The current Anchorage/Eagle River Safeway contract will expire on May 31, 2015. This contract expiration marks the start of our next round of negotiations with all Safeway stores. All active members who work at the Anchorage/Eagle River stores should have received a questionnaire in the mail asking them for their feedback and prioritizing a list of issues they would like to see improvements on. There is a postage paid envelope with that questionnaire and we urge all members to take a few moments to fill it out and mail back to us by March 15th. If you did not receive a questionnaire, please contact the Union office and verify your mailing address. Your input is important to us. If you would like to be on the negotiating committee or help with the negotiations in other ways, there is a place on the questionnaire to fill out and our reps will be in touch with you. We have scheduled the first in a series of negotiations on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd.
Employees with 18 or more months or continuous employment with Safeway accrue one or more personal days annually on the anniversary of their date of hire. The number of personal days accrued varies by area and employees should refer to the Union contract for their particular Safeway store to confirm the number of days that may be accrued. Personal days must be used during the employee’s anniversary year and do not accrue year-to-year, so be sure to use them before your anniversary date each year. Also members can not carry more than two times their annual vacation accrual. Employees with two or more times their annual accrual should schedule and take vacation leave before the anniversary of their date of hire with the Company. Please be aware that there are black-out dates from November 15-December 31st unless mutually agreed between the Employer and Employee. You may call Safeway Employee Service Center (ESC) at 1-888-255-2269 to check your balances on both personal and vacation days accrued. If you try to schedule vacation and it is, for any reason, denied, please notify you Shop Steward or Union Representative assigned to your store.
The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require paid sick leave for workers. Currently, nearly 40 million Americans are reporting to work sick out of fear of losing more hours or even their jobs, and many are in low-wage, part-time jobs in the retail industry. To date, only 16 cities and three states have passed sick leave laws. While these states and cities should be lauded, all workers deserve access to paid sick leave. Fortunately, legislation has been introduced that addresses sick leave on the national level. The Healthy Families Act would allow millions of American workers to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year. No one should have to report to work sick because they have no other choice. We urge Congress to act now and pass the Healthy Families Act.
For those of you who were not able to attend the Pension and Health & Welfare Update/Status Report meeting in Anchorage on January 27th, we have set up a video on you-tube that you can check out.
The new year brought a much needed raise to millions of American workers in 21 states and the District of Columbia due to increases in state minimum wage levels. This means that a total of 29 states and the nation’s capitol now have a minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25 per hour. All American workers deserve a minimum wage and this requires a federal solution. But despite widespread public support, Congressional Republicans and their corporate backers continue to block efforts to raise the minimum wage. They have stuck to the same old, tired argument that raising the minimum wage will be bad for businesses, despite finding from a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which found that states that raised the minimum wage experienced faster employment growth than the states that didn’t. In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $10.10 and they failed to act. In 2015, UFCW members will be pushing the 114th Congress to follow the lead of these 29 states and raise the minimum wage so that no worker is forced to live in poverty.
As we start the new year, the retail sector continues to be an important employer of minorities and women. However, too many workers in this industry are struggling to survive in low-wage, part-time jobs with inconsistent hours that hamper their ability to juggle life’s demands and prevent them from climbing the economic ladder. As income inequality continues to grow, worker-led campaigns such as OUR Walmart and the Fight for $15, have made these issues part of the national conversation and elected officials have taken notice. Last year, Representatives George Miller (D-Calif) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) introduced the Schedules That Work Act (H.R. 5159) that included a presumption that retail workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation would also provide retail workers advance notice of their schedules and guaranteed minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift. Fair, flexible and reliable scheduling is a simply way to ensure that retail workers are treated with dignity and respect. The Retail Justice Alliance urges Congress to swiftly pass the Schedules That Work Act to improve scheduling in the retail sector and provide retail workers with a pathway to the middle class.
The UFCW awards several scholarships of up to $8,000 each to UFCW members or their unmarried dependents. The scholarships are limited to any member who has been active since January 1, 2014. The child and/or dependents of active members are also eligible to apply if they are unmarried and under the age of 20 on May 31, 2015 The application and other forms must be mailed with a postmark date no later than March 22, 2015. Scholarship recipients will receive annual payments of $2,000 for each year they are enrolled for up to four years. For more information, complete rules and eligibility requirements, or to apply, please visit www.ufcw.org/scholarship. The applications on this website are also written in French and Spanish. If you are unable to apply online, you may request an application by writing to: UFCW International Union, Attn: Scholarship Program, 1775 K Street, NW, Washington DC, 20006. If you need the scholarship rules or an application in another language, please call 1-800-551-4010 for assistance.