Thank you for taking the time to join our June 7th Telephone Town Hall. In the lead-up to our event, we received hundreds of questions about the cost of living, COVID-19, and other important issues impacting our members across the southwest. As we work with your employer to address your most urgent concerns, we hope you found the telephone town hall helpful and informative.
Congratulations to our ten $100 gift card winners. Your Union Representative will be in touch with you to arrange delivery of your gift card.
Mario G. – Safeway 2076
Roberta S. – Safeway 1584
Jeannie M. – Fry’s 693
Michael H. – Safeway 1637
Martin LS. – JBS – AZ
Caitlyn C. – Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Franceen P. – Fry’s 57
Laura L. – Fry’s 45
Diane N. – Safeway 2069
Gerardo Chavoya – JBS – UT
Although we are pleased with member turnout, we understand that many of our members work during 2nd and 3rd shift and such, are often unable to attend evening meetings. For those who were unable to call into the June 7th town hall, you can read a summary of the call below. You can also click here to download a recording of the full event or listen below:
UFCW Local 99 Telephone Town Hall Summary
June 7, 2022
On June 7, President Jim McLaughlin held a Telephone Town Hall meeting to address concerns of the membership.
Topics for the meeting were suggested by members in hundreds of emails sent to the union. President McLaughlin notified members on the call that while many of the questions were the same, some were more specific to the member or the member’s grievance. Those questions were sent onto the Union Representatives to get back to the members with the needed information.
The minimum wage law that went into effect in 2018 has a cost-of-living adjustment built in, President McLaughlin said.
“As inflation rises, so do the wages in some of our contracts,” he said. “While we still have standard progressions, the minimum wage will drive up those wages.
“If minimum wage is based on inflation through May, some members may see increases of more than a dollar, but that doesn’t mean that’s enough. We see struggle in our membership, members trying to manage their budgets.
“We are reaching out to the companies to find different ways to find solutions, such as how far members are driving to work and perhaps placing them in a store closer to home,” he continued. “Some members are spending more than $100 a week on gas to get back and forth to work.”
McLaughlin said language in the contracts dealing with the minimum wage and cost-of-living increases was designed by the union to lift wages for everybody.
SPUR program success
“We had four SPURS (Special Project Union Representatives) come out of the stores to help with a sign-up campaign and they helped sign up almost 3,000 new members!” McLaughlin said. “We are proud of their efforts and thankful for their work.”
If members are interested in getting involved in the union and working in the SPUR program, they should contact their representatives and get on the list to be considered for more programs, he said.
“We have lots of programs going on at the union and we need member engagement,” he said. “Working as a SPUR is an incredible organizing opportunity, and you can help the reps serve the membership in the stores, packing plants and elsewhere.”
Stewards Conference ahead
McLaughlin announced that Local 99’s Stewards Conference is scheduled for Sept. 14. Stewards from all over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, will attend. “Stewards, please clear the date,” he said.
With the pandemic putting plans on hold over the past couple of years, the union hasn’t had the opportunity to hold an event for the past four or five years since the last conference.
“We look forward to having everybody there,” he said. “Ask your steward in your store if they plan on attending. If you don’t know who the steward is, or if your store doesn’t have a steward, maybe the steward should be you.”
Being a steward is a great opportunity to get firsthand knowledge from your union, make your workplace better and more, he said.
President McLaughlin encouraged members to check their company policies on their portals regularly and urged them to wear masks at work.
“It’s about being safe right now,” he said. “It’s a pain, but it still helps from us getting sick. We can’t forget the more than 30 members who died of COVID over last couple years. We don’t want to see any more losses because of this.
“Please continue to wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands. I do. The numbers of infections are going up. Each one of you is a front-line essential worker who needs to be protected.”
Health care improvements for New Mexico Cannabis workers.
The union has been able to negotiate cannabis workers in New Mexico into the union’s health plan, which improves benefits, saves money and improves the lives of members. This will help in organizing more cannabis workers in that state.
Discussion regarding Hyrum Utah jbs members
President will be meeting with JBS to review health care clinics as provided under the Hyrum JBS contract. Health care clinics will benefit entire families.
“We plan to discuss clinics and identify a model clinic for Hyram,” McLaughlin said. President McLaughlin our Hyrum members that the company agreed to implement a clinic in Hyrum, UT during negotiations in the last contract.
McLaughlin discussed improved dental and vision benefits in the health plans.
“Make sure you’re getting the most from your health benefits,” he said. “If you have questions regarding your benefits, get a hold of your union rep so they can help you navigate through your dental and vision benefits.”
Mass shootings at grocery stores
“Security is a concern for all of us,” he said. “In Buffalo, Colorado, Long Island… it seems as though our stores are a soft target for lack of a better description.”
“The union is in constant conversations with the companies on security,” he added. “We’ve worked with police to make sure they recognize the role union stores play in the community.
“One of our stores in Tucson was targeted a decade ago with the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. We know firsthand of the horror of these shootings.”
“Pay attention to what’s going on at work,” he said. “Immediately let people know if you see something out of the ordinary. It’s going to take all of us working together to protect each other.”
McLaughlin took a moment on the call to recognize staff member Kaitlyn Piazza, who was in the hospital during the call after giving birth to a girl, and congratulate Union Representative Wes Young, who will retire at the end of the month.
“If don’t get call from your rep regarding your specific questions that was for tonight, get back to us and we’ll track down the answer for you,” he said.
“We look forward to seeing our stewards on Sept. 14!”