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”!