Does UFCW Speak For Its Members?


UFCW union bosses are not practicing what they preach, according to a report by the Manhattan Institute’s Economics21 division.  Here’s the story:
The United Food and Commercial Workers union is funding campaigns to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 and unionize fast food workers. But an examination of UFCW contracts with the Kroger Company show that entry-level workers represented by UFCW are paid close to the current minimum wage, never reaching $15 an hour. Even managers with six years of experience do not earn $15 an hour.
The UFCW funds organizations such as the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Jobs with Justice.  ROC supports the “Fight for Fifteen” protests, which demand that restaurants pay an hourly minimum wage of $15. Jobs with Justice advocates a “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour, along with health benefits and full-time positions for those who want them. Jobs with Justice and its affiliates received $212,000 from the UFCW last year.
How much does the UFCW negotiate for its union members? Reasonable people would expect that union members would be paid above minimum wage, especially since they have to pay union dues out of their salaries.
In this case, reasonable people would be mistaken. An examination of UFCW contracts shows that even senior union members are not receiving the wages that ROC and Jobs for Justice demand.
Consider a department manager at Kroger’s union shop in Michigan. She earns a maximum rate of $13.80, even after over half a decade on the job. If this is the highest wage the UFCW can negotiate for skilled, experienced workers, how can the union provide entry-level, low-skilled workers with $15 an hour?
It is not possible for them to accomplish this. Yet, receiving media coverage for the protests they sponsor is an effective way to increase membership and dues collections. The wage they demand is more than twice what similarly skilled union members are paid, namely $7.40 an hour for an entry-level cashier.