Every single day, UFCW Local 655 staff fights for its partners in need. There are hundreds of stories about how we’ve assisted our Union Family members, and we’ll continue to add to this page so that you KNOW what your Union does for you. Whether it’s single mothers, the wrongfully-terminated, someone who needed good health benefits, or those who suffered catastrophes at home and needed a hand, UFCW Local 655 is there for you. Read our stories below, and learn what we’ve done for so many people like you.
UFCW 655 gets new homeowner back to work
Every single day, UFCW 655 staff works hard for their 10,000+ partners to get them the best deal on the job.
Just ask Jared Simmons. Simmons recently bought a house, no easy task in the modern economy. Simmons, who is black, has been working at the Schnucks pharmacy warehouse for almost a year, but has had some issues with management treating him inappropriately.
“I don’t want it to make it a black white thing, but it definitely made me wonder if that was the thing,” Simmons said. “[The manager in question] just treated us like slaves, he broke protocol, and most of the night shift people are black.”
Simmons was repeatedly harassed and mistreated by one of his managers and, after a heated exchange, was suddenly fired without just cause, a complete breach of the union-negotiated contract he works under. Simmons immediately called UFCW Local 655 staff to correct the injustice.
“I was ready and they jumped right on it,” Simmons said. “They were all over it. Levi [Eddins, a staffer at 655] fought very hard for me. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a job right now.”
Simmons was back to work in less than a week with full reinstatement and back pay to compensate for his lost time on the job. As a single man who just bought a home, Simmons said he was worried how he would pay his bills without a job.
“We all got bills, I got bills that go along with the new house,” Simmons said. “And I don’t have another income to rely on like a spouse, it’s just me. I need to work.”
Jared Simmons’ story is just one of many, many examples of UFCW 655 standing up for hard-working people.
UFCW 655 secures back pay for single parent
The UFCW Local 655 family FIGHTS for our partners. Just ask Mollie Owensby.
Mollie is a single parent, a mother of three, and she works at Holten Meat. Molllie called her local union rep when her bosses attempted to terminate her in violation of her contract. On Oct 2, Mollie was fired. By Oct 12, she was back at work with a week’s worth of back pay.
“The union got me my back pay and my job back,” Owensby said. “Without them, I would have just been fired even though I shouldn’t have been. They made it easier to take care of my kids.”
Mollie’s story is just one of HUNDREDS that we’ll be telling about how UFCW Local 655 fights for YOU.
UFCW assists underpaid partner
Kim Hageman was getting short-changed at work. She had moved to a part time position from a full time one, and her pay was lowered from $11.60 to $9.55 per hour. While Kim knew she would make less working part time, she also thought something wasn’t quite right, and it wasn’t. The BLANK BLANK year partner at Payless Shoes in Arnold contacted her union representative, and asked if she could look in to her payroll issue.
Karen Settlemoir-Berg, Kim’s union rep, began pouring over the record and sure enough, Kim’s instinct was right. Karen determined that Kim’s pay rate should have been $9.80 per hour, and she had been underpaid for months. Karen worked on contacting the company and sure enough, they cut Kim Hageman a check for nearly $400 in back pay.
Kim’s story is seen all around the workforce today. A few cents on the dollar never sounds like much until you do the math, and Kim had a union rep at her back to help her get the wages she had earned with her hard work.
UFCW Local 655 wins back pay, reinstatement for assault victim
Shante’ Matthews will be back to work soon with nearly $2,000 in back-pay after UFCW Local 655 worked to get her reinstated after her wrongful termination.
Matthews, a partner at Sierra Vista Schnucks since 2014, was the victim of an assault outside of her workplace from a fellow co-worker with which she had a dispite. Matthews was initially accused of having some blame in the matter despite being the victim of an un-warranted physical attack. Management attempted to fire both Matthews and her attacker.
“There was no ifs ands or buts about it, Nikki [Rich, a Local 655 rep] was all over my case,” Matthews aid. “She did a good job of communicating with me and working for me. She had my back and it was really helpful.”
Matthews, like so many UFCW partners across the state, simply could not afford to be unemployed and badly wanted to go back to work. Despite the bad experience, Matthews enjoys working for Schnucks and did not want to have to look for a new job.
“They got me this back pay which is a really big deal for me,” Matthews said. “Plus they are working on getting me back to work at a new store, one that’s not too far away so I can still work, and that’s great. I want to work, I need to have a job, and [Nikki Rich] did a really good job of looking out for me.”
UFCW corrects wrongful termination
Makenzie (who asked that we not use her last name) was terminated for theft. Her bosses accused her of stealing directly from her store, which, if true, can warrant termination. But Makenzie, who has some special needs issues as well as a young son, vigorously maintained her innocence. Mackenzie’s mother, who helps to care for her and her son, soon contacted UFCW Local 655 and their union representative, Rick Glidewell.
Glidewell reviewed the security camera footage and immediately saw the issue. The footage simply didn’t definitively show Makenzie stealing from her store. Without proof of her wrongdoing, the company has no standing to terminate her.
“My daughter had an unpleasant experience and the Union helped her tremendously to right the wrong,” Mackenzie’s mother said. “It’s good to know that she has someone in her corner to protect her rights.”
Not only was Local 655 able to resintate the wrongly-terminated Mackenzie, but they also secured her back pay for the nearly 40 hours of work she missed. Mackenzie’s story is just one out of literally thousands about how unions stand up for employees everywhere.
UFCW protects partners from management overreach
Tim Godfrey is a longtime partner of UFCW Local 655. Godfrey always knew he could rely on a good union job at Dierbergs even when he ventured out into the world of real-estate for a while. Godfrey, like many employees, found himself on the bad side of one particular manager.
When Godfrey was written up for a mistake that normally doesn’t warrant disciplinary action, he felt he was being singled out. Godfrey’s union representative, Nikki Rich, was quick to dial-back Godfrey’s bosses.
“It felt a little extreme,” Godfrey said. “It was a situation where we maybe didn’t get along and they were interested in showing their authority but the person definitely overstepped and I had [UFCW 655] there to help me.”
Godfrey said he was specifically grateful that UFCW 655 gave him a sense of “dignity” on the job, something he simply doesn’t have in a non-union workplace. Without a contract and a union rep to defend it, Godfrey would have had no recourse when unfairly targeted by a single manager. Godfrey has also sought help from UFCW 655 staff when seeking more hours at work, and eventually Godfrey even became a shop steward, to help his co-workers better understand their rights on the job.
“I tell my co-workers as much as I can that our benefits, our vacation, it’s fantastic and it wouldn’t be there if we didn’t have a union,” Godfrey said.
Local 655 secures more hours for single parent
Crystal Massy was having a tough time with her department head, and she suspected she might not be getting fair treatment. She reached out to her union and soon everyone gathered for a sit-down. The meeting ended, and when it did, Crystal got a transfer to a new store and got a bump from part time to full time work.
Crystal is a single mother with a teenage son, so it’s vital that she can also earn benefits that go beyond a simple hourly wage.
“Without the health insurance I’m not sure where I’d be,” Massy said. “The job security alone, just knowing I have the union behind me, is so important. I never had that before.”
Crystal needs to earn enough to pay for basic necessities, but she also needs the benefits that come with a good union contract. She’s been a UFCW partner for almost 4 years, and she credits every raise or increase in hours directly to her union.
“When I first started I begged for hours, and then my shop steward explained how I could put in for different positions and better hours,” Massy said. “I finally got the chance to go to the dairy department and I’ve been there ever since.”
New to the workforce? UFCW has your back
Kaliyah Brown just needed a job for nights or weekends. At 16, she found a good first job working as a bagger. Like so many young workers, Kaliyah didn’t have much experience with a union. When Kaliyah was suddenly terminated without good cause, she called her union rep.
“He got me my job back,” Brown said. “It helped me out a lot. We’re a good team at work, and we run smoother now.”
She lives with her mother, and being able to help out by earning a paycheck on her own makes a big difference. Now, Kaliyah knows that union jobs mean having some protection on the job. It’s not always easy to find work when you’re still going to school every day. Being able to keep her job and saving herself the long search for part-time work was a big win for Kaliyah.
“I really like the union,” Brown said. “Without it, it would have been a lot harder.”
UFCW member finds help with United Way
Jessica Johnson, a Schnucks Lindell partner, was having trouble making ends meet. She was short on money and her electric bill was due. It’s a problem far too common for many hard-working Missourians, and one Johnson wasn’t sure she could fix. Fortunately, Johnson is a UFCW Local 655 member.
Johnson’s mother was a longtime Schnucks partner who retired from the company, so she knows the value unions have for working families. Johnson, who is currently in the midst of a custody battle for her children, said having a good job was important in that fight, and said Local 655 was watching her back.
“It’s just really good to know that if there is a problem at work that you’re not alone,” Jonson said. “Someone is there to help, and that’s really nice.”
After Johnson struggled briefly with paying her utility bills, UFCW staff directed her to the United Way of Greater St. Louis. The non-profit has a 24-hour hotline dedicated solely to union members in need. After assisting Johnson with her bills, they called back a few weeks later with stunning news.
United Way adopted Johnson and her children for Christmas, assuring that they would all have a better holiday amidst a financially straining time. At a time when Jessica Johnson was worried about paying her bills, United Way stepped in to provide her kids with something priceless: a Christmas to remember.
“It was such a big benefit for us,” Johnson said. “To know we would be able to have Christmas when I was really worried about making ends meet, it was just so wonderful to be blessed with that.”
UFCW Local 655 continues to fight for people like Jessica Johnson every single day.
UFCW and United Way support members in need
Anita Poindexter was in a bind, and she needed a little help. Anita had just recently closed on her first house, and of course, she was ecstatic. For 40 years, Anita has been a UFCW partner. She worked at National Supermarkets and now works as a cashier for Schnucks on Lindell. With her young grandchild under her care, Anita works hard to support herself and her family.
But after saving and scraping thousands for a down payment on her new home, Anita found herself short on money. In the midst of closing and moving, she received a disconnection notice from her electric provider. The expensive process of buying a house made paying this one bill impossible. But Anita knew she had a friend in her union. She spoke with Theresa Hester, her union rep, who reminded her of UFCW Local 655’s partnership with the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
“It came just in time,” Anita said. “I had heard about the United Way helping people out but I didn’t really know the details. I spoke with Theresa and she helped me and referred me to someone there, and they heard my situation and worked with me.”
The United Way of Greater St. Louis has a long relationship with UFCW Local 655. Our partnership has resulted in hundreds of UFCW partners receiving help during tough times throughout the years. The dedicated 2-1-1 line is open to any and all UFCW members seeking assistance.
“I have my grandchild in my new home,” Anita said. “It was wonderful to have that help when you need it the most.”
UFCW gets 40 hours for long-time partner, father
Ben Weissler really, really needed to work 40 hours per week. With a wife and child at home, Ben, like most working
Missourians, has a tight budget. In order to make ends meet, Ben had taken to working in almost every single department at his store, alternating between produce, bagging, dairy, and more. It was a hectic and stressful way to get to full-time hours, but it was all Ben could do, or so he thought.
“I was going to every single department to check schedules, and I would literally sit by the phone and wait for a call if someone didn’t show and they needed a call-in person,” Weissler said. “I knew I had certain seniority rights and I knew the contract pretty well so I started calling the union.”
Ben spoke with his union staff, who began working on getting him a more regular schedule. A partner with UFCW for nearly 15 years, Ben knew he’d earned the right to a decent schedule and full-time work. Soon enough, Ben got a transfer to a new store where he could work in a single department, easing his workload and schedule. Since the move, Ben has had a solid 40 hour-per-week schedule in the produce department, which he says has made his life that much easier.
“I was always used to working 40 hours at a job,” Weissler said. “But when the company started cutting hours a few years ago, I assume maybe because of the economy or something, I started losing hours, so I had to train in all this other stuff I didn’t want to do just to make 40 hours. I’m much better off in this situation now.”
UFCW gets partner back to work, $13K in back pay
In the Spring of 2015, Quinndale Jernigan was blessed with a gift that so many hard-working men and women hope to receive one day. His sixth child, a daughter, was born healthy and happy. As he held his newborn baby in his arms, sitting in a hospital room just a few feet from his fiancé, the joy came with just the smallest tinge of worry.
The day before, Quinndale Jernigan was wrongfully terminated by his employer, for reasons that could be chalked up to a simple, innocent, miscommunication. Jernigan contacted his Union Rep, Nancy Parker, and explained the problem. At the time, he was working two part-time jobs and putting himself through school. Every week he kept his schedule straight by penning his every shift or family obligation into a small weekly planner. One week, Jernigan made a simple mistake and recorded a few of his shifts incorrectly. When his paycheck the following week appeared to be short, he spoke to a manager. His manager referred him to another manager. That manager referred him to a third manager, before he was told to write down his apparent unpaid shifts so they could “look in to it.”
Not long after, Quinndale was fired for “stealing time” when it was revealed that he’d recorded his shifts wrong in his schedule and thus, claimed he’d worked a shift that he hadn’t. He had been named the “Amazing Teammate” twice in his time at his store, and even named “Star of the Quarter” in the past. Even though he insisted it was an innocent mistake made by a man who was raising (at the time) 5 children, working two jobs, and going to school, he was terminated.
“I was devastated for a while, it was like everything I had worked for was taken away,” Jernigan said. “I had just had my child and I felt like I was unable to support my family.”
But he didn’t back down. If any of the three managers that he’d spoken to had simply checked his shifts, they would have told him he was mistaken, and it never would have come to termination. Jernigan insisted on fighting what he felt was a wrongful termination. He filed a grievance, and the long arbitration process began.
“I’ve seen other workers who didn’t fight when something happened to them that wasn’t right,” Jernigan said. “I wanted to be a leader. I was innocent, I hadn’t tried to do anything wrong, but my family motivated me to not give up. If you give up, you’ll never get anything.”
Over 14 months later, and Jernigan was not only back at work, but he was headed to his company’s corporate office to collect a check for $13,000. He had been made whole by the company that fired him and given 14 months-worth of pay, reinstated, and, most importantly, vindicated of any wrongdoing.
“I didn’t know much about unions before all this,” Jernigan said. “I’ve had jobs in the past where I had a union but they weren’t nearly as strong as this one. I think employees need to know that they have a strong union backing them up. There’s a lot of fear out there, but you need to know your rights and not be afraid to fight.”
He now has money to pay his bills, help care for his 6 children and his fiancé and, most importantly, help him continue his schooling and work toward the better life he has earned. And it’s all thanks to his willingness to fight injustice on the job, and UFCW Local 655’s resources to help him do it.
“This is going to be just so helpful for my family,” Jernigan said. “I appreciate the Union’s help so, so much.”
UFCW Partner couldn’t afford much-needed surgery without his benefits
Joe Stamburski was faced with a dilemma too many Americans face. For many years, Joe has suffered from a heart murmur. It became increasingly serious, and his doctors told the 20-year UFCW Local 655 partner that it could no longer be ignored. His prognosis without corrective surgery was not bright.
But Joe had a problem. Simply put, he was looking at his finances, and he felt crammed between a rock and a hard place. He needed the surgery. But could he afford it?
He began making calls. Specifically, Joe reached out to the UFCW Local 655 Health and Welfare department. Soon, something relieving became clear: because of his union-negotiated benefits, he wouldn’t have to choose between paying his bills and getting surgery he desperately needed.
“Had it not been for the healthcare that our union has negotiated for us, I would not have been able to afford this surgery without question,” Stamburski said. “I was also out of work for about 14 weeks after the surgery, and I had access to the short-term disability that we’ve got negotiated as well. My wife works as well, but without that money coming in, it would have been impossible to do this.”
Stamburski was relieved. Because of the high-quality healthcare negotiated by Local 655, he could afford this surgery without “breaking the bank.”
“You know you have these benefits, but until you really need them, you don’t realize how good they are, and then the union makes it clear that they are going to cover this,” Stamburski said. “I learned the specifics when I needed it the most.”
Not long after returning to work, Joe’s shop steward retired. Hoping he could step up and help, he reached out to his union to fill the void and become a steward. A store Reciever who also trains news Receivers from other stores, Joe has been a steward for 2 years now, and is hoping to continue helping the union that helped him get the care he needed.
“I’m just very grateful, if I hadn’t had a job with a good union contract and these benefits, I really don’t know what would have happened,” Stamburski said.