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Union Members Feature: UFCW

NATCA continues to highlight our union sisters and brothers who also are essential workers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Today, we highlight and thank our union siblings of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), representing more than 1.3 million hard-working men and women all across the country. During this unprecedented nationwide demand for groceries and health care, workers in these industries are facing incredibly difficult, stressful, and exhausting days while risking exposure to COVID-19. 

The UFCW represents not only grocery and other food workers who are still hard at work making sure our communities have access to groceries and other essential supplies during this crisis, but also nurses and other health care professionals who are on the front lines caring for patients. 

“America’s meatpacking workers have been on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic from the beginning, working tirelessly to make sure families have the food they need during this crisis,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone in a letter to the Department of Agriculture calling on Secretary Sonny Perdue to take a series of immediate actions to protect meatpacking workers and our nation’s food supply. “We are urgently calling on Secretary Perdue to adopt a series of safety actions and enact immediate guidelines to protect these essential workers which, in turn, will protect our communities and this nation’s food supply.” Read more about UFCW’s activism and assistance to our union brothers and sisters .

Aviation Labor News

CNN – Airlines Say Massive Job Cuts Are Inevitable After Bailout Dries Up : “US airline workers have been largely spared from the havoc that’s pushed the country’s unemployment to record highs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But those same workers — roughly 750,000 pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, mechanics and others — will soon be among the most at-risk for losing their jobs. The federal bailout for the airline industry barred layoffs, involuntary furloughs or pay cuts for employees. But executives have been blunt that job cuts are coming once that prohibition lifts on October 1, with estimates that up to a third of the sector’s jobs could disappear.” Read more

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Aviation Blog – Successful union campaign stops furloughs at United Airlines – for now: “The ITF-affiliated International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers’ (IAM) campaign has managed to stop United Airlines’ scheme intending to force 15,000 full-time IAM members into part-time positions. The carrier, however, has left the door open to resuming its forced reduction to the part-time program. The IAM’s campaign against United Airlines’ unilateral decision captivated the attention of the entire labour movement, since United’s action threatened to spur other companies to mistreat workers while accepting taxpayer dollars from coronavirus relief legislation.” Read more

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO – The Cares Act is Designed to Protect Workers; We Must Ensure it Stays That Way : “United has reconsidered its position, and now says full-time workers can elect to become part time. Those who do so will not lose their full-time status, and any full-time employees who do not agree to a reduction in hours will remain full time. While this is a win for working families everywhere, front-line aviation workers are not out of the woods yet. United executives say they plan to review the situation later this summer and may reconsider once again forcing part-time status on full-time workers. This is especially troubling when one considers the precedent it could set. If United’s plan is allowed to stand, it opens the door for other carriers to also ignore the letter of the law and impose unilateral changes that hurt working families. The fact of the matter is, there shouldn’t be any review of this program, and it shouldn’t have taken the threat of legal action or a coordinated effort by thousands of union members to get United Airlines to obey the law. Any decision by any air carrier that results in reduced wages and benefits of frontline workers, and is made without workers’ input or over workers’ objections, violates the CARES Act and flies in the face of Congressional intent.” Read more

Excerpt from Politico story: “Airline moves to cut hours have also frustrated others in the industry who had thrown their support behind the bill because of its worker protections, which they say are now being undermined. ‘I don’t buy food with my hourly rate,’ said Dennis Tajer, communications director for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots. ‘It’s a math problem, hourly rate times hours worked. You just undermined the entire equation. Actions like this can only serve to vilify the airline industry and serve as a disconnect to the human cause that this is all about. And I’m certain that’s not their intent, but we’re going to be here to remind them, hey, this doesn’t look good.’”

The Washington Post – Federal rescue money is helping keep many airport workers on the job — but not all of them : Not long ago, officials approved a plan that would boost the hourly wages of more than 2,000 food and retail workers at Dulles and Washington National Airports to $15 an hour by 2023. It was a small victory, but it meant that many could work two jobs instead of three. The celebration was short-lived. In March, hundreds of employees were laid off — victims of the worst economic downturn in the industry’s history. From the story: “Unions, however, say companies such as HMSHost, which reported more than $3.5 billion in annual sales before the crisis, can do more. And so can airports, which received $10 billion in money from the Cares Act. ‘Airport concessionaires are seeking and receiving relief,’ said Marlene Patrick-Cooper, the president of Unite Here Local 23, which represents food and retail workers at Dulles and National. ‘Airports should make concessionaires commit to bring laid-off airport employees back to work as the airports recover and ensure that front-line workers have access to quality health care.’” Read more

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