Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions commonly asked by members.

MONEY

A: Pay increases for non-journeyman positions are based on hours worked. At the journeyman level they are based on the contract. Please contact your Union Rep to get answers specific to your situation.

A: Initiation fees are based on your department and where you live. Brand new Union members can attend a new member meeting and get $50 credit toward their initiation fees. Dues range from $8.50 to $12.50 a week, depending on your job classification. Call the Tigard office at 503-684-2822 and ask for the Records Department to get answers specific to your situation.

A: Only if you did NOT receive a withdrawal card when you left. If you are unsure whether you did, call the Tigard office at 503-684-2822 and ask for the Records Department to ask them this question.

A: Please see our Retirement Options page for more details, especially in regards to options for withdrawing money early…or not.

HEALTH & WELFARE / RETIREMENT

A: It depends on your contract and how long you’ve been a member. Please visit our Health & Welfare/Medical Insurance page or call the Trust Office at 866-796-7623.

A: Call the Trust office at 866-796-7623 with eligibility questions.

A: Spousal coverage is noticeably more expensive than child coverage, which is why it’s only available in Level 2 and 3. If you want to guesstimate when you’ll be eligible for Level 2, call the Trust office at 866-796-7623.

A: It DOES count as a qualifying life event. As soon as you’re eligible you’ll receive a communication from the Trust office and will be able to sign up at that time.

A: Here’s a chart to explain them at a glance.

A: Dental options are available at Level 2 and 3, and vision is available at Level 3. This is simply a factor of cost allocations at the levels based on length of time with the union. If you want to guesstimate when you’ll be eligible for the next Level, call the Trust office at 866-796-7623.

DEFINING TERMS

A: A withdrawal card is something you receive upon leaving a union position (just contact the Tigard office at 503-684-2822 to get one). If you ever receive one, please keep this card in a safe place for the future: it indicates that you have left Local 555 in good standing. You’ll need it if/when you return to a union position. If you do not have one, you will need to pay the initiation fee again as if you were a new member rather than a returning one.

A: Right-to-Work laws make it optional for workers covered by a union contract to help pay for the expenses that the union incurs while protecting the rights of all employees. RTW supporters are savvy in their description of it…after all, who wouldn’t want “the right to work?!” They also prey on dissatisfaction with unions and lack of awareness of which benefits at a job come from union-negotiated contracts. Studies show that RTW laws drive down wages, benefits, and overall living standards for everyone and do NOT have any track record of creating jobs or improving the climate for business in any given state. Learn more and join with other unions in the fight.

A: Learn more here (JPG).

A: A steward is a union member like you who has been trained to enforce coworkers’ rights in the workplace and speak out on union issues. A union steward is an organizer, communicator, educator, problem solver and leader.

HOURS/SCHEDULE

A: Claiming a schedule is an action you can take under the right circumstances. You can claim a schedule from someone who has less seniority than you but is scheduled for more hours than you if all three of the below are true:

  • you have submitted your most recent up to date availability to your employer
  • you are able to work all of the hours and shifts as scheduled on the schedule you are claiming
  • your claim is based on total hours scheduled for the week (not specific shifts or times)

A: Contractually: yes. Typically, a minimum of a 30 minute lunch break is required if you work more than 5 hours. If you are not being allowed to take your lunch break, please contact your Union Rep right away to let them know.

A: This depends on your contract. For retail contracts, for example, you are not required to accept overtime.

A: Seniority is based on continuous time employment with the employer. (How it affects your opportunities within the workplace is dependent on your employer’s policies.) Seniority can affect your scheduling options, vacation status, and health insurance eligibility, among other things. Here are a few examples.

  • If you left your employer and returned after a year or more, you’d start fresh on all fronts: no seniority for any purposes.
  • If you left your employer and returned within a year, you would be at the seniority level you were when you left (for the purposes of scheduling, etc.) but would begin fresh for vacation and health insurance eligibility.
  • If you transferred within the same employer between a union job and a non-union job (in other words, if you had to leave the union but did not leave the employer), you would retain seniority for everything, including vacation and health insurance eligibility.

A: Your right to sick leave and the amount of sick leave that you get is something you get through the contract your union negotiates with the employer. The First Day Sick Pay law impacts how the sick leave is accrued on your paystub and how it can be used. You cannot use sick leave until after your probationary period (typically 90 days) is over, and then you can only use the hours you have accrued. But, due to First Day Sick Pay, you can used them as soon as the 91st day, and on the first day you are sick. Before this law, employers had the right to decline to pay you for your first day of being sick, even if you had plenty of sick time accrued.

HOW DO I:

A: Check out our section about Health & Welfare or call the Trust Office at 866-796-7623.

A: Check out our section about Pensions or call the Trust Office at 866-796-7623.

A: Keep your membership current by filling out the form on this page or by calling the Tigard office at 503-684-2822.

IMPORTANT: the Trust office and the UFCW Local 555 offices have separate data systems. If you have health insurance or pension eligibility through the Trust office, you must call them at 866-796-7623 to update your information there. If you are retired, your updated address MUST be sent to the Trust office rather than to the Tigard Local 555 offices.

A: Congratulations! Please take care of these few steps:
1) Contact the Trust office at 866-796-7623 to update them as to your status (and any change in contact information). The Trust office will also be able to answer any Health & Welfare or Pension/401(k) questions.
2) Contact the Tigard office at 503-684-2822 to let us know also, and, importantly, to request a withdrawal card. The Trust data system is separate from the UFCW Local 555 data system, which is why you need to contact both.
3) If you wish to be featured in the “Into the Sunset” section of the 555 Leader in the NW Labor Press, please contact your Union Rep to give them a picture and some details about your career and your future plans.

A: Thanks for asking that question! It’s a good idea to make sure you do this correctly so that if you ever return to a union-eligible position in the future, rejoining will be easy:
1) Contact the Tigard office at 503-684-2822 to let us know. Make sure we have your updated contact information just in case we need to reach you. You will need to request what’s called a withdrawal card. Please keep this card in a safe place for the future: it indicates that you have left Local 555 in good standing. You’ll need it if/when you return to a union position.
2) If you have pension eligibility (or questions about health insurance transitions), please contact the Trust office at 866-796-7623.

A: Fill out this form!

A: Use our Rep Finder to look up your Union Rep’s information.

A: Learn a little bit more about becoming a Workplace Leader to see if you think it’s right for you. Workplace Leaders may eventually choose to become Stewards, depending on involvement, availability, and interest.

A: UFCW can provide support in getting your GED, taking college courses, and learning another language. Learn more!

A: Call 844-702-8386. Please also reach out to your rep to let them know what your experience has been!

A: Thank you for asking for help. Chances are, you’re not the first person experiencing whatever difficulty you’re coping with. 211 is a community assistance program that may be of use to you. If you need energy assistancefamily supportfood assistancehealth services, or help with housing concerns, it’s a great place to start.

If you have a question that isn’t answered above and is specific to you, please contact your Union Rep.

If your unanswered question is NOT specific to your particular circumstances, please use this form to suggest an addition to our FAQ page.

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