Local 876 Top News
Hiller's Market Members Transfer Benefits

President Robinson's Article

Sec/Tres. Pedersen's Article

Recorder Christoff's Article


Hiller's Market Members Transfer with Benefits, Protections
July 22, 2015 - The announcement of Hiller's Markets closing effective July 7, 2015, coupled with The Kroger Company's purchase of all seven stores, brought into play contractual languages and protections for those union members making the transition.

"Both companies affected by this acquisition maintain agreements with UFCW 876," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "Attrition clauses are instrumental in any union contract as they protect the worker's hard-earned guarantees and benefits in the event of an acquisition such as this."

UFCW 876 was unable to issue an official statement or a document of agreement right away as one had not been reached until Monday, June 15, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. The official, signed agreement mailed to Hiller's Markets members was not the first offer The Kroger Company provided to the union. Multiple calculations had to be correlated between the two contracts of all benefits, (i.e. wage tables, pension contributions and health care qualifiers) which required careful examination and review in order to formulate a fair and balanced result for all members making the transition.

Both union contracts provide a written guarantee that each "...employer recognizes the union (UFCW 876) as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all employees of the employer..." This means member's collective bargaining strength extends to the new banner, in this case, The Kroger Company. See Article 2 - Coverage, in either contract.

That being said, UFCW 876 is confident Hiller's Markets members will find the agreement to be fair, balanced and that it will provide the continued protections and benefits Hiller's Market members have earned.

"The local has experience with acquisitions and has learned to proceed with caution despite turbulent and sometimes swift circumstances," Robinson said. "This cautionary approach taken when determining the outcome did result in the maintenance of both health care plans and pension contributions without any break, seniority-date-based calculations for earned vacation, holidays and supplemental days and for many, working in the same location."

Members who are making this transition are greatly encouraged to secure employment with The Kroger Company no later than July 31, 2015 as failure to do so will result in the loss of these protections and benefits.

President Roger Robinson

Membership Applications Protect Union Members
Read President Robinson's article for April 2015, click here.
Throughout my years of being a part of the labor movement, I don't think I have ever experienced this level of brash, unbridled corporate greed.

With every proposal, verbal suggestion, drafted amendment and preliminary document I review and investigate; I find hidden verbiage that will in the long run reduce or eliminate worker protections. A daunting and repetitive job to be sure!

In light of this continual corporate grab, UFCW 876 continues to look ahead and plan strategies to protect the benefits of the membership. We do this in many ways. We keep current on legislative tides; we participate in both regional and national labor conferences addressing changes that will negatively affect contracts, we maintain open communications with both member and company, we maintain fiduciary health, we have reduced the member / representative ratio for better servicing, we have reduced grievance time lines and we are making the transition to a digital tracking and servicing system.

Although we have made many changes and improvements, one of the most significant and powerful is securing membership applications. This document is and has been the most influential tool at the bargaining table in 2015. It's very existence puts employers on notice that the majority of their workers are union members and collectively hold the strength required to have their voice recognized during negotiations.

Once an employer knows the majority of its workforce is unprotected (with no union contract) they can legally manipulate workplace protections and reduce existing benefits without having to be held accountable to you.

Our strategies to maintain a solid membership base derives from the need to protect workers from the right to work laws that allow employers to encourage workers to opt out of unions. When a worker opts out of the union, they not only make themselves vulnerable but their families and coworkers. The basic purpose of right to work is to take worker's voices away in order to then take existing protections and benefits by eliminating union contracts.

In order to combat this very strong legislative tide, the union has made a concentrated effort to collect, record and maintain the protections of its membership through membership applications. And so far, it has been going very well.

Nearly 98 percent of all people working in stores/plants represented by UFCW 876 are union members. Despite what the paid media continues to report, a vast majority of workers still want fair wages, guaranteed hours, benefits and protections on the job. Imagine that! Monthly reports of membership applications continue to be a solid measure the membership is paying attention to the politics and will continue to fight.

Members clearly recognize the value of a union contract in today's work environment. Signing a membership application along with the other 18,000 UFCW 876 members results in guaranteed wages, fair pay, health insurance, pension contributions, vacation time, personal days, holidays, holiday pay and a host of other industry-specific benefits like boot allowance and bonuses. But more importantly, it sends a strong message to your employer you and your coworkers have the overwhelming majority to demand your concerns be addressed.

Members of this union should be proud of their solidarity as that has and will resonated into the communication channels of your employers; not just for today, but in 2017. Next year will be a big year for the local as the majority contracts expire.
For members who are on the 2017 calendar, I recommend you make every effort to talk to your membership representative frequently, read union news and notices, follow our Facebook, Twitter and ufcw876.org for first notification of news. Members may also e-mail the union at info@ufcw876.org with questions and inquiries.


Secretary-Treasurer Dan Pedersen

Open Enrollment Pre-qualifier - Biometric Screening
Read Pedersen's article for April 2015, click here.
2016 open enrollment is quickly approaching and in order for eligible members of the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund to enroll for 2016 benefits, a biometric / health screening must be secured between July 1 through September 30, 2015.

Biometic screenings (body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose) can be completed in a couple ways: by your family physician - blood work taken by your doctor after May 1, 2015 but before the deadline will be accepted; at a participating Kroger Pharmacy - schedule your appointment by calling 1-877-444-9689 or by logging onto www.krogerscreenings.com (non-Kroger members may also use this option); or for non-Kroger participants, the Wellness Tour HeartMobile™ bus, which is currently touring the northern regions of Michigan, see insert right. To reserve a HeartMobile™ health screening appointment, call the plan administrator office at 1-800-322-8190 or 1-888-267-4786.

Once the biometric screening is complete and recorded on a Healthy Measures form, see below, eligible members and their spouse (if applicable) then qualify for up to a $200 wellness credit. A wellness credit is secured when 2 of the 4 biometric guideline are met resulting in $150 toward their 2016 deductible and maintenance of their current benefit plan. Eligible members who get a flu shot can earn an additional $50 toward their 2016 deductible. Please note completing a biometric screening does not guarantee eligibility for benefits in the 2016.

2015 HeartMobile™ Tour Dates
Non-Kroger Member Screenings
July 6- Harding's, Kalamazoo
July 7- Harding's, Bangor
July 8- Plumb's, Grand Rapids
July 9- Plumb's #673, Newaygo
July 10- UFCW 951, Grand Rapids
July 13- Plumb's #667, Muskegon
July 14- Plumb's #676, Muskegon
July 15- Plumb's #677, Muskegon
July 16- Plumb's #703, Whitehall
July 17- Oleson's #10, Manistee
July 20- Oleson's #7, Traverse City
July 21- Oleson's #8, Traverse City
July 22- Oleson's #6, Charlevoix
July 23- Oleson's #9, Petoskey
July 27- Hollywood #4, Bloomfield Hills
July 28- Hollywood #6, Rochester Hills
July 29- Hollywood #5, Utica
July 30- Hollywood #7, Lake Orion
July 31- Hollywood #3, Troy
Aug. 3- Hollywood #2, Royal Oak
Aug. 4- Hollywood #1, Madison Heights
Aug. 5- UFCW 876, Membership Picnic*
Aug. 6- UFCW 876
*All eligible members may utilize.
Questions and details can be secured by calling the Fund Office.

Recorder Jill Christoff

The Journey of Joshua and Jocelyn
Read Christoff's article for April 2015, click here.
In May, UFCW International accepted 28 promising, young, rank-and-file members from across the country to participate in the UFCW Gold Internship Program, which launched with a one-week education curriculum in Atlanta, Georgia.

UFCW 876 was fortunate enough to have two members selected: Joshua Shrum, Kroger #737 in Utica, and Jocelyn Smith, Hiller's Market #7 (now The Kroger Company per acquisition) in Ann Arbor. Both interns have completed the initial training and have been assigned to projects that suited their interests and abilities.

During the week in Atlanta, interns were provided with history, exercises, and training by labor leaders, labor educators, and fellow rank-and-file members on the importance of the labor movement and their opportunity to become more involved.

In addition to the education curriculum, there is a four-week action project where each will be assigned to participate in one of the five different program areas: legislative and political, organizing, collective bargaining, health and safety, and civil rights. Interns will have the opportunity to learn about the UFCW and the labor movement while developing skills in organizing and political action. Many of the 2014 Gold internship class (36 in total) went on to be local union activists, stewards and staff. The program dates are June 21 through August 5, 2015.

Shrum will be spending the next four weeks in Los Angeles, California where he will take part in the Walmart campaign; while Smith will be in Washington D.C. where she will be working with the Department of Labor (DOL).

Shrum has been keeping the union up-to-date with his journey via e-mail.
On June 24 he reported that he and Jocelyn spent time in the city of Atlanta, the heart of the civil rights movement, where they visited Martin Luther King's crypt; museum and home. They then went to Project South, an institute for the elimination of poverty and genocide. Here, interns heard speakers (#blacklivesmatter) and discussed how everyone has a role in this cause and its direct relation to the labor movement. To learn more about Project South visit: projectsouth.org.

The day ended with a visit from Jobs with Justice, an organization leading and orchestrating the way to fight for workers' rights in developing an economy that works for everyone and addressed effective organizing.

As the week progressed in Atlanta, Schrum reports interns watched the film "Morristown: In the Air and Sun" a documentary filmed over an 8-year period in the mountains of east Tennessee, the interior of Mexico, and in Ciudad Juarez, Morristown; which detailed the lives, work, disappointments and hope of workers and the forces that cause immigration. The day concluded with discussion of solidarity with other unions, the economic damages Walmart and IKEA have made on communities and organizing around health and safety issues.

Shrum reports days five and six in Atlanta came with exercises that measured actual privilege and the disadvantages of each intern. A time line of ancestry was created to highlight important social changes in the lives of the interns and their families. The day concluded with organizing strategy, the importance of political and legislative influences and education of the damaging effects of right-to-work laws.

Shrum then spent the week with UFCW 876 where he assisted organizers with hand-billing a nursing home, picketed another, probed a non-union employer and spent a day with his Membership Representative Steven Michael, who also was instrumental in suggesting Shrum be considered for the UFCW Gold Internship Program.

Members interested in gearing up for the 2016 UFCW Gold Intern interview process should express interest to their member representative. Members are encouraged to follow the journey of Joshua and Jocelyn at www.goldufcw.org, www.facebook.com/UFCW876 or @UFCW876 #JJjourney.



Stewards Become Member Advocates
Module Two Conducted June 1 - August 31, 2015
April 16, 2015- UFCW 876 has created an educational training opportunity to assist union stewards in being the voice of UFCW 876 in the workplace and conversely the voice of the membership. The Steward Guide 2015 Edition I, is off the press and getting into the hands of every 876 grocery and meat steward in Michigan.

"Providing stewards with the tools and resources they need to help better protect their coworkers and their contracts is essential in developing a strong membership," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "The Steward Guide and its implementation will serve as the foundation of successful bargaining efforts going into 2017 bargaining cycle."

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

It's a tall order, but stewards must be prepared to speak on topics relating to: the boundaries of their rights in the workplace; educating existing members; meeting new members and the orientation process; the impact of right to work laws; recognition and application of contractual protections and the importance of filing of grievances to keep contract protections strong and relevant.

"Stewards have a very important role in providing factual information that can be utilized to resolve differences and discrepancies in assisting members in maintaining current protections," Robinson said. "The political and economic environment of this country demands unions and members work together in understanding and applying contractual language and understand state and federal law, as that is the only defense to keep protections in place."

The guide requires stewards complete a three-module training program which will result in a steward certification. Certified stewards will be eligible for additional specialized training; become a significant point person to network news or alert; and place them in consideration of union work.

Stewards will meet with their membership representatives three times in 2015, for about one hour, either one-on-one or in a regional, group setting, to review and discuss each module.

There are three segments: Role of the Steward; New Members and the Orientation Process; and Grievance Handling. The guide also provides an extensive legal guide, contract structure overview, labor terms dictionary and additional resources, reference and reading links.

Because the role of steward has been heighten due to legislative and corporate takeaways, those unable to participate or complete this program could place their stewardship in jeopardy.

"Steward (and member) activism is a necessary tool in the arsenal of maintaining current worker protections," Robinson said. "876 has continues to make improvements in every process making way for progressive and effective representation. We are counting on the stewards to do the same."




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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Steward Training Module 2

Stewards are encouraged to set up an appointment with their membership representative to receive Module 2 training titiled "New Member."

Deadline for completion is the end of August. A catch-up class is scheduled for August 4, 2015 at the union hall from 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Looking for your Membership Representative? Click here.