As president of Local 99 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a 24,000-member union that spans the entire state of Arizona, Jim McLaughlin has emerged as one of the most influential labor leaders in the western United States.
Thanks in large part to his leadership, Local 99 and its allies have won important victories in a state where powerful interests have tried to suppress the aspirations of working people.
In 2010, Local 99 went to the edge of a strike against the major supermarket chains, forcing them to back down on their contract demands.
Jim McLaughlin is the son of James McLaughlin, a retired international vice president of the International Union of Operating Engineers and business manager for IUOE Local 501 in Los Angeles, Calif.
The younger McLaughlin joined the UFCW in 1985, working as a 17-year-old courtesy clerk at a Ralphs supermarket in Orange, Calif. Seven years of union activism while working from a Courtesy Clerk to GM Clerk to Food Clerk led to a new career in Arizona as a union representative and organizer with Local 99.
In 1992 he moved to Arizona, where he was hired as a field representative for Local 99. In 1996, McLaughlin was assigned to lead the local’s aggressive campaign against Walmart and other non-union retailers. UFCW Local 99 stopped, slowed or moved nearly 45 Walmart stores during McLaughlin’s four years in that role.
He was promoted to organizer in 1997, then market share coordinator in 1998, and in 2000 he served for a year as UFCW Local 99’s organizing director. During that time, the union organized more than 1,200 new members at Smith’s Food Stores in outlying areas of Arizona.
In 2001, UFCW Local 99’s Executive Board elected McLaughlin as president.
In 2008, McLaughlin was elected international vice president of the UFCW International Union and served on the union’s Committee for the Future.
He chairs the Desert States UFCW Pension Fund and the UFCW Local 99 and Employers Health and Welfare Fund. He is also on the Executive Board of the Food & Drug Council, a national coalition of unions in the retail food and drug industries.
McLaughlin was appointed by Gov. Napolitano to the Arizona State Retirement System in 2007 and served as a trustee until 2010. In addition, he has served on the boards of the United Way, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Labor’s Community Service Agency, among other organizations. He has served on Arizona’s AFL-CIO Executive Council since 2010.