actual picket line, intended to signal to employers that agreements are in danger of dissolution. The actual strike may or may not happen, but the potential strike could actually create more dangers for the unions than their employers.

Over the last few years, the UFCW, in conjunction with their worker center front group, Our Walmart, have been targeting the non-union Walmart. They objected to Walmart’s expansion into the Washington, D.C. area and encouraged the D.C. City Council to pass prohibitive regulations. Despite their best attempts, their efforts failed. Now, even as they threaten to strike the most prevalent union-run grocery stores in the D.C. area, Walmart is opening hiring centers for their two new locations.

The implication is clear – unionized stores like Giant and Safeway face strikes, picket lines and loss of customers. The non-union, enemy of the UFCW evaded their tactics, is creating jobs, and stands to profit from UFCW’s protests. The UFCW is demonstrating what Walmart’s future could look like under union rule, and it isn’t a pretty picture.

Not only that, but the underlying conflict is over policy passed with the help of the union, and later objected to by the same union. Now, not only will the UFCW strikes potentially endanger seasonal profits for Giant and Safeway, but they may also be putting that business right into the hands of their biggest competition. With an example like this, what sane company would join the UFCW?

United Food & Commercial Workers UFCW Local 400 members authorized strikes against Safeway and Giant over Obamacare, could push customers to nonunion stores The UFCW has authorized strikes against two major unionized grocery stores prominently located in the mid-atlantic region surrounding Washington, D.C. – Giant and Safeway: Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) […]






White House Attempts to Buy Off UFCW

After United Food and Commercial Workers Union sent a letter criticizing Obamacare, Obama wants to ‘fix’ the bill for the UFCW- for half a trillion dollars.

obamacare-train-wreck-ufcw

We’ve previously gone over the “trouble in paradise” for the Affordable Care Act, where previous Obamacare supporters like the UFCW are now pulling their support now that they can see what was in the bill. A piece by Avik Roy in Forbes explains why the sudden criticism of the bill might be self-serving:

Obamacare affects multi-employer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans. These plans consist of employer-sponsored health insurance that is arranged between a labor union in a particular industry, such as restaurants, and small employers in that sector. Approximately 20 million workers in the United States are covered under such arrangements, including 800,000 of the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union….

Unsurprisingly, the focus of the UFCW’s criticism is really just on the places where it affects their own bottom line. Since employed union members would not qualify for the subsidies, This would pose quite a strange situation for the UFCW, who may find themselves with strange bedfellows in criticizing the policy.

In fact, the union’s position on Obamacare has already created issues for the UFCW’s new partners- the AFL-CIO. The UFCW recently left their old partners, Change to Win, and rejoined the AFL-CIO after eight years of being apart. Now, the AFL-CIO is losing members due to their position on Obamacare. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU, just pulled out 40,000 members, citing Obamacare as their chief complaint:

McEllrath expressed disappointment in Trumka for “going along to get along” and in the failure for the AFL-CIO to secure a government run single-payer healthcare system for its members.That’s right, Obamacare just isn’t liberal enough. McEllrath also ripped Trumka for his support of Obama’s 40 percent Cadillac healthcare plan tax.

That’s why it’s not surprising that the Obama administration is working to stop the bleeding. From the previously cited article:

Now, according to Rachana Dixit of InsideHealthPolicy, the administration is “working on regulations to address the issue” that people covered under Taft-Hartley plans aren’t eligible for subsidies. But it’s not an “issue” in the sense of being a glitch or a mistake; union leaders are seeking special treatment, and additional taxpayer subsidies, that other participants in employer-sponsored coverage don’t get.

Since the UFCW were such large supporters of Obama, it’s not surprising that the administration wants to do everything they can to get the union back on board. The piece goes on to explain that it’s not just the Administration, Members of congress are also on board. Nancy Pelosi is quoted as telling unions she wants to “resolve their concerns” – about as close as she may get to a mea culpa.

But there’s a very concerning element in all of this- what will this actually cost? Ultimately, to “fix” the law to support the unions, that will require subsidies. And these subsidies are going to end up costing the taxpayers even more:

If, suddenly, the 20 million people on Taft-Hartley plans were eligible for subsidies, Obamacare’s costs would skyrocket. If half of those Taft-Hartley enrollees gained $5,000 per year in tax credits along with their tax-free health benefits, we’re talking $50 billion a year in additional insurance subsidies for those individuals. That’s more than half a trillion dollars over ten years, accounting for health inflation.

So for Obamacare to be acceptable to the UFCW, it’ll take over half a trillion dollars- and that’s before more elements of the program kick in. The UFCW had previously been ecstatic about Obamacare:

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress. Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.” They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have on the American experience. For example, it would add trillions of dollars in new government spending.

It seems the UFCW were even more right than we gave them credit for being at the time. Except the experience seems to have impacted the UFCW more negatively than they’d predicted. And now, to “fix” the problem, they’re going to add up to half a trillion more dollars to the Obamacare. Ultimately, it’ll be the taxpayers- union and non-union alike- that will be stuck with the bill.

After United Food and Commercial Workers Union sent a letter criticizing Obamacare, Obama wants to ‘fix’ the bill for the UFCW- for half a trillion dollars. We’ve previously gone over the “trouble in paradise” for the Affordable Care Act, where previous Obamacare supporters like the UFCW are now pulling their support now that they can […]






UFCW President Hansen Shocked Obamacare Not As Advertised?

United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President Joseph Hansen’s editorial criticized Obamacare after the UFCW got 28 waivers from the ACA.

In the fallout of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, more and more opposition to the national health care program has arisen. Even prominent Democrats who voted for the bill are now expressing their concerns that Obamacare will turn into a “train wreck.” Now voices are coming from even more surprising places- the leadership of unions who were prominent supporters of the legislation!

The UFCW, who worked incredibly hard to support the passage of Obamacare, is now expressing reservations about the bill now that we’ve passed it to know what’s in it. So why the big change of heart? Apparently, the Affordable Care Act actually hurts unions!

Many UFCW members have what are known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans. According to the administration’s analysis of the Affordable Care Act, the law does not provide tax subsidies for the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans. Union officials argue that interpretation could force their members to change their insurance and accept more expensive and perhaps worse coverage in the state-run exchanges.

Hansen’s editorial explains a number of places where the Obamacare promise has not met reality, chiefly in the promise that people could keep their coverage and their doctors. All of this starts to sound like a big change of heart, until you see Hansen’s real motivation. From UFCW International President Joseph Hansen’s recent editorial:

..the ACA would block these plans from the law’s benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law’s penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance).

This creates unstoppable incentives for employers to reduce weekly hours for workers currently on our plans and push them onto the exchanges where many will pay higher costs for poorer insurance with a more limited network of providers. In other words, they will be forced to change their coverage and quite possibly their doctor.

So as Obamacare is implemented, more workers will be forced out of the UFCW’s healthcare plans and into the healthcare exchanges. Employers will be forced to cut hours and full-time employees. This also affects the UFCW as their membership struggles to pay their dues and rising healthcare costs.

And the ultimate irony- while the UFCW was a big cheerleader of Obamacare, they were first in line to be exempted from it:

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which celebrated the passage of Obamacare as “an achievement that will rank among the highest in our national experience,” secured waivers for 28 different affiliates.

So the UFCW’s crowning achievement is now their biggest anchor. But don’t let their about-face surprise you. They’ve been playing both sides of the issue for a long time, they’re just only now seeing the consequences.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union International President Joseph Hansen’s editorial criticized Obamacare after the UFCW got 28 waivers from the ACA. In the fallout of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, more and more opposition to the national health care program has arisen. Even prominent Democrats who voted for […]






Working Against America

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress.1 Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 2

The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.”3 They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have on the American experience. For example, it would add trillions of dollars in new government spending.4

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also increase Medicare’s long term liabilities by nearly $50 trillion.5 The bill created more than $560 billion in new taxes and cut Medicare by more than $520 billion. 6

The UFCW claims to protect America’s middle-class by fighting for healthcare reform. 7 However, the same healthcare reform bill the union backed created a “destructive” tax on savings and investment income that would hurt middle-class American including rank and file UFCW members. The Tax is predicted to skew incentives to work, save and create jobs. 8


1 UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
2CNN/Opinion Research Poll
3UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
4James C. Capretta, “The Real Budgetary Impact Of The House And Senate Bills,” Heritage Foundation Web Memo #2756, 1/14/10; “Enacting A Lie,” Investor’s Business Daily, 3/23/10
5“Enacting A Lie,” Investor’s Business Daily, 3/23/10
6U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Op-Ed, “Fix Health Reform, Then Repeal It,” New York Times, 3/26/10
7UFCW Press Release: http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=490
8“ObamaCare’s Worst Tax Hike,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/17/10

The UFCW used its vast resources to push health care reform through Congress.1 Yet a majority of the Americans disapproved of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 2 The UFCW lauded the achievement “among the ranking highest in our national experience.”3 They may have been right with regard to the impact the Patient Protection […]






Walmart Fights UFCW to Keep Black Friday from Going Dark

For months, the UFCW and their subsidiary group, OUR Walmart, have been making noises that they’ll be striking at Walmarts across the country during arguably the biggest retail day of the whole year- Black Friday.

Now Walmart is finally fighting fire with fire, and taking legal action against the UFCW:

Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.

The move comes just a week before what is expected to be the largest organized action against the world’s largest retailer, as a small group of Walmart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday, typically the busiest shopping day of the year.

The response from the NLRB is expected to come sooner rather than later, as Black Friday is imminently approaching, and the impact on Walmart sales could be drastic.

UFCW’s approach here seems to fit the “we hate you, so join us” attitude that we’ve written on extensively here. In this approach, the UFCW is threatening to cut Walmart where it hurts- their bottom line. Rather than negotiating for better wages or making their case in the court of public opinion, they

However, as we’ve seen, this approach does not work well in practice. For all of the previous attempts the UFCW has made to unionize America’s largest employer, Walmart has yet to unionize any of their stores, or even change their attitude towards unionization. But rather than change course, the UFCW has instead decided to double down on attacking the employer.

This is a particularly bad strategy- not only because it only seems to fuel the animosity Walmart has for the UFCW, but because it also hurts the very employees the UFCW claims they are trying to help. Right now, the U.S. economy is not in a particularly good spot, and people are clamoring for whatever jobs they can get.

When a company has a significant loss of revenue, they’re less likely to be able to use that revenue to promote their employees, increase their employee’s benefits, or be able to retain employees especially in a down economy. But by undermining the company’s chief source of revenue, we see a key contradiction between the UFCW’s stated goals of helping employees and their real goals of unionizing more companies at any cost.

One of the origins of the phrase “Black Friday” comes from the accounting practice of using red ink for deficit revenue  and black ink for positive revenue- the Friday after Thanksgiving would the first day some companies would be “into the black,” or finally making a profit for the year. By undermining Walmart, the UFCW is showing their real colors- they don’t mind if the company doesn’t make a profit, as long as they keep getting their dues money from workers to finance their lavish lifestyles.

For months, the UFCW and their subsidiary group, OUR Walmart, have been making noises that they’ll be striking at Walmarts across the country during arguably the biggest retail day of the whole year- Black Friday. Now Walmart is finally fighting fire with fire, and taking legal action against the UFCW: Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice […]