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UFCW Constituency Groups Hold Summit to Strategize for the Future

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On May 11-13, all four of the UFCW constituency groups held a summit to lay out goals and strategize new organizational plans for the next few years. More than 20 members attended the summit to represent the different groups which include the UFCW Women’s Network, United Latinos, UFCW Minority Coalition, and UFCW OUTreach.

During the summit, members worked together to identify ways the constituency groups can help the UFCW grow along with recommitting to support locals unions by assisting in organizing campaigns, mentoring workers, and helping to amplify the voices of minorities and women in the workplace. Members also came together to create a civil rights agenda to better serve UFCW members. Another priority from the summit was for the constituency groups to strive to have a more geographically diverse board leadership with a focus in the South.

The constituency groups left the summit with four specific goals that reflect the larger goals of the UFCW set by International President Marc Perrone. For the next few years, the constituency groups agreed to create transformational change within their organizations by:

-Recommitting to better tracking and organizing constituency membership information

-Creating new relationships with community allies

-Serving as a resource for local unions by supporting their members and helping to grow their membership

-Playing an active role leading up to, and during, the 2016 election and supporting “Get Out the Vote” efforts

The constituency groups left the summit as a united force ready to empower their group members and serve as a resource for all UFCW members.

Kathy Finn from UFCW Local 770 attended the summit on behalf of the UFCW Women’s Network.

“The constituency group summit gave us the time and space to look critically at how the constituency groups can more effectively further the overall goals of the UFCW. One of the most important things to come out of the summit was a commitment from all of the constituency groups to work together on developing a broad civil rights agenda for the UFCW. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop our agenda further and present it the rest of the UFCW,”said Finn.

Pete Maturino is from UFCW Local 5 and is the president of the United Latinos.

“For me, the highlight of the constituency group summit was that the four constituency groups were able to come together and come up with a unified agenda that highlights the valuable role that these constituency groups play in our union. During the summit, I was surprised to learn from the UFCW political department about the lack of voting among UFCW members in the 17-35 age range. 2016 will be a very important year in politics and we came together to map out a plan on what we can do this election cycle,” said Maturino.

Tonya McCoy has been a part of UFCW Local 75 for more than 20 years and attended the summit as a member of the UFCW Minority Coalition.

“I’m excited that all four constituency groups came together to create a robust civil rights agenda and committed to promoting diversity within the UFCW. Following the summit, I was excited to come back to my local and inspire members to take an active role in our union. The constituency groups are a vital part of the UFCW because they are another tool that will help the UFCW to grow,” McCoy said.

Laura Kelley is an organizer for UFCW Local 655 and is the Vice Chair for UFCW OUTreach.

“It was a “think tank” of brilliant minds for one common goal, making the UFCW the best, most diverse, and powerful union possible! The in-depth discussions, ideas, and open dialogue were very interesting, and everyone who attended added to the dynamic of the energy of the summit. It was a great opportunity to share our needs and set expectations for the future of our great union. Working together as one group instead of four individual groups will  help push the agenda of becoming an all-inclusive union. Politically, our members and our communities can be a powerful force, and we talked about how to build coalitions around our issues and educate voters for the 2016 elections,” Kelley said.

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Celebrating UFCW Moms: Local 655 Member Fights Right To Work; Stands Up for Union Rights that Gave Her and Her Daughter Better Life

theresaWith Mother’s Day right around the corner, we couldn’t think of a better time to celebrate the great work that UFCW mothers do, each and every day!

One such union mom, Theresa Hester of UFCW Local 655, recently shared her story of how the union has changed her life in a testimony before the Missouri State Senate to explain why Right to Work laws are wrong:

In 1998, Theresa moved to St. Louis after graduating from high school. That year, she established three goals her herself: continue her education, provide a better living for herself and her young daughter, and get off government assistance.

For a few years, she moved from job to job, but none allowed her to be able to support her daughter the way she wanted – until 2003 when she started working at Shop ‘n Save and became a member of UFCW Local 655.

Unfortunately, that same year, she and her co-workers were forced to go on strike in order to save their healthcare and benefits.  Theresa experienced union solidarity first-hand, saying “we were out there, walking day and night, fighting for the things we needed to support our families. The thing that stood out to me was how united we were on our common issues during that period. I realized the real power of a union is how people come together.”

Theresa has come a long way since that first eye-opening experience and has now been a Local 655 member for 12 years. She says that being a union member has allowed her to raise her daughter in a good environment, and have the flexible scheduling she needs to attend PTA meetings or participate in after school activities with her daughter. “There’s no greater feeling than knowing you can tell your child that you’ll be at their performance, or Christmas party, or whatever the case may be,” she says.

Additionally, Theresa’s union job has enabled her to meet the goals she set for herself years ago. She now lives in North St. Louis in a home she owns and is able to afford. Not only does she no longer need government assistance, she was able to pay for and attend accounting school.

“I know personally the benefits of having a union job and what it does for hardworking families,” Theresa told the state Senate during her testimony. “I’m free to work any place I choose.”

That’s why Theresa has been speaking out about Right to Work laws in her state. When she talks to her co-workers and friends about the legislation, they are very concerned because the proposed law is so confusing, deceptive, and has such potential to hurt hard-working families.

Theresa argues that legislators should be discussing raising the minimum wage, creating jobs that pay living wages, and investing in education and infrastructure. She knows that Right to Work laws create unsafe workplaces, weaken worker power, and diminish the likelihood of workers having a pension or healthcare.

“Because I have a union job, I sleep easier at night knowing I have great benefits, better working conditions, great healthcare, and a voice that someone will hear,” Theresa says. She gives credit to her local union (UFCW Local 655) and the contract she and her co-workers help to negotiate for making that possible.

Our union family wouldn’t be what it is without your brave, strong, and united voices. Are you a UFCW mom, or a member with a story to share? Tell us at http://www.ufcw.org/resources/members/share-your-story/.

UFCW Local 655 Members Support Groundbreaking Candidate in Landmark Ferguson, Mo., Election

Last week, Ella Jones became the first female African American candidate to be elected to the City Council in Ferguson, Mo., thanks in part to the endorsement and support of UFCW Local 655. UFCW members got involved in the local race because of their desire to elect local leadership that was a better reflection of the diverse citizens of Ferguson.

Although 70% of Ferguson’s population is black, only one African American held a seat on the City Council. After record voter turnout in this off year election, three African Americans were elected to the Council, including Jones.

Jones has strong ties to labor and understands the difference that belonging to a union family can make.  Throughout her campaign, Jones advocated for creating sustainable work opportunities for Missouri youth, and for the value of a union contract and a voice on the job, saying that, “when workers have good jobs and thrive, our communities do as well.”

“My husband was a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1,” Jones said. “For many years, having a union contract was the only way an African American could have a stable job and earn fair wages. Being a union member made the difference for my family. It’s why we could have a good life. That’s why I support unions and union jobs – so families can have the same experience we did,” said Jones.

After meeting with Jones and having extensive conversations on issues important to constituents, UFCW Local 655 members eagerly endorsed her candidacy. Many UFCW Local 655 members contributed donations to her campaign, hand billed at worksites to spread the word about her platform, and made sure people went to the polls on voting day.

“After the turmoil and upheaval experienced by the citizens of Ferguson, voters like UFCW 655 members knew that a new governing board was needed to shift the focus back to the people who are the roots of the community in order to get the city back on its feet,” said Local 655 President Dave Cook.

Ella Jones became the first female African American candidate to be elected to the City Council in Ferguson, Mo

Ella Jones became the first female African American candidate to be elected to the City Council in Ferguson, Mo