February, 2014

Tell Kirk, Other Senators: Support Unemployed Workers, Restore Jobless Benefits

Call your Senators TODAY: 845-809-4509

In the past few weeks, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has shown a lot of love and respect for the 11 Illinois residents who recently competed for the United States at the Winter Olympic Games. Check out his Facebook page.  But, as many people who have left their comments there say, it’s time for Kirk to show some of the same respect and compassion for the state’s more than 99,000 jobless workers who lost their emergency unemployment benefits in December.

Call Kirk at 845-809-4509 if you live in Illinois and tell him the same thing.

You see, like the more than 1.7 million unemployed workers across the country, many jobless Illinois workers are no long receiving unemployment benefits because Republicans in Congress allowed the federal  emergency unemployment benefits program to expire Dec. 31, and Kirk was one of the majority of Republicans who voted against renewing the program in January and again this month.

But, as soon as Thursday, Kirk and other Republicans will have a chance to do the right thing and vote on a bill to restore the emergency unemployment benefits program that provides a lifeline to workers after their state benefits run out—usually 26 weeks, but now less than that in many states, thanks to Republican state lawmakers.

Kirk—who has indicated he might support a restoration—is a key vote, along with Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.).  If you live in Illinois, Ohio or Indiana, please call Kirk, Portman or Coats today at 845-809-4509 and tell them hundreds of thousands of their constituents and more than 1.7 million Americans need their votes. No matter where you live, please call your senators using the number above and tell them the same thing.  Another 1.9 million Americans will out of benefits by June if the program is not restored.

Here are just a few examples of what Illinois voters are telling Kirk on his Facebook page:

Annie Kiser: You have MANY Republican constituents out of work 26+ weeks. THEY VOTE and your “no” on #EUC will cost you, Mr. Kirk #RENEWUI

Annemarie Purcell Diola: Please push for the extended unemployment benefits as soon as possible. My unemployment ran out the 3rd week of December, where I was approved for 10 weeks of Tier 1 EUC, was only able to collect 1 week of it. I have worked my entire life and followed the rules, but my family is suffering!

Michael Greenberger: And A LOT of veterans were unemployed when you PULLED THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER THEM. Why don’t you support jobless people?

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Organize for America Tells Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage


Rep. Jan Schakowsky calls on Sen. Kirk to honor his commitment to extend unemployment benefits.

On Wednesday, OFA-Illinois volunteers called on Congress to raise the minimum wage and and extend unemployment insurance.  They were joined at the Federal Plaza by Rep. Jan Schakowsky to make their point: If you work full-time in America, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.

Joseph Phillips, an unemployed Vietnam veteran who recently lost unemployment benefits thanks to Congress’ failure to renew them at the end of last year, urged Sen. Mark Kirk to reinstate them and support the minimum wage increase.  “I know so many families who are struggling like me and depend on unemployment insurance to help them out until they find jobs that pay a living wage. So I ask you, please, Sen. Kirk, as a fellow veteran yourself, have compassion. All we are asking is a little help. Families and veterans alike are hurting. We need good jobs that pay a living wage. Please renew unemployment benefits and raise the minimum wage to $10.10. I don’t think that’s asking too much, coming from a veteran who served this country honorably.”

Kim Brown of Rogers Park, who lost her job in 2011 when it was outsourced to Cleveland, Ohio, lost her own extended unemployment benefits early due to sequester cuts.  She had to rely on family and friends for help after exhausting her life savings and retirement funds. She is now employed part-time at only a third of her former salary, making just over Illinois’ minimum wage.

“I’m having a very hard time just paying my rent each month and have continued to borrow money from friends and family to get by,” said Brown. “I’ve been looking for a second job since September to supplement but haven’t been able to find one of those yet, while also continuing to look for a more suitable full-time job. I don’t understand why it is so impossible to find a full-time job that pays a livable wage and provides basic benefits like paid sick and vacation days and health insurance. Even though I am working full time, I still qualify for Medicaid and food stamps.”

Brian Cerullo, a 2010 Northeastern University graduate, works a minimum wage job at a Wicker Park bakery. “I work as many hours as my bosses will give me–30 hours a week–and I can barely pay my rent every month. I haven’t been to the doctor in over eight months, even though I needed to a few times. I can’t miss work, because then I can’t eat, let alone pay for a visit to a healthcare provider.”

Cerullo has worked a variety of jobs since he graduated, but none of them paid enough for him to do more than scrape by. His goal is to go back to school and get a master’s in social work with a specialization in counseling, but he has not been able to save enough money. “I work in a bakery because I can take home whatever pastries we don’t sell, but I haven’t heard of any schools accepting croissants as tuition payments,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have the resources to become a psychologist for a long, long time. I’m more than willing to work, and work hard.”

“Raising the minimum wage plays a big part in improving our communities,” said Gloria Warner, an Englewood resident and president of the community organization Action Now. “When workers make a living wage they can put money back into the local economy. When the minimum wage is raised, everyone wins: workers, neighbors, businesses and the economy.”

“I want to send this message verbally to Senator Kirk to extend unemployment insurance,” said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “And its not just for the 105,000 Illinoisans who would benefit from having a check, but it also means that the state would not lose close to $200 million dollars in money that would come to those people …that they would immediately go out and spend. Sen. Kirk said if that bill was paid for…that he would vote for it. Not only did he vote no, but he broke his promise to the country and the people of Illinois.”

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Poll Shows Americans Think Executives’ Pay Is Too High

ExecutivePayA new poll by YouGov/Huffington Post shows 66 percent of Americans think the pay of top corporate executives and CEOs is too high.

In the past few decades, CEO pay has skyrocketed while the average worker’s pay has stagnated despite increases in productivity.

Few Americans think they will ever enter the ranks of the highest paid, according to the poll which was conducted as part of a new Huffington Post project called Pay Pals, a database of the salaries paid to top executives and board members at every Fortune 100 company.

By a margin of 71 percent to 14 percent, Americans said they think the government is actually doing more to help major corporations than the poor.

On Jan. 30, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan proposed cutting the corporate tax in half which would cost the state $1.5 billion in revenue.

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Senate Fails to Renew Emergency Unemployment Aid

Attempts to reach a compromise on extending unemployment insurance (UI) failed as Republicans voted against the 1.7 million Americans still looking for work who were cut off when their benefits expire in December.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) was among those voting against extending unemployment insurance, turning his back on the thousands of workers laid off from Dominick’s.

The bill compromised on several areas considering it reduced the extension from one-year to three months and it was fully paid for using an offset that Republicans support.

“The bill fell short by one Republican vote. Just one vote prevented 1.7 million Americans from receiving a desperately needed lifeline,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Click here to see how other Senators voted.


UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.


Dominick’s Updates

UFCW Local 1546 is working to bring you all of the latest updates on what’s happening with Dominick’s.

Latest Updates:

  • Jewel-Osco picks up five Dominick’s stores: 1763 Howard Street in Chicago; 424 W. Division in Chicago; 3243 S. 115th St in Merrionette Park; 800 NW Highway in Fox River Grove; and 345 S. Rand Road in Lake Zurich.
  • Shop & Save Market has purchased the Dominick’s store in Norwood Park.
  • Heinen’s Fine Foods has purchased the Dominick’s stores in Bannockburn and Lake Bluff.
  • workNet DuPage is holding a Dominick’s Post-Layoff Workshop, February 24, 2014 @ 1PM at the workNet DuPage Career Center in Lisle.  They will have a speaker from Illinois Dept of Employment Security speaking about Illinois’ unemployment insurance program, US Dept of Labor speaking about worker right’s under COBRA, HIPAA & ERISA and Susi Pihera, DuPage County Workforce Development, speaking about the employment & training services available through the Dislocated Worker Program-Workforce Investment Act.
  • 39 Dominick’s stores remain unsold. Click here for a map of Dominick’s locations and who has purchased them.
  • Seven empty Dominick’s stores have been acquired by Whole Foods Market: Edgewater, 6009 N. Broadway; Lincoln Park, 959 W. Fullerton Ave.; Streeterville, 255 E. Grand Ave.; West Loop, 1 N. Halsted St.; Elmhurst, 215 S. Route 83; Evanston, 2748 Green Bay Road; and Willowbrook, 6300 S. Kingery Highway
  • Garden Fresh Market has purchased the Dominick’s store at 770 S. Buffalo Grove Rd, Buffalo Grove.
  • Tony’s Finer Foods Inc. is taking over one empty Dominick’s store: 5233 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
  • Four former Dominick’s grocery store locations have been purchased by Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market: Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village and Northbrook.
  • Cermak Fresh Market has purchased the empty Dominick’s store at 6623 N. Damen Ave., Chicago and 6810 N. McCormick Blvd., Lincolnwood.
  • Pete’s Fresh Market has purchased the Dominick’s at: 259 Lake St., Oak Park.
  • Severance is being paid this week. Employees with direct deposit will see it on Thursday. Those without direct deposit will get a paper check in the mail. Premium (if applicable) and holiday pay will also go out this week (severance is a separate check/payment). Term vacation will be paid next week, this will be a paper check for all employees. Retro pay, to be determined; but as soon as possible.
  • If you have questions about the Affordable Care Act you can contact the Chicago Federation of Labor Workers Assistance Committee for ACA questions and enrollment. They have on site navigators who can assist with direct enrollment. Call their Chicago Office at 312-565-9431 or their Westchester Office at 708-344-3539.
  • Safeway/Dominick’s has provided a list of contact info for things like: W-2 Forms, Payroll Issues, Unemployment, Employment Verification, Benefit Information,  Reference Letter and 401(k) questions. Click here for the Contact List.
  • As a result of effects bargaining with Safeway/Dominick’s a lump sum payment will be made to eligible members over and above contract-mandated severance. Members that are eligible for lump sum payment are department heads/classified positions, members at top contract rates or overscale/red circle according to the Retail, Drug, or Fuel contracts. According to the agreement, the lump sum payment will be made as soon as reasonably practicable following the execution of the Agreement by the parties, and will be subject to applicable withholdings.
  • The Illinois workNet Center now has a specific page for Dominick’s workersClick here to go to their resource page.
  • Roundy’s, Inc. announced the company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 11 Dominick’s stores from Safeway Inc. The stores will be converted to the Mariano’s banner. Stores include: Park Ridge: 1900 S. Cumberland Ave, Western Springs: No. 14 Garden Market Street, Chicago: 3145 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago: 2021 W. Chicago Ave, Northfield: 1822 Willow Rd, Westchester: 3020 S. Wolf Rd, Buffalo Grove: 450 Half Day Rd, Chicago: 5201 N. Sheridan Rd, Gurnee: 6655 Grand Ave, Aurora: 3025 E. New York St, Shorewood: 950 Brook Forest Ave.
  • According to the Mariano’s conference call: Five of the stores will reopen within 30-45 days. Five of the stores will reopen by early March, 2014. The Westchester store will reopen in late 2014 after a major remodel. All of the stores will be remodeled over the next two years.

Dominick’s Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my pension?
Your pension is protected by the PBGC and will be there when you are ready to retire. Safeway Inc. and Dominick’s are required by law to meet their withdrawal liability obligation to the pension fund. Any further questions on pension contact Midwest Pension Fund for clerks UFCW National Pension Fund for meat, fish and deli.

What happens to my 401k?
Your 401k is protected. The Safeway Inc. 401k is managed by JP Morgan. If your store changes owners or is closed you should consult a financial advisor or accountant about how to manage your 401k.

What happens to my health insurance coverage?
If you are a clerk that currently has health insurance coverage through Dominick’s they are required to provide three (3) months of contributions to your health fund per your collective bargaining agreement.
If your store changes owners you may have health insurance through that new employer.
Health insurance is available under the Affordable Care Act. You can get more information at GetCoveredIllinois.gov.

Will I receive severance once my store closes? Will I be able to cash out sick and/or vacation times once my store closes?
Severance, sick and vacation time are all covered under your collective bargaining agreement. UFCW Local 1546 has requested to bargain the effects of store closures which is mandatory by law.

Do I have any bumping rights?
Employees continue to have bumping rights during a layoff per the collective bargaining agreement.

What obligation does another company have to hire me if they buy my store?
As of this time, the way Dominick’s is selling their stores; there is no obligation to hire workers.

What happens if my store is bought by a union grocery store?
If your store is bought by Jewel or Strack & Van Til (Ultra Foods), we will be working with those companies under our existing collective bargaining agreement.
If your store is bought by Kroger (Food 4 Less), we will work with you to organize the non-union Food 4 Less and negotiate a new contract.

What happens if my store is bought by a non-union grocery store?
If your store is bought by another non-union grocery store you will not have a collective bargaining agreement or any union benefits. In order to negotiate a union contract you will need to sign a recognition card with UFCW Local 1546. Once a majority of workers have signed cards we will submit those to the National Labor Relations Board and call for an election. By sticking together and voting “union yes” you and your co-workers will be able to negotiate a new contract and ensure that you have a voice at work. Click here if you want more information about how to keep your rights at work.

Am I eligible for unemployment?
If your store closes you should file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security for unemployment benefits.

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.

Governor Quinn Announces Loan to Support New Union Jobs at John Hofmeister & Son Inc.

Photo by Harvey Tillis

Gov. Quinn speaks with UFCW Local 1546 member Jose Diaz who has worked at John Hofmeister & Son for 35 years.

Governor Pat Quinn announced today that a $2 million loan from the state will allow John Hofmeister & Son Inc., a family-owned manufacturer on the West Side, to expand and add union jobs as it enters new markets.

The state loan is part of a $9 million financing package led by Village Bank & Trust of Arlington Heights. The money will allow the company to pay off old debt, acquire new equipment and hire 25 workers. Hofmeister, which does business as Hof Haus, employs on average about 80 people, with many belonging to the United Food & Commercial Workers Union or the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy. This project represents our commitment to help family-owned businesses thrive,” said Governor Quinn. “Our work with the banking community produces attractive options for financing so that small companies, especially our manufacturers, can create good jobs and serve as a dynamic growth engine for our state.”

The state’s loan comes through the Advantage Illinois program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

“Advantage Illinois is a shot in the arm to our small businesses,” said DCEO Director Adam Pollet. “Enhancing business access to capital is a top priority for Illinois. It gets entrepreneurs and small businesses starting up or expanding and creating quality jobs at a faster rate.”

“We want to thank Governor Quinn for helping to make possible Advantage Illinois and the loan which will create 25 new union jobs here at John Hofmeister & Son,” said Eric Bailey, spokesperson for UFCW Local 1546. “If we are going to end income inequality in our state it can only happen by creating good paying union jobs, raising the minimum wage and mandating paid sick leave. Governor Quinn understands that Illinois needs jobs that pay a living wage, not tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Corporations like Safeway Inc. shut down Dominick’s grocery stores and laid off thousands of workers to maximize shareholder profits at the expense of middle class families and our communities. Corporations had their opportunity to create jobs and they chose profits over people. With programs like the Governor’s Advantage Illinois, our state is making an investment in people and small businesses and building a path to prosperity.”

Hofmeister was founded in Chicago more than 60 years ago and produces ham, pork and turkey products under private labels and the brand “Old Warsaw.” Its customers include delis, food service providers, school lunch programs and food assistance programs under government contracts. It plans to expand into more retail chains and into the Hispanic market.

The manufacturer recently earned the USDA Hub Zone “Contractor of the Year Award” for its customer service, quality control and expedient delivery record.

“We are proud and thankful to work together with Governor Quinn as well as Village Bank & Trust to keep small family-owned businesses in Chicago alive,” said Matt Hofmeister, the company’s chief executive officer. “Not only will Hof Haus continue to bring jobs to the West Side, it will attract more consumers to our community where they will support the local economy.”

Governor Quinn said that while Illinois’ economy has diversified beyond its historical strengths in manufacturing and agriculture, growth in factory production has played a large role in the state’s recovery from the recent recession. More than 577,000 workers in the state, about 10 percent of the total employment base, are engaged in manufacturing. The sector has added 25,000 jobs since January 2010.

UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.