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    Mich. Unions Laud Bill to Issue Food Stamps Twice a Month

    Labor leaders cite greater shopping, budgeting flexibility for consumers

    Members of the Madison Heights, Mich.-based United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876 are cheering the passage of Michigan State Senate bill 120, which would increase the distribution of food stamps from once to twice a month.

    "We applaud the bi-partisan action by the state senate," said Roger Robinson, president UFCW Local 876. "It's a win-win for everyone involved -- Michigan's workers, consumers and retailers. We urge the members of the House of Representatives to approve the change and send the new bill to the Governor for her signature as quickly as possible."

    Robinson said the advantages of twice-a-month distribution include:
    -- Greater shopping and budgeting flexibility for food stamp recipients who would be less likely to run out of food stamps before the end of the month, and be able to purchase fresh products throughout the month.
    -- A greater and more even distribution of work hours for grocery store employees. Currently, these workers' hours are often cut during the last 20 days of the month, coinciding with the drop in shopping experienced after the distribution of food stamps.
    -- Elimination of the financial, management and inventory problems experienced by retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, and manufacturers as a result of the current food stamp distribution system.
    -- A greater selection of fresh food for all shoppers. Currently, many grocers are unable to stock fresh meat, dairy and produce during the last 20 days of the month when their business is reduced due to once a month food stamp distribution.

    "For almost two years, the UFCW in Michigan has been advocating for this change to the distribution of food stamps," added Marv Russow, president of UFCW 876's Grand Rapids-based sister union, UFCW Local 951. "Last summer, over 75 UFCW members went to Lansing to lobby their legislators on a variety of issues including food stamp distribution. It's encouraging to see that our efforts paid off."

    SB 120 was sponsored by Martha Scott (D-Highland Park); a similar bill (HB 4923) was introduced by Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale).

    UFWC Locals 876 and 951 have a combined membership of approximately 50,000 workers, the majority of which are retail grocery workers employed by Kroger, Meijer, Hiller's Hollywood Supermarkets, Plumb's, Polly's, and Harding's. To provide members with the strongest political voice possible, the two locals work together on all political efforts.

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