F.A.Q.

What does UFCW stand for?
Why have 1.3 million workers joined the UFCW?
What is a collective bargaining contract?
When UFCW members aren’t in collective bargaining, what do they do?
How about dues?
Won’t the union force me to go on strike?
Will the union stop me from talking to my boss or manager about any problems I may have?
Won’t the union be like another boss for me?
Don’t plants close when workers vote in a union?

 

Q: What does UFCW stand for?

A: United Food and Commercial Workers.

Whether meat or canned goods, deli items or poultry, condiments or soups, we make the food industry work by processing, packaging, warehousing, displaying, ringing up, and bagging the food that ends up on our kitchen tables. You see us everyday at the check stands and deli and meat counters of your neighborhood supermarkets. We also work in hundreds of other occupations, where we’re not so easily noticed. We make hunting and other apparel and textile products, the prescription and over- the-counter drugs we pick up at the local pharmacy, leather goods, wines and spirits, fertilizer, and literally thousands of common household items. That’s why the UFCW is America’s good neighbor union.

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Q: Why have 1.3 million workers joined the UFCW?

A: For our families. A basic American tradition is to form groups–unite with people of similar goals and interests– because when people work together they achieve more and look after their concerns more effectively. Think about all of the interest groups, both economic and political, that get formed every year. Businesses join with other businesses to make sure they stay ahead of trends and developments that will affect their companies. They pay dues and hire Washington lobbyists to influence national legislation in their favor.

So we joined the UFCW because collectively we can put more wage dollars in our pockets and, therefore, take better care of our families. Our collective bargaining contracts help make our jobs secure and our family dreams affordable, and that means improving our lives and giving our kids more opportunity to succeed. The U.S. Labor Department has documented the union advantage, showing overall that union workers make 34 percent more than nonunion workers.

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Q: What is a collective bargaining contract?

A: Collective bargaining contracts are agreements between employers and employees, which set wages, benefits, and other working conditions for a specified number of years.  As UFCW members, we join together to speak with one voice, so that we can have a real say in workplace decisions. Each time a contract is up for renewal, we actually sit down with our employers and negotiate point-by-point the terms of our employment.

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Q: When UFCW members are not in collective bargaining, what do they do?

A: We help make our communities a better place to live, and support lawmakers who look out for the concerns of working families. While good union jobs with solid health and pension benefits give our families peace of mind, the UFCW is about more than jobs and paychecks. We want all workers to fully participate in the benefits of the economy they help build and sustain. No one who works hard every day and plays by the rules should be left behind in our economy. Decent wages make our communities more prosperous because our consumer dollars help support local businesses and our tax dollars ensure good public safety and other services. We often join with community and religious groups to resolve issues of local concern, from community improvement projects to raising money for our public schools and local charities. As union members, we also stay active, encouraging friends and neighbors to vote and participate more fully in our democratic system. UFCW members, like all union members, take civic responsibilities seriously. More than 70 percent of eligible union members vote compared with only 48 percent of all eligible voters who vote in elections.

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Q: How about dues?

A: Like members in most organizations, we pay dues. Our dues bring large rewards in our paychecks, benefits, and working conditions. For example, union workers make $162 more a week, on average, than nonunion workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Q: Will the union force me to go on strike?

A: The UFCW never forces us or anyone to strike. Members have the final say through a vote. The overwhelming fact is strikes rarely happen. The UFCW negotiates more that 1,500 collective bargaining contracts each year, and strikes occur in less than one percent of these negotiations.

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Q: Will the union stop me from talking to my boss or manager about any problems I may have?

A: Federal law guarantees that you have the right to talk to your boss or manager. The UFCW in not interested in interfering.

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Q: Will the union be like another boss for me?

A: Actually, management reserves all boss functions (management’s rights) in collective bargaining contracts. We do not have to check with the UFCW to take a vacation or sick time. Nor do we have to justify being late to union officials. Management also hires and fires. What the UFCW does do is argue your case if you think management is being unfair in these situations or other situations. The bottom line is, we are the union. We elect our officers and vote on all important membership decisions, including whether to ratify or reject a collective bargaining agreement.

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Q: Don’t plants close when workers vote in a union?

A: Plants often threaten to close if workers organize a union. Those threats are illegal under federal law. The UFCW does not ask for more in a collective bargaining contract than a company can afford. That would be the worst disservice the UFCW could do to members. In fact, during financially hard times, most unions have done everything possible to keep their companies in business. The most famous example of this is the Chrysler bailout in the 1980s. The United Auto Workers not only joined Chrysler to pressure the federal government to make loans to the car maker, but also took concessions which allowed the company to turn the corner and become one of the most profitable companies in the world before its recent merger into DaimlerChrysler.

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