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.

Get the most from your UFCW Membership

UFCW members, not only get a strong contract and someone fighting for them at work, by they also get benefits that can save them and their families as much as $3,000 in 2017. The truth is, all of our members, work incredibly hard and deserve to save money at home. Whether its discounts on movie tickets, theme parks, cell phone plans, tires, or legal services, the money saving benefits to UFCW membership goes above and beyond the benefits negotiated in our contracts.

Check out UFCW.org/value to learn more.

Congratulations, Foster Farms Employees!

December 20, 2016 was a great day for Foster Farms Employees: their new five-year contract was ratified! It includes hard money raises each year, locks in the percentage rate for Health & Welfare for the duration of the contract, includes Active Ballot Club (ABC) language, and offers a signing bonus of either $600 or $1,000 for members (depending on their length of service with the company).

Many thanks to the dedicated bargaining committee who worked extraordinarily hard to help their co-workers by getting the best possible contract in place. See inside for more photos on the member spotlight pages.

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.

Fred Meyer Retro Payments: The Full Story

Mike Marshal, Executive Director

First, let me say that I share the frustration our Fred Meyer members have rightfully been feeling due to a series of mistakes in retro payments that affected some of us. I’m writing this to explain the situation to date so that we can all be on the same page. Let me also say that of late we’ve developed a good working relationship with Fred Meyer and it does appear that this was an innocent mistake that was not intended to disrespect or inconvenience our members (even though it felt that way to all of us). I am pleased to have the power of the Union behind us in times like these, so that we can all stand together to help solve problems effectively.

So, what happened? Well, we began getting some complaints from members about the retro checks not being correct shortly after they were initially issued. We spoke with Fred Meyer and asked them to investigate the situation. They discovered that the trouble (about 3,600 checks, originally) was with Kroger’s payroll in Cincinnati. We agreed that Fred Meyer would send out letters to those who were overpaid, outlining their options.

As you may know, some of the calculations in those letters from Kroger’s payroll division turned out to be incorrect. We immediately spoke with Fred Meyer again to alert them. We suggested that transparency in the calculations would make future notifications easier to confirm; they agreed.

Fred Meyer rescinded all of those letters and planned to reissue them after checking again for accuracy. The new letters, at our request, include a statement of hours used to create the retro pay so that we’ll all have a higher degree of confidence and certitude in the numbers used. As of the printing of this newspaper, affected employees should have received those corrected letters.

Under the terms of our Collective Bargaining Agreements with Fred Meyer, they had the right to deduct any amount owed for overpayments that occurred within the last 90 days. However, we worked with them to agree to limit the deductions to no more than $30 per paycheck (unless the member chose otherwise). If you have any further concerns after receiving the new letters, please don’t hesitate to contact your Fred Meyer HR department directly. You may also wish to contact your Union Rep for further assistance.

Thank you to all of you for your patience while we worked with Fred Meyer and Kroger’s home office to resolve this.

Ballots are out! Please remember to VOTE!

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Ballots are out! You have until 8pm, on Tuesday, November 8th, to cast your ballot. You can either mail it in (don’t forget the stamp) or drop it off at a drop site.

The following candidates are endorsed by the Active Ballot Club (ABC) and your Local 555 Elected Leaders. We must stand together to support candidates who will work to secure effective legislation for working families.

Now more than ever, we need to make our voices heard by voting!

Oregon Endorsements

(WFP Endorsed means the Work Families Party of Oregon also endorsed the candidate.)

Federal
Peter Defazio, US Representative District 4

Ballot Measures
Yes on Ballot Measure 97
Yes on Ballot Measure 98

Statewide
Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon (WFP Endorsed)
Brad Avakian, Secretary of State (WFP Endorsed)
Ellen Rosenblum, Attorney General (WFP Endorsed)
Tobias Read, State Treasurer

Oregon State Senate
Tonia Moro, District 3
Arnie Roblan, District 5 (WFP Endorsed)
Ginny Burdick, District 18
Kathleen Taylor, District 21 (WFP Endorsed)
Lew Frederick, District 22 (WFP Endorsed)
Michael Dembrow, District 23 (WFP Endorsed)
Laurie Monnes-Anderson, District 25 (WFP Endorsed)

Oregon State House
Pam Marsh, District 5 (WFP Endorsed)
Paul Holvey, DIstrict 8 (WFP Endorsed)
David Gomberg, District 10
Phil Barnhart, District 11 (WFP Endorsed)
Nancy Nathanson, District 13
Julie Fahey, District 14 (WFP Endorsed)
Dan Rayfield, District 16
Tom Kane, District 18 (WFP Endorsed)
Paul Evans, District 20 (WFP Endorsed)
Teresa Alonso Leon, District 22 (WFP Endorsed)
Jim Thompson, District 23 (WFP Endorsed)
Ken Moore, District 24 (WFP Endorsed)
Ray Lister, District 26 (WFP Endorsed)
Sheri Malstrom, District 27
Jeff Barker, District 28 (WFP Endorsed)
Susan McLain, District 29 (WFP Endorsed)
Janeen Sollman, District 30 (WFP Endorsed)
Brad Witt, District 31
Mitch Greenlick, District 33
Ken Helm, District 34 (WFP Endorsed)
Margaret Doherty, District 35 (WFP Endorsed)
Jennifer Williamson, District 36 (WFP Endorsed)
Julie Parrish, District 37
Ann Lininger, District 38 (WFP Endorsed)
Mark Meek, District 40
Karin Power, District 41 (WFP Endorsed)
Rob Nosse, District 42 (WFP Endorsed)
Tawna Sanchez, District 43
Tina Kotek, District 44 (WFP Endorsed)
Barbara Smith Warner, District 45 (WFP Endorsed)
Alissa Keny-Guyer, District 46 (WFP Endorsed)
Diego Hernandez, District 47 (WFP Endorsed)
Jeff Reardon, District 48
Chris Gorsek, District 49
Carla Piluso, District 50 (WFP Endorsed)
Janelle Bynum, District 51 (WFP Endorsed)
Mark Reynolds, Distict 52 (WFP Endorsed)
Gena Goodman Campbell, District 54 (WFP Endorsed)

Counties
Benton
Annabelle Jaramillo, Benton County Commission Chairman
Xan Augerot, Benton County Commission, Position 2

Clackamas
Jim Bernard, Clackamas County Chairman
Ken Humberston, Clackamas County Commission, Position 4

Multnomah
Sharon Meiran, Multnomah County Commission, District 1, (WFP Endorsed)
Amanda Schroeder, Multnomah County Commission, District 4

Cities
Portland
Steve Novick, Portland City Council (WFP Endorsed)
Yes on 26-179, Affordable Housing Bond Measure

Lake Oswego
Jon Gustafson, Lake Oswego Mayor
Theresa Kohlhoff, Lake Oswego City Council

Eugene
Joshua Skov, Eugene City Council Ward 1, (WFP Endorsed)

West Linn
John Carr, West Linn Mayor

Washington Endorsements

Federal
Jim Moeller, US Representative Congressional District 3

Ballot Measures
Initiative 1433

Washington State Senate
Tim Probst, Legislative District 17, Senator
Dean Takko, Legislative District 19, Senator
Annette Cleveland, Legislative District 49, Senator

Washington State House
Brian Blake, Legislative District 19, Representative, Position 2
Sharon Wylie, Legislative District 49, Representative, Position 1
Monica Stonier, Legislative District 49, Representative Position 2

Counties
Clark County
Tanisha Harris, Clark County Council, District 3

Cowlitz County
Mike Karnofski, Cowlitz County Commission, District 1
Shawn Nyman, Cowlitz County Commission, District 2

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.**

2,000 new members have been organized, 2,000 more by the end of the year

By Peter Diaz
Assistant to the President, Organizing Director

There are many ways organizing makes our Union stronger so we can bargain better wages, benefits, and working conditions in our contracts.

Here are two ways organizing can and does make us stronger and improve our working conditions:

First, organizing makes our health plans and our pensions stronger. For every new Albertsons, Fred Meyer, or Safeway employee we organize into the Union, the employers must contribute money on their behalf into our health and pension plans. The more money our employers contribute into our plans, the better funded our plans are.

Second, organizing makes us stronger in contract negotiations. There are more than 17,000 members working at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, and Safeway. While we were bargaining our last contract, there were approximately 5,500-6,000 non-union employees in these stores. This large group of non- union employees makes it nearly impossible for us to threaten any realistic job actions against our employers and that makes us weaker at the bargaining table.

When we organize these employees and represent everyone, we will be able to credibly threaten job actions and therefore be stronger at the bargaining table. This will mean a better contract for everyone.

Since February your Union has organized nearly 2,000 new members who work at Albertsons and Safeway, with a realistic goal of organizing 2,000 more by the end of the year.  Albertsons and Safeway will be contributing into our Health and Pension plans for all these new members, making our plans better funded. These new members will make us stronger when we go into bargaining for our next contract.

Retro Pay Update 

Fred Meyer corporate offices informed Local 555 that the members who were owed retroactive pay and did not receive it should be limited to the Portland area.

As noted last week, members who did not receive retro pay and are owed it should be getting it this pay cycle. If you do not receive it this Thursday, or do not think your retro pay was calculated correctly, please contract the HR department in your store. They have been instructed by corporate, as well as given the tools, to resolve any issues with retro pay you may have.

If you need additional assistance please contact your Union Representative.