Kroger/Albertsons Merger Update

As you are aware, Kroger, the parent company of Mariano’s, has been working toward a merger with Albertsons, the parent company of Jewel-Osco.

The initial proposals and plans presented to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year were rejected. The companies have announced a NEW PROPOSAL for review which includes more detailed information about their strategy.

To be clear, a proposal is NOT A DONE DEAL. The FTC will scrutinize the proposal and have the authority to approve or reject.  The companies can announce whatever they like, but the FTC has the final say so! A national merger on this scale is extremely complicated and the review process is lengthy. The companies cannot move forward with any actions until the FTC rules.

The latest merger proposal includes divestiture of 31 Mariano’s stores and 4 Jewel-Osco stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers. 13 Mariano’s stores will be retained by Kroger. See the list of impacted stores below.

Proposed Jewel-Osco Stores to be acquired by CNS
Store #Address
02241537 N Larkin, Joliet, IL 60435
305312803 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights, IL 60463
309812001 S. Pulaski, Alsip, IL 60803
318187 W 87th Street, Chicago, IL 60620
Proposed Mariano's Stores to be acquired by CNS
Store #Address
501802 East Northwest Highway Arlington Heights, IL 60004
5021720 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills, IL 60061
5043350 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618
505545 N. Hicks Road, Palatine, IL 60067
5075353 N Elston, Chicago, IL 60630
50921001 S Lagrange Rd, Frankfort, IL 60423
511678 N. York Street Elmhurst, IL 60126
513625 S Main St, Wheaton, IL 60187
5141350 East Route 22, Lake Zurich, IL 60047
5151800 West Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
51711000 S Cicero Avenue, Oak Lawn, IL 60453
5225201 N Sheridan Rd Chicago, IL 60640
5236655 Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL 60031
5241822 Willow Rd, Northfield, IL 60093
5251900 S Cumberland Avenue, Park Ridge, IL 60068
526950 Brook Forest Avenue, Shorewood, IL 60404
5283020 Wolf Rd, Westchester, IL 60154
5294700 Gilbert Ave., Western Springs, IL 60558
5313358 W Touhy Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076
533784 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062
5341500 N. Clybourn Ave. #C104, Chicago, IL 60610
5359504 142Nd Street, Orland Park, IL 60462
536150 W. 63Rd St., Westmont, IL 60559
5371300 S. Naper Blvd. Naperville, IL 60540
5383030 N. Broadway Suite 100 Chicago, IL 60657
5393857 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Chicago, IL 60653
540144 S. Gary Ave., Bloomingdale, IL 60108
54110 E Golf Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016
5422999 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn, IL 60015
543345 W. Roosevelt Ave. Lombard, IL 60148
544105 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Proposed Mariano's Stores to be retained by Kroger
Store #Address
503333 E. Benton Pl Chicago, IL 
506 2575 Golf Rd Hoffman Estates IL 60169
508 40 S Halsted Chicago 60661
5107401 W. Lawrence Ave. Harwood Heights IL 60706
512 1615 S Clark Chicago IL  60616
516 2112 W. Ashland Chicago, IL  60614
518 25 Waukegan Rd.Glenview, IL  60025
519 3025 E. New York St. Aurora IL  60504
520 3145 So. Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL  60608
521 450 Half Day Rd. Buffalo Grove IL  60089
527 2021 W. Chicago Ave  Chicago, IL  60622
530 2559 W. 95th St.  Evergreen Park, IL  60805
532 2323 Capital Dr. Northbrook, IL  60062

The merger proposal also includes language that would protect existing Local 881 collective bargaining agreements. This includes wages, benefits, and health and welfare.

As we wait for the FTC’s ruling, Local 881 is actively monitoring this situation. Until the approval is granted, there will not be specific answers to all potential member concerns. Please know, Local 881’s chief mission, from the moment this merger was announced, has been to protect the members of Local 881 and their families.

Now more than ever, we need to stand together!

If you have questions on the merger or any other concern, please call your Union Representative at 847-294-5064. It is Local 881’s privilege to be at your service.

2024 Scholarship Winners

Meet Local 881 Charitable Foundation Scholarship Winners

Five students were awarded academic scholarships by the UFCW Local 881 Charitable Foundation in June 2024. Scholarships were awarded to members and their children, with an Overall Excellence award given to the student with the highest score across all applicants. Recipients were chosen based on academic excellence, extracurricular activities, community service, and a written essay that demonstrated knowledge of a labor-related topic.

Kaitlyn DeLonker
Overall Excellence
$4,000 award

Kaitlyn is the daughter of Rebekah DeLoncker, and is the recipient of the Overall Excellence award and received a $4,000 scholarship. Kaitlyn will be a Freshman at University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, studying Chemical Engineering.

Union Representative: Mike Ambrozewicz

Marko Ljuboja
$1,000 award

Marko is the son of Sladjana Ljuboja, and is the recipient of the 881Charitable Foundation Scholarship Award and received a $1,000 scholarship. He will be a Junior at DePaul University, studying Computer Science.

Union Representative: Corey Farrell

Megan Wong
$1,000 award

Megan is a member and is the recipient of the 881 Charitable Foundation Scholarship award and received a $1,000 scholarship. She will be a Freshman at Northwestern University, studying Biology.

Union Representative: Eric Hernandez

Colin Meadows
$1,000 award

Colin is a member and is the recipient of the 881 Charitable Foundation award and received a $1,000 scholarship. He will be a Freshman at Southern Illinois University, studying Business.

Union Representative: Mary Hajek

“Local 881 is proud to recognize these students for their outstanding academic and community achievements,” said Steve Powell, President, Local 881 and UFCW International Vice President. “Not only are they top-notch students, they also represent the labor community positively.  I feel that our future is in good hands with these students who will contribute great things to our world. Best wishes to all of the scholarship winners and their families. A special thanks to our judges who did an outstanding job of reviewing and scoring each of the applications carefully.”

Local 881 prides itself on having a completely independent review process. We invite judges from outside our organization to review the applications and select the winners. This year, the judges included:

Clint Brown,
Retired, Union Representative and Executive Board Member UFCW

Therese Murphy,
Retired Administrative Coordinator for Niles Township High Schools District 219

Alyssa Goodstein,
Communications Director for the Illinois AFL-CIO

Mary Beth Canty,
State Representative for Illinois District 54

Congratulations to the winners and best wishes for the school year!

Information regarding the 2025 UFCW Local 881 Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program will be coming soon. 

Paul Schaefer, Local 881’s Secretary-Treasurer Announces Retirement

Thirty-five years ago, then President Ron Powell drove to the Local 881 Edwardsville Office to sit down with me for an interview. That interview turned into several hours of conversation, with President Powell and me talking about what it takes to represent the members of Local 881. He explained how this was not a “job” but rather a 24/7 way of life, including nights, weekends, on the road up and down the state and elsewhere.

At the conclusion of our conversation, he asked me to go home to discuss everything we had just talked about with my wife and to let him know if “we” would be committed to this way of life. I did that and a few days later, President Powell offered me a position as a Union Representative with Local 881.

Throughout my thirty-five-year career, I have tried to represent the membership of Local 881 and the Labor Movement, to the best of my abilities. I may not have always been right, but I always kept the best interests of the membership in mind. It is that mindset that I encourage all the current staff at Local 881, both those who work in the office and those in the field, to think about, adopt and adhere to, every day.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Ron Powell for his trust in me and giving me the opportunity to join the staff of Local 881 thirty-five years ago.

I would like to say “Thank You” to President Steve Powell for also having the trust in me the past thirty-five years and most recently, the past five years, by giving me the opportunity to serve as the Secretary-Treasurer of this great organization. I can only hope that I have served well, and I believe that I am leaving Local 881 in an outstanding position to be a strong advocate for our members in the years to come.

I would like to say “Thank you” to the Local 881 Executive Board for your trust and support over the past thirty-five years. It has truly been an honor to work with you and for you.

I would like to say “Thank You” to the many staff whom I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, both upstate and downstate. It has been an honor to be able to work with so many great people.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Patricia Vardalos and the accounting department. As the Local 881 Comptroller, Patricia guided this organization for more than my thirty-five years, but she has worked with me and guided me for the past five years in my role as Secretary-Treasurer and I appreciate the work she and her team does each day.

Most importantly, I would like to say “Thank You” to the membership of Local 881. It has been such an honor and a pleasure getting to meet, work with and for so many great people. Many of you, I would like to believe I can consider my “friend.” While we may not have always agreed over the years, whether it was a grievance or the negotiations of your union contract, I hope that you all know that my motivation was always to protect the interests of ALL the members of Local 881. I genuinely appreciate the trust that you have given me throughout my career, and I hope that I have had a positive impact on the lives of you and your family.

One final note; my decision to retire has been both difficult and simple at the same time. Difficult, because as I start a new chapter in my life, it is scary to think about how my daily life will change after thirty-five years of doing something that I enjoyed and knowing that I will miss all of you. Simple, because I know that with the leadership of President Steve Powell and the entire Local 881 team, up and down the state, you are in great hands.

So, thank you all, again, for thirty-five great years!

Fraternally & sincerely,


Paul D. Schaefer

Life Member of Local 881

Local 881 thanks Paul for his 35 years of service, and will continue to honor his lasting impact on our Union.

Effective July 1st, Bill O’Keefe was appointed as our new Secretary-Treasurer. Read more about him here.  

Celebrating Our 25 Year Members

by Steve Powell, President, Local 881 and UFCW International Vice President

For the past 18 years, we have made a point to recognize those with 25 years or more of Union membership with Local 881. Whether you have been a member for five days or 50 years, Local 881 is proud to serve you and thanks you for your dedication and support. As I said at each of the celebration events, I firmly believe that those with 25 years or more of service in Local 881’s membership are the ones who have built the companies and made them what they are today. We also believe that the lessons of the past help us build a strong foundation for the future. 

Members shared how they look forward to these luncheons every year because they can see friends that they haven’t seen for years. A highlight of the event was member Robert Folz from Jewel 805 (#0127) – Dyer, IN, who kept his original letter of acceptance for his part-time job at Jewel; he celebrated 60 years with us this year! He was hired in the 1960’s, and he shared how much everything has changed throughout the years. He greatly values the Union for its service and protection, and credits Local 881 with helping to protect him and his fellow members no matter the number of years of service. 

Robert Folz from Jewel 805 (#0127) – Dyer, IN and his original letter of acceptance for a position at Jewel.

On April 29 and 30, 2024, Local 881 honored members with 25 years or more of Union membership with luncheons in Elk Grove Village and Hickory Hills, Illinois. Earlier in April, we held similar celebrations for our members in Central and Southern Illinois. All combined, over 800 members came together for a delicious meal and to reminisce with coworkers. This year, in total, over 3,200 members were eligible to attend the anniversary celebrations! That represents over 10% of our total membership. 

At the celebrations, in addition to a great meal, members received a special Union button that reflected their years of membership and had the opportunity to win some fabulous door prizes. Year after year, these events continue to be very popular with Local 881 members. We look forward to welcoming more members to these events in the future.

To see all the photos from each of the anniversary events, and to view pictures from previous years, visit and like the Local 881 Facebook page at

As always, it is an honor and our great privilege to represent you. We encourage you to take advantage of all that the Union has to offer you. 

FlashPoints in Labor History

by Paul Schaefer, Secretary-Treasurer, Local 881

Our Labor family is responsible for many things we take for granted; workers’ rights, the abolition of child labor, workplace safety regulations, and equal pay for equal work. But it was not without a fight! Read about some of the jaw-dropping moments and figures in Labor History which are worth reflecting on.



Labor Trailblazer Mother Jones Leading a Union Protest

No stranger to hardship, Mary Harris Jones survived the Irish Potato Famine, lost her entire family to yellow fever,  and watched her home and dressmaking business go up in flames in the Great Chicago Fire. As the city rebuilt, Jones began her work within the Labor Movement. She dedicated the rest of her life to the fight for workers. She fought fiercely for coal miners and railroad workers and especially for children, even into her late 90’s.

Jones organized strikes, marched alongside miners, welcomed African Americans, women, and children in strikes, and spoke out against unjust working conditions. Those in power called her dangerous, for how successfully she organized workers, and the workers called her Mother because of the way she cared for those she helped.

A true Labor legend, she said to men who were hesitant to fight “I have been in jail more than once and I expect to go again. If you are too cowardly to fight, I will fight.” 



Many Women Who Died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 Were Young Immigrants

On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a deadly fire broke out on the upper floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City.  

Firefighters tried their best to help the workers, but they were unable to reach the top floors in time because of the short height of their ladders. The owners horrifically had locked the fire escape doors.  Within a half an hour, 146 workers—mostly young women— were killed either trapped by smoke and flames or from jumping to their deaths to escape. 

The next morning throughout New York’s garment district over 15,000 shirtwaist workers walked out, effectively shutting down the garment industry. The workers demanded a 20% pay raise, a 52-hour workweek, safer conditions, and overtime pay. 

The struggle and spirit of the women strikers caught the attention of many! Other workers followed their lead and this tragedy paved the way for modern worker safety laws and protections.



UFCW Local 881 Union Members Protesting Jewel Corporate

In 1984, Local 881 faced its own fierce Labor battle. Shortly after ratifying a new contract, Jewel asked for wage concessions to be made, citing fierce competition within the grocery industry. The Union of course refused. 

Jewel went ahead and unilaterally and illegally enacted drastic wage cuts in direct violation of the contract. They cut as much as $1.25 an hour for workers.

Local 881 fought back. The Union immediately filed charges against Jewel and the company counter filed. Within 48 hours the Union held a member meeting with over 2,800 members in attendance. Members volunteered for picket lines and trained to help with the crisis. 

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.

What can we learn from the past?

Ron Powell, our longest serving Local 881 President, had these words for Union members shortly after the crisis in 1984: 

We must never grow complacent. We should never take for granted the things we have, especially those that we have fought long and hard to obtain. There will always be people waiting in the wings to try taking these things away from us, or to keep us from acquiring them in the first place. That means we must always be ready and willing to fight! Not only for the things we want and deserve, but to protect those we already have.” 

Ongoing Mariano’s / Kroger Payroll Issue: Dues Deduction Error

For over a year, payroll glitches and errors have been a constant issue at Kroger and Mariano’s. Payroll system mistakes have been made at the corporate level, impacting nearly all 500,000 employees nationwide, including management.

Unfortunately, this week Local 881 members at Kroger and Mariano’s stores noticed another error on their May 31st paystubs. This time, Union Dues were not deducted. The company has informed us that this error will be corrected on the next pay stub (June 6th).

As a reminder, the Union does not have any control over your employer’s payroll system. However, when and if there is a payroll error, the Union is committed to holding the company accountable. Whether it’s a wrong deduction or missing wages, the Union will fight to make sure the issue is resolved. We firmly believe you work hard for your paycheck, and you deserve it to be calculated and paid out correctly.  

The Union filed and won hundreds of grievances in response to these previous payroll issues at Kroger and Mariano’s. Local 881 was successful in resolving issues with member payroll including:

    • Not receiving paychecks
    • Paychecks with incorrect wages
    • Not receiving contractual wage increases
    • Unlawful deduction of overpayments
    • Missing contractual holiday pay, and
    • Union dues being deducted incorrectly

As a reminder, the best way to protect your wages is to monitor every paycheck closely! If you ever suspect a payroll issue or have a concern, call your Union Representative immediately!

Workers at CVS Ratify New Three-Year Contract!

Catherine, a Local 881 member from CVS 3940 (#5532) in Chicago counts the ratification ballots.

We are proud to share that the CVS Contract has been ratified! 

On March 8, members from the Local 881 Bargaining Committee counted ALL ballots received. We are pleased to report that the new contract has been approved and accepted by an overwhelming majority of CVS members. The new contract lasts for three years.

The new improvements were informed by the concerns of Local 881 members, was negotiated alongside members, was voted on only by active Local 881 members, and the ballots was also counted by members. This is what Union democracy is all about. 

Highlights of the new CVS Contract:

      • Considerable Wage Increases for ALL members over the life of the contract.
      • Significant overscale annual increases.
      • Suburban members will now have the same contract wage table as other CVS members.
      • Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday added, increasing paid holidays to seven.
      • Improved eligibility language for severance provisions.
      • Expanded Funeral Leave to include paid time off for the death of great-grandparents.
      • Enhanced Language for additional hours to be distributed by Seniority.

Thank you to all the members who took the time to review the proposals and vote. The new contract is effective immediately and you will receive printed copies soon.

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.

Honoring Dr. King and His Advocacy for Workers

On January 15th, 2024, as a nation, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his many accomplishments and the significant impact he made on the rights of the American people. Among his fight for equality for people of all races, Dr. King also deeply cared and advocated for the right of workers and Unions. As workers, our Union has benefited from Dr. King’s dream and work toward a more just society.

Dr. King's Support for Unions and Labor Workers

    • King was supporting a peaceful union struggle for striking sanitation workers at the time of his assassination in Memphis, TN. 
    • Dr. King said at the Illinois AFL-CIO Convention, “When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over our nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.”
    • He also mentioned in his speech in 1967 how workers “pressed into these services need union protection, and the union movement needs their membership to maintain its relative strength in the whole society.”

The Life and Work of Martin Luther King Jr.

    • King was not the only member of this family to be assassinated. His mother, Alberta Williams King, was shot and killed in 1974 in her Atlanta church while playing the organ.
    • King was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and a Medal of Freedom. He was also awarded a Grammy in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album, “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”
    • King is to date the youngest male to win a Nobel Peace Prize, winning at the age of 35 in 1964. 
    • When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, his speech included the famous statement, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
    • King donated all of the $54,123 (about $400,000 today) he received for Nobel Peace Prize to the Civil Rights Movement. 
    • King improvised parts of the famous “I Have A Dream” speech in August 1963. Towards the end of the speech, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson prompted him to speak about the “dream”. 
    • King’s autopsy revealed that stress had taken a major toll on his body. Despite being just 39 at the time of his death, one of the doctors noted that he had the “heart of a 60 year old”. 
    • Today, over 900 streets in the United States are named after Martin Luther King Jr. with one such street in almost every major city. This is not even counting the number of buildings, schools, etc. named after him. 
    • King is the only non-president with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
    • Martin Luther King Jr. is also celebrated in Toronto, Canada and Hiroshima, Japan. 
    • It was not until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday itself was originally signed into federal law by President Reagan, with the first holiday held on January 20, 1986.

Dr. King’s activism and vision have strengthened the rights of America’s working families and will continue to challenge and inspire generations to come. 

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.