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 […]






Destroying Entry Level Jobs and Teen Opportunity

Union Mismanagement 1 Comment

Today’s article brought to you by Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily blog. By By Rick Manning. Originally published Dec. 4, 2013.

Fast food restaurants will get the joy of having labor unions stage protests demanding an increase in their worker’s wages and more than doubling the overall federal minimum wage this week.

Everyone wants to make more money, so what could go wrong?

Perhaps it would be wise to ask the United Food and Commercial Worker Union (UFCW) members in the Washington, D.C. area.  These union members have priced themselves out of jobs as the consuming public is being trained to scan their own food items, cutting out the middle man.  The union workers are so concerned about their dwindling numbers that they are threatening to strike on December 20th with a major complaint being that the implementation of self-scanning technology is eliminating their jobs.

Now the same Big Labor economic geniuses whose demands for ever increasing benefits and wages threaten the grocery clerks very existence are being equally helpful to entry level fast food workers.  Workers who perform low skill functions for a minimum wage or just slightly higher.

At a time when Amazon has built a drone to deliver packages, and hopes to have them operational with full Federal Aeronautics Administration approval within four to five years, it takes little imagination in our current culture to see a fast food restaurant operating with very few personnel.

You punch your order in at a display screen, or in drive thru, Siri’s younger, more advanced sister, takes your order showing you the results on the screen.  You put your credit card or cash into the ATM like payment system and drive to the pick-up window where you get your food that comes out when sensors tell the machine you are in place to receive it.  The food gets cooked by a series of machines that put the right patty on the grill, drop just the right amount of fries and automatically puts the appropriate soft drink cup under the right beverage.  A lid is attached and your meal is delivered to you when you drive up.

The restaurant has next to perfect food cost controls, and a labor force that doesn’t sleep in on Saturday or shut the restaurant fifteen minutes early because it is slow and they are bored.

Automakers build cars using very exact automation, is it so unreasonable to believe that a burger could be made similarly?

Yet, protestors are going to blithely march around fast food restaurants demanding wages that virtually guarantee mechanized product delivery, a result that has disastrous consequences.

Fast food restaurants are gateway jobs, and are not intended for the vast majority of people to be anything but that – entry level.  This is a great thing.

Teens learn that they have to get to work on time both from getting pinged by their bosses, and by having to stay late due to the tardiness of a coworker.  Teens learn about this FICA fellow who takes a bunch of their paycheck without their ever seeing a dime, and wonder how their $183.75 check for five, five hour days dwindled down to a mere $135.  And most importantly, teens learn that money to go to the movies, pay car insurance and put gasoline in the car has to be earned by trading time, energy and effort in a value creating way.

Read the rest of the article here.

By admin On Dec 11, 2013 Union Mismanagement 1 Comment Today’s article brought to you by Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily blog. By By Rick Manning. Originally published Dec. 4, 2013. Fast food restaurants will get the joy of having labor unions stage protests demanding an increase in their worker’s wages and more than doubling the overall […]






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) […]






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 […]






UFCW Financially-Troubled National and Local Pension Funds

UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS
FINANCIALLY TROUBLED NATIONAL AND LOCAL PENSION FUNDS

For years, UFCW union organizers have been telling prospective new members that nothing beats a union membership for a secure retirement. The inconvenient truth that they haven’t been telling workers is that their union-sponsored pension plans are underfunded, owe more in benefits than they have the assets to cover, and face strict measures such as freezing core benefits while eliminating others in order to recover from their severe financial distress.

An asset/liability ratio gauges a plan’s funding and financial health. At 100% or higher, the plan has enough assets to pay all of its promised benefits and other obligations. Below that, it cannot meet its obligations. Under federal law, if the ratio falls between 65% and 80%, the plan becomes endangered. If it falls below 65%, the plan’s status changes to critical.

Of the 51 pension plans sponsored by the United Food & Commercial Workers, all but seven have funding levels which are in the endangered or critical range. The average funding level for the 51 UFCW members’ pension plans is only 67.4%. Only two plans were at or near full funding levels. This means that more than a 1.2 Million UFCW members are locked into underfunded pension plans.

Forty-four of these plans are in serious financial trouble with either endangered or critical funding levels as described by the Pension Protection Act (PPA). Their average funding level is only 62.7%. Together, these plans have almost a million participants and all of them are required to take steps to recover their financial health and avoid collapse. This may include freezing benefit levels or even eliminating some benefits altogether and drastically increasing contributions. This will tax current workers and employers to pay for poor fiscal management, planning and negotiations of the past.

Half of these weakened plans (22 of 44) are funded at levels described as critical under the PPA. Their average funding is just 57.8%. These severely underfunded plans will be required to adopt even more drastic cuts as part of their recovery. Dire news for their 583,780 participants.

The UFCW is a major proponent of the Card Check bill, which if passed will allow them to force more and more workers into these failing pension plans. Prospective future union members will likely be thrown into a pension plan that is already sliding toward insolvency – thus, their pension contributions will be used in a ponzi-scheme to prop up benefits for current members and retirees, rather than provide a safe and secure pension of their own.

To quote the UFCW’s website, to the more than “1.2 million active, retired, former members and their eligible dependents” of the union’s pension plans, the issue of pension security “is more than an issue – it is survival.”

UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS FINANCIALLY TROUBLED NATIONAL AND LOCAL PENSION FUNDS For years, UFCW union organizers have been telling prospective new members that nothing beats a union membership for a secure retirement. The inconvenient truth that they haven’t been telling workers is that their union-sponsored pension plans are underfunded, owe more in benefits than […]






UFCW Back for Another Legal Marijuana Hit

California United Food and Commercial Worker members beware! The drug addicts in your store, the people driving on your roads while high, that friend of yours that never stops talking about how much better it would be if “weed were legal, man…”- all of these are supported by your union! In fact, the UFCW is actively reaching out and joining coalitions of other pro-marijuana groups, and they’re spending your dues money on it.

Following up on our previous post about the United Food and Commercial Worker’s support of legalized marijuana, the UFCW is back again to lobby for federal recognition of California’s marijuana legalization. And this time, they brought some friends:

In response to Obama’s visit, Northern California leaders in the cannabis community united today with Bay Area elected officials, patients, and business owners prior to an Obama campaign fundraiser in San Francisco to discuss the ramifications of the administration’s latest offensive against California’s medical marijuana community and to call for federal policy reform. In a first-time press conference presenting a united front, leaders including… representatives of the UFCW Local 5 were present.

Apparently, the UFCW has been busy forging a coalition with other pro-marijuana legalization groups, and they lend their authority as a union to the movement. UFCW Local 5’s Matthew Witemyre, a Special Projects Union Representative, had this to say: “If the federal government closes commercial dispensaries and collectives in California, thousands of hardworking and taxpaying citizens across the state will lose their jobs in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

The timing of this meeting is rather interesting, given that Obama has declared October 2011 as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. In case the UFCW has forgotten, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, where Schedule 1 is defined as a substances with “a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision”.

Unfortunately for the UFCW, Obama’s Administration has not reacted too positively to their concerns, and recently shot down a petition to legalize marijuana on their online petition site:

…Marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. …neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

These kinds of facts are definitely a buzz-kill, but still necessary to understand in context of UFCW’s support of medical marijuana. Their continued support of this dangerous substance endangers the lives of their members, as well as the citizens of California.

Bottom line- the UFCW needs to focus its efforts on issues that impact their dues-paying members, and prioritize efforts that will produce better working conditions rather than fighting an administration that shows no sign of changing on this issue. Their continued waste of time and focus ultimately hurts all of their members- something UFCW workers simply cannot afford.

H/T Labor Union Report

California United Food and Commercial Worker members beware! The drug addicts in your store, the people driving on your roads while high, that friend of yours that never stops talking about how much better it would be if “weed were legal, man…”- all of these are supported by your union! In fact, the UFCW is […]






UFCW To Walmart: We Hate You – Join Us

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

That’s what the UFCW thinks of Walmart, according to Thomas P. McNutt, president of Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

But of course the UFCW Local 400 has something to lose when it comes to having new jobs in the area—it represents “employees of area Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores.” Rather than asking the Walmart employees to join the UFCW family the union attacks and belittles them.

McNutt himself spells it out in a blog post on the UFCW 400 blog:

“For we are family,” he said. “One big family. Just like family, we’ve got to have each other’s backs. We’ve got to treat an attack on one like it’s an attack on all. And we’ve got to always put our family first.”

This “Family First” policy consists of pitting certain employees against other   employees. Walmart is expanding its’ company stores across new areas in Washington, D.C. and other major cities, and the UFCW is opposed to these new jobs at a time where unemployment is all the way up to 9.5% in D.C. Local UFCW chapters have launched campaigns aimed at stopping the consumer giant from establishing stores, with corresponding job opportunities, in new areas.

So what exactly is UFCW claiming Walmart will do?

One of the most prevalent claims against Walmart, the nations largest private employer, is that they achieve their low prices by paying their employees next to nothing. Leading the charge is the “Respect D.C.” project, co-sponsored by the UFCW. One tweet from the @RespectDC Twitter page even went as far as saying Walmart provided “slave wage jobs”:

Walmart jobs do not provide decent, livable wages or health care & are basically slave wage jobs that will hurt local small biz

UFCW does not explain why people line up for these jobs by the thousands.  Maybe is because UFCW claims are demonstrably false, in other words lies. The “Respect D.C.”website has a list of demands (PDF link) that “WalMart will pay every employee in its DC stores the DC Living Wage rate or higher,” which is currently $12.50 per hour.

If the D.C. living wage is currently $12.50 per hour, what exactly is Walmart paying their employees? Apparently just $0.01 less:

At its stores in Washington area suburbs, Wal-Mart pays an average of $12.49 an hour. Although Restivo would not say what wages would be at its District stores, he said the rates would be above that of most union jobs offered by competing grocers and that most jobs would be full-time positions.

Quite far from “slave wage jobs”, employees not in D.C. are actually paid far closer to the “DC Living wages” Respect D.C. is demanding.

Another well-worn knock on Walmart and other large retailers is that they hurt struggling small businesses. According to Andy Shallal, a hard-left anti-war restaurant owner, Walmart is “a big-box bully that depresses wages and crushes small competitors”, and that WalMart’s “track record of destroying local businesses speaks louder than any academic research”.

But what does that academic research actually say? A Competitive Enterprise Institute study (PDF link) found that:

DRCs (discount retail chains) benefitted the communities they entered by increasing wages and employment, and strengthening other businesses that did not compete directly with the new DRC… the presence of DRCs “may create alternative opportunities for businesses that are unable to compete with large discount retail chains,” and “new businesses emerge that provide either services or products that complement the DRC’s offerings.” … Rather than shutting down retail activity, the presence of DRCs actually stimulates dynamic local retail growth.

Clearly the economic case against Walmart is falling apart, so what’s left? Maybe a half-baked assertion that Walmart turns children into criminals? Funny enough, that’s exactly the claim Washington D.C.’s Ward 4 ANC Commissioner Brenda Speaks made in a recent rally against Walmart:

You’re putting kids in jeopardy of getting a record from shoplifting in this Walmart store. For the first time, some kids will have a record- they will start a record- because kids are kids and they will go in those stores and pick up things, and security is going to grab them, and that’s crime.

Mrs. Speaks seems to believe here that Walmart stores specifically will incite children (through no fault of their own) to begin lives of crime. Something about the goods and services Walmart would uniquely provide causes children to inevitably shoplift. (Perhaps the area Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores don’t have goods tempting enough to steal?) Sometimes the fiction people believe is truth is the strangest fiction of all.

So what does that leave us with?

The UFCW “Family First” model is fundamentally at odds with employees, consumers, and ultimately, the facts. If their goal is to increase benefits for all workers, they must change their model to account for political realities that may be undermining their arguments.

If the companies their members represent are threatened by competition by Walmart, they should find ways to follow the suggestions put forward by the CEI study, and find ways to provide complimentary services or products.

It is not Walmart that union members should be afraid of. Rather, it is the inability of their unions to adapt to change they should be worried about.

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” That’s what the UFCW thinks of Walmart, according to Thomas P. McNutt, president of Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. But of course the UFCW Local 400 has something to lose when it comes to having new jobs in the area—it represents “employees of area Giant, Safeway […]