UFCW 21 - A Voice for Working America

Spring 2013 Newsletter


In this issue:

The Big Picture: Stand Together – Move Ahead

“Together, we have helped protect our jobs and our communities by opposing anti-union stores like Whole Foods and WinCo that would threaten union grocery stores. And with the help of hundreds of co-workers, we helped pass the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe law so that 190,000 workers could stay at home when they are sick or a survivor of domestic violence, to care for themselves without losing a days pay or fear discipline.”

—Tracie Champion (right)

We are two of the 44,000 members in UFCW 21. For many years our union has grown through mergers and successful union organizing drives so workers who want a union can have a union. We are working to pass better laws, partner with other unions and community organizations, and as always, protect the rights and benefits of members.

Right now both of us are on the Bargaining Team in the 2013 Grocery/Meat/General Merchandise contract negotiations. This one contract covers more than 21,000 UFCW 21 members who are jointly bargaining with UFCW 367 whose members include Pierce County grocery and meat, and Teamsters 38 who represent grocery workers in Snohomish County.

Many of the battles we are fighting are similar to those of Macy’s, MultiCare and Providence workers. The details vary, but in general, employers are coming after us – our take home pay, our hours and our health and retirement benefits. The only way we win is by standing together. That is the theme we selected for the 2013 campaign – Stand Together.

The voice of workers from smaller employers can be as important as the big ones. This big contract negotiation not only covers Safeway, Kroger (Fred Meyer and QFC) and Albertsons. It covers independent stores like Town & Country, Metropolitan Market, The Markets LLC and Haggen/Top Foods and many other smaller stores. By bargaining together, we gain power on both sides.

So we ask any of you who have not yet signed the Grocery Store Workers Bill of Rights to click here and do so.

When workers have an opportunity to move ahead, we are all better off. And at the end of the day, having a chance for a better life for ourselves, our family, and our community here and around the world is what being in a union is all about.

The Inside Story:
Health Care Employers Try to Cut Benefits

Health Care providers are getting larger and less local through mergers, acquisitions and expansion. There is a lot of money to be made as the nation grows, particularly in the aging population, and as federal health care reform is implemented. These trends and policy shifts are not necessarily bad, but in order for the rights and benefits of people who work in the industry to be protected and expanded, collective action and organizing will be essential.

Health Care providers aren’t the only ones growing. In order to build a stronger union and have more leverage to negotiate with these larger employers, UFCW 21 has merged with other UFCW locals and continues to focus on the importance of new workplace organizing. A dramatic example of this was the largest organizing drive in recent Washington history when nearly 900 workers at Skagit Regional Health joined our union. And the 2012 merger with USNU Local 141 brought thousands of Nurses into UFCW 21. 

This growing potential strength is well timed because employers are attempting to take away the right of union members to have a voice in changes made to their health plan.

What Members Are Doing to Push Back

Ongoing actions at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital shown here and Capital Medical Center are examples of members standing up with the support of community and our larger union.

The good news is that by getting organized and taking collective action, members are pushing back and making a difference. For example, the “5,000 Strong” campaign is connecting members at Providence hospitals across the state.

Give Us a Break

And while we have not yet won a change in the state legislature around uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, we have won a significant arbitration requiring employers to pay workers for missed breaks. If those hours would have pushed the total hours into OT, then the missed break needs to be paid at time-and-a-half. This is one of many issues being worked on by the newly created UFCW 21 Health Care Advisory Committee that was formed in 2012.

Members Stand Up for Their Rights...

Take Your Break Today

Workers have a legal right, a contractual right and a moral ight to take breaks for meals and rest. As employers cut hours, workers are being asked to do more work in less time with fewer people. “There’s just no time” is heard again and again as workers talk about missing meal and rest breaks. Workers are getting squeezed and the only way to push back is through collectively making sure we exercise our rights and take our meal and rest breaks. Employers are paying CEOs millions, they can  afford to properly staff shifts—whether at a hospital, grocery store, factory, or retail department store—so that the people working a shift can take meal and rest breaks. Contact your Steward or Union Rep. to find out more.


Anniversary Slippage?

 Most workers with a wage scale know the importance of an anniversary – the date of hire that each year triggers a step increase for many health care workers. Providence Everett was sliding the anniversary date of Nurses until the next pay period after their anniversary date – causing them to keep losing money year after year. Over time, this was adding up to some serious money. Members got together with their Union Rep and filed a group grievance. After collective action, Providence has now agreed to stop this practice and honor the intent of an anniversary.


Acting Together Makes the Difference

Just six months after the merger of USNU 141 with UFCW 21, Providence St. Peter members ratified a ground-breaking new contract with overwhelming support. RN’s were able to achieve a contract that sets new standards across the state for health care workers. Nurses signed petitions and wore buttons committed to standing with the 5,000 Providence UFCW 21 members across the state to have a real voice in health care. These actions helped achieve a strong new contract.


50+ Years of Dedication

It is not every day you meet someone with more than 50 years at the same company. Meet Audrey Williams. Starting at Safeway in the 1950s at store #3, she then became the 1st trainer at Safeway’s training school in the basement of Safeway’s old #196 on Stone Way in Seattle. This is where new checkers got four days to go over policy and learn to work with a real register. Later, in the 1970s she started at Panther Lake Safeway #459 and has been there ever since. “They gave me a retirement party, but I never really retired,” says Audrey. “I love my customers and on my one 4-hour shift a week they’ll wait longer just to come through my line.”

Audrey’s story is different and all too similar. Over the last nine years she has had three WIC violations (a clerical error in processing a WIC check at the check-out stand) and was suspended for three days in April of 2013. Our union is proposing to have this type injustice corrected by removing a violation after 365 days instead of staying on the record for years. Audrey thinks that’s a good idea. She says “It used to be we were treated like family at work, now we’re just a number.” Far from cynical, she smiles and says, “I’ve got my union button on my apron.”


United We Stand

A November 24, 2012 fire killed 112 workers in a Bangladesh garment factory where clothes are made for companies including Walmart. On April 23rd, a survivor from the November fire came to Seattle as part of a 10-city “End the Death Traps” tour. Before the next day’s action at the Renton Walmart, news came of another Bangladesh garment factory tragedy killing over 1,000 workers. The Walmart action was supported by UFCW 21, OUR Walmart and many community partner organizations. By standing together, not just in our own contract negotiations and workplaces, but with Walmart workers who are fighting for a voice in their workplaces and garment factory workers on the other side of the globe organizing for safe working conditions, we make a difference. And when companies like Walmart want to come into our communities and undercut our union stores with claims of “low prices” they need to be held accountable for some of the reasons for those prices—like horrible working conditions and mistreatment of workers here and around the world. Learn more at MakingChangeatWalmart.org

2013 Scholarship Award Winners Announced

Each year the UFCW 21 Scholarship program awards financial support to our members and their dependents and spouse/domestic partners. This program has grown significantly over the past five years and now makes awards of over $40,000 to more than a dozen recipients.

The cost of an education needs to be getting smaller not larger. UFCW 21 joins others in lobbying in our state and nation’s capital to reduce the costs of higher education for everyone. At the same time, it is recognized that until that is achieved, it makes a real difference in the lives of members to provide support through scholarships and we all hope these funds will assist members and their families’ toward Reclaiming the American Dream.


Friday, July 26
1:00pm – 5:00pm

Lion’s Park
251 Lebo Blvd., Shelter 1

RSVP 206-458-6162 or
1-800-732-1188 Ext. 6162



Sunday, July 21
11:00am – 4:00pm

Lower Woodland Park
1000 N 50th St., Shelters 1 & 2

RSVP 206-458-6161 or
1-800-732-1188 Ext. 6161



Sunday, Sept. 8
12:00pm – 4:00pm

Franklin Park
5301-5399 N Division St.

RSVP 509-340-7369


We plan on having a bus from Bellingham and Mt. Vernon coming to the Seattle picnic.
If you are interested in taking the bus please call 360-419-4663.

UFCW 21, UFCW 367 and Teamsters 38 members came up with new ideas at the 2013 Grocery Store Workers contract kick-off. This video is one of those ideas:

SUPPORT Grocery Store Workers

2013 Grocery Store Workers Contract Bargaining

On the front cover: 

On the front cover: The Renton Fire Department joined hundreds of community supporters, UFCW 21, OUR Walmart members and others to call on Walmart to be accountable for the deaths of Bangladesh garment workers. Sumi Abedin (left) is a survivor of the Tazreen factory fire from last fall that killed 112 workers (see United We Stand article).

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