• authored by siggy
  • published Mon, Jul 29, 2002

ufcw Prez. Zwieg says he's worth it.

You have to promise there'll be no slobbering after you read this.


Top of the union scale
Pioneer Press

Veteran meat cutters are the best-paid hourly workers at most union grocery stores. They make about $50,000 annually in the western half of the Twin Cities.

Meanwhile, their union leader, Ron Zwieg, made about $275,000 last year, including a bonus of at least $50,000 for a job well done on negotiating a new grocery workers contract. This year, he'll make around $205,000.

In St. Paul and the east metro, grocery workers generally get paid a little less per hour than their brethren across the river. But their union leader, Bill Pearson, makes considerably less than his west side compatriot. In fact, Pearson's $79,000 salary in 2001 was about $45,000 less than that of Zwieg's second-in-command at the west metro local.

Read it all >>> and there's even more.

(BP made me do it )

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 9:08pm

I've got a lot of time and respect for Bill P.

However, Zweig is so blinded by his own self-worth that he can't see what's wrong with what he's doing. Likewise, some of his members can't see what's wrong with the picture.

Maybe it's time for a little self reflection for union members. Here's another story about how some spend so much time carping at outward events that they fail to see similarities in their own back yards:


From the Santamonica Outlook
Impudent, uncensored account
By C. Castle

Calling the Kettle Black

The timing seemed uncanny. In less than 48 hours union supporters would hold a press conference to denounce the handful of hotel owners who had pumped an unprecedented $880,000 into the Prop KK campaign.

How could the wealthy hotel owners spend all that money to fight paying their workers a decent wage? the union supporters had been asking. How could they live high off the hog knowing their employees and their families were squeezed into small apartments in seedy parts of Los Angeles and often relying on the government to make ends meet?

So here we were, settling in after a hard day's night when a late, late night broadcast caught our attention. It was a rerun and update of last December's expose of Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int'l Union ex-president Edward T. Hanley. As we watched, awestruck, we couldn't help but wonder if any the union supporters preparing self-righteous speeches had ever seen the broadcast or heard of Hanley.

Hanley, Dateline reported, had ripped off union dues for years, using the money to buy $1,000 meals, keep an actor friend on a $25,000 a year retainer, invest in an Irish sports team, purchase a condo he used one week out of the year and buy a Palm Springs home.

When he was finally forced out after a quarter century, Hanley was spared criminal prosecution for wrongdoing due to an immunity deal with the Justice Department. Hanley, who retired last July, continued to live the high life on the backs of 270,000 honest, hardworking dishwashers, busboys, bellhops and maids.

Hanley's contract, approved by his handpicked board of directors, guaranteed the former union boss $310,000 a year for life. When the union boss died in a car crash, a clause in the contract called for his widow to collect most of the $310,000 a year for the rest of her days.

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 11:04pm


But if he did retire, he'd have a good pension. It would be based on his last few years of pay as UFCW 653's leader.

Back to the same question I have been asking. What do we know about union presidents pensions? Do they have the same pension plan as their members or do they contibute to a different pension plan?


  • posted by lefkenny
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 11:21pm

Mr. Ronald N. Zwieg, President

UFCW Local No. 653
505 North Highway 169
Suite 755
Plymouth MN 55441

BUS: (763) 525-1500
FAX: (763) 525-068

Should we contact him in his crystal palace. The very least we should do is ask him to give some of his gold to BP. I think he deserves it more.


  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 9:02am

A lot of presidents do have the same pension plan as their members. And they have the International plan, and they have other plans too.

Take one in Canada. He has a full, Local 1518 pension (credited for 30 years) just because he put his members in that plan for a few months. He has loads of dough in the UFCW International plan. He has a great pension with CCWIPP and he may very well have a pension with an Alberta local. On the two or three days he actually shows up, he comes into work at 11:00 a.m. and leaves by 3:00 p.m. He "flies" to all the (stinky) UFCW events, and just buzzes about. He goes to IFEB events in exotic places, but has yet to attend the required number of workshops to get an attendance certificate.

Like Zweig, he tells people that he does PR. That is he hangs with the UFCW elite, so that if the local ever needs a favour, it will be forthcomming.

These guys will keep producing that sort of crap as long as the Power Source buys it. This site has gone a long way in screwing up sales. Keep up the good work.

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 9:34am

For the sake of effeciency, lets amalgamate 653 into 789. 653 appears to not even to have a web site. 15,000 members and no web site. What up with that. Is this highly paid president afraid of something. Well BP, the fact that you are here with us and not him really does tell me a lot more about you. I think the members of 653 would really be better of with you even though you still pray to a specific union name.

Hey how about you link us to some of your speaches. I just had to break down and take a peak to hear you speak.


  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 4:55pm

Nobody is ever worth that kind of money for doing something they claim to do because they want to help improve the lives of working people. [that means other than yourself] I could swallow Dority pulling down that kind of bread if he could show me what he does for my dues dollars that actually benefits the local I'm in but that's it. 100K is more than enough money to live on for a local President and anything over and above that is a crime.

He's taken 175K that could have funded a number of other programs and word to wise...unions are only as strong as the power source that drives them, Presidents are expendable.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 5:32pm

Zwieg is making just like a corporate CEO: Justifying his big salary on the basis of the money and turf he controls and the big shots he hangs out with. What any of this has to do with furthering the interests of working people is beyond me. There does not appear to be any compelling evidence that living large, controlling pension funds and hanging with other kahunas has done anything of value for workers.

Zwieg may not earn the multi-millions that his corporate counterparts do, but he has it easier: Unlike the corporate boys, he is accountable to no one and is not measured against any standards of performance (even bad ones). He is not, for instance, expected to make his local successful (by any definition) in order to hang on to his position. He thinks he's just entitled to it. He even defends his entitlement publicly, the shameless louse.

Someone tell me please why a guy like Zwieg needs $275K a year. Why does anyone need that kind of income?

  • posted by retailworker
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 6:06pm

"nothin's too good for the workin man"

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 6:14pm


Zwieg explained that many factors go into setting his pay. These include:

His length of service with the union.

The size of the local.

His role as head of the union's multimillion-dollar pension and health and welfare funds.

The fact that he's an international vice president with access to UFCW union leaders across the nation.

Even his role as director of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's Advisory Board plays a role, he said. The board, made up of community leaders, helps plug the Fed into what's happening in the economy. In turn, Zwieg says he gets valuable economic insight that helps him in his job at Local 653.

I especially like the one where he says he has "access to UFCW union leaders across the nation."

What the hell is that supposed to mean? As if Bill P. and a few hundred other UFCW presidents don't have phones or access to a fax, e-mail or mailbox. Tell me one thing all his access gets him that others don't get.

If he does get more, then the UFCW system stinks. It isn't one of equality, it's one of favoritism.

What's the answer Mr. Zwieg--equality or favoritism?

  • posted by siggy
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 9:12pm

I have searched for a ufcw 653 web presence and guess what, there isn't one. Not enough money in the local to run a site?

I was looking for information about what kind of representation ufcw Local 653 offers its members. Office staff, MR's (biz-agents) etc. It must be one rich local to afford a prez with the kind of qualifications Zwieg has.

Are the paid staffers representative of the majority of its' members etc.?

Can't find out a damn thing. New spin on *closed union shop*?

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 10:18pm

I was looking too and could not find much. I even tried to find out all the international vice presidents and found nothing? Anyone have a list of all the well paid international vice presidents?


  • posted by remote viewer
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 7:56am

Still retching...

Zwieg got a $50,000 bonus for negotiating a good contract?!! What the hell does he need a bonus for? Isn't he supposed to negotiate good contracts as part of his job? What if there was no bonus? Would that make it OK to bargain a crappy contract?

Can somebody tell me something: If Zwieg lost the presidency, what would be his options? Would he have to go back to earning a palty $50,000 like the veteran meat cutters or would he have to survive on $7.85 an hour like some of his other unfortunate members?

  • posted by siggy
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 9:51am

I'm still trying to figure out how two locals from the same machine, across the city from each other can look so different.

BP, do us a favour. Go to your office, right inside the front door somewhere, there should be a desk. (might be a women sitting at it).

There will be papers, a phone and pro'lly lots of other stuff. K ... rifle through some of the papers. You're looking for a piece of paper with your union office letterhead. K..? when you find it look at it, no .. no.. look at it.
Does it say UFCW?

  • posted by <tclady>
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 9:44pm

I've been a member in the ufcw sinse 1992. Our contract in mpls is one of the best. Benefits are really good. Didnt have aclue the president made that kind of money. No women business reps and i don't think there are any blacks or mexicans. the agents come in the stores some sundays. We've got a web site for our benefits but i'm not sure what it is. hope this helps. I shouldn't be here, but i heard you were looking for someone from 653.

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 9:54pm

<tclady> You are welcome here like any other union member. It is a union site despite all attempts by the status quo to discredit us. Your imput is greatly appreciated.


  • posted by siggy
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 12:26am


I've been a member in the ufcw sinse 1992. Our contract in mpls is one of the best.

Welcome to the MFD *tclady*. What is mpls? And what do you call *the best*? Can you be more specific?


Benefits are really good. Didnt have aclue the president made that kind of money.

Now that you know, do you feel the same way about your benefits?


No women business reps and i don't think there are any blacks or mexicans.

Would it be safe to assume that each of the minorities you've listed, are part of this local? Why do you think the elected and paid representatives don't reflect that?


the agents come in the stores some sundays.

Sounds like workers don't aren't getting the representation they've overpaid for. Has anyone tried to take issue with this, has anyone done anything to get the locals attention? It's not like you don't pay them enough. For the salary Zwieg pulls down he should be working 24/8.


We've got a web site for our benefits but i'm not sure what it is.

It would be good if you could find this out. We are all curious to know more about this very lopsided local (I'm being kind).


hope this helps. I shouldn't be here, but i heard you were looking for someone from 653

This does help. The more we know, the easier to hold our machines responsible. You know ... get what we pay for. I for one am glad you came, don't be a stranger.

  • posted by licatsplit
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 4:19am


Union members queried by the Pioneer Press weren't aware of Zwieg's salary. But then, few workers anywhere seem to know what their union leaders are paid - or their corporate leaders for that matter.

It's hard to believe the members are not aware of Zwieg's salary. I can understand them not being aware of their corporate leaders salaries, but 653 is required by U.S. law to make available LM-2s, 3s, and 4s. These documents are available to the public. The LM forms give you information about officers' salaries and expenses, union loans, expenditures and investments. IMHO, all unions should readily supply their members with a copy of these reports rather than force the membership to search for the documents. I like the $50,000 bonus deal. Shouldn't the membership get a bonus for adhering to the contract? It occurs to me that a leader who has the members' best interest at heart may want to donate any bonuses toward a strike fund or something of interest to the members. In my opinion, the fact there is no web presence along with the fact 653 doesn't readily supply the membership with important financial documents, supports the premise that Local 653 is being run with a closed door policy.

  • posted by Richard
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 7:13am

Guys like Zwieg like to brag that they are worth every penny they make, but they sure as heck don't go about bragging about how much they make. They don't tell about the retirement cash and cars either.

How often do they tell the members about the house in Florida that the members bought Cliff Evans as a retirement gift?

How many of you get a house when you retire--never mind a house in florida?

  • posted by licatsplit
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 4:23am

As long as union leaders expect monetary rewards ahead of the self satisfaction which comes from helping their fellow workers, the members are going to suffer these forms of injustice! IMHO, it's not what an individual is worth, it's what WE are worth!

  • posted by siggy
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 7:25am


IMHO, it's not what an individual is worth, it's what WE are worth!

Exactly and we're not going away until it's applied, and probably not even then, or ever.

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 9:02am


what WE are worth!

I think a balance is needed in determining what's appropriate compensation for services rendered. I don't get paid for the work I do for my employer as much as I get paid for the time I spend away from the things I'd rather be doing with my time.

Certainly the amount of money I should expect my employer to cough up is relative to the profits they take in from staying in business. It isn't very intelligent on my part to expect an employer to pay more in saleries than the revenue they take in. By the same token the long term health of my employer is just as important to me as it is to my boss. It's not just my meal ticket it's theirs as well and so when the pie is devided up it's in everyones best interest to put a portion of the profits towards the business itself.

When I see a local union President of 15K members taking home 20K plus from the International, 225K a year in salery from the local and 50K in signing bonus's I don't see a man "who's worth every penny" I see a greedy parasite who's sucking the life blood out of the organization and making it weaker in the long run. I see a guy taking his share of the pie and everyone else's as well and justifying it because he has a larger appetite.

At 295K we haven't even touched on his car, pension[s] and expence accounts. In total the cost to the employer [the union membership] could well be in excess of 350K per year. I respect Buzz Hargrove more than any other unionist in the world, he is the National President of a 250K member union and I would strongly oppose Buzz taking home even a fraction of that amount! NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY is ever "worth" that kind of money and this guy should be assamed of himself. His family should be assamed of him and his friends should act like friends and tell him what a shit he is for ripping off so many unsuspecting people.

  • posted by wannabeCAW
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 9:30pm

Mcpherson you are right on! "His friends should tell him he is a SH*T"
There are lots of SHI*S who should be S*OT in "our union world"
I think militancy is our best answer to the corruption WE endure!

  • posted by licatsplit
  • Sat, Aug 3, 2002 2:57am


Certainly the amount of money I should expect my employer to cough up is relative to the profits they take in from staying in business.

I wonder what percentage of Local 653's total assets goes toward President Zweig's yearly salary? I would have thought UFCW locals would all have an identical formula to determine official's salaries, although I suppose this keeps each local autonomous and allows them to conduct "business" as they see fit with less intervention by the national body. Is this a correct assumption or am I out in left field without a glove?

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Aug 3, 2002 6:07am


No women business reps and i don't think there are any blacks or mexicans. the agents come in the stores some sundays.

No-one else see anything wrong with this?

It could explain why he's able to masquerade as a leader and continues to suck the lifeblood outta' workers, they don't have a voice.

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