The Power of Positivity: Solidarity and a can-do attitude are keys to successful negotiations

Are you part of the solution?

This is the most important question we can ask ourselves at our critical moment in history.

Anyone who has looked at Facebook or Twitter should be aware of how toxic and negative some people’s public conversations have become.

Almost everyone agrees we can do better, and yet there are some who can’t help feeding into the problem and making it worse.

We can blame Russian trolls, we can blame the political parties and we can blame the cable news shows, but ultimately the responsibility for being part of the solution lies with us.

To solve any problem, it helps to approach it with a positive attitude. When we realize a solution is possible, we can then focus on identifying the solution and implementing it.

This means casting away negative thoughts — fears, despairs and cynical presumptions — which get in the way of progress and create futile and unproductive diversions.

Everyone experiences moments when problems seem overwhelming and negativity threatens to take hold. These are the times when the task of finding and implementing solutions seems most challenging.

When we resist those negative thoughts and push ourselves toward positive actions, everything changes. We find ourselves smiling more and, lo and behold, people are smiling back at us.

We realize we have friends and allies. And solutions become possible.

This lesson can be useful as we move toward the next round of negotiations with the major supermarket employers in Northern and Central California.

As it is with any endeavor of importance, our success in negotiating successful new agreements will require courage, faith and confidence in ourselves.

We have prevailed in the past and we will prevail in the future, as long as we remember we have each other.

Time and time again, our experiences in the Labor Movement have taught us the winning solution to substandard wages, benefits and working conditions is Solidarity!

Solidarity is working people standing together for everyone’s benefit. It is the means by which members of UFCW 8-Golden State have achieved industry-leading standards in pay, health care, pensions, work guarantees, job protections, vacations, sick pay and so much more.

Solidarity is possible when we understand the power of positivity within ourselves as individuals and our Union.

Lessons of Rosie the Riveter

As I write these words on positivity and solidarity, I am inspired by the legend of Rosie the Riveter, which is told in this issue of Voice of Action.

Rosie represents the “can do” spirit of the Union Movement.

She reminds us how inclusiveness, pride and positivity can fill our lives with promise.

We are proud. We are positive. And we never forget we are part of the solution.

Solidarity Works!

Union Members Get More, and Here’s Why

We often say “Union Members Get More!” because it’s true.

For example, an average Union worker’s total compensation is $10.62 per hour higher than a non-Union worker’s.

This adds up to big money over the course of a lifetime. In fact, a full-time member could earn $662,688 more than a non-Union worker earns over a 30-year career.

And this doesn’t include holiday and vacation pay, workplace guarantees and many other perks of membership.

All this is possible because Unions are about giving power to working people.

In the spirit of solidarity, we bring workers together so they can stand up for themselves and negotiate as equals with the giant corporations which employ them.

Through the collective bargaining process, we negotiate contracts with employers to protect and promote the interests of working people, who really are the force behind economic growth in our country.

Beyond the substantial differences in wages I described above, here are a few additional examples of how your Union negotiated contract makes your career and your living standards better than “normal”:

Equal pay for equal work

Technically, it’s against the law for companies to pay their workers differently according to gender, race, ethnicity or other arbitrary distinctions which have nothing to do with a worker’s job performance.

Unfortunately, reality has a long way to go before it catches up to the ideal set by law. Women and racial minorities especially feel the sting when equal pay does not come with equal work.

Fortunately, our Union-negotiated contract provides legally binding guarantees of wage standards for all. Every Union member knows exactly what to expect, based entirely on job classification and experience. If any discrimination exists, we will enforce the contract vigorously.

Pensions

Most working Americans have Social Security or an equivalent. This maintains a minimum standard which might not guarantee one’s ability to retire with security, but it can supplement other sources of retirement income to enable people to barely get by.

For Union members, though, it’s not enough to barely get by. Our contracts provide retirement plans which supplement Social Security and ensure financial security and dignity into our later years.

Health care

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires large employers to provide health care packages to their full-time employees and their families. While they are much better than no health care, these plans can’t compare with the high-quality, comprehensive and low-cost packages you enjoy as a member of UFCW 8-Golden State.

Workplace guarantees

Employees without a Union contract are “at will,” which means managers can discipline them or even fire them in most situations with little or no recourse. There’s nothing to stop a boss from terminating an employee simply because he or she earns more than a less-experienced employee at a non-Union workplace.

Fortunately, Union workers are protected by strong contracts which enforce fairness and equal treatment. Your manager is not allowed to deny you work hours simply because he or she has a friend who is getting those hours instead.

Your Union contract’s grievance procedure means you are entitled to a hearing if you are being mistreated or if you are accused unfairly of breaking the rules.

Protections against harassment

We’re hearing a lot these days about sexual harassment and bullying on the job. Should you be affected, please contact your Union Representative immediately.

Your Union membership means you have a powerful and effective ally in correcting injustice. Those who don’t have a Union usually have to go it alone, regardless of what the law says.

None of these protections and benefits come to you as gifts from your employer, and government doesn’t always succeed in getting you what you deserve from your job.

The members of UFCW 8-Golden State have earned it all by sticking together and demanding more than the minimum standards required by government or the free market.

Solidarity Works!

Jacques Loveall

Jacques Loveall
President, UFCW 8-Golden State
Vice President, UFCW International Union
Chairman, Loveall Foundation for Children

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Jacques Loveall, UFCW 8-Golden State
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