The Power of Positivity: Optimism is key to negotiating good contracts

In 2011, our Union contracts with the major super market companies will expire.

UFCW 8 is already deep in preparation for the demanding process of negotiating new agree ments that will determine the wages, benefits and working conditions of most of our members in the Retail Food industry.

In the coming months we will discuss the many issues involved in these negotiations and the innovative strategies UFCW 8 will employ to win the best possible terms for your contracts.

In the meantime, you can do your part by maintaining a positive attitude toward your job and your Union.

Why is it so important to keep a positive attitude?

Those who expect more from life and believe in themselves are more successful in every endeavor.

As the English writer W. Somerset Maugham explained: “If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

Counting our blessings

Just as important is our appreciation for those things we already have: our health, our families, our friends, our freedoms and our Union.

These aren’t mere platitudes. By keeping a positive outlook, you can improve your health and take control of your life.

An upbeat attitude has many beneficial physical aspects, including higher energy levels and improved sleep patterns. People gravitate toward those who think positively. Their opinions are sought and they’re seen as natural born leaders.

An important part of positive thinking is being realistic. You don’t have to expect the worst, but it’s important to be flexible and prepared to fix things if they go wrong. Be realistic and positive, no matter what the outcome.

We’ve all seen teams beat seemingly insurmountable odds in come-from-behind victories. We have seen people over come what appeared to be fatal illnesses. This year in particular, we’ve seen the outpouring of humanity and compassion in the wake of
monumental disasters.

All of this is evidence that good things do happen. Miracles do happen. Focus on these things. Life itself is a miracle.

Happy Holidays.
Solidarity Works!

It Takes a Team: Great players make a great Union

UFCW 8-Golden State is one of the great teams of the American Labor Movement, so it shouldn’t surprise any one that our 35,000 members also excel in almost every variety of athletic competition.

This issue of Voice of Action looks at the personal triumphs of several UFCW 8 members who are committed to excellence on the playing fields, as well as in their homes and work places.

Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re also sharing the stories of two members of our Union family who have triumphed over that terrible disease.

We are inspired by the fighting spirit of these women, just as we are inspired by our athletes’ struggles to push beyond their perceived physical limitations.

On pages 6-7, we shine a light on yet another enterprise that requires intense focus and a commitment to excellence: building the strength of our Union team through organizing new work places in every corner of our jurisdiction.

Our UFCW 8 Organizing Summit, June 30-July 1 in Sacramento, brought members and staff together to share strategies and sharpen their skills.

Lifeblood of our organization

I told the participants that organizing is the lifeblood of our organization and that we would die without it. I also told them that organizing is the duty and responsibility of every one of our members, because the strength of our Union determines our ability to negotiate successful contracts.

At UFCW 8, a successful organizing campaign is the equivalent of a game-winning grand slam or a buzzer beating three-pointer. It’s our knockout punch, our three minute mile, our perfect wave. You get the idea.

Like a successful sports franchise, a strong Union team consists of several essential parts (I’m a football fan, so we’ll be using that sport to carry this metaphor forward.).

Our men and women on informational and strike picket lines are the blockers: their determination is crucial in communicating our message and often fending off potential labor disputes before they happen.

Every team needs a rooting section, the loyal supporters who get everyone in the community excited about winning. They are our members.

We have coaches: our officers, our District Union Representatives and our stewards.

We have our special teams: our organizers, our actuaries, our benefits experts and our office staff.

Choose your team

Many of our Union members are fans of the Oakland Raiders, while many others follow the San Francisco 49ers. These two teams have brought more than their fair share of champion ships to the Golden State.

I’m a Detroit Lions fan, which may not say much about my judgment, but it says plenty about my fierce loyalty and commitment to underdogs.

If you aren’t already committed to a team, you might consider rooting for the Green Bay Packers, a team that is named for Wisconsin’s meat-packers.

That great team is owned by their community. In Green Bay, everyone stands up and cheers for their team. That’s like a great Union.

That’s like UFCW 8! Our members, stewards, staff and officers are champs, and we are going ALL THE WAY.

Solidarity works! 

Wall Street vs. Workers: Labor Unions lead the fight for justice


On the steps of the State Capitol on April 21, I had the honor of joining thousands of our friends and allies in the Labor Movement in calling for new priorities for California.

Together we called for more investment, not less, in the education of our children. We called for more, not less, support for families.

We called for more, not less, freedom for working people to organize and choose their own destinies.

As I heard the chants of activism and felt the energy of positive change, I reflected on the challenge we face in reforming a system that is stacked against working Americans.

Congress will make a good start when it gets around to enacting new regulations of the financial industry. But this legislation is equivalent to moving around the lawn furniture in the back yard while someone is stealing the grand piano from the house.

I’ve just returned from a series of meetings with managers and trustees of Union pension funds. We are working on solutions to the problems confronting pension funds, both Union and non-Union, across the nation.

These funds took a hit when the financial markets collapsed in 2008 and 2009. While the markets are recovering, it will be years before pension funds regain the strength they enjoyed before the recession.

In the meantime, regulations enacted during the Bush Administration are complicating the recovery process, to supposedly designed to protect.

Your Union has been leading a nationwide effort to modify the rules so that pension funds will have the time and flexibility they need to recover. But the problem goes deeper than that.

In a sane and rational world, the government would underwrite the pension funds of its working citizens. This commitment would guarantee the funds’ security when economic circumstances — circumstances beyond the control of the people who manage those funds — demand it.

If the government can spend a trillion dollars to bail out the banks whose reckless behavior caused the current crisis, certainly it can afford a fraction of that amount to help people who worked hard all their lives to earn an honest living.

Adding insult to the injuries they’ve already caused, the big financial firms are awarding billions of dollars in bonuses to their own executives. These bonuses have added up to $165 billion, which, coincidentally, is equivalent to the current shortfall of multi-employer pension funds.

Injustices like these are common knowledge. Unfortunately, there aren’t many voices standing up to say the wrongs have to be righted.

Many people believe the damage has been done and there’s nothing we can do about it.

I refuse to believe that. America’s workers have been abused and we are totally committed to getting their future back.

Labor leaders have an inherent responsibility to lead the charge. Accordingly, we are assembling Union, corporate and public pension trustees in an alliance to demand change and account ability.

We are developing global investment strategies, policies and guidelines to achieve the best possible investment returns for trust funds. At the same time, we are promoting the goals of social justice, ethical corporate governance and stable financial markets through fiscally sound public policy.

It’s time to change the way business is done on Wall Street and in Washington.

Throughout history, those with money and power have used laws and clever legal tricks to put the wealth of working people in their own pockets. The recent manipulations on Wall Street and in Washington, in which a trillion dollars was taken from the taxpayers to prop up the financial elite, is just the latest example.

The only power in America that will put a stop to this is the Labor Movement. Make no mistake, Labor is the ONLY power in America that has ever put a stop to it. That money needs to be returned to the people, and the best way to do that is to support our pension system.

The answer to our problems isn’t found in misdirected rage and fear. It is found in coordinated action under the leadership of America’s Labor Movement.

Solidarity Works!

Positive Thinking: A can-do attitude is your best asset, even when times are tough


  Attitudes are contagious. People gravitate toward those who think positively. Their opinions are sought and they’re seen as natural born leaders. Stay optimistic and watch your enthusiasm spread to others!

    Optimism is more than an outlook, it’s a way of life. By keeping a positive outlook, you can improve your health and take control of your life — even when external forces, like a slumping economy, might conspire to bring you down.

    An up beat mentality has many beneficial physical aspects,
including higher energy levels and improved sleep patterns. It can alleviate a host of physical ailments like headaches and digestive disorders.

Start thinking positively

    You can begin by thinking about your speech patterns. Start using words like “we can” and “we will.”

    It also helps to put things into perspective. When you encounter something difficult, think of it as a challenge. Ask yourself, “Will this matter tomorrow? In a month? Next year?”

    Another excellent piece of advice comes from a wonderful woman named Audrey Mouer, who retired from our union. She used to say: “Any time you feel sorry for yourself, focus on thinking about others and their challenges. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

    And, of course, count your blessings: your health, your family, your friends.

Lessons to be learned

    Regardless of what happens, no matter what the situation or how bleak it might seem, there is something positive to be learned.

    My father regularly said that 90 percent of the things we worry about won’t happen and the 10 percent that do aren’t nearly as bad as we thought.
    Yes, there are those who scoff at positive thinking and prefer to look at the world through mud-colored glasses. Stay away from them! They are like kryptonite.

    There is nothing more chronically draining on the soul than being around someone who constantly worries and complains. If you happen to be one of those people, it’s likely you have a lot fewer friends than you did when you didn’t worry as much.

    There’s a difference between worrying and planning or
anticipating. If you are making plans to avoid or change undesirable outcomes, that’s not worry. That’s planning, which is a part of being optimistic and having high expectations and an upbeat perspective.

You’re never alone in a Union

    When you are in a union, you’re never alone! Our union is an extended family in the best sense. We are indeed brothers and sisters.

    Our District Union Representatives and our Stewards are there to support you when you have problems at work or at home. Of course, our union-negotiated health benefits help you and your family get the medical assistance that you need.

    We’ve all seen teams beat seemingly insurmountable odds and come-from-behind victories. We have seen people overcome what appeared to be fatal illnesses.

    This year in particular we’ve seen an out pouring of humanity and compassion in the wake of a devastating recession. All of this is evidence that good things do happen.

Miracles do happen. Focus on these things. Life itself is a miracle.

Solidarity Works!