Farr’s True Value: Union Since 1954

Farr’s True Value Hardware (with locations in Coquille and Coos Bay, Oregon) has been a proud union member for nearly 63 years—longer than any company in the state.

Farr’s storied history began in 1916 in Coquille as a transfer and warehousing company between the Coquille River docks and Southern Pacific Railways which had just come to Coos County that year. In 1926 they expanded to Marshfield, Oregon (later renamed Coos Bay) at 880 South First Street, the same address where the Coos Bay Farr’s location remains to this day. In 1929 the original waterfront store in Coquille moved to its current location at 220 North Central Blvd. In 1934, co-owners Farr and Elwood joined Northern Wholesale Hardware and changed the name to Farr’s Hometown Hardware. Farr’s expanded to handle a fleet of shipping trucks, along with sales of brick, lime, cement, feed and seed supplies, farm hardware and farm machinery.

Chester Farr and his wife Iva became sole owners in 1941 when Cecil Elwood and his wife died in a car accident; they continued to run the business with sons Len and Don until Chester’s 1954 retirement.

Farr’s joined the union that year. In 1970, the name was again updated to its current incarnation: Farr’s True Value Hardware.

Over the years, many Farr children have worked for the two stores. In 1975, the store incorporated with 11 family stockholders. Since that time, both Farr’s locations have continued to grow and change with the times, from a 1979 Coos Bay building expansion to True Value DTV plan remodels to both stores in 2010 and 2013, respectively. In 2012, Chris Liga, the first non-family member since Elwood, bought into the business. Currently the store is owned by Jay Farr (3rd gen), Jim Farr (4th gen) and Chris Liga (honorary 4th gen), with several other Farr family members still among management and employee ranks today.

One thing hasn’t changed over 5 generations of Farr’s: they’ve remained proudly union since 1954, which helps provide key services and peace of mind for employees. Employee Marie Erm says, “I’ve worked at Farr’s and been a 555 member since 1995. The biggest benefit to me has been the insurance. My husband is self-employed and having coverage for him and our three children has made a huge difference in my life, knowing the union is there to protect those benefits as well as vacation and pension issues takes a lot of stress out of daily life.”

Kandy, another Farr’s employee, agrees. “It is nice to have a job that has benefits including a retirement package. Union insurance and retirement are great things. I have seen a lot of changes in the last 16 years from the union, none of which I can say have been negative.”

Congratulations to Farr’s True Value on this union milestone, and here’s to another 60+ years!

Joining the IFEBP

I am honored to have recently been named to the board of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). The IFEBP is a leading trustee educational organization that works with trustees from all over the US and Canada…in their own words, “a leading objective source of relevant employee benefit education and information.” We haven’t had a Labor member from the Northwest on this board for many, many years, so it is a great responsibility.

As you’ll see if you go to www.ifebp.org, the International Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors (including me!) consisting of labor trustees, management trustees, and benefit plan administrators of both multi- and single employer/employee benefit plans in both the United States and Canada. A group of Advisory Directors are comprised of professional advisors to employee benefit plans such as accountants, actuaries, attorneys, consultants, and investment advisors. The Executive Committee oversees the progress of projects and serves as the main conduit in channeling proposals for Board consideration.

This is a wonderful opportunity to not only get insight into the range of benefit plan options, but to help effect change and make a real difference on a national level. I’ll keep you apprised of what I learn and ways in which we can therefore further positively affect our already impressive benefits packages.

Jeff Anderson
Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW 555

Meet Your New Grievance Director

I entered Local 555 through one of our retail units where I was an active shop steward who participated in several bargaining committees; in 1995 I came on staff. I’ve worked all over the place here at the Local, starting in membership records, where I processed payment of dues and helped members with dues-related questions. Later, I moved to a role as support staff for the grievance department, became a rep for Healthcare in the Portland area, and worked as staff director and interim Healthcare Coordinator for the Portland area. In December of 2016, I  was excited to take over as our Grievance Director.

My goals for the grievance department are to simplify our processes and make things flow more smoothly, to find ways to resolve issues early on and at the lowest level possible. That doesn’t change our formal processes or put them on the back burner…it just means that I think we can do even more, even faster, which should always work to the benefit of our members. Fighting for the rights of our members and the integrity of our contracts will, as
always, be the top priority of this department.

A little about me: I have two grown children and one very spoiled dog. I recently married the love of my life, a move which brought three fantastic stepchildren into my world. I enjoy working with everyone here at Local 555 and can’t wait to make even more of a difference!


Read your contract!

This is Deborah Peralta, checker at Hazel Dell Fred Meyer Store #140. As she tells it, “I’ve been a union member since 2007 and have never fully read my contract, only parts of it! I’m not alone. More than half of my coworkers claim to have never taken the time to read it either. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to take the steward development classes when Ron, my union rep, suggested I consider becoming a steward. The second reason is that I believe there should be someone in my store that my co-workers can talk to concerning Union issues because Ron can’t always be there, and this is a good way to educate myself and in turn others about the union’s role and our contract. I naturally aim to be honest, present, and nice. I hope my peers trust me enough to take on the responsibility of being their shop steward.”

Click here to request a copy of your contract.

Our Biggest Goal For 2017: Fair Work Week

You’re going to be hearing a lot about our Fair Work Week push this year, so please accept my apologies if you get tired of reading about it. We promise NOT to get tired of fighting for it, and once it passes, chances are you won’t get tired of experiencing the benefits! I’d bet that almost every one of us has been in a situation where we weren’t treated fairly by our employers. Maybe we were asked to work seven or more days in a row, with no day to rest or recuperate, and no sense that we could decline the request. Maybe a company hired more part-time workers instead of giving us more hours. Maybe we were given our schedules at the very last moment—certainly without two weeks notice—or sent home unexpectedly without compensation if we weren’t needed on a given day. Maybe we weren’t allowed to make advance schedule requests, or had those requests ignored without warning.

Our battle for Fair Scheduling, or the Fair Work Week, aims to change that. Our ABC—the Active Ballot Club—is taking this fight all the way in 2017. We do this using your contributions to the ABC, proving each and every time we win that the collective power of so many people’s pennies is actually capable of outweighing a single massive check from a billionaire. (If you don’t already have your recurring contribution to the ABC set up, please call us and do so. Just a dollar a week from each and every one of you can make all the difference.)

We’re going to be reporting the latest on the Fair Work Week every month on the back page of this paper, so keep an eye out. And/or stay informed at a glance via text; just update your contact information here: www.ufcw555.org/textme.

If you have questions about this, or anything else, don’t hesitate to email me at president@ufcw555.org. I am here to amplify the voice of all of our workers, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

In Solidarity,
Dan Clay
President, Local 555