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!

 

More than $1.7 MILLION in Pension Recovery

By: Dan Clay
President, Local 555

A few months back, a long term member from the Oregon Coast asked me to help him with a concern with his pension statement. We talked through the issue and I agreed that there seemed to be a problem, so I got to work figuring it out.

After consulting the professionals that work with your Pension Trust, I sat down with the Labor Relations Department from company in question. It was pretty clear that the folks I deal with in the Labor Relations Department there were as confused as I was about what had happened, but they promised to look into it and get back to me.

After a few weeks, we met again and they reported that the company had inadvertently underpaid contributions to the pension due to either a computer or clerical error. Either way, there is no question that this was simply an accident. The Labor Relations Department quickly worked to make it right. They immediately corrected the error for future contributions and began working on calculating the value of the back contributions they owed to the Trust. In the end, the company issued a check to your Pension Trust worth about $1.7M.

This is a big deal because it will increase pension benefits for at least 1,000 Pension Trust participants. Now that the check has been received, the Trust Administrator is in the process of crediting the appropriate money to each participant’s account. The next pension statement that you receive (if you are one of the affected members) will include this update and reflect the increased benefit. If you have any questions, you are welcome to call Pension Trust Administrator (Zenith American Solutions, 503-486-2100). Please know that you do NOT need to take any action; this update will happen automatically.

Don’t miss UFCW’s open enrollment

UFCW Local 555 has partnered with Aflac and Transamerica to offer the following insurance to union members:

Group Critical Illness Insurance provides cash benefits if you’re diagnosed with or treated for a covered critical illness, such as cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke.

Group Accident Insurance helps pay for out-of-pocket costs that arise when you have a covered accident such as fractures, dislocations and lacerations.

Group Hospital Indemnity Insurance helps pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with a hospital stay included benefits for hospital admission, hospital confinement and hospital intensive care.

Term Life Insurance provides death benefit protection while offering flexibility to meet your changing needs.

UFCW Local 555 members can sign up for coverage over the phone by calling 1.877.344.1102. Call center enrollment ends December 15, 2016. In person sign ups end December 22, 2016. Check with your Union Representative for scheduling dates and times.

NOTE: This open enrollment is for AFLAC and Transamerica, but not for the UFCW Local 555 – Employers Health Trust. For enrollment information in the UFCW Local 555 – Employers Health Trust call (866) 796-7623.

It’s time we take a different look at voting

By Dan Clay

The last election I remember being really excited about was 2008. There were two candidates that I really believed in and believed could help bring the change American workers so desperately needed.

That year Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were neck and neck in a race that highlighted ideas, positions, and, of course, Obama brought a heaping helping of hope. It was exciting. And after Obama’s victory, I believed we might be on the right track for a change. In the end, Obama’s support for free trade agreements, deals with pharmaceutical companies, and a couple other disappointments soured me on his presidency to a degree, but there were some highlights too. While the Affordable Care Act is everyone’s favorite punching bag, I have a different perspective. As a Trustee on your medical plan, I’m a fan. Your plan spends about $100,000,000 per year and even with all the hassle it has caused, the ACA has made this part of your life better by limiting gouging, banning insurance companies from predatory practices, and controlling medical inflation. But back to my original topic…

Back in 2008, I was really excited about two candidates: John Edwards and Jeff Merkley. John Edwards said all the right things, demonstrated that he understood what American workers needed, and had demonstrated that he could separate himself from Corporate America. And he did all this while carrying on with a coworker behind his cancer ridden wife’s back. While I didn’t know this at the time, I was really relieved that he didn’t get the nomination once all this came out. Yikes! Thank goodness Jeff Merkley turned out better. In fact, during the primary I was very torn between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick who now is one of Portland’s Commissioners. In the end, Jeff won and he has been better than I had hoped. If you are an American worker, Jeff is right on almost all the issues. Never once have I thought he sold out to Corporate America. His leadership has been indispensable for Oregon and the entire country.

If I had the opportunity, I would have voted for John Edwards and been wrong. I did vote for Jeff Merkley and I think I was right. I’m sure you all have had similar experiences.

Fast forward to today… I’m not entirely thrilled with the choices we have for President. A friend sent me a picture they got off the internet. It showed a dirty truck and someone wrote on the back window “Orange Hitler vs. Grandma Nixon. Come on America.” I think that sums up where many Americans are at this election cycle.

I’ve never lied to you and I’m not going to start now. I’m not a big Donald Trump fan. Any of you that know me probably could have guessed that. I’m not a Republican, but there are many decent, honorable, and competent Republicans that I support even though I disagree with them on this issue or that issue. The Donald isn’t one of them. But Hillary Clinton wasn’t my first choice either. In fact, she wasn’t my second or third choice. But here we are. This year I have a choice of voting for Donald or Hillary. Or I can throw away my vote on a third-party candidate. Or not vote.

Unlike most of the rest of the world that votes for people in many, many different parties and then force the parties to work together to build governing coalitions, we have a “lesser of two evils” system of voting. So I’ll be voting for the Presidential Candidate I dislike the least.

But that is just one race. There are scores of candidates that either need your vote or don’t deserve it. Jeff Merkley was in the Oregon Legislature. Bernie Sanders was once a small town mayor. Your Union evaluates candidates based on where they stand on workplace/pocketbook issues. Most of the time I follow the recommendation of my union, but not always. Members of the Active Ballot Club, which are UFCW Local 555 members, send out questionnaires to any candidate who seeks our endorsement. Without a completed questionnaire, we very rarely endorse. The committee interviews the candidates. They debate who would be best for the membership. And then they make a recommendation.

Not voting is refusing to play the game and if you don’t play, you can’t win. These people, whether you like them or not, make the rules that you must live by. Nationally, people have elected leaders who made rules allowing billionaires to pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than me, my secretary, or my meat cutter friend in Eugene. They have made rules that say tricky corporations don’t even have to pay taxes. And they have made rules that mean some of the tax money you pay goes back to corporations in welfare so that they have a negative tax rate and can give more money to the billionaires. It’s utter madness.

However, I’m still excited about voting. Here’s why. Whether I know it or not, this year I am going to be voting on dozens of down ballot candidates who could either be the next Jeff Merkley or the next John Edwards. I’m praying I get it right.

If you aren’t registered to vote, you can do so by going to UFCW555.org/vote and following the links for your state. You can also talk to your Union rep. They can help you out.

Labor Day – Monday, September 5, 2016

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Every year, members and the staff of UFCW Local 555 participate in Labor Day activities all across our jurisdiction. We all come together on this special day to celebrate the hard work you have done all year, and to remember the battles fought for the respect and dignity of hard working people in this country. We invite you and your family on September 5th to join your Union Brothers and Sisters at a Labor Day Picnic so we may celebrate together!

Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Counties – Toutle River RV Resort (150 Happy Trails, Castle Rock, WA, Exit 52 off I-5) – Grilling Hamburgers & Hot Dogs from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Bring the family and your favorite picnic dish to share. Come out for Swimming, Kids Games, Camping and a great chance to socialize with other local union members from our community.

Bend Area – Pioneer Park (NW Wall St.) – Picnic hours will be from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Music, Games, and Fun for the whole family. This picnic is put on in conjunction with the Central Oregon Central Labor Council.

Eugene/Springfield Area – John Lively Picnic Shelters (6100 Thurston Street) – Picnic runs from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. This picnic is put on in conjunction with the Lane County Labor Council. **Please bring a side dish!**

Medford/Grants Pass Area – Emigrant Lake, Shelter D (5505 Highway 66, Ashland, OR) 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Lunch will be served. Speakers and entertainment for the whole family. There is a $4 charge for parking. Sponsored by the Southern Oregon Central Labor Council.

North Bend/Coos Bay Area – Ferry Road Park – Picnic hours will be from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Music, Games, and Fun for the whole family. This picnic is put on in conjunction with the Southwestern Oregon Central Labor Council. Asking for a small donation of non-perishable food.

Portland / Vancouver/ SW Washington – Oaks Amusement Park – The event starts at 10:00 am. Lunch will be served from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm and is free to members and their families. Ride bracelets will be given out to the first 500 kids under the age of 12. This picnic is put on in conjunction with the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

Salem Area – Salem Waterfront Park – Lunch will be served from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Music, Games, and Fun for the whole family. Arrive around 11:00 am to mingle and listen to Labor Day speakers. This picnic is put on in conjunction with the Marion-Polk-Yamhill Labor Council. **Please bring 2 cans of non-perishable food per person as a donation.**

Sherm’s Ratification Votes This Week

Votes are scheduled this week to ratify the contracts for members working for Sherm’s in Medford, Roseburg, and Klamath Falls. Local 555 has reached a tentative agreement with Sherms for all Grocery and Meat contracts in Oregon. There will be Union Votes where you will have a chance to review the agreement and vote on it. UFCW staff will be available to answer any questions. You can drop in anytime during your vote’s day at the following locations.

Sherm’s Klamath Falls
June 29, 2016, @2:00pm
Sherm’s Thunderbird #2
1877 Avalon Street
Klamath Falls, OR 97601‐0212
(in the cooler behind the cutting room)

Sherm’s Medford
June 30, 2016, 9:00am to 6:00pm
Labor Temple
4480 Rogue Valley Hwy.
Central Point, OR 97502

Sherm’s Roseburg
July 1, 2016 9:00am to 6:00pm
Labor Temple
742 S.E. Roberts Avenue
Roseburg, OR 97470

Update on Retail Raises & Retro

The recent contract settlement agreement with Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, & QFC provided for Journeyperson wage increases at the start of the new contract, which for some contracts that were already expired, meant retroactive pay. Your union and the company’s labor relations representatives expected that the companies would implement the raises and retro checks within approximately 30 days of ratification. Unfortunately that will not necessarily be the case for all contracts.

Your Union Leadership has been in frequent contact with your employer’s Labor Relations representatives over the last couple weeks to determine why there was a delay in implementation, and have been able to receive the following information:

Fred Meyer & QFC Members:

Kroger payroll opted to process all of the retro contracts at the same time, regardless of ratification date. That, along with the fact that retro for most contracts was recorded in two different payroll systems, caused a bit of a delay. Here is the timeline had been put together by Kroger payroll and finally sent to Fred Meyer Labor Relations this week:

  • June 30th – members will see their new rates on the check they receive this day.
  • June 29th – July 18th – figure all retro owed up until June 18th.
  • July 21st – the associates will see the retro included on the paycheck they receive this day.

Albertsons & Safeway Members:

Your employers are concerned about making sure the increase and retro is implemented correctly, so they have spent extra time to try and make sure they don’t have payroll errors similar to what many of you may have experienced at some point over the last year. Albertsons/Safeway Labor Relations has informed us that while they expect to have the raises and retro pay worked out in the next couple weeks, they do not have a set date from payroll yet.

Your Union will continue to stay on top of this issue and make sure each member entitled to a raise and retro check receives it as soon as possible, and that the raises and retro checks are correct.

Contract Negotiations Continue

Contract negotiations for Grocery, Meat, CCK and Non-food resumed this morning. Your Negotiating Committee, along with other members from your stores, presented a petition signed by over 8500 Local 555 retail members. Members shared personal stories of the struggles to survive, and made it clear that we need real wage increases now, and not bonuses.

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Haggen to close both the West Linn and Sunnyside Stores

Haggen has announced that they will be closing both the West Linn and Sunnyside Stores.

These closures are covered by the WARN act, thus the company will be required to pay out 60 days of pay from the day WARN notices are issued. Local 555 will be working on making sure the Union Members at both locations are taken care of and will be setting up dislocated worker meetings as soon as possible. These meetings will inform you about how this will impact health and welfare and pension benefits.

Your Union will continue to keep you up-to-date of any news that can be confirmed, and will be sending members in the affected stores a letter regarding the dislocated worker meetings.