2017 Has Been a Whirlwind!

It’s amazing how fast this year has gone by. Again it’s December and so much has happened.

I started off the year with a lump in the pit of my stomach because I believed that we eventually could be faced with National Right to Work.

At the local, we are prepared. We all have had training to combat Right to Work, which we call “Right to Work for Less.” Right to work essentially cripples labor unions by prohibiting agreements between companies and unions. Under these laws, employees in unionized workplaces are not required to join a union, while receiving the same benefits as active union members.
If passed, Right to Work will accelerate a race to the bottom, a low-wage model, similar to Walmart or Target. In these stores, about 36 percent of California food retail workers use some form of public assistance and don’t have health care. That number would rise dramatically.

Thanks to the dysfunction in Washington, we can take a breath that so far we have managed to dodge that bullet. But it will still be on our radar.
The situation we’re facing with Right to Work, is exactly the reason we make candidate endorsements. We want people who create our laws to have the best interests of workers at heart. We must remain vigilant.

Keeping all this in mind, we may ask you to step up and fight, and we want you to be ready. We may ask you to call, or text your representatives. We may even ask you to write to them. This is an existential threat to the middle class and to our way of life.

In June, UFCW Local 135 joined forces with eight other unions to form the San Diego Working Families Council.

Our new council is an association of affiliated unions and organizations. We came together for the purpose of advancing the well-being of working families in the San Diego and Imperial Counties region by advocating for worker friendly public policy, promoting unity and collaboration between unions and community-based organizations, and electing worker friendly candidates to office.
The San Diego Working Families Council is an avenue for local unions to come together as a unified group. Together we represent over 50,000 local working families. This is an opportunity to activate our rank and file members – so everyone can get involved in the unions.

This new affiliation will benefit you, our members, more than ever. To illustrate this, the SEIU Local 221 County bargaining team conducted negotiations at Laborers' Union Local 89 hall to tell the County of San Diego to invest in San Diego Families. And, in June, the Communications Workers of America went out on strike against AT&T and we were right there with them picketing.
Together we can all get much more done for our members as we stand together on every action and support each other in any way we can.
This year we also negotiated contracts for our CVS members and for Food 4 Less members.

In August, CVS Pharmacy members overwhelmingly ratified their new contract. I’m proud to say that our members lost nothing and gained a lot after nearly four months of extremely complex negotiations which included locals from all over Southern California, the UFCW negotiating team reached a great agreement for our members.
Contract talks are never easy, especially with the continuous changes that go on between us and the company. CVS ended up taking on a lot of new costs – and we got some nice wage increases, and we protected your health care.

"Now we are tasked with laying out a roadmap to guide us as we prepare for negotiations with Viejas Casino, Spreckels Sugar and Rite Aid next year and our master food employers in 2019. It’s going to be tough, but good things come to those who prepare."

We fought for more than six months with the Kroger Corporation for a fair contract for our Food 4 Less members. This was one of the strangest negotiations I have ever been through. We couldn’t even agree on the term of the contract. For months, Kroger was adamant against giving any wage increases and put forth several proposals that would have meant our members would endure concessions.

So we took action by first leafleting, then escalating our fight to boycotting Food 4 Less and taking a strike vote. If it wasn’t for the strength and solidarity of our members, the community, elected officials, our customers and even our staff, we would not have the contract we ended up with.

Our collective efforts made Kroger re-evaluate their bargaining position. They decided to exchange proposals just as we were about a week away from striking. In conjunction with our other UFCW Southern California Local leaders, we reached an 11th-hour tentative agreement as we prepared for a work stoppage. A week or so later, our Food 4 Less members overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract.

Now we are tasked with laying out a road map to guide us as we prepare for negotiations with Viejas Casino, Spreckels Sugar and Rite Aid next year and our master food employers in 2019. It’s going to be tough, but good things come to those who prepare.

Your trust and faith in us at the bargaining table is wonderful, but we will need your help during every contract negotiation we have in the future. We must stand strong together, with our friends from the San Diego Working Families Council too.

Thank you to all for helping to protect the rights of hard working people and families who have earned dignity, respect and fair wages.