UFCW Boss Defeated, But Staying Around?

Longtime San Diego labor leader Mickey Kasparian was defeated Friday in his bid for re-election, losing his local power base, according to results announced Saturday.

“I’m happy. What a good day this is,” Bruce “Todd” Walters said after winning the presidency of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135. …

Kasparian, a 60-year-old La Mesa resident, has been president since 2003. He assumed a role as local Democratic Party kingmaker and financial resource to candidates and causes. He also was a vice president of the international UFCW. He made at least $215,000….

Walters and his slate accused Kasparian of using union dues to pay off a series of female accusers in lawsuit settlements. Four women said Kasparian had sexually harassed them or were targets of wrongful termination or gender discrimination….

Walters said Kasparian’s local term ends Dec. 31, but he might be able to land a role with the international UFCW, noting a job vacancy on the Western States Council, where Kasparian is board president.

The council is the regional coordinating body of 11 UFCW local unions representing over 200,000 workers in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
Read the full story here.

Longtime San Diego labor leader Mickey Kasparian was defeated Friday in his bid for re-election, losing his local power base, according to results announced Saturday. “I’m happy. What a good day this is,” Bruce “Todd” Walters said after winning the presidency of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135. … Kasparian, a 60-year-old La Mesa resident, has […]






Accused Sexual Harasser Finally Ousted

Friday, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 overwhelmingly elected Todd Walters their new president, ending the tenure of longtime president Mickey Kasparian…

Walters and his entire slate of candidates beat Kasparian by a 2-1 margin in the election among the approximately 12,000 members of UFCW 135. Walters won 2,297 votes to Kasparian’s 1,170. The union represents supermarket employees along with some casino and pharmacy workers…

Kasparian was once the most prominent labor leader in the region as president of both the UFCW local and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the coalition of most major local unions. But then several former employees stepped forward with accusations of sexual assault and discrimination. The first of those accusations was made exactly two years ago. He and the union settled the lawsuits but Walters made the accusations and settlements a major issue when he launched his campaign to unseat Kasparian.

Read more here.

Friday, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 overwhelmingly elected Todd Walters their new president, ending the tenure of longtime president Mickey Kasparian… Walters and his entire slate of candidates beat Kasparian by a 2-1 margin in the election among the approximately 12,000 members of UFCW 135. Walters won 2,297 votes to […]






Unions Disrespect Members and Heavily Fund Democrats

Labor unions once again spent heavily during the 2018 election cycle, contributing nearly $135 million; unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of union political spending was to help Democrats, liberal causes, and liberal organizations. In other words, many unions again ignored the fact that about 40 percent of union household members, including many union members, vote Republican.

Overall, Democrat candidates and organizations collected more than five times as much money from unions as Republicans and Republican organizations did, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Of the top 20 recipients of labor money, 18 were Democrats. The top five recipients of political contributions from unions were the following:

  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was unions’ favorite candidate of the cycle; she received over $370,000 from unions.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also received over $370,000 from unions.
  • Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) received over $310,000 from unions. The labor sector was his fifth largest source of campaign contributions.
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) also received over $310,000 from unions.
  • Matt Cartwright (D-PA) received nearly $310,000 from unions. The labor sector was his third largest source of campaign contributions.

While these five labor union favorites received especially strong financial support, run-of-the-mill Democrats also received significantly more union support than their Republican counterparts. For example, the average House Democrat received contributions of more than $130,000 from unions, and the average Senate Democrat received contributions of more than $115,000 from unions. Meanwhile, the average House Republican received contributions of less than $35,000 from unions. Senate Republicans fared even worse: the average Senate Republican received contributions of a little more than $10,000 from unions.

The five unions that spent the most on political contributions during the 2018 cycle were the following:

  • The Carpenters and Joiners Union made political contributions of more than $17.7 million. Nearly 80 percent of the union’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The National Education Association (NEA) made contributions of nearly $17.4 million. Over 87 percent of the NEA’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) made contributions of more than $11.5 million. Nearly 99 percent of AFSCME’s contributions to candidates and parties went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) made contributions of more than $9.1 million. Nearly 99 percent of the AFT’s contributions to candidates and parties also went to Democrats, and 100 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.
  • The Laborers Union made contributions of more than $8.5 million. Over 79 percent of the union’s contributions to candidates and parties also went to Democrats, and over 99 percent of its contributions to outside spending groups went to liberal organizations.

Of the 20 unions with the largest political expenditures, only two made any serious efforts to be bipartisan in their contributions: the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Air Line Pilots Association. Those two unions both gave more than 40 percent of their total political contributions to Republicans.

For years, unions have disrespected the views of many of their members to fund Democrats and liberal causes, and they continue to do so. In the future, perhaps the Janus decision will lead to changes in the causes and candidates that public sector unions support. Either way, there is a need for more union activists to take over their unions, in both the public and the private sector, and make them more responsive to their members; and there is a need for more Right to Work legislation to allow all workers to stop funding organizations and viewpoints they oppose.

Labor unions once again spent heavily during the 2018 election cycle, contributing nearly $135 million; unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of union political spending was to help Democrats, liberal causes, and liberal organizations. In other words, many unions again ignored the fact that about 40 percent of union household members, including many union members, vote Republican. […]






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 […]