In this week’s member spotlight, we chatted with UFCW Local 951 member Keith Phillips, who works at Meijer in East Lansing, Michigan.
Keith has been a UFCW member for two years now, but has been a member of various unions over the years–so he knows the value of belonging to one, especially in a right-to-work state, he notes.
“I want to call it something else,” he adds slyly, alluding to the many more fitting terms for the legislation that does anything but protect someone’s actual right to work.
Before going to the United States Merchant Marine Academy as a young man, Keith attended the National School of Meat Cutting and became a journeyman meat cutter. He worked for Packer Foods in Flint, Michigan where he joined the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America in 1967 and 1968. It was during these times, Keith notes, that unions were very strong and more people were “union-minded.”
For most of Keith’s professional career, he was an environmental engineer and belonged to the Maritime Engineers Union, where he was very involved and served as a union steward and chapter president. He is also a retired U.S. Navy Commander.
After his retirement, Keith wanted to do work as a meat cutter again and was hired by Meijer, joining UFCW Local 951. Right now, Keith works as a part time meat and seafood clerk.
“I enjoy helping customers,” says Keith of his job. He enjoys to “chit-chat” with them and his coworkers, many of them veterans like him. “It’s really a social experience!” He also does volunteer work in his spare time.
Right now, Keith says he is planning to reach out to his union steward at work, because his manager tried to move him to a non-union position, which Keith refused to let happen. Now, Keith wants to file a grievance because his supervisor has not scheduled him to work for a week. “I know that my steward meat-cutter friend will help me out,” he notes.
“With a union, you have a degree of protection,” he says after refusing to switch to a non-union job.
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