UFCW Stewards

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After Serving Our Country in the Marines, Local 227 Member Continues to Serve in His Union

Jeff, center, pictured with fellow Local 227 members and UFCW 227's 2015 endorsed candidate for Governor Jack Conway

Jeff, center, pictured with fellow Local 227 members and UFCW 227’s 2015 endorsed candidate for Governor Jack Conway

This week, as Memorial Day approaches, we are honoring the memory of those who have fallen defending our country and its freedom. By spotlighting UFCW members who have served in our country’s military or who give their time to help those who have, we hope to continue the legacy of the heroes who have passed on.

Below is the story of Local 227 member Jeff Pleasant:

Jeff Pleasant always looked up to his uncle who was a marine. So, when he turned 16 he signed the papers to join and went to boot camp at 17 years old. Looking back on his 12 years of service to our country, Jeff explains, “The marines taught me to look after one another. Even though we always strived for success, it was important to reach back and pull someone else along too.”

After the marines Jeff had various law enforcement jobs where he had a union, but he never really got involved. Jeff became a member of UFCW 227 in 2006 when he went to work for JBS in Louisville, KY.

One day, frustrated with a co-worker, Jeff brought his complaint to the Chief Union Steward Kevin Diale. Jeff remembers Kevin explaining to him that as union members we look out for each other and if we have a problem we resolve it together. Jeff remembers, “That was the day I made the connection. The values that I learned in the marines were the same values of the labor movement. We’re always looking out for each other.”

After being a member for 4 years, Jeff decided he wanted to become a Steward because of his shared values with our union. He served as a Steward for 3 years before being elected by his fellow union member to become Assistant Chief Steward. A year later he was elected Chief Steward.

During his time as a Steward, Jeff got involved in his local union’s political program and signed hundreds of members up for the Active Ballot Club. He also traveled across the state of Kentucky supporting Wal-mart workers in their courageous fight to stand up for their rights. No matter what Jeff was doing he was always looking out for not just union members, but everyone around him in general.

Around 18 months ago, Jeff became a Union Representative for UFCW 227. Now, he uses the values the marines taught him to make our union strong, “For our union to be stronger we have to band together.”

 

Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Training Program Provides Great Opportunity for Union Leaders and Staff, Community Activists

Adapted from the AFL-CIO

photo from AFL-CIO

photo from AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Training Program (BLUS) 2015 classes are now open for registration.

The program is designed for union leaders, staff and community activists and offers intensive hands-on training around the areas of collective bargaining; organizing; arbitration and grievance handling; leadership for new union officers; strategic campaigns for contracts; teaching techniques; and best financial practices.

Taught by a group of experienced instructors, the BLUS program brings together rising union activists and community allies with the end goal of helping participants to better serve their unions and communities.

The classes cover many aspects of union training, such as writing contract language, arbitration, and organizing.

Most classes are held at the MITAGS training center in Linthicum, MD. MITAGS is close to BWI Airport, Amtrak, and I-95. Free shuttle service is offered to and from the airport and train station.

For more information, visit aflcio.org/union-skills.

This is a great opportunity for UFCW Locals and members to get more involved in their union, workplace, and community.

Member Spotlight: Jerry Knapp

IMG_7253Recently, long-time UFCW Local 1500 member Jerry Knapp was recognized for his years of active service to his union and fellow union members by Region 1, and was awarded with a member award along with several other members who have made a difference in their workplaces. He was taken aback when he learned he was being recognized, Jerry said, but it was nice to know someone knew he existed. After talking with Jerry, it was clear to us why someone would take notice of Jerry and his time in the UFCW:

Since 1966, Jerry has worked as a union member at Shoprite in Fishkill, New York. Working as a department manager at one time, he is now happily employed as a clerk as he nears retirement. In 1994, Jerry was named the Primary Shop Steward at his store–a role in which he still has today. Jerry says that his job “is a good job because of the union,” and that as UFCW members, he and his coworkers aren’t abused or taken advantage of, and they earn good pay and benefits.

But Jerry knows that these things that make a good union job good are only obtainable when people are active in their unions. Jerry has attended countless area meetings, participated in the negotiating process, and been there to advise fellow members on their rights and responsibilities. Being active and engaged, says Jerry, enables union members to have a say in what happens on the job, to choose your lifestyle, and have your career needs and desires heard, as opposed to working for a non-union company that can make promises and change their minds about policies at the drop of a hat. With a union, he notes, you have the right to go back to the bargaining table.

Not only is Jerry involved in his workplace, but in the wider community and Local as well. Jerry has helped other folks achieve the union difference through his organizing efforts, and he has worked to help elect politicians who will represent and look out for the working people in his area. Jerry’s peers have noted that his work has not only earned him the respect of his coworkers, but of management as well. It’s clear that at the end of this year when Jerry goes into retirement, which will be his 49th year of service in the union, he will be dearly missed at work by all.

His advice for others that want to get more involved in the union is to ask themselves what they think they need or want out of their job or in the workplace, and then go after it. If you don’t take advantage of the power you have as a union member by negotiating or working together, notes Jerry, then you don’t have the right to complain.

“Don’t sit back,” he says. “The union starts with ‘U’!”