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Please a Crowd with Party Pinwheels

Watch prep cook and member of UFCW Local 75 Chardonnay Starr show you how to make a party pinwheel tray—perfect for your next potluck, housewarming, or kids birthday party. UFCW puts food on the table for America’s families, and makes the holidays happen. Visit ufcw.org/howto/ to subscribe to UFCW’s DIY tips from more experts in our union family.

Avocados Made Easy

Watch United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) member Maia Dubar, Stop and Shop produce clerk and member of UFCW Local 919, show you how to cut, peel, and prep avocados for cooking or serving—just in time for Cinco De Mayo. Visit ufcw.org/howto to subscribe to UFCW’s DIY tips from more experts in our union family.

Big changes seen for the grocery industry

Experts have been writing about developments that are changing the ways customers will buy their groceries. How these trends will affect those who work in the industry will be impossible to predict with any accuracy, but our union will continue to monitor them closely and will act vigorously to ensure our members’ rights are protected at every step of the way.

Writing in Forbes magazine, analyst Laura Heller writes about four trends that she believes will change food stores in the years to come:

  • New retailers on the horizon: Two German non-union retailers known for their extreme cost savings are opening stores in the U.S. in 2017. The first is Lidl, which will open its first U.S. store in Virginia this summer. By the end of 2017, Lidl plans to open 20 stores in North and South Carolina. Aldi operates more than 1,600 stores in the U.S., and Lidl is expected to try to match Aldi’s store counts. This would increase competition but also could endanger union market share and lower wage standards.
  • Online shopping: This young trend hasn’t taken off as many industry analysts expected. While Amazon is tinkering with grocery delivery and its cashier-less Amazon Go store, Walmart is trying to expand its grocery pickup service. Kroger also has a similar service called ClickList in which consumers can reserve one-hour windows to pick up their groceries at their local stores. Look for these experiments to continue.
  • Healthier food options at traditional chains: This trend is already hurting the bottom line at Whole Foods, which has posted six consecutive quarters of sales declines now that most traditional grocery retailers offer organic foods. Consumer demand for fresh and healthy foods is driving many retailers to offer more of these options as well as packaged foods without artificial flavors and ingredients.
  • More consolidation: As the airline industry experienced in the 1980s and ’90s, the grocery industry could undergo a new round of corporate mergers. Smaller independent chains may be unable to match the prices offered by their dominant competitors.

Catering to millennials

Meanwhile, analyst Bob Sullivan writes the next wave of changes will be made to catch the attention of millennial shoppers. 

“It’s hard being an old-fashioned grocery store these days,” he writes for Credit.com

“Adults, for the first time since such data was recorded, are spending more money eating out than cooking in,” he says. But even when they do buy their food, young shoppers want something different from a grocery store than what is offered by many of the longstanding chains. 

“Small, boutique food shops that are part-restaurant, part-brew pub, part-exotic grocer are all the rage,” Sullivan writes. 

The irony is that small specialty grocers used to rule the land in the first half of the last century before supermarkets catered to larger groups of shoppers. Now, Sullivan writes, “the do-everything grocery store is struggling to stay relevant.” 

Like it or not, changes are coming, and it’s best to be aware of them so we can help guide them instead of merely reacting to them.

Remember Kenny Jacobs, and keep our union strong

Last month Kenny Jacobs left for the big union hall in the sky. He died on March 18, 2017.  

  Some members still remember Kenny, the Fry’s meat cutter who had two things on him always: a smile and his union button. He even wore his button on the day of his funeral.

Kenny joined the union in 1968 and stayed a member more than 40 years. 

I met Kenny nearly 25 years into his Local 99 membership. He was a big man who never missed an opportunity to strike up a conversation and get to know you, no matter who you were. Everyone who talked with him left feeling good about it — and felt good about him. 

If you worked with Kenny, you knew where he stood and you knew he had your back.

Kenny served as a union steward and on the local’s Executive Board. He was on bargaining committees for the meat contract — there are still provisions in the contract that Kenny helped write. 

He was a mentor for many leaders who work for Local 99 today. And at his store he helped many apprentices who later moved into management at Fry’s. That’s the kind of man he was. 

If you worked in his store, Kenny would sign you up as a member of the union and train you to be a steward. He would bring you to union meetings and discuss the contract with you. 

Kenny would make sure that you met your rep, and if you had a problem he would personally dial the number to the local so you could talk to a rep. 

He cared. He felt he had a responsibility to make his union stronger. He belonged and knew that for the union to work, its members had to be engaged. 

He was a great example for all of us. 

Kenny was proud of his work and proud to be a worker. Even after he retired, if you asked him what he did for a living he would say, “I’m a union meat cutter.”

When people like Kenny pass away, you miss them. You miss talking to them, seeing them and learning from them. 

In death, Kenny wouldn’t want to be missed. He would want to be remembered for the way he helped people. He would want to be the man who encouraged men and women to pick up where he left off building a union and making it stronger. 

If anyone wants to know what they can do to help their union, look no further than the example set by Kenny Jacobs. 

And don’t miss him. Remember him. 

Keep our union strong.

Walmart Workers in Pennsylvania celebrate class-action lawsuit victory

On Jan. 24, Making Change at Walmart held a press conference in Harrisburg, Pa., to draw attention to  more than 187,000 current and former Walmart workers throughout Pennsylvania who won a $241.1-million class-action lawsuit against the retail giant.

The case originated in 2002, when former Philadelphia Walmart worker Michelle Braun filed a lawsuit against all Pennsylvania Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, alleging that the company failed to compensate workers for off-the-clock work hours and prevented employees from taking or completing their rest or meal breaks.

In 2004, Dolores Hummel, who was employed as a cake decorator at Walmart in Reading, Pa., filed a class action lawsuit presenting allegations similar to Braun’s 2002 complaint.

In 2005, the two lawsuits were combined and certification as a class action was granted by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The “class” consisted of all current and former employees of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2006, totaling approximately 187,000 people.

Although a jury returned a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in 2006, Walmart appealed the case for years.

The current and former Walmart workers began receiving payments last December, and the award includes $88 million in interest.

Union leaders agree that Walmart’s attempt to cheat, deny and delay millions of dollars of income earned by workers that were forced to work off the clock has finally been defeated. They said that this historic judgment provides hope and inspiration to thousands of workers who continue to be mistreated, unappreciated and undervalued at Walmarts all across America.  

German chains spark price war

Competition from no-frills grocery companies based in Germany — fast-growing Aldi and domestic newcomer Lidl — is encroaching on Walmart’s grocery business, which accounts for more than half of its revenues in the United States, analysts said.

All of these non-union companies are a direct threat to union stores.

Aldi has said it will expand its U.S. footprint to nearly 2,000 stores by the end of 2018, an increase of almost 50 percent in five years.

Both Lidl and Aldi run their stores with limited product variety and ultra-low prices. In addition to food items, Lidl also sells merchandise like apparel and home goods.

Olympic Medical Center Home Health workers ratify contract

Members of UFCW Local 21 who work at Olympic Medical Center Home Health in Port Angeles, Wash., ratified a new contract on Feb. 27. The agreement covers about 60 workers and includes wage increases, an extra floating holiday and additional education money. 

“This contract will help recruit and retain quality staff and allow members to better serve the needs of their patients,” a union official said.