Category

President’s Report

What’s your union story?

Everyone loves a good story.

Sometimes, even the most complicated message can be delivered simply and effectively by sharing a personal experience.

This is especially true when we talk to our co-workers about the importance of belonging to our union.

UFCW Local 99 does so much for all of us that a newcomer could be overwhelmed by the scope of services and protections we provide. To help, we have upgraded our website, ufcw99.com, and published an attractive new guidebook called Know Your Union.

Nevertheless, there are times when a personal story says it best.

Here’s an example from my own experiences:

I was 17 years old when I first walked into my local union office to sign up as a member. As the son of a trade unionist, I never had any doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do. But I was not prepared for everything I learned that day.

As I learned about my new health and pension benefits, I felt a sense of pride, empowerment and solidarity — I knew what I has was valuable.

Here I was, a 17-year-old kid, earning health care that was as good as my parents’!

In all the years since then, I’ve never forgotten how I felt as I signed on the dotted line to become a union member. And I still feel immense pride in being part of a great organization built on fraternity, solidarity and shared strength.

That’s just one of many stories I have to tell, but it has special relevance to a young person who is beginning his or her own journey to independence and a career.

You probably have your own stories to share about how our union has helped you or someone you know.

Did your union health benefits come through in a way that saved your family from financial devastation?

Did a union scholarship help you or your child pay the bills while seeking a college education?

Did your union representative stand by you through the grievance process when your job was on the line?

Did you meet a close friend or future spouse while volunteering for a union activity?

Did Local 99 provide direct assistance to your family in a time of crisis?

I’ve heard these kinds of stories regularly in the course of my years in this union.

Now we are providing an opportunity for you to tell your own union story as a short video in a dedicated section of our new website.

Record your short video (three minutes or less) and submit it at ufcw99.com/myunionstory.

If we select your entry for the website, you’ll receive a $100 gift card.

After all, everyone loves a good story!

What’s your union story?

Remember Kenny Jacobs, and keep our union strong

Last month Kenny Jacobs left for the big union hall in the sky. He died on March 18, 2017.  

  Some members still remember Kenny, the Fry’s meat cutter who had two things on him always: a smile and his union button. He even wore his button on the day of his funeral.

Kenny joined the union in 1968 and stayed a member more than 40 years. 

I met Kenny nearly 25 years into his Local 99 membership. He was a big man who never missed an opportunity to strike up a conversation and get to know you, no matter who you were. Everyone who talked with him left feeling good about it — and felt good about him. 

If you worked with Kenny, you knew where he stood and you knew he had your back.

Kenny served as a union steward and on the local’s Executive Board. He was on bargaining committees for the meat contract — there are still provisions in the contract that Kenny helped write. 

He was a mentor for many leaders who work for Local 99 today. And at his store he helped many apprentices who later moved into management at Fry’s. That’s the kind of man he was. 

If you worked in his store, Kenny would sign you up as a member of the union and train you to be a steward. He would bring you to union meetings and discuss the contract with you. 

Kenny would make sure that you met your rep, and if you had a problem he would personally dial the number to the local so you could talk to a rep. 

He cared. He felt he had a responsibility to make his union stronger. He belonged and knew that for the union to work, its members had to be engaged. 

He was a great example for all of us. 

Kenny was proud of his work and proud to be a worker. Even after he retired, if you asked him what he did for a living he would say, “I’m a union meat cutter.”

When people like Kenny pass away, you miss them. You miss talking to them, seeing them and learning from them. 

In death, Kenny wouldn’t want to be missed. He would want to be remembered for the way he helped people. He would want to be the man who encouraged men and women to pick up where he left off building a union and making it stronger. 

If anyone wants to know what they can do to help their union, look no further than the example set by Kenny Jacobs. 

And don’t miss him. Remember him. 

Keep our union strong.