We have learned that Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to purchase Safeway Inc. for more than $9 billion. Your Union is tracking this closely and will be updating you as details emerge. A process like this can take time, so it is important not to jump to conclusions about what may or may not happen as a result of the buyout. Know that your Union will work hard to protect you and your benefits during this process. Here is a story that was just released on USA Today on the buyout:
Fred Meyer has incorrectly calculated bonus checks for some members working under the Salem area contracts. New checks are being cut and everyone should be paid correctly by Friday, March 5. This may leave some members with two separate checks to cash. If after Friday, you still have not received your bonus check, please contact your Union Representative to help you correct the problem.
There has been a delay at the Trust Office in mailing out the open enrollment packets for Kaiser Permanente. The packets are expected to be mailed out on Monday, March 10. Open enrollment will be extended through the end of March. If you have any questions, please contact the Trust Office.
After months of tough negotiations, Kaiser Permanente is back in the UFCW Local 555 – Employers Health Trust. If you are interested in switching to Kaiser, please check your mailbox for a packet containing all the information you will need to make an educated decision. Open enrollment will start on March 1, and continue until March 15. If you have any questions, please call the number indicated in your information packet.
Earlier this month, during UFCW Local 555’s Oregon Lobby Day, shop steward Sarah DeMerritt testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of legislation that would ease penalties for those who unknowingly or inadvertently sell alcohol to a minor for the first time.
It is an issue she knows all too well. In June of 2013, while working as a checker at Safeway in Lake Oswego, Oregon, she sold a six-pack of beer to someone she believed was of legal drinking age. But instead the customer was part of an Oregon Liquor Control Commission sting. A police officer interviewed and cited DeMerritt in her check stand as customers looked on.
“It was very humiliating,” she said. Despite having twelve and half years on the job and no previous offenses, DeMerritt was fired and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. “Why would I risk my health benefits, my job, my seniority, my life?” she told the committee. “I thought the customer looked old enough to purchase alcohol and was a familiar neighbor that I had carded and sold to in the past.”
DeMerritt, who now works at Haggen, stressed that she takes her responsibility to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors very seriously and had passed all previous stings. Senate Bill 1546 would make penalties for first-time offenders more proportional.
Yesterday the Oregon House passed this legislation, joining the Senate in giving it overwhelming support. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said he will sign it into law.
“I do not want other employees to have this experience,” DeMerritt said. “I do not want them to have to fight so hard.” By having the courage to share her story, DeMerritt is helping make the system fairer for all grocery workers in Oregon.
Numerous rumors have been flying around since Safeway announced discussions were underway to possibly sell the company. While there aren’t a great deal of facts that we can rely on, there are a few things that you need to know. First, your Union is aware of the discussions and both UFCW Local 555 and the UFCW International are monitoring the situation for developments. Second, whether Safeway sells to another company or keeps operating as they are now, both UFCW Local 555 and the International are committed to protecting you in your workplace and protecting the contractual benefits on which you and your family rely. Finally, should Safeway sell, your contract does not go away, your healthcare doesn’t end, and your pension is still there for you.
Times of uncertainty, such as this, can be very stressful. I assure you that our top priority is ensuring your and coworkers safe passage through these rough times.
We’ve received reports from Fred Meyer members that Fred Meyer withheld union dues and health & welfare contributions from their bonus checks. However, each member who has reported this did not have union dues or health & welfare contributions withheld from their regular weekly paycheck.
If you work at Fred Meyer and had dues and/or health and welfare contributions take out of you bonus check, check and make sure it was not also taken out of your paycheck that you received in the week you received your bonus check. If you had deductions taken out of both checks, please contact your Union Representative.
One of the focuses of the UFCW Lobby Day last week was Senate Bill 1546, which would change the unintentional sale of alcohol to a minor from a Misdemeanor to a Class A Violation. This would be a huge win for our industry, where keying in a birthday wrong, even after 10 years on the job can have drastically unfair consequences. Check out what the Governor of Oregon had to say on the matter.
This week has been a fantastic one for UFCW Local 555. This year at the Shop Steward Summit, President Dan Clay presented the reality surrounding wealth inequality in the United States, which provided an excellent lead in for our guest speaker from Keep Oregon Working. You may have seen some posts of theirs on our Facebook page. Anti-Worker Ballot initiatives are threatening Oregon, and we all need to be ready to stand together to hold the gates against the intrusion of out of state interests that will threaten every workers way of life. This provided the perfect lead in to our Legislative Lobby Day.
The UFCW 555 Lobby Day was a huge success. The Oregon Capitol was filled with UFCW gold clad members, who fielded over 70 house and senate visits during the day. The Senate Judiciary held a hearing on our bill to decriminalize an unintentional sale from alcohol stings. We have been working this issue for years. The Judiciary committee voted the bill to the Senate floor with a bi partisan recommendation to pass. Today, the Senate voted on the bill and passed to the house Judiciary for consideration. If the house adopts as expected, Governor Kitzhaber says he will sign it into law. Thanks go out to our members from all walks of life that stepped up to help our grocery workers get justice.
Big actions like these will get us workplace protections that every worker should have. Please check out the pictures from the Steward Summit and Lobby Day, and ask your Union Representative how you can be part of future actions!