Live Longer, Be Union: What’s in store for the future?


    Pictured on the cover of Voice of Action are my nieces, Aviana and Abigail, along with their friend hailey. Like other children their age, they look ahead to lives of fulfilled dreams and adventure.

    If trends of the the past 200 years continue, they can expect plenty of time to make those dreams and adventures come true.

    Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark studied the life spans of past generations and evaluated the current accelerating pace of developments in medicine.

    Their conclusion: many, if not most, of the babies born since 2000 in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States will live to be 100 years old or more.

    This is good news for me, because I have plans to attend America’s tricentennial celebrations in 2076. I've already put it on my calendar. At that time I will be 114, which all of a sudden doesn’t look too far out of reach!

  Staggering consequences

    If the danish researchers are anywhere close to accuracy in their forecast, the consequences for our society will be staggering. Imagine the things we could accomplish if our working careers were followed by several decades of learning, leisure, volunteerism and travel!

    Union members already enjoy a superior standard of health care that undoubtedly contributes to their longevity. Studies regularly show that life spans are shortest in states where the percentages of union households are lowest. That is certainly not a coincidence.

    Advancements in health care and unions are the driving force behind widespread availability of health care to ordinary people. The more union members there are, the longer we can expect our lifespans to become.

    Unions will continue to perform an essential role in the lives of Aviana, Abigail, Hailey and other citizens of the future. As a result, they will be happier, healthier and more prosperous than they would be if they didn’t have unions.

    You may have seen the bumper sticker that says “Live Better, Work union.” Soon I expect there will be an alternative version that says “Live Longer, Be union.”

    My nieces might want to put one of those on their hovercrafts — a hundred years from now.

    Solidarity Works!

He Never Met a Stranger


On July 16, we lost a kind, good and talented man who devoted his life to advancing the rights and living standards of working Californians.

The obituary of Obie V. Brandon appears on page 4 of this issue of Voice of Action. It describes how he grew up in West Sacramento in a Union family and put the values he was taught into action as a Union leader.

Born with an unwavering sense of justice, Obie was a formidable champion of underdogs everywhere.

Obie had a genuinely sincere interest in other people. He was a good listener who was great at identifying what others needed and then finding a way to get it to them. He gave a lot of selfless and thoughtful guidance to those who sought it.

He also had a great sense of humor, as well as a voracious appetite for life. For a person who was so physically imposing, he had an amazing amount of energy, yet he was surprisingly humble.

The priest at Obie’s memorial service said he could not give a sermon that said more about Obie’s legacy than the standing-roomonly crowd that filled the church. The pews, aisles and balcony overflowed with evidence of a life well-lived.

Obie knew what was important in life: family, friends and people in general. What mattered to him was his relationships with other people. He never met a stranger.

Above all else, Obie realized that the most important role in his life was being a father. And, as his son said in his eulogy, Obie believed the best move he ever made in his life was marrying his wife, Kathy.

Obie Brandon was a special individual who left an indelible mark on his family, his friends and all working people in the great state of California and beyond.

There will never be another Obie Brandon, but we can keep his spirit alive by remembering the things we learned from him, and then conducting ourselves accordingly. UFCW 8-Golden State

Winning is Contagious


There’s something about winning that is contagious. Once you’re on a roll, you stay on a roll.

I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Just about everyone I know agrees that UFCW 8 - Golden State is on a winning streak.

Since 2009 began, we have added thousands of members to our Union, making us stronger than ever.

On March 1, we welcomed all of the Clerks at Raley’s Drug Centers following a successful organizing campaign. More recently, we added thousands of new members in Kern, Inyo and Mono counties who were formerly members of UFCW 1036 in Southern California.

In fact, our streak goes back to 2006, the year UFCW 8-Golden State began with the merger of UFCW 588-Northern California and UFCW 1288-Central California. Since that time we boosted our numbers through organizing successes at Food Maxx, Save Mart and Raley’s, among other places, and through mergers with three UFCW Local Unions that specialized in wine making and distilleries.

No wonder the UFCW Interna- tional Union presented UFCW 8 with awards saluting our organizing efforts in three consecutive years!

The winning ways of “8” are even felt in the world of horseracing. In 2006, the year UFCW 8 began, all three “jewels” in horseracing’s Triple Crown — the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes — were won by horses wearing the
number 8.

This year, Mine That Bird, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, also wore number 8. Immediately after that race, my phone almost melted from the number of calls and text messages from folks who couldn’t control their enthusiasm over yet another victory for 8.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say again: winning is contagious. Even thinking positive thoughts can make good things happen!

People gravitate toward those who think positively. Positive people are seen as natural born leaders. Stay optimistic and watch your enthusiasm spread to others!

Optimistic people also tend to feel better and live longer. Medical experts have long told us that an upbeat mentality can alleviate a host of physical ailments.

Of course, optimism is not a substitute for being properly prepared and organized. As we say, “Success favors the prepared.” More than anything else, the talents and focused determination of our Union staff and the can-do spirit of our members are responsible for our successes.

But here’s my point: An optimistic spirit is essential to unleashing the potential for success in any endeavor, whether it’s individual or collective.

When people are convinced they can win, they are more likely to win, and the more they win, the more they are convinced they can win some more.

When people see other people winning with a positive spirit, they’ll start feeling optimistic, too. And they’ll be more successful.

Yes, winning is contagious.

Solidarity Works!

United for Change in America


It was an incredibly cold morning in Washington, D.C., as I stood with two million of my fellow Americans to watch history unfold.

We had gathered in front of the Capitol steps and on the National Mall to see Barack Obama take the oath of office as 44th President of the United States. We stood elbow to elbow for two miles, as far as the eye could see.

In spite of the freezing temperatures and the enormous size of the crowd, people were happy and neighborly. There was not a single injury, not a single arrest.

There were tears, of course. They streamed down the faces of people of all races and all ages. Many of advanced age who struggled on walkers to be there for history. For here at last we’d come to Martin Luther King’s mountaintop, where a nation has judged a man by the content of his character instead of the color of his skin.

America has done well in choosing Barack Obama as its leader in these perilous times. He is a true leader because he possesses the purest quality of leadership: an ability to make other people want to be better.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Twenty-four hours before taking the oath, Obama observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day by painting an entire wall in a shelter for homeless and disconnected youth.

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Joe Biden worked with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for families in need.

At the same time, Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Ashley Biden were at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, helping to make more than 85,000 care packages for American servicemen and women stationed around the globe.

Following the morning’s activities, Barack Obama thanked the volunteers for their dedication to service and called on all Americans to commit to serving others in their communities throughout the year.

As I watched coverage of this event, I was amazed. This was how Obama chose to spend his day before becoming President of the United States!

He could have been rehearsing his inaugural speech or meeting with leaders of Congress, but here he was in paint-spattered blue jeans, helping provide a safe and comfortable refuge for troubled kids. He finished painting the wall and then imparted words of motivation, discipline and, of course, hope to the teenagers in his presence.

This is the best kind of leadership: leadership by example!

Obama demonstrated leadership again as he spoke on the Capitol steps, where he acknowledged the challenges of the present and explained how Americans must rise to address them.

“Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began,” he said. “Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year.

“Our capacity remains undiminished… Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Obama went on to salute the working heroes who made our country great — “the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated,but more often men and women obscure in their labor… “For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.”

As a Union leader, I am grateful whenever working people are celebrated. Obama’s speech makes me more than grateful — it gives me hope that America’s laws and policies will address the long neglected needs of folks who earn their paychecks.

I also felt inspired by the words of Joe Biden, one of Labor’s great heroes in the United States Senate, when he spoke about the working people who built the great buildings and monuments of the nation’s capital. I thought about how good it is for America to have leaders who can give our most productive citizens the respect they deserve.

I return from Washington with a sense of optimism for our country’s future.

Our Union backbone is our commitment to the concept of strength through unity, and now we have a president who has declared our mantra as his national policy.

Solidarity forever — it is the Union which makes us strong.
UFCW 8-Golden State