I am pleased to announce that Local 23 is poised to merge with our brothers and sisters at UFCW Local 1776. This merger, if approved, will result in a stronger, more formidable local that will allow our team to continue delivering strong representation while adding more resources to help us serve you and your families.
Our leadership team is confident that this merger is the best path forward but, ultimately, this is your decision. As you will see in the attached notice, we have scheduled three days of voting on November 14, 15, and 16, 2017. I encourage you to read this letter carefully and to participate in this upcoming vote.
The numbers are compelling: Based in Montgomery County with six offices across the state, UFCW Local 1776 represents nearly 22,000 men and women working in PA. Combined, we will have approximately 33,000 members from one end of the state to the other. As you are all aware, there is strength in numbers.
In addition to a united and, frankly, louder voice, we will also have more funds to bolster all the services we provide members. This includes resources necessary to weather a strike or other action, to increased power when negotiating new contracts at all our worksites. A new and larger union will allow us to dedicate additional resources to assisting you as you navigate grievances and fight for safer workplaces.
As many of you are aware, Local 23 has led several successful mergers over the years. We have a long history of working with our brothers and sisters across PA to identify opportunities to join forces. Our most recent merger was with Local 325 in Pittsburgh. We saved over 450 member jobs as a result of that merger. In all, we’ve been involved in four mergers in PA.
The timing of this merger is critical. Please understand the contracts for half of the members we represent will be up for renegotiation in 2018. I have maintained over the years that the single most important service we provide for members is negotiating strong contracts. I am very, very confident that our combined 33,000 voices will put us in a stronger position as we sit across the table from these employers. Again: there is strength in numbers.
I have worked closely over the years with Wendell Young IV, my counterpart at Local 1776, and I can assure you that he and I share the same passion when it comes to fighting for working families. Wendell spends as much time in Hazleton, where he represents the workers at Hershey Chocolate USA, or at Knouse Foods in Chambersburg, which employs many UFCW members, as he does at Local 1776’s offices in Montgomery County. Wendell is an excellent field general and I know from first-hand experience that our combined voices have made a difference in Harrisburg. For the past seven years, we have worked together to successfully protect the combined 3,700 members we represent in the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shoppes. Our Locals have joined together to fight pension proposals in Harrisburg designed to weaken your retirement security and other anti-worker proposals such as right-to-work (for less) proposals and other measures designed to limit your right to free speech.
As one united Local with statewide reach, we will be more forceful. If approved, the leadership team and staff with whom you have worked with will remain in place. Our offices will remain where they are. In fact, I am confident that the range of services and benefits we provide today will expand as we move forward. Our priority is today and will always be to best represent your interests so that you can continue to provide for your families.
This merger, obviously, must be approved by a majority of votes cast by members of each Local. Please take the time to read the attached notice and mark on your calendars when and where you can vote. In the coming days and weeks, we will be providing additional information for your consideration. I encourage you to contact your union representative with any questions or concerns you might have.
The Staff of Local 23 and the Executive Board of Local 23 have unanimously voted to approve this merger. The leadership at Local 23 recognizes this great opportunity to make our Local more powerful on behalf of our members. We all encourage the members to cast a YES vote to approve the merger.
Anthony M. Helfer
Lance R. Huber
- How will this affect me? The merger is in the best interest for Local 23 because will grow from roughly 11,000 members to 33,000 members. We will have a stronger voice in contract negotiations and this is key because in 2018, half of our current members’ contracts will be up for negotiation.
- Will this affect my job or change my hours? No. The merger of two locals has no impact on members’ hours or jobs.
- Will this affect my contract? No. Looking ahead, however, we believe that our combined locals will be in a better position to negotiate strong contracts. There is strength in numbers.
- Will this increase my dues? No. The leadership teams at Local 23 and Local 1776 will continue to manage all expenses to ensure that members’ dues are invested wisely.
- Will this change my benefits or health care in any way? No. As we look ahead, however, we believe that will be able to negotiate for better healthcare for two reasons: First, we will have a combined 33,000 members and larger purchasing power. Second, we will have access to plans across the state, and that will put us in a better negotiating position.
- Will this change my status as a shop steward? No. All stewards will continue in their current roles.
- What area will our local now cover? We will cover the entire state of PA, and parts of northern WV and eastern OH, and we will be in many, many more industries and sectors, because 1776 is more diversified than we are.
- Will this change who my union representative is? No. All union representatives will continue in their current roles, and the Local 23 leadership team and staff will remain in place.
- Will the membership get to vote on this decision? Yes. This is a democratic process and every member has the right to vote. A majority of voting members from both locals must approve the merger.
- Will the UFCW offices change locations? No. There are no plans to relocate any offices, and we are committed to provide all of the services that members currently receive quickly and conveniently.