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Secretary-Treasurer’s Report

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RICHARD BARRERA
Secretary-Treasurer

Viejas Members Prepare for a New Contract Fight

hree years ago nearly 500 workers at the Viejas Casino voted to join UFCW Local 135. As a result of that decision, Viejas members were able to bargain for and win a great contract in 2015. That contract included guaranteed raises, affordable health care and the dignity and respect that comes with being a UFCW member.

The current Viejas contract expires in March of 2018, and our members have already started preparing for the next contract. At the local, we have held monthly Viejas membership meetings since the summer, where members have begun to discuss the key improvements they want to see in their workplace.

A few issues have so far risen to the top of the priority list. Workers want to continue with fair, guaranteed raises, but don’t want to be left behind when the company provides end-of-the year holiday bonuses.

In fact, two years ago, Viejas chose to award non-union members with a $1,000 holiday bonus, but to only provide a $500 bonus for union members. Our Viejas members fought back against this unfair decision and UFCW won we brought the case to arbitration.

“A federal arbitrator ordered Viejas management to pay union members the additional $500, but Viejas has so far refused to comply with the Arbitrator’s order. We will continue through the legal process to fight back against Viejas’s cynical anti-union behavior. But in the meantime, we have many other issues that members want to fight for in the next contract.”

A federal arbitrator ordered Viejas management to pay union members the additional $500, but Viejas has so far refused to comply with the Arbitrator’s order. We will continue through the legal process to fight back against Viejas’s cynical anti-union behavior. But in the meantime, we have many other issues that members want to fight for in the next contract.

Viejas members want to ensure that health care remains affordable. They want to ensure that the best shifts, including shifts in the mornings and on weekends, are scheduled by seniority and not by the arbitrary whims of management. Viejas members deserve more paid holidays and deserve predictable schedules that allow them to plan their lives. UFCW Organizer Maribel Mckinze, working in partnership with Union Representative Beatriz Nunez, has begun to visit Viejas members in their homes to have deeper conversations about what they want to see in their next contract.

While Viejas members are coming together and preparing to fight to improve their workplace, we anticipate that Viejas management will continue to operate from an anti-union position. Viejas’s corporate leaders have even gone so far as to testify before Congress, arguing that they should be exempt from the same labor laws and regulations that protect workers in all industries.
We know this will be a fight, but we also know our Viejas members will stand together to win a fair contract. Our Viejas members have been there on the front lines for all UFCW members in recent contract fights, including our most recent campaign with Food 4 Less. Next year we will be asking that all UFCW members stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at Viejas.
For more information on the Viejas campaign, go to: https://www.facebook.com/UFCW135Viejas/.