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.”