November 21, 2014 - Attention all eligible participants of the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund, to secure health benefit coverage in 2015, you MUST participate in the open enrollment process from December 1 - 12, 2014.
This benefit package includes medical, prescription, dental, vision, time loss, weekly disability, life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D).
Open enrollment for members working for The Kroger Company must be completed online at www.mufcwbenefits.com while members working at any of the independents have two options; online or by filling out an open enrollment packet sent through the mail. See options below.
Open enrollment is a yearly requirement to secure health benefits for the upcoming year. For example, enrolling in 2014, qualifies eligibility in 2015.
"Members sometimes reason that because their information is already submitted to the "Fund," or that they currently have benefits, they do not have to do it again - not true." Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "Open enrollment is a mandated requirement. All eligible participants must re-submit an enrollment prior to the start of the new year."
Members who miss the open enrollment period, or elect not to enroll, will have their benefits terminated on December 31, 2014.
Unless a life qualifying event occurs, participants will not have another opportunity to enroll until the next open enrollment in 2015 for 2016 eligibility.
"UFCW 876 is in the business of providing health benefits, not taking them away," Robinson said. "We cannot do this without your active participation in open enrollment."
October 28, 2014 - Kroger members will be receiving a scientific survey in the mail early November that was formulated; and will be tabulated by Wayne State University.
Participation in completing this survey and mailing it back is very important in relation to the 2017 Kroger negotiation agenda; and in measuring the effectiveness of union servicing.
"We strive to provide services and programs that are beneficial to members. We also strive to be the voice of membership goals at the bargaining table," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said.
Members completing the survey will be automatically entered in a drawing to win one of 20, $100 savings bonds. Expect to see an late October mailing with an December 1. 2014 deadline.
Members are encouraged to purchase their $2 ticket to participate in the annual holiday party to be held on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 from 5 - 8 pm at the UFCW 876 union hall, located at 876 Horace Brown Drive, Madison Heights 48071.Members can expect raffles, food, adult and children raffles, games, prizes and a magician!
Eligible members and their families can expect a great family event for children 12 and under. UFCW reserves the right to limit ticket sales. Adult supervision is required. Questions? Call 1-800-321-6406 extension 8633.
October 21, 2014- A surefire strategy to influence voters to support any proposal, or candidate for that matter, is to misrepresent the facts.
Proposal one, called the Michigan Use Tax and Community Stabilization Share, Proposal One is a very good example of a deceptively-named and represented piece of legislation backed by big, corporate interest and financing.
Prop one's name certainly gives the impression this bill was developed to help Michigan's small business owners grow, by providing tax breaks on old machinery. Note the use of the words "personal property taxes" or PPT in discussion surrounding the proposal. The word personal to me means that a person would benefit - not a large corporation.
Prop one's deceptive name is further supported by the language written to appear on the November 4 ballot. Usually this is written by professionals at the state elections bureau who have no political agenda; but in this corporate give-away case, lawmakers were allowed to pen up the ballot language.
"APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL OF AMENDATORY ACT TO REDUCE STATE USE TAX AND REPLACE WITH A LOCAL COMMUNITY STABILIZATION SHARE TO MODERNIZE THE TAX SYSTEM TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES GROW AND CREATE JOBS
The amendatory act adopted by the Legislature would:
1. Reduce the state use tax and replace with a local community stabilization share of the tax for the purpose of modernizing the tax system to help small businesses grow and create jobs in Michigan.
2. Require Local Community Stabilization Authority to provide revenue to local governments dedicated for local purposes, including police safety, fire protection, and ambulance emergency services.
3. Increase portion of state use tax dedicated for aid to local school districts.
4. Prohibit Authority from increasing taxes.
5. Prohibit total use tax rate from exceeding existing constitutional 6% limitation.
Should this law be approved?
YES or NO"
Prop one's campaign financing comes from large corporations, who can afford to manipulate legislation on a much larger scale than you or I; and who would benefit most. A tax break of this scope, based on industrial and commercial "personal property" would reap a far greater tax break to those owning far greater "property."
Donors to the campaign financing are Michigan Manufacturer's Association, Ford Motor Company, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Dow Corning, Chrysler Corporation, and Michigan Chamber of Commerce. No where on this reported list do we see small business owners.
Prop one's media roll out is not only huge, but is currently uncontested. No one, opposing advocacy group has developed any counter argument. Images of small town business owners lamenting over old machinery is a powerful image. But it is not an accurate one as only big business will truly benefit with tax breaks.
This proposal has all the elements to confuse and deceive Michigan voters. Let's go through the check list used to push corporate agendas: strategic and deceptive legislative / bill name - check; hand-crafted, misrepresented ballot language - check; billion dollar corporate financing - check; warm and fuzzy, fabricated media buys - check.
How can we, the working families of Michigan win against this powerful machine? Simply put - by voting.
Proposal One seeks to phase out the personal property tax, PPT, on industrial and commercial property which is an annual business tax levied by municipalities on property that are not part of a structure, such as machinery, equipment, and furniture.
PPT money then goes back into our communities; specifically local school districts, community colleges, public libraries, transit authorities, ambulance services, police and firefighters. But will be re-routed in a shell-game of sorts that results in tax payers picking up the bill through both the "use tax" or Local Community Stabilization Share Tax which comes from goods purchased out of state; rental properties, lodging and telecommunication services; and through the Essential Services Assessment (ESA).
Here's an analogy. In the 1981 movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, a smug, swordsman (corporate-backed governor) demonstrates his incredible sword skills and intent to kill Indiana Jones (the middle class). The onlookers (Republican legislators) are equally smug, sure that Indiana Jones has met his match and that the Ark of the Covenant (billions of tax payer dollars) would soon be theirs. Initially Jones pulls out his trademark whip (logistical discussion), when he realizes the odds are surely against this effort; he casually pulls out a revolver (he votes). I urge you to vote no on Prop one, as it will become your tax burden.
October 21, 2014- There are pros and cons to having too much to do in a day. Despite the fast-paced environment and being in a constant state of high alert; there is the involuntary digest of valuable lessons negotiating inevitably brings.
Just because a contract has been surveyed, bargained, proposed, voted on, and printed, does not mean that member education and engagement ends. Medstar Ambulance serves as an example of this.
Located in Mt. Clemens, MedStar has over 200 UFCW 876 members and continues to grow. Negotiations concluded in February 2013, bringing with is modest gains including wage increases, bonuses, improved attendance bonus program and benefits paid for earned time off.
Post negotiations involved regular visits, occasional new member orientations, phone calls of inquiry and grievances.
Despite this and the majority vote to ratify, one member's lingering thought for a better outcome resulted in the search and discovery of a California-based union who promised all that was perceived necessary. The union was called National Emergency Medical Services Associations, or NEMSA.
It didn't take a whole lot of investigating to find out NEMSA was not an ethical organization. In fact, within a day it was discovered the union was far from what they had portrayed to our brothers and sisters at MedStar. It was discovered NEMSA had the following resume:
Reported total net assets of a negative $-270,293 including $9,183 in total liabilities - Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report, 2013- 2014.
$142,000 paid to SEIU when found guilty of fraud for using SEIU resources and time to create NEMSA - bizjournal.com/sacramento.
$825,000 sought by legal counsel for failure to honor agreement and pay fees - bizjournal.com/sacramento/blog.
$281,000 owed to National Association of Government Employees, NAGE for breach of several contracts and payments - US District Court District of Massachusetts.
DOL charges: failure to allow a member in good standing to hold office; and failure to allow member to hold office of president; in which he was duly elected - dol.gov/olms.
DOL charge: failure to allow members to elect their union officers - dol.gov/olms.
Walked away from an Oregon bargaining unit representing 500 EMS workers when they rejected a contract and voted to strike, leaving them with no representation -bizjournals.com.
Lost nearly half of their 5,624 members seeking national unity; calling NEMSA small, absent and unaffiliated union - bizjournals.com/sacramento.
Breached its duty of fair representation as grievances had been withdrawn before arbitration by NEMSA, costing members their jobs - US District Court for the District of Massachusetts & EMS Insider.
Developed a legally binding contract between NEMSA and it's director Torren Colcord for what many called the golden parachute, a "lifetime benefits and retirement of Mr. Colcord... Including economic benefits no cost health, dental, vision, and AFLAC at the family level coverage for life; retirement, 20-year educational fund for himself, spouse and children."
I was surprised at these NEMSA findings too. For the record, there is an unspoken, and sometimes official, recognition that unions do not "raid" one another. That fact alone, NEMSA approaching MedStar members, calls into question their integrity and ethics from the start.
It was not hard for MedStar members to determine that a membership to NEMSA, who lost half of its membership in a few short years due to poor, complete absence, or downright refusal for representation would have been a very poor choice.
I totally understand anyone's journey to seek a better situation. And, as a labor union, that is what we dedicate all our efforts too. However, when doing this, one must not only consider the reprisals of choice; but conduct a solid investigation before making a decision, rash or carefully thought out. I guess you could apply "the grass is not always greener" theory here.
UFCW 876's is undergoing many positive modifications through a new generation of staff and union members who demand more extensive response and investigative practices; and through technology available today. Ultimately, these two variables will bring greater transparency to all elements surrounding a good contract.
2014 has brought significant improvements to all of our collective bargaining agreements; with each one supporting the strength of the next. We are pretty proud of that.
From the president's office to the organizing department here at the union - I hear conversations that seek the best option, the best choice, the best avenue for a member or group of workers.
Despite the fast and furious ride negotiations has brought me through this year, I cannot deny many good protections and benefits have resulted by this "trial by fire" experience.
Each month the UFCW 876 Executive Board is faced with overwhelming evidence that a member has violated the company purchase policy by "grabbing a quick Coke" or "cashing a daily scratch lottery ticket" or "picking something up from the deli and using the u-scan before punching out for lunch" who was suspended; and ultimately is not awarded an arbitration due to lack of merit.
"Members must understand that these actions are a direct violation of company policy. Contract language does not provide protections for employees who steal time." Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "And, with today's surveillance technology and software capabilities, no off the clock purchase goes unnoticed." Members must remain aware of all company policies and procedures despite seniority, a clean work record, or long-standing relationships with coworkers and management.
There is a direct correlation between shopping on the clock and being comfortable in a work environment. But it is important to note, work environments do change; and what was once a non-issue can quickly turn into a violation and ultimately a termination.
"Shopping on the clock happens in every store," Robinson said. "But members can protect both their jobs and integrity by being mindful of all company policies whether they are on the floor, in the break room on even in the parking lot. It is difficult for contractual language or the grievance procedure to protect a worker who has violated a company policy, as reasonable rules and regulations are standard practice."
March 19, 2013 - The expiration of one's full-time status can bring a great deal of stress for a member as many benefits and protections are determined by this status.
Securing, maintaining and monitoring a full-time status is the sole responsibility of each member, as most companies will only provide notification of its expiration. The company's stance is you have access to the collective bargaining agreement which fully explains the criteria surrounding a full-time qualification. However, a member can also request their status from the company if needed.
Monitoring your qualifying status can be easily done by reviewing your paycheck stub for total hours worked each week and maintaining a log in writing.
Full-time status determines eligibility for health care benefits scheduling rights, (working five, eight hour days each week) and holiday pay.
Full-time status is determined by a 12-week average of hours. For example, a Kroger member must work an average of 36 hours in a 12-week window to qualify. An easy way to maintain full time, is to secure a schedule that provides five, eight hour days consistently.
Inversely, a Kroger member would have to work 34 hours or less in a 12-week window in order to lose full-time status. These "rolling windows" or time frames determine many benefit eligibilities. It is important to note that in the Kroger contract, there are exemptions, meaning the months of June, July and August do not count toward the calculation of full-time status. However this window does not count against qualifying either.
Once a full-time status is lost, (working less than 34 hours weekly for 12 weeks) regaining it is very difficult. The grocery contract requires the acceptance of a posted job bid, possibly to another store, or making yourself completely available to work any available hours in your store on the appropriate schedule.
"It is important to know that full-time members, who are not working five, eight hour days, put their status in jeopardy." Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "The company interprets this as a choice to relinquish a full-time status, and there is absolutely no amnesty if the database supports the loss."
Once a member has lost full-time status, they are then placed into the part-time schedule and are subjected to those criteria and hire dates / seniority. This movement will create significant reductions in scheduling, benefits and hours worked.
"Full-time members who believe they have wiggle room to take time off by either leaving an hour early here or there or by taking unpaid, personal days, generally find themselves in a bad position," Robinson said. "Managing and tracking time off can get convoluted quickly. Once that perceived wiggle room becomes nearly extinguished, a legitimate emergency exceeding this window could easily result in the loss of a full-time status."
A good way to monitor and protect one's full-time status is to alert the company with a written communication as soon as any schedule is posted that contains less than 40 hours in a week. That is five, eight hour days, not any other formulation of that calculation.
This written communication serves as not only notice, but also as a sort of "holder" to freeze your full-time date with no penalty. It provides the company opportunity to correct the situation by either modifying the existing schedule right away; or locate those hours in another store (within a 25 mile radius).
Members can protect their qualifying status with this written communication, but should also immediately be followed up with a phone call to their union representative.
"There is a lot on the line when it comes to losing a full-time status," Robinson said. "Protecting this is dependent on the alertness and savvy of the member as union representatives cannot monitor every schedule and paycheck stub."
"They can, however act on scheduling issues they are made aware of. 876 look to both members and Stewards to detect and report scheduling discrepancies."
Ways to Complete 2015 Open Enrollment
Period: December 1 - 12, 2014
Online: www.mufcwbenefits.com * Participants working at Kroger must complete online.
Mail: Packets are scheduled to be mailed prior to enrollment period to all participants working at independents.
In Person: extended Fund office hours will be held during the enrollment period and are as follows: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday - Friday; and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. for Saturday, December 6, 2014 at the MIUFCW 876 Horace Brown Drive, Madison Heights, Michigan, 48071 Ste. 100.
Questions while enrolling: Technical Enrollment Hotline:
1-855-MUFCW14 (1-855-683-2914). Or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.