The Dispensary East Dubuque Contract Ratified

The Dispensary Workers Ratify First Union Contract!

Cannabis Workers from East Dubuque Vote UNION YES

Congratulations to The Dispensary workers from East Dubuque on winning their first Union contract! The workers rang in the New Year on January 4th, by OVERWHELMINGLY voting to ratify their first Union contract. 

The Dispensary East Dubuque Contract Ratified

“The solidarity of these workers and the dedication of the bargaining committee members has been incredible. We are so proud to welcome The Dispensary East Dubuque workers as Local 881 members,” said Steve Powell, Local 881 President. “Fighting for better wages, good benefits, and improved working conditions is not an easy thing to do. This is a huge victory for these workers and a clear message to the industry that employers need to do better!”

Incredible Gains in The Dispensary (East Dubuque) Contract:

    • Increased Sunday premium pay rate
    • New trainer premium pay rate
    • Increased paid time off
    • New sick time policy for employees who average 20+ hours/week
    • Increased employee discount
    • Controlled healthcare costs
    • New 401(k) plan for ALL employees
    • A strong grievance procedure to dispute discipline and safety issues
    • And much more!

The Contract will cover the over 30 workers from the location and go into effect immediately. Many of whom were employed at the time of their Union Election in August 2022. Negotiating a first Union Contract can be a long battle.

The Dispensary East Dubuque voted for union representation
After the votes were counted, workers from The Dispensary (East Dubuque) celebrated their Union election victory to join Local 881 in August 2022.

For over a decade, Local 881 has been fighting to ensure that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to our communities. Cannabis workers are joining with Local 881 to make meaningful change to the cannabis industry in Illinois. Local 881 has successfully negotiated for wage increases, paid leave, employee discounts, a robust grievance procedure, and stronger contractual protections for cannabis workers.

The growing list of Local 881 ratified Cannabis contracts include: Ascend, Cresco, MedMen, Sunnyside, Windy City Cannabis, and Zen Leaf.

Interested in unionizing? Contact Teresa Ramirez-Gonzalez

Local 881 mourns the loss of Labor Leader and friend — Ed Smith

Edward M. Smith

Edward M. Smith, Chairman/CEO of Ullico and champion of
workers passed away on January 3, 2024. Ed may have lost his battle with leukemia, but his fight on behalf of Unions and workers will leave a powerful legacy in the American Labor Movement and beyond.

“Without unions, who speaks for workers in this country? Let me tell you —nobody! No one! They know if they can get rid of the unions, workers don’t have a voice.”
— Edward M. Smith

Although Ed was not a member of Local 881, his leadership and partnership has helped to protect our Union for years. He was both a friend to our Officers and a fierce advocate for our members. Ed lived the values and mission of Ullico, the Union Labor Life Insurance Company, spending his career working to help provide financial security to working men and women and their families.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ed’s family and friends. Read more about Ed Smith’s life and legacy.

Jewel & Mariano’s Contracts Now Available!

Two of our largest contracts are printed and Union Reps have begun distributing at all Jewel and Mariano’s stores.

Your contract specifies in writing the precise terms of your employment as it relates to pay raises, promotions, scheduling, vacations, holiday pay, seniority rights, transfers, and more. Your contract affects virtually every aspect of your job.

Please take time to study it, ask questions of your Union Representative if there is something you don’t understand, and speak up if you see your employer not following the rules outlined by your contract.

Didn’t get one? Contact your Union Representative.

La Colombe Baristas Want a Voice in their Workplace!

Workers at four of the La Colombe locations in Chicago have recently voted UNANIMOUSLY to join Local 881.

La Colombe Baristas at Andersonville

Workers from La Colombe cafés around the country are organizing with the UFCW to gain Union Representation.

Representation elections were facilitated by the National Relations Board and held at the following La Colombe locations: Gold Coast on Jan 23, Armitage on Jan 30, Andersonville on Jan 31, and the West Loop on Feb 7. In addition, a café in Washington, DC voted in January to join UFCW Local 400.

The baristas are unionizing to improve working conditions. They are proud of what they do — they love making coffee and creating an atmosphere that customers enjoy. They believe their work deserves respect and they know that the best way to get that is with a Union.

La Colombe baristas are fighting for a Union contract that guarantees regular schedules and hours, better wages with consistent raises, adequate staffing, clear discipline policies, and grievance procedures.

“I want to be a part of Local 881 so that my coworkers and I can have a say in our workplace. I would always prefer to work where conditions have been negotiated by workers instead of decided for us by the company!”
– Daniel, La Colombe West Loop | Chicago, IL

La Colombe baristas at West Loop

If you know of worker who is ready to fight for better treatment at their workplace, have them contact a Local 881 Union Organizer to learn more about how the Union can help.

Contact: Teresa Ramirez-Gonzalez, Local 881 Director of Organizing
[email protected] | 630-254-3090

La Colombe baristas at Gold Coast
La Colombe baristas at Armitage

Ongoing Mariano’s / Kroger Payroll Issues

Local 881 Kroger and Mariano’s members have experienced numerous paycheck issues due to a new payroll system Kroger implemented this fall across all its banners. The payroll issues have impacted nearly all of its 500,000 employees, including management. Like many workers elsewhere, Local 881 members in Illinois have reported widespread payroll errors, including:

    • Not receiving paychecks
    • Paid incorrect wages
    • Not receiving contractual wage increases
    • Unlawful deduction of overpayments
    • Not paid for contractual holidays
    • Union dues being deducted incorrectly

Local 881 has attempted to work with Kroger and Mariano’s representatives to resolve these issues but has learned that the payroll problems are widespread and occurring all over the country. Local 881 has been actively taking all steps it can to bring pressure and resolution to this catastrophic failure on the part of Kroger.

Local 881 has demanded information from Kroger/Mariano’s that would provide a detailed account of all payroll periods since the new payroll system was implemented so that a thorough investigation of each and every affected member’s payroll history could be conducted. To date, that request for information has not yet been provided by the Company and Local 881 has filed unfair labor practice charges with National Labor Relations Board.

Local 881 has also filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor asking for the agency to take immediate legal action to address the payroll issues, including the unlawful payroll deductions of overpayments made to employees.

Additionally, Local 881 has been in contact with the office of the Illinois Attorney General to consider its legal options, both civil and criminal, that would hold Kroger/Mariano’s accountable.

Local 881 and its attorneys are reviewing all legal options available to remedy this unbearable situation. In the meantime, Local 881 has posted a form on its website and is asking any member who has experienced a payroll issue to complete and submit the form.

Together, we will hold Kroger and Mariano’s accountable for the failures that have affected our members. We will continue to provide updates on the ongoing investigations and other actions.

On behalf of the entire staff of Local 881, please understand we are doing everything we can to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and are sorry for Kroger/Mariano’s gross negligence and unlawful conduct that has affected your families, especially at this time of year.

Sincerely, Steve Powell
President Local 881 UFCW

 

Local 881 Fights For You!

Frankfort Mariano’s members participate in the contract ratification vote.

These last few months your Local Union has been focused on collective bargaining for many new contracts. It cannot be overstated how critical this round of negotiations was. Over 86% of our membership was impacted by this negotiation cycle. Contracts ratified in the last quarter of 2022 included:

    • Jewel Foods (October 2022)
    • Mariano’s (October 2022)
    • Schnucks Clerks and Meat Deli Seafood (October 2022)
    • Dierbergs Clerks and Meat Deli Seafood (October 2022)
    • IBEW 21 (October 2022) and IBEW 15 (September 2022)
    • Schnuck Markets Centralia (September 2022)
    • Conagra St. Elmo (September 2022)

Negotiating a contract is never a slam dunk. There are no guarantees when you sit across the table from corporations whose only goal is to increase their bottom lines. The threat of takeaways to what we’ve already fought for is very real, but our Union has NEVER WAVERED in the mission of advocating and fighting for the hardworking members of Local 881. You might not love or agree with everything we do, but we have demonstrated over and over again that we will always have your back!

How Does the Union Fight?

Strength in Numbers

An individual employee trying to negotiate for better wages alone facing off against a powerful corporation doesn’t stand a chance. When we stand together, Local 881 can protect and improve your working conditions.

Better Wages

Increases for longest serving members: Local 881 is proud to have members with decades of service! It was a major priority to make sure that those who built the companies get rewarded for their dedication. Unions fight for job security and demand respect for seniority.

Minimum wage: Local 881’s fight for better wages also occurs outside of contract negotiations. For the past decade, Local 881 has lobbied lawmakers to demand that the incredibly low, and long-stagnated minimum wage rate be increased. Local 881 led the Labor Movement’s charge on this issue.

Fixing the system: Many of the new contracts improved wage rates for special classifications, or as in the case of Mariano’s, completely restructured the way increases would be distributed.

Better Benefits:

Besides wage increases, the contracts also kept benefit costs low, shortened wait times for eligibility, and provided new healthcare procedures in the plan.

No Takeaways

During contract negotiations concessions are always a threat. Local 881 fights to make sure nothing we have won gets stripped away.

The Union Holds the Company Accountable

Companies don’t always follow the rules. Local 881 provides protection to our members with a legally binding contract that clearly spells out what your employer can and cannot do. If your employer, whether by ignorance or intentionally, violates the contract and mismanages your pay, classification, hours, or other benefits, Local 881 can fight on your behalf to fix the situation. The grievance procedure is a powerful tool the Union uses to keep the Company in check.

Why Does the Union Fight?

Local 881 believes your hard work deserves dignity and respect. Without collective bargaining and a Union that has your back, working people have no real voice as to wages, benefits, or workplace safety. If the Union doesn’t fight, greed wins, and everyone suffers.

Why Should You Fight?

History teaches that a Union is only as strong as the activism of its members. Without you, there is no Union. Without Local 881, who will fight to protect your rights? Your willingness to stand with Local 881 is the difference between preserving your rights and losing your rights.

When we stand together, much can be
accomplished! In the coming year, come to a meeting, get involved, speak with your Union Officers or your Union Representative. Your passion, activism, and involvement will only make Local 881 stronger!

Should you have any questions we continue to be at your service and invite you to contact your Union Representative at 847-294-5064 to discuss any concerns you have.

Over 75 Years Of Fighting For Members

Our Proud Local 881 History​

Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has existed in its present form only since the early 1980s, but the roots of our local’s history paint a picture of activism, progress and concern for its members that stretches back to the Great Depression.

When the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, it established the right of workers to organize in Unions of their own choice and to bargain collectively with employers. Self-service supermarkets with an average of five to seven employees began opening all over. As self-service grew more acceptable and popular, the staff of some food stores rose to as many as 25, with full-timers supplemented by part-time help. The need for collective bargaining and representation soon became apparent, and Unions assumed the role of a stabilizing force in the food industry.

Another change came in 1947 when the Taft-Hartley Act made both Unions and management accountable to the federal government. That same year, a new independent Labor Union called the Jewel Food Store Employees Union (JFSEU) was established and certified. Later, the Union was renamed the United Retail Workers Union (URW). The membership totals of the Union increased by 4,000 in 1959. The staff at this time was only 12 people strong.

As the Union began to grow, in 1960, a young man named Ron Powell began working at the Jewel Tea Company in DeKalb, Illinois. It was there that he discovered his passion for worker justice. Even though he was working as a manager for the Company, Ron strongly believed in what the Union was fighting for. Ron was so committed he even held Union meetings in his home. He led the first and only recognition strike against the company. After a month of picketing, the Union won a fair contract. When the strike ended, Ron left Jewel and followed his calling to help give a voice on the job to workers by joining the staff as a Union Representative. Over the years, Ron had a tremendous impact on the Union as he moved up through various leadership positions and ultimately served as Local 881 President.

The mid-1960s brought more major changes to the retail food industry and, as a result, the URW was sought out by store employees for representation. Though the 60s were stable years for the Union, the URW continued to strive to achieve more benefits for its members. As the 1970s approached, membership grew to 6,000, staff was expanded, and a non-foods division was created.

In August 1981, the URW affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers to become Local 881 UFCW. The numbers 8-8-1 represent our official charter date, August of 1981 as a UFCW Local Union.

In 1983, Ron Powell became President of Local 881. Ron led Local 881 through periods of growth and times of challenge. Ron has been a fierce advocate for Local 881 members and has gone to the mat for them when facing their employers. For example, in 1984, Jewel Foods illegally cut the wages of their workforce, as much as $1.25 an hour! Despite having 40% of the market share at the time, they were nervous about other companies coming into the area. As Jewel often does they overreacted, and wanted the Union to agree to concessions and takeaways. Local 881 flat out refused. Jewel went ahead and unilaterally enacted drastic wage cuts in direct violation of the contract. Local 881 fought back. After a long 18-month battle in federal court, the Union won the judgement and ultimately restored the wage rates and back pay for the affected 15,000 members.

In the late 1980s, several other UFCW Locals from around the state merged into Local 881, including Local 1696 (Springfield), Local 35 (Wood River/Alton), Local 219 (Belleville), Local 229 (Collinsville), Local 304-R (Edwardsville), and Local 1550 (Chicago). By 1989, Local 881 was the largest UFCW Local Union in Illinois, in the United States, and in our International Union.

In 2002, a new threat to our members came after Safeway bought Dominick’s. The new ownership launched a massive campaign with the intent to gut the collective bargaining agreement and restrict workplace rights that had been in place for decades. The 9,000 members of Local 881 and our sister local overwhelmingly voted to reject the regressive contract proposal offered by the company and authorized a strike. The company backed down and resumed bargaining with the UFCW and a fair contract was ultimately achieved.

Fighting for members at the bargaining table, but also in the halls of government became an important priority for Local 881. The Union has never underestimated the importance of legislative and political action, especially supporting candidates who put the interests of working families first and helping to craft legislation that improves the lives of workers or blocks efforts to harm them. Local 881 fights to protect workers and their families by opposing anti-worker legislation and supporting pro-worker bills at the local, state, and national levels. Local 881 also supports political candidates – regardless of party affiliation – who promote the rights of workers and the interests of our members. It’s not the politician’s party that is important, it’s how they will vote on issues Local 881 members are most concerned about!

Over the years, Local 881 has been proud to support and lead coalitions on important initiatives that have lifted the rights of workers across our state, most notably: Increasing the Minimum Wage, Sick Time, Fair Scheduling, Workers’ Rights Amendment, Expanding the Earned Income Credit, and establishing an equitable and professional cannabis industry.

Since 2012, Local 881 has been on the forefront of bringing the Cannabis Industry to Illinois. The Union lobbied for the passage of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (HB 1), and then later for the Adult-Use Recreational laws (SB 316/HB 2353). Our goal was to influence the law so that the workers in this emerging industry would have the ability to unionize, have a voice in their workplace, and be protected. Local 881 is proud to have organized and negotiated the first Cannabis contracts in the state and have since added hundreds of cannabis workers to our ranks.

Today, over 34,000 Local 881 members work throughout Northern Illinois (including the metropolitan and suburban Chicago area), Central and Southern Illinois, and Northwest Indiana.  Local 881 represents members employed by a wide variety of grocery, retail, food processing, cannabis, service, and professional offices and facilities. 

Whether you have been a member for a few months or a few decades, we are proud to be your Union Representative and your voice on the job. Whether it’s a question about your pay rate, your classification,  or the contract, we are here to help you and it is a privilege to be at your service! Please contact your Union Representative at 847-294-5064 with any workplace concern.

Fighting the merger: Illinois AG Kwame Raoul Sues to Block $4B Payout to Albertsons Shareholders

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul addresses members at the Local 881 Steward Conference in 2018.

When the potential merger announcement was made by employers Albertsons and Kroger, Local 881 and other UFCW Locals from around the country quickly condemned the harmful proposal and called on all lawmakers and regulators to stop the merger.

As if the merger deal wasn’t bad enough for workers and consumers, Albertson’s also planned a shareholder payout on November 7 of a “special cash dividend” of up to $4 billion, which by the way, is equivalent to more than two years of profits for the company!

Local 881 President Steve Powell immediately met twice with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and his anti-trust division to express concerns about the potential negative impact on workers at Jewel and Mariano’s. President Powell urged the Attorney General to act on behalf of hard working Local 881 members, who create the real value for Albertsons and Kroger, not Wall Street shareholders.

Attorney General Raoul is joining the attorneys general of
California and the District of Columbia in suing Albertsons and Kroger. The lawsuit aims to stop the payout to shareholders until the attorneys general complete a full review of the proposed merger. The coalition of Attorney Generals agree that the merger and payout could lead to even higher food prices at a time when many families across the country are struggling to put food on
the table. They are also examining whether these actions could reduce union jobs and hurt the wages and benefits of workers.

Local 881 applauds the Attorney General for standing up for Local 881 members and taking bold action against blatant corporate greed. A rich payout for stockholders is deplorable, especially at a time when focus should be placed on lowering prices for our communities and investing in the essential workers that allowed the stores to prosper during Covid.

Local 881 also applauds Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky for speaking out against the merger and shareholder payment:

“Given the parties’ records of raising food prices for consumers and cutting benefits to workers to pad their own profits, and the unusual circumstances of a $4 billion dividend payment that
will be paid out by Albertsons in early November, the FTC should oppose this proposed merger.” – Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

Local 881 does everything we can to make sure elected officials do the right thing for Local 881 members. We actively engage our elected representatives on essential workers’ issues and our legislative and regulatory priorities. We know that politics can have a strong impact on Local 881 members and their families, and we will not stop fighting to make sure your voice is heard.

Read more about the lawsuit:

Official Statement from Illinois Attorney General Raoul:
Attorney General Raoul Files Lawsuit to Halt $4 Billion Payout to Albertsons Shareholders
Payout Would Financially Decimate Albertsons Before Merger Review is Complete

Official Statement from Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky:
Schakowsky, Warren, Sanders to Chair Lina Khan: The FTC Should Oppose Proposed Kroger-Albertsons Deal

WTTW News:
State Attorneys General, Including Illinois’, Sue to Block Albertsons’ $4B Payout Ahead of Grocery Chain Merger

New York Times:
Attorneys General Sue to Stop Dividend Tied to Kroger-Albertsons Deal

American Economic Liberties Project:
State Attorneys General are Right to Fight Private Equity’s Kroger-Albertsons Scheme

Local 881 Members at Jewel ACCEPT the New Contract

Today members from Jewel Local 881 Bargaining Committee counted ALL ballots received. Several rank-and-file Jewel members were also attendance as observers and counters. We are pleased to report that the new three-year contract has been approved and accepted by a majority of the members of Jewel Foods Stores.

This has truly been a unique bargaining cycle; unlike any we have ever seen. When the first agreement was rejected by Jewel members in August, it was a wake-up call for your employer but also quite honestly, for the Union. We recognized during the first round, that there was a disconnect between the members and the truth about how the bargaining process works. As a result, your Union was committed to investing more time being present and available in the stores to talk and work through the concerns of the membership.

What has transpired over the last few months has been incredible. A new wave of Union activism and engagement on the part of Local 881 members has occurred. What started with apathy and frustration ended with productive conversations. There were members that were OPPOSED to the direction of the new contract and there were others that were in FAVOR. Whether for or against, we are so proud that Local 881 members spoke up, asked good questions, came to meetings, called the office, talked to their coworkers, pushed for a better agreement, and most of all took the time to be involved in this process.

Going back to the negotiation table was a huge risk! We could have faced concessions and takeaways. But the committee was emboldened by the incredibly clear and vocal direction from the membership about needing to get to a better offer!

After several bargaining sessions, the negotiating committee was able to achieve their two most important goals:       

    1. Improve the offer; and
    2. Protect ALL previously hard-won contractual benefits

Contract improvements include:

    • No Takeaways! Absolutely nothing was conceded or taken away from our previous contractual benefits, rights, and protections.
    • Larger Initial Increases for Top of Scale members.
    • Premium Pay Increases for Personnel, Scan Coordinators, and Receivers.
    • Retro Pay for new contractual wage increases will be retroactive to July 31, 2022.
    • Wellness Rates Protected Within Albertson’s, Local 881 is the only Union to maintain this program that helps lower your healthcare costs.
    • Guaranteed annual wage increases for ALL members.
    • Considerable wage increases for Top of Scale and Overscale members.
    • Controlled costs for out-of-pocket health care expenses and deductibles.
    • Healthcare benefit eligibility reduced from 5 years to 3 years for part-timers.
    • New treatments added to health care plan.
    • Expanded funeral leave.

We want to recognize the hard work of the negotiating committee members. Their time and input have been invaluable. It’s not easy to stand up to your employer, but these brave members did. We are grateful for their service and dedication to the Union and to their fellow Jewel coworkers.

Now that the contract is signed, our work is NOT over, it is only just beginning. The future is uncertain. The industry is changing rapidly. The looming merger recently announced will become our Union’s top priority in working to OPPOSE any corporate power grab that could potentially impact our members’ livelihoods. 

We understand and expect that some Jewel members will be unhappy with the new contract, and with the Union. We know that we have work to do in earning your trust. If you’re angry, let’s talk about it. Come to a meeting, get involved, speak with your Union Rep, speak with President Powell, we are available and open to constructive criticism. With your passion, activism, and involvement we will only be stronger.

You might be upset with the Union, and you might not love or agree with everything we do, but the reality is we will always have your back. Your employer is busy trying to make every buck they can and would love nothing more than to see division within our ranks. We need to use ALL our collective strength for what is coming! We have been proud to represent Jewel workers for decades and we have never wavered from our commitment to protecting and fighting on your behalf.

It is our privilege to be at your service. Should you have any questions, please contact your Union Representative at 847-294-5064 to discuss any concerns you have.

Workers at Schnucks and Dierbergs Ratify New Contracts!

Congratulations to members of Schnucks and Dierbergs who voted to ratify their new contracts. Ballots were counted at the Edwardsville office by rank-and-file members. Four unique two-years contracts were voted on, including: Schnucks Metro Clerks, Schnucks Meat-Deli-Seafood, Dierbergs Metro Clerks, and Dierbergs Meat-Deli-Seafood.

Improvements included:

    • substantial wage increases upon ratification
    • increases the night premium pay
    • increases the Full-time job ratio requirement during the term of the Agreement
    • increases the Personal Holidays for Part-time members
    • improvements to your health care coverage with NO increase to your weekly insurance premium deduction
    • new language to provide the ability to pick up available hours in your store or other stores

Thank you to all the members who took the time to review the proposals and vote. The new contract is effective immediately and wages increases will be implemented on Monday, October 24, 2022.

If you have any questions about the new contract, please contact your Union Representative.