President & Secretary-Treasurer's Message
Extending Union Solidarity throughout our Communities
Th December 2017 issue of Checkout is a special thank you to you, the Members.
For 10 years now it has been my privilege to represent you and I am proud to continue to lead this strong group of Union workers as we move forward.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the things that happen outside our day-to-day experiences. Sometimes what’s happening outside our lives is too overwhelming to think about very often. The attempts to divide and conquer working people are everywhere and seem to be growing. Workers are struggling and the wealthy are striving.
So I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the good that Union members do out in the world.
Often, the generosity of Union members gets lost in the drama of strikes, battles against corporate greed, and finding ways to pit us against each other while the wealthy get richer.
We can’t control the media or corporations. But we can control the way we think and speak about our Union and the labour movement.
Our Members embody the spirit of giving back and raising those with less up out of the shadows.
That, my Union Sisters, Brothers, and Friends, is solidarity.
I’ve spoken before about the good I see every day in the things our Members achieve. Whether at work, in the community, or on the other side of the world, UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Members do amazing things.
Your Local Union continues to have a healthy budget and it’s only right to ensure we do what we can to raise others up as well. In these pages you’ll see just how much good can come from your Dues. We take pride in helping others in our communities as well.
You help send students to college and university. You help your Sisters, Brothers, and Friends on the picket line stand strong and united through the strike fund.
When members fall on particularly hard times, you help get them back on their feet through hardship donations and fundraisers. You help rebuild communities after wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. You bring medical services, shelter, food, and security to those in need in times of crisis.
When disasters happen – whether forest fires obliterating homes to ash or hurricanes flooding entire communities – you’ll see Union members showing up to help, to support, and to get people back on track.
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September, some media reported that unionized truck drivers on the island went on strike. But that wasn’t the truth. In fact, local union members were on the ground getting supplies to the people who needed them and overcoming challenges like washed away bridges and zero electricity.
We forget that first responders are often Union members. We forget that the truck drivers who get supplies to people in some treacherous conditions, are often Union members. We forget that our children are taught by Union members, that Union members check us out at the grocery store, that Union members drive our buses and our trains. We forget that Union members work almost everywhere.
So let’s take this time to focus on the good. Know that your dues support the real lives of workers because they go toward so much more than day-to-day servicing.
We have the ability to build the fair and just society that we envision. But we must continue to fight for it. Whether it’s taking on corporations for anti-worker practices, holding our government accountable to a higher standard, or those vital dayto-day acts of kindness, it’s on all of us to work together.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Checkout because it truly is about all the good that comes from your Membership in this Union.
I wish all of you and your families a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the year to come.
Empower and Uplift
We often talk about new Union members: Empowering non-Union workers to stand up to their employers. Lifting them up out of precarious circumstances to recognize the true benefits of belonging to a Union. But the work of Unions quite often goes beyond the walls of the workplace.
I’m happy that our Local Union recognizes that it’s important that we continue to work to make sure those who have the least are not left behind.
Take pride in your Union membership.
You are part of more than 140 years of Union activism in Canada. From the Toronto Printers’ Strike in 1872 fighting for a shorter workweek, the Winnipeg General Strike almost 50 years later, right up to now when workers across this province made their voices heard to get Bill 148 passed into law.
Of course, we still face challenges. We need to be more outraged when we see executives taking home millions while workers are left bearing the brunt of cost-cutting measures.
We must hold corporations and the government accountable. You work hard for what you earn. But in the search for that almighty dollar, many get left behind. Our laws and underfunded programs don’t protect the most vulnerable.
I’m proud to be part of a Union that understands the bigger picture. We fight for things that benefit most people because those things benefit workers and the families of workers. We strive to raise the quality of life for the people we know and love, and the people we interact with every day.
In fact, many of our Members go out of their way to organize, run, and volunteer at events to raise money for various charities and to support their communities.
Firefighters in Owen Sound cook breakfast at an annual event to raise funds for children whose lives have been altered by fire. Money raised also goes toward Christmas hampers and a toy drive for the community.
Susan Pritchard, a Union Steward at Food Basics in Kitchener, organized a golf tournament in memory of a co-worker who passed from Epilepsy. She and her supporters raised $600 for the Epilepsy Foundation.
Read more about some of the inspiring things Members are achieving for charities and their communities on page 16. The Local Union supports a number of organizations and causes, which you can read more about on page 18.
When we support special interest groups and equity-seeking organizations, it’s important to remember that what they fight for benefits all of us.
Those battles for basic human rights, equality, pay equity, and protection for the most vulnerable raise the social consciousness of us all.
They shed light on parts of life that we might not experience ourselves, but that have life and death consequences for others. They tell us that things are not okay as they are, and they tell us why.
We fight to raise everyone up, and when someone achieves success, it let’s us all take a step forward with them, united.
Think about the recent achievements in Bill 148.
Bill 148 includes a likely life-saving five days paid leave for victims of domestic or sexual violence.
What an important step toward protecting many people, especially women and children. I look forward to what we can achieve next.
I’m proud of the work your Local Union does in communities and through other organizations fighting for social justice or charities doing amazing work to save lives.
None of it would be possible without you. So, thank you all for your ongoing participation in your Union.
I hope all of you have a peaceful and happy holiday season and a happy New Year spent with family and friends.