Recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) strengthens workers’ rights during workplace disputes with management. It strengthens the rights of employees to strongly advocate, protest and question statements and actions by managers, supervisors, human resources and loss prevention.
Specifically, the NLRB ruled that the National Labor Relations Act protected a worker who shouted and argued with a manager about excessive overtime, including angrily accusing the manager of being a liar and not doing their job. The worker spoke in a confrontational tone with the manager over the course of several days, but used no profanity.
In its ruling, the NLRB returned to a legal principle from prior cases that protects workers who communicate strongly with management. Those cases protected workers who raised their voices or shouted, as well as those who interrupted or challenged a supervisor. The panel decided the law protects workers who stand up and continue to assert themselves, even after a supervisor tells them to quiet down.
In the few cases where workers lost protection, they had threatened or implied violence, or they used racial or misogynistic slurs.
Union representatives can use this case to assure workers they can speak against management about working conditions and continue to assert themselves when a manager tells them they have to calm down, stop talking, lower their voice or stop being disrespectful.
PWFA victory for working women
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which enshrines the right of pregnant and postpartum workers to reasonable accommodations in their workplaces, went into effect on June 27. The UFCW and its Women’s Network lobbied to pass this legislation, which was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022.
The new law makes it easier for members who are pregnant or recovering from childbirth to protect their health and continue working if they want. For example, no employer can punish or fire you for requesting accommodations for pregnancy or pumping at work. The law protects union and non-union workers alike.
This is a huge victory for women. Until now, there were few legal protections for workers who needed workplace accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. As a result, many women were forced out of the work force, putting them and their families in financially difficult positions.
The PWFA does not replace federal, state or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy or childbirth. More than 30 states and cities have laws that provide accommodations for pregnant workers.
Just like members of Local 1167, the essential workers at Cardenas risked their health to serve neighbors in grocery stores during the pandemic. Unlike members of this local union, however, the workers at Cardenas do NOT have union representation and are now fighting for their own dignity and respect.
To support them, leaders of several community organizations joined elected officials and representatives from labor unions in a rally in front of a Cardenas store in Fontana on May 31, specifically to raise awareness of sexual misconduct at the grocery chain.
In March, two women who work for Cardenas filed complaints with the California Civil Rights Department alleging sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment to Cardenas. In April, Cardenas terminated one of the women who filed. At the end of 2022, Cardenas terminated a bakery worker after she became ill at work. According to the worker, the store manager ordered her to take a drug test and a pregnancy test.
Speakers at the rally urged Cardenas Markets to reinstate these workers, prevent harassment and retaliation, and stop anti-union activities. Horrible things have happened to these women, and they are among of who knows how many who have been forced to put up with harassment at the workplace. We stand beside all Cardenas workers who speak up and demand respect.
Members are urged to reach out to Local 1167 if they have family or friends who work at Cardenas so they can talk with someone from the union. Defining sexual harassment
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. When this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with his or her work or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, it is considered sexual harassment.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
The third point is especially important. It goes beyond sexual harassment and can be applied to all kinds of harassment, including racial, religious, ethnic — you name it. Since coworkers come from a wide array of religious and cultural backgrounds, it is best to avoid any comments about a person’s race, sex, religion or sexual preference at work.
Women perform a variety of roles in our society — as workers, mothers, daughters and wives, to name a few — and each of these roles comes with its own set of obligations that can, at times, conflict with each other.
Local 1167 recognizes the many burdens that are put on women’s shoulders, which is why we fight so hard to advocate legislation on issues that frequently affect women, such as equal pay, family medical leave and affordable childcare. It’s also why we negotiate agreements with the employers that include personal days off and adequate advance notice of schedule changes.
During the COVID pandemic, we understood that women were hit harder economically even more than men were, in large part because women are more likely to be caregivers for children whose schools are shut down.
In Sacramento, we lobbied successfully to require extended paid sick leave for people affected by COVID-19, including parents who need to stay home to care for children or spouses.
In local communities, we responded to the economic crisis affecting families by redoubling our efforts in support of food banks and food giveaways.
In talks with the employers, we focused on issues like Hero Pay and supplying our members with masks, gloves, sanitizers and acrylic barriers, both to protect these essential workers at the workplace and to help them avoid bringing the virus home to their families. The standards we set became models to follow for the entire retail sector.
Women constitute more than half of our union’s membership, and we are committed to continue serving their needs with a representative staff that includes women in important levels of leadership, including our organizing director, union representatives, organizers and others.
In all these ways and many more, UFCW Local 1167 hears the voices of its members, both women and men, as we stand together to improve the lives of working people and their families.
Women at the forefront of America’s Labor Movement
Women make up the majority of America’s essential workers who have ensured our access to food, supplies and care throughout the pandemic. Within the UFCW, women comprise more than 50 percent of our union’s membership, where we are a powerful force in closing the wage gap in workplaces across the nation.
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership remains higher for men (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent), but the gap continues to close as working women learn more about the benefits of union representation. In fact, women who were members of a union in 2021 had median weekly earnings of $1,104 versus non-union members who earned $884 per week.
As unions grow in importance in the lives of working women, it should be no surprise that women are taking a more central role in the growth of the union movement.
For this edition of “Rosie’s Corner,” we call attention to three women have ascended to the top highest ranks of leadership in America’s labor movement: Liz Shuler, Lorena Gonzalez and Sara Nelson.Liz Shuler
Earlier this year, America’s largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO, elected Liz Shuler as its first woman president. The AFL-CIO comprises 57 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.
From 2009 until 2021, Shuler served as the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer. She assumed the presidency following the passing of Richard Trumka in 2021.
Shuler began her career as an organizer, working to unionize clerical workers at Portland General Electric in Oregon. The daughter of an Electrical Workers (IBEW) member, she witnessed firsthand the difference a union makes in creating a fair and equitable pathway to the middle class. She worked her way up through the ranks at the IBEW in her capacity as a grassroots organizer, lobbyist and chief of staff to the international president. Her efforts caught the attention of Trumka, who asked Shuler to join the leadership slate in 2009. She was both the youngest and first woman elected as secretary-treasurer at an AFL-CIO Convention.
On July 27, Lorena Gonzalez was elected and sworn in as the new executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, which comprises 1,200 affiliated Unions representing 2.1 million members across California.
Gonzalez, formerly the secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council before serving nine years in the California State Assembly, is the first woman and person of color to lead the statewide federation.
A longtime champion of working families, Gonzalez will lead the federation’s staff and affiliated unions in advocating for the right of co-workers to come together to join a union and collectively bargaining for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Sara Nelson has served as the international president of the
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA since 2014, and she is now serving her second four-year term. She first became a union member in 1996 when she was hired as a flight attendant at United Airlines and today she represents 50,000 of aviation’s first responders at 17 airlines.
The New York Times called her “America’s most powerful flight attendant” for her role in helping to end the 35-day government shutdown and InStyle magazine placed her on its list of “Top 50 Badass Women.”
Sara Nelson recently participated in a UFCW Women’s Network webinar called “Inspiring Confidence.”
Women have performed important roles in America’s labor movement since its beginnings. Such pioneers as Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Dolores Huerta, Emma Goldman, Clara Lemlich, Frances Perkins and Addie L. Wyatt continue to inspire men and women alike to carry the banner of worker solidarity.
It is comforting to know the tradition continues as powerfully as ever. Just like the UFCW, women get things done!
Wherever you stand on the issue of reproductive rights, it’s fair to assume that the expected Supreme Court ruling on overturning Roe v. Wade has gotten your attention.
Once this decision is announced, probably in June, roughly half the states in the country will have enacted restrictions and prohibitions of a medical procedure that had been considered a private matter between a woman and her doctor.
Some women will cheer this development as a victory for the unborn. Others will regard it as an unfair imposition on their ability to make choices concerning their own bodies and futures.
Like most unions, the UFCW doesn’t usually take a stand on “cultural” issues like abortion rights. We regard these as distractions from our key purpose, which is to improve the living standards of working Americans and their families. This is a cause that obliges us to unite for better wages, health care and working conditions for all, regardless of party, gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual preference or any other category of humanity.
On occasion, our union will endorse a candidate or advocate a position on a ballot proposition, but these recommendations will be based on a simple question: What is the best choice for our members and everyone else who punches a time clock?
At the same time, we strongly believe in amplifying the voices of working people, both at the workplace and in the public sphere. To this end, we encourage union members, including women, to get involved in the political process.
If you are concerned about the directions our economy and society are taking, do something about it! Speak out for the candidate of your choice. Volunteer to make phone calls or knock on doors. Run for office yourself if that’s what moves you.
One excellent way to get involved is donating to the UFCW’s Active Ballot Club. This is a union-focused political action committee that is sustained by voluntary contributions by concerned members. Contact your Local 1167 union representative to ask how you can get involved.
This is not a time to sit quietly and let others make critical decisions about working people. Stand up!
Working people in California have won a big victory, thanks to the UFCW and its allies in the State Legislature, the Governor’s Office and the Labor Movement.
On Feb. 9, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 114 into law, restoring two weeks of extra sick leave benefits through September 2022 for workers who need to quarantine themselves or take care of loved ones due to COVID-19.
This is an especially momentous event for women workers because they are often forced to choose between going to work or caring for others in a time of need.
Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in California benefited from a temporary measure that gave them extra paid sick leave for COVID-related issues. That law expired last September after covering a nine-month period, after which the UFCW led a coalition of labor unions and legislators aiming to bring it back for another year.
Specifically, the new bill, Senate Bill 114, would restore a requirement for employers with more than 25 workers to provide a maximum of 80 hours of leave for COVID-19 related reasons. These reasons can include recovery from COVID-19 symptoms, quarantining after a COVID-19 exposure, receiving or recovering from a COVID-19 vaccine (maximum 24-hours), or staying home with a child whose school or child care is closed due to COVID-19.
Under the new bill, sick pay is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022. As a result, those UFCW members who had to use their own sick pay because of COVID-19 will have their sick-pay banks restored.
Without this added sick leave, too many workers who are infected or exposed to COVID-19 are forced to choose between staying home (as they should) or going to work in order to pay the rent. When they choose the latter, they risk exposing their fellow workers as well as the public.
Restoring extra sick leave for COVID-19 is a victory for California’s working people who are still coping with the economic effects of a devastating illness.
Breast cancer awareness — not something to take lightly
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you should know that every October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
We recognize it, keep it in our thoughts, Halloween comes and goes, and we’re in November getting ready for the holidays. Did you do anything to recognize the annual event? Some people attend cancer walks, or clay shoots, to recognize this time, but in case you missed it, here are some things we were reminded about in October.
• The most common risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman.
• Women develop breast cancer at much higher rates than men. Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases happen in men.
• Breast cancer risk increases as we get older.
• 1 out of 8 aggressive breast cancers develop in women younger than 45. About 2 out of 3 aggressive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
• Family history matters and can impact your risk of developing breast cancer.
• Your risk is doubled if you have a sister, mother, or daughter with breast cancer. Your risk is 5 times higher if two of them develop breast cancer.
• Frequent breast cancer screenings reduce risk of death from breast cancer.
• Screening includes a monthly breast self-exam, a yearly breast exam by your doctor, and a mammogram every year starting at age 40 or younger with a family history.
• There is a link between some hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer.
• Using hormone therapy after menopause can increase your risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about non-hormonal menopause options.
• Combination treatments can provide patients with the best outcomes.
There are many treatment options, and most include a combination of surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies.
Tips to reduce your risk
• Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
• Move to improve. Be physically active. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day of moderate activity or 10 minutes of vigorous activity daily.
• Think before you drink. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk. Limit yourself to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.
• Include good food. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruit, and calcium-rich dairy products, but low in red and processed meats might help lower the risk of breast cancer.
• Breastfeed for breast health. Women who choose to breastfeed for at least several months may also get an added benefit of reducing their breast cancer risk.
• Bust mythbusters. Finding a lump in your breast does not mean you have breast cancer. Only a small percentage turn out to be cancer. If do you notice a lump or breast tissue change, contact your doctor.
The worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind us here in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down.
New stories are emerging daily about the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus. This variant can have grave consequences for those who are not vaccinated because it is highly contagious and can cause serious harm to those who catch it.
COVID safety guidelines are constantly changing, but here are some general steps we can all take this summer to do our part as responsible citizens:
For your safety and the safety of those around you, it is important to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, if you have not done so already.
The vaccine is well-researched and safe to receive. Everyone should receive the vaccination to lower the chances of not only contracting the virus, but also bringing it home to their families and communities. Being fully vaccinated will also reduce your risk of severe symptoms related to the Delta variant.
When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has. Be sure your mask fits snugly against your face.
Choose a mask with a nose wire, a metal strip along the top of the mask, to prevent air from leaking out the top. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask.
Wash your hands frequently, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and keep surfaces clean. If you are sick, stay home from work and notify your employer.
The health and safety of our brothers and sisters in Local 1167 always comes first. That is why we were disappointed to learn that recent guidelines from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) failed to include mention of frontline grocery, drug and meatpacking workers.
This is an egregious oversight.
These rules should include regular workplace safety inspections at grocery stores, meatpacking plants and health care facilities to ensure employers are held accountable for protecting their workers on the job.
The current rules are unenforceable and insufficient — we need strong language from the federal government that prioritizes the safety of these workers who have bravely kept our communities functioning during the past year.
More than 160 million Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine at press time and the country is slowly relaxing some of the restrictions that were necessary to limit spread of the disease.
In light of the new CDC guidelines on masks for fully vaccinated people announced on May 13, many feel confident we are getting closer to a time when we can go out and enjoy life as we did prior to March 2020.
Getting all the way “back to normal,” however, will require higher rates of acceptance and use of the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Here are a few reasons to trust the effectiveness of the vaccines if you are still on the fence about receiving one:
• Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick. These vaccines are incredibly effective, providing as much as 96 percent protection against getting sick from the virus. They perform even better than that in preventing severe complications leading to hospitalization and even possible death.
• More vaccinations would protect everyone. Anyone from age 12 and up can enjoy peace of mind after they’ve been vaccinated. When enough people get their COVID-19 vaccines, the country can attain “herd immunity,” suppressing the number of infections so well that even those few who aren’t immunized won’t get the disease. Only when enough people are vaccinated can we truly say we’ve defeated COVID-19.
• The COVID-19 vaccine development was fast, but it did not skip steps and was not developed overnight. The vaccines were developed at an accelerated rate and were approved quickly by the Food and Drug Administration. Nevertheless, they were made using technologies that have been tested and found safe for many years. None of the vaccines contain the actual virus.
• Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, you still should get the vaccine. The vaccine will add extra protection to your immune system should you be exposed to COVID-19 again.
Consult with a doctor about taking the vaccine if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have fertility concerns. The vaccines are safe for breastfeeding mothers and do not harm a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
After receiving shot(s), you might temporarily experience a sore arm, a mild fever or body aches, but this doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. These symptoms, if they happen at all, typically last a day or two. They signal a natural response as your body’s immune system learns to recognize and fight the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, but its consequences for working women have been especially severe.
Let’s just consider the closing of schools and day care centers. By September of 2020, roughly 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force compared with 216,000 men, according to a report published by the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress. The report estimated that women would lose $64.5 billion in the first year of the pandemic due to lost wages and economic activity.
A Washington Post article pointed out that “[o]ne out of four women who reported becoming unemployed during the pandemic said it was because of a lack of child care — twice the rate among men.” In August, a story on CNN led with “Working mothers are quitting to take care of their kids, and the U.S. job market may never be the same.”
All this and more points to the necessity of ending this crisis as soon as possible. And the best — and only — way we can do that is by getting vaccinated.
While it’s a personal choice to get a vaccination, doing so will sharply reduce an individual’s chances of getting sick or spreading the virus to family members, coworkers and the community at large.
Here are some facts to assure you the vaccines are thoroughly researched and safe to receive:
• The vaccines do not contain the virus and cannot transmit the disease.
• They don’t change anyone’s DNA in an any way, and there’s no evidence that they affect pregnancies or cause infertility.
• Tens of millions of people around the world have taken these vaccines with no side effects beyond minor soreness or fatigue. These effects are usually resolved within two days and are worthwhile considering a vaccine could save your life.
A very small number of people may react allergically to the vaccine, so it is a good idea for those with a history of medical allergies to remain close to the vaccination location for 15 minutes following the injection. After 1.9 million vaccinations in the first round of shots, there were only 29 adverse reactions.
• The vaccines are made using technology which has been developed over many years and is proven to be safe.
Just as we have all worn masks, practiced social distancing and washed our hands over the past year, we must also receive the required doses of the vaccine in order to help the U.S. reach herd immunity and get the spread of the virus under control.
Talk to your health care provider about when you may be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It won’t cost you a penny, but it could save you a bundle!
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States and the first requests from state and local authorities to follow social distancing guidelines, Americans have been living, working and educating their children at home all day, every day.
While some may have residences with enough space to make being so close together easier to manage, others do not and are forced to carry on living nearly on top of one another from one day to the next.
This sudden and drastic change in lifestyle can create challenges that easily lead to feeling frustrated and angry. When tempers boil over, tensions between people can quickly manifest as aggressive behaviors and physical confrontations. Additionally, the pressures the pandemic can have on individuals may aggravate preexisting conflicts, amplifying their effects in ways that magnify their frequency and intensity.
The pandemic has created enough tension and strife for individuals to face. Seeking shelter from the outbreak in a home where aggressive or violent behaviors exist or have begun to manifest can add to the stress and anxiety many are already struggling to manage.
No one should have to live with the fear of a spouse, partner, family member, friend or roommate physically harming you or someone else in the home.
While reports indicate there has been a spike in domestic violence in American homes, it’s important to know that state and local communities are working to provide support to those in need.
Some areas have launched special messaging services to help those affected quickly and quietly connect with the departments and organizations that can help move them to safer spaces. Other areas have updated their domestic violence support services to manage the challenges of providing care during this national health emergency.
If you are concerned you may be in an escalating or already violent situation, know that you are not alone in this emergency and assistance is available. The resources listed below will help you better understand what is happening and what steps you can take to find a resolution without creating additional conflict.
If you need assistance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or (800) 787-3224 (a TTY-ready line for those who require hearing-related or speech-related assistance).
If you are unable to speak freely, you can get assistance by visiting www.thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
In addition, support services are available to UFCW Local 1167 members through the Employee Member Assistance Program (EMAP). Call (800) 464-7101 for confidential service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
With outside temperatures soaring and with many workers wearing more PPE than their job would usually require, it is more important than ever this year that employers and workers stay vigilant about preventing heat illness at work.
The use of personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep workers safe from COVID-19 is essential for public safety, but does increase the chance of overheating. The use of PPE may trap heat and perspiration on the body’s surface and increase the core body temperature to dangerous levels. Given the dual challenge of moderating the risks of heat stress and exposure to COVID-19, it’s imperative that employers take measures to protect workers who are exposed to heat. For example, employers may need to supply replacement masks more often, since masks may get damp and contaminated in the heat and humidity.
To prevent heat illness, employers should make sure all workers should have access to:
• Adequate amounts of drinking water.
• Regular rest breaks or rest periods in a cool area.
• Regular bathroom breaks, as necessary.
• Increased air circulation through the use of air conditioning, fans and general ventilation.
• Education on the early signs of heat-related illness.
• Time to acclimatize to the heat. It takes about one week for the body to adjust to working in the heat.
Hot weather safety strategies should include:
• Training all management and hourly employees with an emphasis on how to recognize a medical emergency (heat stroke).
• Having a clearly written protocol on how to respond to a medical emergency.
• Training all management and hourly employees on workers’ right to access drinking water, as needed, and the right to access bathrooms, as needed.
• Monitoring particularly hot work areas and a plan in place for when the heat index approaches the extreme caution zone.
Two major heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion, if left untreated, may progress to deadly heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are listed below:
Heat stroke symptoms
1. Throbbing headache
2. No sweating
3. Body temp above 103°
Red, hot, dry skin
4. Nausea, vomiting
5. Rapid, strong pulse
6. May lose consciousness
How to treat it
1. Move to cooler location
2. Drink water
3. Take a cool shower or use cold compresses
Heat exhaustion symptoms1. Faint or dizzy
How to treat it
1. Get emergency help
2. Keep cool until treated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should be enough to wash a face
Below are a couple of ways you can make a face covering at home.
Making a sewn cloth face covering
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the cloth face covering as if it was a single piece of fabric.
2. Fold over the long sides 1⁄4 inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over 1⁄2 inch along the short sides and stitch down.
3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the cloth face covering. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight. Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic head bands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the cloth face covering behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the cloth face covering on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.
Bandana face covering (no sew method)
1. Fold bandana in half.
2. Fold top down. Fold bottom up.
3. Place rubber bands or hair ties about 6 inches apart.
4. Fold sides to the middle and tuck.
With February and March being Black History and Women’s History months, we feel this is a good time to share the story of Addie Wyatt (1924-2012).
Wyatt was a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the first woman international vice president of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. After her union merged with the Retail Clerks Union to form the United Food and Commercial Workers in 1979, she became the first woman of color to serve on the new union’s board.
She also was a recipient of the UFCW’s Women’s Network’s Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1941, when she went to work at the Armour meat processing plant in Chicago, Wyatt applied for a job as a typist. But Armour didn’t hire African Americans to work in its front offices at the time. Instead, she was assigned to the canning department, putting lids on cans of Army stew.
Thanks to the union contract between Armour and United Packinghouse Workers, however, she was able to earn more working on the packinghouse floor in three days than she would have made in a week working in the front office as a secretary. So she decided to accept the job and subsequently became an active member of the UPW.
In the early 1950s, Wyatt was elected as vice president of her local union, UPW Local P-56, and was soon elected president. The next year, she left her job at the packinghouse to work full time for the union, fighting against discrimination for both women and people of color.
Wyatt said she often found herself fighting on three fronts. “I was fighting on behalf of workers, fighting as a black person and fighting as a female,” she said.
Because of its large, activist membership, the UPW was able to wield real power at the bargaining table, and it was able to use this power to benefit society at large. The UPW was deeply involved in Chicago’s community-based struggle for racial equality.