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May 09, 2006

Subtract today's Union wages, pensions, health & welfare plans, vacations, night premium pay, holiday pay and today's 40-hour week and you'll have the conditions under which a handful of Food Industry clerks worked when they organized and gave birth to UFCW 588 In June of 1937.

Clerk's wages in that far-off day were pegged at anywhere from $16 to $24 per week - when the workweek consisted of a minimum of 60 hours and many times stretched to 70 hours - at no increase in pay. Store Managers earned $25 - $30 per week and a vague promise of a "bonus."

Contracts were nonexistent. Few stores had paid vacations, holiday pay, overtime; the five-day, 40-hour week was unheard of, and the conditions enjoyed in the Industry today were beyond the fondest dreams of the average Food Clerk. Other unorganized Retail Clerks fared better. Shoe Clerks, those working in variety and department stores and related fields, enjoyed better wages and conditions than did those employed in the Retail Food Industry.

Consequently, employment in the retail food stores was a sometime thing. Clerking jobs were taken only as a fill-in, while the employee waited for a better job. Turnover was high and the Clerks were unhappy with their lot.

Competition was keen. Cash-carry chain stores were just entering the field. As they did so, the service stores reached out in an attempt to hold their sales. War ensued. Prices dropped and so did the Clerk's pay. Truly, Food Clerks in 1937 were the forgotten people.

In just a few days in June 1937, after prompting from the Retail Clerks International Protective Association and with the cooperation of Teamsters Local 150 Secretary Marty and his staff, a handful of Clerks got together, signed application cards, the International appointed a temporary, volunteer Secretary, and an organizing drive began.

Under the leadership of the unpaid Secretary, James F. Alexander, the drive moved steadily forward. Organizing was not too difficult, since the average employee hoped to better his lot, and in most cases, organizers were greeted with open arms.

Additionally, for the first time, workers had the beginnings of the benefits of the second F.D.R. (Franklin D. Roosevelt) Administration. The Wagner Labor Relations Act was now on the books and workers had little to fear with the new measure of protection against discharge or disciplinary action from unfriendly employers.

At the same time, related national activities had set the scene for increased action by workers and Labor Unions. John L Lewis had taken his mine workers out of the AFL and his action had prompted the AFL to step up its own organizing drives in the miscellaneous and unskilled crafts.

Working nights, Sundays, and during lunch hour, the small, dedicated group applied itself diligently to the task, and on June 21, 1937, the R.C.I.A granted a charter and UFCW 588 was born.

Within 60 days, about 250 workers had been initiated; and at the end of 90 days, the employers gave legal recognition to the fledgling Union on an Industry-wide basis.

Negotiations for a contract opened immediately. The first contract was completed and the effective date set as January 3, 1938. Simultaneously, the membership in late 1937 elected Brother Alexander to his first term as Corresponding-Financial Secretary and he resigned his position as Manager of a Lynn & O'Neil grocery store to work full-time for the Union.

By today's standards that first contract might well bring a smile to today's member. But the wages and conditions guaranteed by that agreement were an important "first" for the members of that day.

For the first time the workweek was established. It would be, the pact said, a six-day week with overtime after nine hours a day, or 54 hours per week. This item alone cut from six to 16 hours from the employee's workweek.

The contract called for a minimum weekly wage of $25.00 (46.5 cents per hour) for experienced male Clerks for a 54-hour week and $22.50 for experienced female Clerks for a 48-hour week. It also set the standard for Managers -$35 per week. One week's vacation, with pay, after one year's employment was also granted by the new pact. One of the better conditions established by the agreement was the clause governing store hours. Stores could not open before 7:00 a.m. and they must close by 8:00 p.m. - but more Important, the stores were required to close on Sundays and holidays!!!

These closing hours, while one of the finest provisions of the contract, almost proved to be the downfall of the Union. By the middle of 1938, even with members serving as volunteer pickets on Sundays, UFCW 588 was spending almost $1,000 weekly in an attempt to keep the stores closed. The Union's books were beginning to show a generous sprinkling of red ink.

After weeks of friction regarding these closing hours, the employers asked for meetings which finally resulted In the Clerks trading store hours for Sunday and holiday premium pay.

The next three years were lean indeed, and the Union had been able to raise wage rates only $5.00 per week over the period. In 1942, after a deadlock in negotiations the Union struck two chains on a Saturday morning and on Monday other employers locked their employees out. On Wednesday of that week the contract was settled and the strike was over, with Clerks receiving a $5.00 per week increase. This was as much as they had received in the last three years. The strike and lockout had lasted only five days and the victory was sweet.

But the victory brought more than just an increase in wages. It proved that the organization was a living, potent force and that the Clerks would stand up and fight for their conditions when the chips were down. The victorious settlement of the first and only Industry strike in Sacramento in the history of this Union brought with it the respect of the members, the employers, the entire labor movement, and the public as a whole.

During the years of World War II, UFCW 588, as did all Unions, accepted the law of the land and entered into a no-strike pledge, agreed to the wage freeze and learned to live with the rules and regulations established by the War Labor Board. Under such conditions, little progress was made. The workweek, however, was cut from 54 to 48 hours, after months of effort, through the filing of briefs and numerous hearings by the Board. But with the cut came a reduction in pay from $35.00 to $33.00 per week. When the war ended and the War Labor Board expired, UFCW 588 started moving again.

1945 brought a $7.00 weekly wage raise, pegging Clerk's scale at $40.00. Since 1945, weekly wages have risen steadily to bring today's weekly scale for Journeyman Food Clerks to $763.20 while the workweek was reduced from 48 to 40 hours.

UFCW 588's jurisdiction has grown through the years, through normal organizing activities as well as through mergers. In 1941 Roseville Local 964, desperate after five years of stalemate, moved to merge with 588 and in a short time, Roseville Food Clerks were on par with their brothers and sisters in Sacramento.

The R.C.I.A. chartered a textile Local 1637 in Sacramento in 1950, covering workers in department stores, dress shops, and variety stores, but after an effort of about one year's duration, that Local also merged with 588.

In 1953, Modesto Local 1273, faced with a dilemma, entered into meetings with UFCW 588, which resulted in a merger after due consideration and voting by both Union bodies and approval by the Retail Clerks International Association.

Local 197 covering San Joaquin County and headquartered in Stockton merged with UFCW 588 in 1983 with overwhelming approval of their respective memberships.

In December of 1984, the Executive Board of UFCW 588 asked Jack L. Loveall, International Vice President and Director of UFCW Region 14, to be the President of UFCW 588. Under the direction and leadership of President Jack Loveall, UFCW 588 immediately instituted a very aggressive organizing program which has resulted in an ongoing increase of 588's membership.

March 1,1989, Local 916 whose jurisdiction covered Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Yuba, Modoc, Nevada, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity Counties, merged with UFCW 588 to become the largest UFCW Union in Northern California and the third largest UFCW Union in the State of California - over 15,000 members strong.

The pioneering for the Union was done, almost in its entirety, by Food and Liquor Clerks who reaped many of the benefits of belonging to a growing, vital organization. However, in recent years the Union signed agreements with drug, department, variety, florist, hardware, and specialty shops which have brought appreciable gains to the members employed in these fields.

Recent mergers and undoubtedly the most historic mergers in Northern California became effective March 1, 1991, when UFCW Local 498, a meat cutter Local with 1,600 members, merged with UFCW 588-Northern California.

On June 1, 1992, Local 532, a meat cutter Local Union representing 1,000 meat cutters in Napa, Solano, and Contra Costa County, joined forces with UFCW 588. Then, on October 1, 1992, UFCW 588 expanded its jurisdiction to the California coast with the merger of UFCW Local 1532, representing almost 3,000 members in Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties.

The next significant merger occurred on August 1,1993, when UFCW Local 127, representing 2,800 Retail Meat and Food Processing members in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties, merged with UFCW 588, bringing the membership to 27,000 strong.

Continue on to the next chapter  ...  UFCW 8 - Golden State

Mar 28, 2008

The merger of UFCW 588 and UFCW 1288 on May 1, 2006 to form UFCW 8 - Golden State further strengthened an already strong Union.

Since the merger, the combined 30,000 - member UFCW 8 has:

• Negotiated a new four-year contract with Save Mart, Raley’s and Bel Air Markets. It includes the largest across-the-board wage increase in the history of Northern California grocery industry contracts; continuation of no employee-paid premiums for health care; and the creation of a single benefit fund to streamline claims and processing of Health & Welfare and Pension benefits.

• Organized 1,300 workers at 17 Food Maxx stores from Visalia in the South to Redding in the North, significantly increasing the Union’s negotiating power with all employers in those areas.

• Received the UFCW International Union’s Growth and Organizing Award. UFCW 8 strongly believes that the key to revitalizing the labor movement in America is through intensive, innovative, ongoing organizing campaigns to bring the benefits of a Union contract to as many workers as possible.

• Agreed to a solidarity pact with UFCW locals in the Bay Area. This increases the Union’s strength throughout Northern California and translates into more clout at the bargaining table that can lead to better wages and benefits for the members of all UFCW Unions.

• Contracted with MedExpert to help members and their families get the best health care possible at no extra cost to them by being able to speak with doctors whenever they have questions about their health or their health plan.

• Supported community efforts in Elk Grove and Stockton that led to ordinances that limit “big box” stores.

• Participated in a lawsuit that prompted a judge to reverse an appeal by Atwater, Calif.,p city officials of plans to build a giant SuperTarget store. In his decision, Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen ruled that the project’s potential environmental impact on the community should have been studied more extensively before it was submitted to Atwater planning officials.

The most recent merger occurred in 2008 as the members of UFCW Local 45D and UFCW 8-Golden State voted overwhelmingly to combine forces to increase the size and strength of their Union.

Truly, UFCW 8- Golden State has come a long way since 1937 when 17 dedicated, farseeing volunteers laid the groundwork and signed the first pact covering 319 members for an organization that today numbers in excess of 30,000 members.

But, as we pause in this historic occasion, we must pay tribute to those who worked so long and so diligently for the cause of bettering the lot of the common man: those who were the forgotten people.

And, while paying tribute to those pioneers who gave so much that the cause might live, we must look to the future and to the thousands of workers, still unorganized, for whom our work has just begun

Jan 12, 2015

President Jacques Loveall, UFCW 8 - Golden State"If we educate our younger members, respect the contributions of our older members and honor the sacrifices of those who came before us, our Union will thrive forever,
- Jacques Loveall, President

“We have an extraordinary history of establishing dignity and justice in the workplace.”

Loveall has been involved with the UFCW since before the day he was born. “I attended my first International convention in my mother’s womb and have been to every one since,” Loveall said.

Loveall officially joined the Union when he began working for Alpha Beta bagging groceries in 1977.

Being a Union member at a young age was natural for Loveall, being one of seven children in a family with several generations steeped in Union history and tradition.

A Lifetime with the Union

After working in the supermarket industry for several years, Loveall served for four years as an Organizer for the UFCW International Union. He then became a Union Representative for UFCW 588, working extensively in the organizing department in the 1980s and becoming its Organizing Director in 1990. He became Executive Vice President in 2001 and President in 2004.

Today, as President of UFCW 8-Golden State, Loveall leads the largest UFCW affiliate in the Western United States, with 30,000 members.

Loveall was on the International Union’s first “Committee for the Future” and was appointed by the president to the National Bargaining Strategy committee. He is also active with the Change to Win Federation.

Loveall is an innovator in the use of multimedia, videos in particular, to educate members and the general public on core Union principles.

In addition, Loveall is chairman of Group Administration and the UFCW Northern California Pension Fund and is a trustee of the UFCW Northern California Health and Welfare Fund and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Loveall serves on the International Executive Board of the Northern California Joint Labor Management Committee.

 Loveall also serves on the California Labor Federation’s Advisory Committee, the Sacramento Labor Council’s Regional Organizing Committee and the boards of the Loveall Foundation for Children and the Coalition to Advance Working Women.

He founded UnionOnline, a technology development group serving the needs of Organized Labor.

“The tireless commitment of our Union Reps and growing enthusiasm of our membership assures our success going into the future,” Loveall said.

Feb 07, 2020

Jack LoveallJack Loveall began his career in the retail grocery industry in 1949, when he worked as a part-time grocery clerk for Wrigley Markets in Detroit. He joined the Retail Clerks International Union in 1953 and became a Union Representative for Local 876 five years later.

Jack soon became the local’s Organizing Director and President of the Michigan States Council. In 1965, Loveall went to work for the International, where he was appointed as Executive Assistant to the Director of Organizing. He was then promoted to Executive Assistant to the International President. From there he served for five years as Regional Director of the Metro New York and New England areas. He then was appointed Regional Director of the Southwest Region, which covered California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii. He held this position for 11 years.

Jack Loveall’s ingenuity and dedication to working people helped him climb to the upper echelon of the International Union’s governing body by being elected International Vice President in 1971. He served as the Senior International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union for over 30 years until his retirement in March 2005.

In 1984, Jack brought his extraordinary record of accomplishments to the local level on assuming the presidency of UFCW 588-Northern California. Loveall immediately made growth and organizing a top priority. His head-spinning success in the arena is demonstrated by the quadrupling of the membership of UFCW 588 during Jack’s tenure.

Jack’s status as one of America’s most respected Labor leaders has allowed him to pursue the interests of working people at all levels of government, vigorously fighting for everything from a livable minimum wage to national health care.

Jack has worked throughout the world representing American workers and carrying the message of the Labor Movement to workers.

His many titles and honors over his career include being the Chairman of the UFCW Universal Trust Fund, Chairman of the Northern California Joint Labor/Management Committee, President of the Coalition of Organized Labor and Chairman of the James T. Housewright Scholarship Fund. He and his wife, Patricia are the namesakes for the Loveall Foundation for Children, an all-volunteer charity providing meaningful opportunities for children to overcome challenges, live better lives and reach their full potential.

Jack and Patricia have seven children and six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Jack Loveall

Apr 16, 2010


Stepping Down, but Always Part of the Team

Michael Tursky, Secretary-Treasurer UFCW 8 - Golden StateThis is my final column as Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW 8-Golden State, but it won’t be the last you’ll see of me.

As I start a new chapter of my life as a retired Union officer, UFCW 8 will remain a part of me and I will remain a part of UFCW 8.

I may not be at the Union offices on a daily basis, but I will find some ways to be useful, just as many other retirees have made themselves useful over the years.

It’s hard to stay away from UFCW 8 because this great Union is more than a mere organization — it is a family and a way of life. The leadership and staff share a special bond that keeps us united in our focus. That focus is all about improving the lives of our members.

This focus is so intense and pervasive at UFCW 8 that the division between our professional lives and our personal lives has been almost completely erased. When duty calls, we are willing to sacrifice our family time and our sleep time to get the job done.

With that kind of work ethic, a Union can accomplish great things — and we do. We are proud of the contracts we negotiate for our members. We are proud of the grievances we often win on their behalf. And we are proud of the services we provide our members every day — in the stores and in our 10 Union offices from the California-Oregon border in the north to Kern County in the south.

Among those who deserve praise for UFCW 8’s passion and commitment is our President, Jacques Loveall. It has been my great honor to work with this visionary leader since the beginning of his career. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, the needs and aspirations of working people are foremost in his thoughts.

Here’s an example:
After years of planning, Jacques took time off and embarked on an eight-day expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak. Along with colleagues Lee Schreiter and David Knoll, Jacques used the opportunity to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars to help children stricken by leukemia and lymphoma.

Jacques reported regularly to his friends and colleagues back home. And what was he constantly thinking about during the exhausting climb? He was thinking of ways to organize the porters who carried the team’s gear. Jacques figures that, if the porters carried less weight, they could improve their health and extend their working lives. In addition, more jobs would be created in a part of Africa where 70 percent of the adults are unemployed.

Even when he was 10,000 miles away and at 19,340 feet above sea level, Jacques was thinking of the welfare of working people!

  Kirk makes it easy

While scaling down my activities at UFCW 8 will be difficult, the presence of Kirk Vogt as the Union’s new Secretary-Treasurer will make the task easy on my conscience.

Kirk is a talented, hardworking and highly-experienced professional. He is also a kind and compassionate human being, a good friend as well as a trusted colleague for three decades.

I am excited by the prospect of watching the Union’s future unfold under the leadership of Jacques and Kirk, with assistance from Joe Ambrosi and the other talented and dedicated staff of UFCW 8.

Before I sign off from this column, I want to thank my wife, Norma, and my daughters, Norma and April, for their patience and support over the years. They, too, are part of the UFCW 8 family.

I’ve always assured my daughters that “cream rises to the top” — that if they work hard and persevere, they will stand out from the crowd and accomplish great things.

The same goes for our Union, UFCW 8-Golden State. We are a great Union because of our hardworking and hard-focusing leadership, and because we have a proud membership that understands the meaning and power of Solidarity.

I don’t expect our Union to miss a beat after I retire from its service. This organization was never about me.

It’s about teamwork. It’s about all of us working together for a better world.

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