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History of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 431

From UFCW Local 431

In 1935, a journeyman meat cutter working in the retail stores in the Quad City area asked his employer to be excused from work the following Saturday to get married. His request was denied and he took the day off without permission, and was fired. On that day, Jasper Rose (the founder of our District Local Union) started to organize a union for the Quad City area and Clinton, Iowa.

On August 3, 1936, (with 83 members) Jasper Rose received a charter from the Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America, AFL. Jasper Rose was elected as the first principal officer, Secretary-Treasurer & Business Manager. Vern Hudson was elected as the first President of District Local 431.

By 1938 the District Local Union had over 700 members and Jasper Rose was hired as the first paid full-time Union Representative. The Local achieved signed contracts with many of the retail employers, reducing the work week from 60 hours to 48 hours, and establishing wage increases, work rules, seniority, and a grievance procedure.

In 1947, about 600 members created the Voluntary Death Benefit Fund and set up the rules to govern it.

By 1960, the District Local had established a Credit Union (which later merged into the Alcoa Employees Credit Union) and a Health & Welfare Fund for the retail stores.

In February 1975, Des Moines, Iowa, Local 367 of the AMC&BW merged into District Local 431.

Our first major strike came in 1978. The retail employers formed an association with the understanding that if the union would strike one employer, the rest of the employers would lock out our members. With temperatures at 20 below 0 and blizzard conditions, District Local 431 went on strike against Eagle Food stores. Immediately, our members were locked out at A & P, Jewel Foods, Krogers, Geifmans, and Randalls Supermarkets. Hundreds of Retail Clerks and Teamsters honored our picket lines at Eagles. The major chain stores imported and hired workers to replace our strikers and supporters who were honoring our picket line. Hundreds of our members from other units came out in support with financial contributions and walked the picket line. Within three weeks, the contract was settled without any concessions.

Just one year later, another major strike took place with Oscar Mayer, Davenport, Iowa. The union’s issue was job security. Once again, the employer found out there was more involved than just Oscar Mayer, Davenport, Iowa. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated by our other units to help pay for health insurance and other emergency needs of the strikers. After a long four weeks of striking, an agreement was reached granting the industry settlement, with the additions of a double pension for employees who qualified if a department or plant closed, inter-plant transfers between the Madison and Davenport Oscar Mayer plants, and restrictions on sub-contracting language.

In 1979 a merger was consummated between the International Unions of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of N.A. and the Retail Clerks, creating the largest International Union within the AFL-CIO, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.

In November 1985, UFCW Local 46, Waterloo, Iowa, and UFCW Local 1470, Quad Cities area, merged into District Local 431.

Our latest merger took place in June 2001, with Locals 150A, Dubuque, Iowa, and 166G, Waterloo, Iowa, merging into District Local 431.

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