Workers Rights Amendment Passes in Illinois

The Associated Press officially projected the Workers’ Rights Amendment was passed by voters in this year's midterm election. Current projections show the amendment earning support 53% of all voters casting a ballot in the election, exceeding the simple majority of all voters threshold needed to pass.
The amendment received support from an overwhelming number of Illinoisans, with 58% of Illinoisans casting a ballot on the question voting yes.

"Chicago and Illinois demonstrated why we are national leaders in fighting for workers’ rights, and we look forward to partnering with allies across the country to bring the protections of the Workers’ Rights Amendment to workers across the country,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter. 

On behalf of UFCW Local 1546, we would like to thank all our union members and their families and friends who voted "Yes" for this historic amendment that will protect the freedom for Illinois workers to organize and bargain collectively for better wages, stronger safety protections at work, and more.

UFCW Statement on Proposed Kroger-Albertsons Merger

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement on the proposed Kroger-Albertsons Merger:

“The proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons has serious implications for hundreds of thousands of our UFCW members and America’s families who are more concerned than ever about inflation’s impact on the price of their food and groceries, prescription drugs, and gas. As America’s largest union of essential workers, protecting the livelihoods of this nation’s grocery workers, union and non-union, is our highest priority.

“Given the national impact such a merger would have, the UFCW and our Local Unions are discussing this and will stand together to prioritize the best interests of our members, their families, and the communities they proudly serve.

“To be clear, the UFCW will oppose any merger that threatens the jobs of America’s essential workers, union and non-union, and undermines our communities."

UFCW Outreach Creating Change Scholarship

OUTreach, the UFCW constituency group for LGBTQ+ and allies is offering scholarships to our UFCW members to attend the 2023 Creating Change Conference. Scholarship recipients will learn a broad range of social justice issues and develop skills to bring back to their workplaces and local unions. Past session topics include labor, gender equality, community organizing, criminal justice, immigrations and more. The conference will be held at the Hilton Union Square Hotel in San Francisco, California on February 17-23, 2023. Applications are being accepted through November 28, 2022 by clicking here

Union Organizing Victory at Half Price Books

On May 6, 2022, employees at the Half Price Book (HPB) Store in Niles, Illinois joined UFCW Local 1546 for a better life. The 16 workers represent the first group in the Chicagoland area that will hopefully open a new “chapter” of fellow retail bookstore members unionizing with our local.

I am extremely proud my coworkers and I voted yes for a union,” said Emily Lang, an employee at the Half Price Book Store in Niles. “I love my job. I love books. And I care about our customers. I value what this company stands for, but it's time for them to put these values into action and treat their workers better.” 

Emily and her coworkers chose UFCW Local 1546 because they were concerned about worker's safety, especially interacting with the public throughout the pandemic. They also stood in unity to demand better wages, fairness with a grievance procedure, and diversity, inclusion, and sensitivity training. 

“The employees from HPB have been extremely impressive throughout this process,” remarked UFCW Local 1546 organizer Diana Trujillo. “To watch them take full control and autonomy of their campaign, acknowledge their own power as workers, and stand united for the safety of all employees on the sales floor illustrates the power of a union in providing workers a real voice and a seat at the table.”

WTTW 11 Airs Show About Chicago Union Stockyards

WTTW Channel 11 released its latest Chicago Stories episode on the Union Stockyards, which is near and dear to many of our UFCW Local 1546 members working in the meatpacking and processing industries. The show also includes testimonial excerpts from UFCW Local 100A President Ruben Ramirez. 

About the Episode: At the end of the 19th century, Chicago completely transformed the way Americans eat, and the Union Stockyards on the South Side were the center of that revolution. Experience the sights, sounds, and awful smells of the Union Stockyards and the complex of meat factories next to it, known as Packingtown. As they modernized the process for getting affordable meat to the masses, the Stockyards also became the stage for ugly battles over the well-being of workers, and the safety of nation's food supply.

To view the episode, click here

UFCW 1546 Membership Meeting Dates 2022

Make plans to hear the latest union news including contract updates and event happenings by attending the next UFCW Local 1546 membership meeting.

All meetings in 2022 are being held at the Belvedere Banquets (1170 West Devon, Elk Grove Village, IL) beginning at 7:00 PM. The most current CDC guidelines will be enforced.

Can’t make it in person? No problem, as you are invited to attend a simultaneous “Zoom” UFCW Local 1546 membership meeting via webinar. Registration and meeting links will be sent in advance via text to the UFCW 1546 membership as well as posted on our website at

UFCW Local 1546 Membership Meetings for 2022

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2022
  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022
  • Tuesday, August 9, 2022
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Meatpacking Workers Will Receive $700 Million COVID-19 Relief Grant

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the Biden Administration, and Congressional Democratic leadership advocated on your behalf for the government to fund a COVID-19 relief program for meatpacking and poultry workers. Together, we secured funding for up to $600 for expenses per meatpacking and poultry worker with the USDA Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program. This federal grant will help meatpacking and poultry workers with costs like PPE, childcare, and expenses associated with quarantines and testing incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding from the USDA Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program should be available sometime this year. When funds are available for distribution, UFCW 1546 will assist our meatpacking worker members eligible for the funds to receive this federal grant.

Union Busting Exposed and Explained

The National Labor Relations Board recently ordered a union election do-over for Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama after finding that the company illegally interfered with the union election earlier this year. This is often cited as union busting. It's when employees try to organize a union for a better and more secure job, and employers often fight back strong – in the form of union-busting. To better understand this disturbing employer tactic, check  out Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s funny but informative video on union busting. You can check it out here:

In this video clip, John Oliver discusses the mechanics of union busting, why the companies who do it face so few consequences, and what it really means when your manager wants to talk to you about “your attendance.”

Tyson Rewards Members for Getting COVID Vaccine

UFCW Local 1546 members at the Tyson-Bruss plant in Chicago and Tyson-Joslin plant in the quad cities have had the chance to win thousands of dollars each week in recent company lotteries for receiving the COVID vaccine. Tyson which recently mandated the vaccine for its entire workforce nationwide affecting 26,000 workers not only has incentivized its workers with the lotteries but will also pay them up to 20 hours of sick leave in the first national U.S. agreement with the UFCW. As part of this deal, UFCW has ensured that Tyson’s vaccine mandate will be implemented fairly and protect the rights of workers by allowing for medical and religious exemptions where appropriate. To celebrate this new safety policy and to recognize everyone for getting their COVID shots, the Tyson-Bruss plant held a pizza party for our members during their lunch break this past month. Other celebratory events have and continue to be held at the Tyson-Joslin plant and the Tyson-Bruss plant. UFCW Local 1546 applauds the company's ongoing commitment to public health and its leadership efforts to secure the safety of our union members in the meatpacking industry.   

Kroger Members Approve New Contract

UFCW Local 1546 grocery, meat and seafood members at Kroger in Sterling, Ottawa and Streator, Illinois voted on August 30, 2021 to approve a new 4-year contract (June 19, 2020 - June 22, 2024). The agreement includes wage increases, signing bonuses and benefit improvements. 

Javier Ramirez Appointed to FMCS

We are proud to announce that Javier Ramirez, former UFCW Local 1546 Director of Meatpacking and Processing has been appointed by U.S. President Biden as a nominee for Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Javier is currently the Executive Manager of the FMCS Division of Agency Initiatives. Throughout his career, he has mediated disputes in all sectors of the economy (except air and rail) in professions such as the performing arts, public safety, professors, hospitality, hospitals, manufacturing, and packing houses. Javier also trained and successfully facilitated parties in various collaborative bargaining models, and most notably collaborated with colleagues to create the FMCS Affinity Bargaining model. Congratulations to our dear friend and labor colleague. On behalf of everyone here at UFCW Local 1546, we hope he receives a well-deserved and timely confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

UFCW 1546 Union Made Hot Dogs

Did you know UFCW 1546 members make Vienna Beef hot dogs, Maxwell-style polish sausages, and more right here in Chicago? Vienna Beef was founded in 1893 and the first hot dog recipe from this company was introduced at the Colombian Exposition World's Fair. Today, UFCW 1546 members produce over 104 million individual hot dogs and sausages at the Chicago facility each year. Other popular Vienna Beef products include italian beef, corned beef brisket, and Chipico pickles. 

To learn more about this legendary Chicago institution, visit its company website by clicking here.

Instacart Firing UFCW 1546 Workers

UFCW Local 1546 Calls on Instacart to Halt Effort to Eliminate Jobs of Essential Workers, Respect Right to Unionize

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other frontline industries, along with UFCW Local 1546 condemned the news that Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery workers who have been vital to protecting food access for Americans during the pandemic. 

As part of this move, the company is firing the only unionized Instacart workers in the country, who joined UFCW Local 1546 in February 2020. UFCW Local 1546 demanded that Instacart reconsider its decision to lay off any of the company’s essential workers during the pandemic. Instacart workers are among those designated as essential workers and successfully pressured the company to strengthen COVID-19 safety measures to protect them on the job as virus cases have continued to rise across the country.

“All across the country, Instacart grocery workers have been bravely serving on the frontlines since the pandemic began, putting their own health at risk to ensure Americans have the food they need during this crisis," said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. "Now, with COVID-19 outbreaks spiraling out of control, it is outrageous that Instacart would fire these courageous and hard-working men and women keeping our food supply secure," added Perrone.

UFCW Local 1546 is the union for Instacart workers in the Chicago area and condemned the recent move by the company to fire unionized Instacart workers and hundreds more across the country. Instacart announced in a letter that the company would be eliminating these jobs of essential workers. Instacart confirmed the following details:

  • Instacart currently has nearly 10,000 in-store shoppers (ISSs) nationwide who select and bag grocery orders at supermarkets.
  • Instacart grocery orders are then handed off by ISSs to a full-service shopper (FSS) for delivery. Instacart currently has approximately 500,000 FSSs who make deliveries.
  • Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery workers in the ISS category across the country, including the only unionized Instacart workers in the country, who joined UFCW Local 1546 in the Chicago area in February 2020.
  • Among those Instacart workers the company is firing are 366 ISS workers at Kroger-owned stores and over 1,500 ISS workers at other grocery chains nationwide.
  • Instacart has confirmed that the company expects to eliminate these jobs no sooner than mid-March 2021 and will be providing as little as $250 to the workers they fire.

UFCW is calling on Instacart to immediately halt the company’s plans to fire these workers and respect their rights to unionize for the protections they need.

Unionized workers enjoy the result of union organization and collective bargaining: higher wages; more and better benefits; more effective utilization of social insurance programs; and more effective enforcement of legislated labor protections such as safety, health, and overtime regulations. Unions also set pay standards and practices that raise the wages of nonunionized workers in occupations and industries where there is a strong union presence. Collective bargaining fuels innovations in wages, benefits, and work practices that affect both unionized and nonunionized workers.

UFCW 1546 Union Made Footballs

Did you know the leather for every single NFL football, including the ones that will be used in this year's Super Bowl, is crafted in Chicago, IL by members of UFCW Local 1546, who work at the Horween Leather Company? The hard-working men and women of the Horween Leather Company have been supplying the leather for every Super Bowl football since the very first in 1967. So sit back and enjoy the game knowing that your fellow union brothers and sisters play an integral part in this nationally televised matchup. 

To learn more, click here.

UFCW International Article - Vaccinations

The UFCW International featured UFCW Local 1546 in its latest article on how unions are hosting vaccination sites for its members. Our local union has partnered with the Union Medical Center to offer around 4,000 UFCW Local 1546 members the opportunity to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, and eventually their family members too, so that they do not have to put their own health at risk to ensure Americans have the food they need during this crisis.

To read the full article, click here.  

Midwest Fund Office Relocation

Please make note that the United Food & Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Funds’ Third Party Administrator, Zenith-American Solutions, is relocating its offices/operations to Oak Brook, IL.

Click Here for New Midwest Fund Office Location

Union Labor Timeline

1865 – Union Stock Yards open

1866 – National Labor Union founded

1867 – Illinois passed an act making Eight hours a legal day’s work

1869 – Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor and Colored National Labor Union formed

1877 – Knights of Labor chartered in Chicago

1886 – American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded

1886 – Haymarket Protest

1890 – Retail Clerks International Union, then known as the Retail Clerks

           National Protective Union, was chartered by the AFL

1903 – Women’s Trade Union League formed

1904 – Meat Packers Strike

1909 – Ten Hour day law for women passed in Illinois

1912 – Bill creating Department of Labor was passed

1913 – Federal Department of Labor established

1935 – National Labor Relations  Act passed

1935 – Illinois Six Day Work Week Law was passed

1935 – Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) formed within AFL

1937 – Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee (PWOC) created by CIO

1937 – Illinois Eight Hour Day Law for Women passed

1938 – Fair Labor Standards Act establishes first minimum wage and 40-hour week

1938 – Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) forms as an independent federation and splits from AFL

1943 – Illinois Equal Pay for Women Act passed

1943 – PWOC officially becomes United Packing- house Workers of America (UPWA) with its headquarters located in Chicago

1947 – Taft-Hartley Act restricts union members’ activities

1951 – United Leather Workers International Union merged with AMCBW

1955 – AFL-CIO merge back together

1955 – Stockyard Association of America merged with AMCBW

1955 – International Fur and Leather Workers  merged with AMCBW

1960 – National Agricultural Workers merged with AMCBW

1963 – Equal Pay Act bans wage discrimination based on gender

1964 – Civil Rights Act bans institutional forms of racial discrimination

1968 – UPWA merges with AMC & BW of NA

1970 – Chicago’s Union Stock Yard closed

1970 – Occupational Safety and Health Act passed

1971 – Illinois Minimum Wage Law passed

1972 – Coalition of Black Trade Unionists formed

1974 – Coalition of Labor Union Women founded in Chicago

1974 – A Professional Employees Division was established within the Retail Clerks Union which included the health care fields and related professions

1979 – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) was formed after a merger between Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Retail Clerks Union

2005—The UFCW left the AFL-CIO and Joined Change to Win

2013—The UFCW left Change to Win and re-joined the AFL-CIO

Is Loss Prevention Watching You?

In today’s ever competitive markets, reducing costs is a big priority.  It’s therefore no surprise that theft remains one of the fastest growing expenses facing retailers.

According to a survey conducted last spring of senior loss-prevention executives at many national grocery retailers, shoplifting accounted for 38% of the shrinkage, followed by employee theft at 34.5%. A majority of the respondents also said shoplifting was a growing problem.  Supermarkets and grocers lose the highest percentage of sales to shrinkage; seeing an average of 3.23% evaporate, or 2.5 times more than the industry average.  This in turn has caused companies to spend more on loss prevention than ever before.

Looking at other company trends, “U—Scan” also known as “self” check—out lanes have been installed at most of the retail grocery chains to help reduce labor costs.  Due to the theft associated with “self” check—out lanes, more and more sophisticated software and video surveillance techniques are being used to spot potential offenders.  Due to the increased scrutiny of the “U—Scan” lanes and the companies’ concern over employee theft, it is strongly recommended that when you need to purchase anything at work that you use the regular checkout lanes.  While your intention may be completely honest when checking out yourself, why even put yourself in a questionable spot? Don’t do it. Always have someone else check you out to avoid any form of suspicion.

Another area that loss prevention monitors closely is “found property theft.”  What is “found property theft?”  Found property theft occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned takes possession of the object, but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended.  In some jurisdictions, the crime is called “larceny by finding” or “stealing by finding.” Whenever you find an object in the store that seems to be abandoned, it is your responsibility to turn that item over to the appropriate designated personnel.  This pertains to all items, no matter how large or small.  It even includes items like change from the “U—Scan” lanes that a previous customer left behind.  Be smart. Don’t take chances…turn it in!

The overall message when it comes to loss prevention is that you, and not just the customer, are always being watched. So make sure to perform your job to your best ability.

How unions help all workers

Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation (wages & benefits) and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers.

Some of the ways unions help are:

  • Unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28%.
  • Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages even more for low and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.
  • Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.
  • The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.
  • The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.
  • Unionized workers receive more generous health benefits than nonunionized workers. They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.
  • Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.
  • Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).

In addition, unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. Because unionized workers are usually better informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Unions are therefore an intermediary institution that provides a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.

Unionized workers enjoy the result of union organization and collective bargaining: higher wages; more and better benefits; more effective utilization of social insurance programs; and more effective enforcement of legislated labor protections such as safety, health, and overtime regulations. Unions also set pay standards and practices that raise the wages of nonunionized workers in occupations and industries where there is a strong union presence. Collective bargaining fuels innovations in wages, benefits, and work practices that affect both unionized and nonunionized workers.

The Importance of Up-To-Date Information

As a member of Local 1546, you might assume that your employer automatically notifies your union of changes to pertinent information about you. But that’s not the case. In fact, it’s up to you. It is crucial that you make it a priority to keep your personal information accurate and up to date with Local 1546 for a number of key reasons. Help us help you. Whether you’ve gone through a name change due to marriage, moved to a new address, or decided to change your beneficiary, your local union, pension, and health & welfare offices all rely on you to provide notification of such changes. In today’s “electronic communication age,” your current email address is also becoming an important means of communication with any of these entities.

Your local union needs to have your updated street and email addresses in order to send periodic communications to you.   A perfect example is at the time of a union contract vote. If a contract vote is being done via mail but Local 1546 does not have your correct address, it makes it very difficult to get your ballot to you. Name changes can also affect the receipt of your own mail from the union. Many times, the post office will reject a piece of mail from being delivered because the recipient is not registered at that address. A wrong name can cause unintentional delays. Beneficiaries (names and contact information) should likewise be kept accurate and up to date so that your wishes are properly carried out if you qualify for a union life insurance policy.

The pension office and the welfare office are just as important as the local union office with respect to your personal information. Think about it: when the time arrives to file for your pension or for health & welfare benefits, the process works efficiently only if all the offices (union; pension fund; and health & welfare fund) have current information about you on file that can be verified. Remember, you are the one who benefits from accuracy. But you can also be inconvenienced by outdated information. Therefore, please take it upon yourself to always make sure that your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number(s) are promptly updated with all these offices whenever a change occurs.

It only takes a minute to make the call. Don’t delay…do it today!