Thankfulness in Times of Tragedy

Action is the weapon of hope in its war with despair

In times of tragedy, is it possible to feel thankful? The answer for Union members should be an emphatic “yes.”

UFCW 8-Golden State feels deeply the pain of our sisters and brothers in and around Paradise, Calif., who lost their homes and jobs in the wildfires of November 2018. Our Union is responding actively to help relieve this pain by providing economic assistance, referrals and other resources to Union members and their families.

We also share the concerns of thousands of other individuals, in California and elsewhere, whose lives are disrupted by natural and human-made catastrophes, whether they are wildfires in Southern California or horrific shootings in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks.

Americans were already on edge due to previous events of violence and disaster, as well as the recent heated midterm election campaigns and the toxic partisan environment we’ve been enduring for years.
Sadly, we have become accustomed to certain politicians and commentators exploiting and deepening the divisions which plague us.

Still, one must always look for the proverbial silver lining in even the darkest of rainclouds, and this lining is found in the human actions of charity and compassion in response to tragedy.

We have witnessed outpourings of sympathy for the afflicted and acts of kindness to relieve their suffering.

Reminders of the season

In this holiday season, which begins with the celebration of Thanksgiving and concludes with the welcoming of a new year, we remind ourselves of the necessity of such virtues as kindness, compassion and charity.

This is the time of year when we are called upon to step out of our resentments and emphasize the positive virtues we all share and cherish.

Choose hope

Tragedies remind us of the seemingly never-ending enmity between hope and despair. But given the choice between them, I will choose hope every time.

Hope is manifested by action to relieve suffering and building a better more secure future for all. It teaches us we have more power to repair the tragedies of our world than we ever thought possible.
Action is the weapon of hope in its war with despair.

Coming home

A colleague who lives in one of the communities threatened by the recent fires in Southern California shared a message.

“Before we re-enter our beloved homes,” he wrote, “let’s pause on the curb outside and remember: This separation from home gave us a golden opportunity to gain a whole new appreciation for how precious is the home.

“Thus as we are reunited with home, we resolve to treat home with a renewed sense of love, respect and tender loving care.

“Specifically, we call on ourselves to ban forever more the two most destructive forces for a home: anger and melancholy.

“Forget termites. Anger and melancholy are the real pests.

“From this day forward, it’s a new start. The separation has cleansed the home of any unpleasant energy it ever imbibed.

“Tempers, flare ups, misplaced anger — gone forever. Melancholy, negativity, general malaise — gone forever.

“From today let us resolve to be aggressive in protecting the energy of our homes from anger and unhappiness.

“We will fill our homes with good spirits, beautiful music, positive thinking, patience and understanding, sanctity and prayer, and kindness and hospitality like never before.

“There’s no place like home — enjoy it!”

We are all members of an extended family, and UFCW 8-Golden State is a home we all call our own.
It is a home built on the foundations of hope and solidarity.

Solidarity Works!

Don’t Worry... Organize!


UFCW 8-Golden State President Jacques Loveall also serves as a vice president of the California Labor Federation. This column is adapted from his remarks at the federation’s recent convention in Orange County, where he, along with Union leader and Civil Rights activist Dolores Huerta, presented awards recognizing top Labor organizers from across the state.

As our Union, UFCW 8-Golden State, prepares to enter a potentially tough round of negotiations with the major food industry employers, we are reminded of tough negotiations in the past. In every case, we were able to prevail because of the solidarity of our membership.

This solidarity has worked so well for our members, it’s not surprising some employers are trying to undermine the image and strength of Unions whenever they can.

To provide some background on the current state of Unions, I’d like to review an important episode in Labor history.

Back in 1981, President Ronald Reagan set the tone for his new administration when he destroyed the PATCO air-traffic controllers Union by firing its members.

Today, we look back on this event as the beginning of a new chapter in the ongoing war against Unions.

This war began more than a century ago [see the quote by Eugene V. Debs on page 7]. It accelerated during the Herbert Hoover administration and continued with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. And it rages to this day, with the current administration and majorities in Congress and the Supreme Court united in trying to silence the voices of working Americans.

The early 1980s was a time of deep dread in the Labor Movement. It was also the time I started my career as a Labor organizer.

While our foes have tried to kill us off for many decades, we understand every generation faces a unique battle of its own. And in each generation, we’ve found a way to prevail.

We prevail because they’re cynical and we’re optimistic.

We prevail because they peddle fear and we inspire hope.

We prevail because they’re on the side of oppression and we’re on the side of justice.

And we prevail because they’re on the side of deceit we’re on the side of righteousness.

They may never stop telling lies about us, but we will never quit telling the truth about them.

As DeMaurice “De” Smith, president of the NFL Players Association, says, organizing a Union is a hard way to earn a living … but incredibly fulfilling.

For those who are concerned about the hostile environment in Washington, D.C. and in many state capitals across the country, I say: Don’t worry… ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE!

Be aggressive and vigilant and we WILL prevail.

Evidence of our indomitable spirit can be seen in the faces of Union organizers throughout our Golden State. It’s seen in the tearful eyes of young organizers who are eagerly taking selfies with Dolores Huerta, a true icon of Labor. And it’s seen in the joyful tears of the veterans who are seeing their values taken up by a new generation.

Sisters and brothers. we aren’t going anywhere.

When we say “UNION,” you say “STRONG”!

Solidarity Works!

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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