Local 876 Top News
Women's Network Making Progress

The Virtual Bottom Line

President Robinson's Article

Sec/Tres. Pedersen's Article


Women's Network Helps Communities and Workplaces

January 13, 2015- UFCW 876 launched its Women's Network in May and has developed this program for eligible, women members to have a significant hand in contributing to surrounding communities and 876-represented work places through the benefits of the collective efforts' strength.

"One of the greatest things about the network is its focus on community," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "Giving back and building community is what unions do, and this is a great extension of services UFCW 876 provides."

In 2014 the network raised funds through "Rosie the Riveter" ribbon sales, raffle baskets at annual membership events, a bake sale and direct donations. Proceeds of these efforts went toward "A Great First Day," a backpack donation program in which two local elementary schools, Redford and Waterford, received several backpacks and school supplies for children in these districts who administrators felt were in need.

The network also secured and delivered donations to an Oakland County women's shelter, HAVEN, in December, read more in the right column.

Eligible members are encouraged to join this effort. The network will be planning its 2015 agenda on Wednesday, January 14 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. featuring its first lecture series "Menopause and Your Health" presented by Katy Gozalka, Wellness Communication Coordinator of the MIUFCW. Members interested in learning more about this outreach effort, or would like to be invited to view their Facebook page, are encouraged to do so by sending an e-mail of their interest to info@ufcw876.org.

The Virtual Bottom Line

January 9, 2015- How The Retail Workers Bill of Rights Brings Awareness and Standards. The sophistication of retail technology is threatening the cornerstone of every American's working lives - regular work hours.
As large retailers advance their tracking technologies on both product and person, workers are falling victim to unreasonable expectations set by machine, not man, all in the name of higher profits.

Union contracts do protect members from scheduling and work load abuses. However, these protections may come under fire in the future as retail technology serves the virtual bottom line, but ignores the capabilities of any one worker.

"UFCW 876 is aware of emerging technologies and the potential harm unrealistic expectations can inflict on a worker," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "As we move into the next negotiation cycle, we remain prepared and committed to protect the membership with the common sense logic that people, not software programs increase productivity."

In the past and for union workers today, protections derive from collective bargaining agreements as mentioned above. But with the decline in union membership coupled with unrelenting anti-union legislative attacks, workers are now fighting for protections they once had.

San Francisco is leading the way for worker rights with the passage of a $15 minimum wage increase; mandated paid sick leave; requirements for retailers to either provide or pay for health insurance; and just recently the Retail Workers Bill of Rights.

This new ordinance requires larger retailers to give its workers their schedules well in advance. The law also provides language to discourage abusive, on-call scheduling practices (fueled by scheduling technology), promotes full-time work and access to hours; and protects retail workers from losing their jobs when their company is bought or sold.

The city is guided by a historically (San Franciscans identify themselves and their city as the champion of workers' rights since the 1930s) progressive, elected, legislative branch called the board of supervisors. This branch has made the city not only liberal, but wealthy, and economically able to legislate social guarantees at levels many cities and states cannot match.

"Unfortunately, the Michigan legislature is not near this level of economic awareness nor will it be for some time," Robinson said. "However, the bill does serve as a model for how individual cities can tackle income inequality and improve our communities through common sense laws."

A similar bill has been introduced that would require all U.S. employers follow The Retail Workers Bill of Rights standard. It has been introduced in both the Senate, (where it has six sponsors), and the House (where it has more than 40).

Although the incoming Republican Congress is unlikely to move on this, it does become a measure and motivator for the middle class as it again begins to fight for the same basic guarantees that workers secured through collective bargaining years ago but took for granted.

2014 Bargaining A Victory for all UFCW 876

January 9, 2015- UFCW 876 has built significant bargaining momentum going into 2015, as it remains a forerunner in securing solid contracts in the face of an anti-worker state governor and legislators.

Despite Proposal 2's failure to enshrine collective bargaining rights into our state's constitution (2012) and despite Governor Rick Snyder's claim that it was not a referendum on right to work laws (2012) yet gave the green light; middle class common sense prevailed as reflected through bargaining surveys, membership meetings and concerns expressed and fought for at negotiation tables across Michigan.

Major advances occurred with each new and or expiring agreement as our union, along with its bargaining committees, won meaningful benefits, protections, programs, health care, pension, allowances and bonuses for the membership. This, along with the maintenance of existing benefits. I bring attention to existing benefits because many times members fail to realize part of a corporate strategy at the bargaining table is to eliminate existing benefits to save on their bottom line, i.e. take-aways. Adversely, maintaining these benefits saves on the member's bottom line.

Collectively, we can see from the time line below, both were achieved this year. The time line also reveals that contractual protections reflected are long term, three to four years. And that's good news for working Michigan.

UFCW 876 is now poised to continue a strong presence at the negotiation table for upcoming contracts as they set working standards. And not just for union members, but for all like-related industries' workers. Companies must compete with the gains reflected by union negotiations and have historically done so. And that's good news for working Michigan also.

But our battle is not over as the November general election resulted in yet another choke hold on labor's throat. I must mention here how important it is to vote in every election as candidates do turn into powerful decision-makers.

This national anti-worker, anti-union environment will continue to single out unions for criticism; and unions will continue to be the brunt of blame from politicians, think tanks and the public for everything from failing companies to bad policy.

However, despite claims that unions are a larger part of the problem (economic downturn), there is ample evidence, economic proof and scientific surveys that indicate paying a living wage to workers is a benefit to the entire structure of any society.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you public opinion is an outgrowth of media, and media is a very large, tidy purchase of the wealthy. You can do the math.

The good news is we are moving in the right direction with the right staff persons and the right stewards working on the membership's behalf. And with the continued education, participation and earned support of the membership we can continue to wade through the land mines set by our current legislature.

The dividing factor between any anti-worker legislation is your voice, your decision and your participation in this collective bargaining process of securing good wages, benefits and protections.

Members are encouraged to communicate with its union and can e-mail info@ufcw876.org.

Stewards Offered Specialized Training in 2015

March 4, 2015 - Heads Up Union Stewards!

The Steward Guide, Edition 2015 is heading for the press as UFCW 876 prepares training modules to assist Stewards in being the voice of UFCW 876 in the workplace; and conversely the voice of the membership at UFCW 876.

Stewards are required to be the liaison, moderator, advocate and educator for their coworkers and are expected to not only understand, but to be able to apply contractual language, company handbook criteria and have a fair grasp on federal and state law. It's a tall order and we want all our Stewards to be ready.

Stewards will be required to complete this three-module training to be a certified Steward and will be mailed all information defining the program along with a schedule.
A exit survey conducted at the Steward Conference this fall revealed stewards want to take the next step and become a bigger part of assisting with workplace issues and to secure the training to do so.

In response to that, UFCW 876 has developed The Steward Guide Edition 2015 with the assistance of Harold Stack, retired Wayne State University Professor and Labor and Workplace Training and Consultant. Many stewards may remember Stack as he also conducted training in the past.

This guide will be supported with one-on-one training via member representatives. Beginning in March, "classes" or modules, that mirror Guide content will be presented on a calendar determined by your representative. Depending on their service region, classes may be for a single steward or for several in a convenient location.

The following is a tentative index built on the direct responses of interest in the Steward Conference survey: The Role of the Steward and Introduction; The Rights and Responsibilities of Stewards; New Member Orientation; Right to Work and Beck Right Requests; What are Grievances?(investigating, writing, discipline and discharge); Additional Resources; Union Contact Information; Legal Guide for Stewards; Steward's Dictionary;Additional Resources for Stewards and Members.

These categories will be addressed in three, complete modules or sessions. The goal is for every steward to complete the three modules with their representative in 2015. For stewards completing the series, an official certification will be issued by the President Roger Robinson and executive board.

Certification is crucial to making your workplace a strong advocate for workers, to prepare for future negotiations and to create potential opportunities to serve the union in other ways.

Stewards serve as the liaison, moderator, advocate and the educator for their coworkers. They are expected to not only understand; but to be able to apply contractual language, company handbook criteria and have a fair grasp on federal and state law.

On top of this vast knowledge, a steward must know their coworkers; their weaknesses, strengths, preferences and even quirks. And above all, being an effective and respected steward requires a constant thirst for knowledge, fair and balanced application of the contract and a desire to help and assist others.
Growing into a steward takes time! Learning all these skills won't happen in one week. And for stewards who have been on the job for some time, changing legislation, company policy, and contract changes make continued learning crucial.

This Steward's Guide, Edition 2015 is the first. Which means inevitably it will be one of many, as both steward and membership representative will undoubtedly weigh in on this guide making changes as the guide grows from year to year.
Stewards are on call as soon as they walk into their workplace as situations unfold daily, some of them questioned and maybe grieved, many of them ignored. Ignoring potential grievances weakens your contractual languages and usually works against future grievance wins.

To demonstrate and understand the full scope of a steward's responsibilities and abilities while serving the membership, consider their many roles. They enforce the contract, solve problems, assist in filing grievances, insure fair and balanced treatment, welcome new union members and do all of this on a voluntary basis. Stewards are the following:

Educators. The steward educates members about the union, its goals and the rights they have in a union workplace that they do not have in a non-union workplace like Walmart or Target.
Grievance handlers. When the employer ignores the contract, ignores company policy, or violates a member's right to due process, the steward will attempt to resolve the issue or begin work with the member representative to investigate the situation, file a grievance and resolve the issue to the member's satisfaction.
Communicators. The steward listens carefully to member concerns, keeps the union representative informed about issues or problems occurring in the workplace, and keeps members informed about union meetings, programs, and issues affecting the members.
Advisors. The steward advises members about their rights, helps them with questions about wages and benefits, and assists them with problems which may occur at work.
Leaders. Above all, the steward is a leader, someone respected by the members for their ability to listen, solve problems and get things done.

Stewards can expect a mailing outlining these training opportunities, including location and times from your membership representative sometime in February. These will also be published in upcoming Steward Editions and on the website. You can expect to be issued your Guide during your first module or session.

In order for accurate communication of this program and other training opportunities, I encourage you to visit www.ufcw876.org/membershipdepartment.html, to update your name, address, phone number and e-mail before the end of the year. Be sure to note that when you submit changes to ufcw876.org online, you must also do so if you are a participant of the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund or "Fund" by calling 1-800-322-8190.

Shopping On the Clock Remains Stealing Company Time

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."

Protecting Full-Time Status - a Full-Time Job

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."

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Women's Network Donate to Local Women's Shelter

HAVEN is Oakland County's only comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year, predominately to women and children.

The Women's Network was able to donate well over $500 of clothing, toys and grocery gift cards.

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