|We all know that workers who stand together and organize win better wages and benefits, workplace safety, and respect at work. I want to make you aware of a benefit for UFCW members; the UFCW Union Plus credit card.
The UFCW is endorsing the Union Plus credit card because it has been specially designed to meet the needs of hardworking UFCW members and their families. With this card, our members can enjoy competitive rates, US-based customer service, special savings and rebates, and exclusive hardship grants when they face job loss, suffer an illness, or go on strike.
Today the Union Plus credit card program is expanding to offer even more options for UFCW members and their families. Starting this year, cardholders will have access to special rebates on auto down payments and AT&T smart phones, motor club benefits, and grants to help pay off student debt.
UFCW members can choose from several cards to meet their diverse needs. The Cash Rewards card lets members earn cash back on every purchase. The Rate Advantage card is for members who want to save on interest.
Thank you for all your hard work and everything you do to keep our union strong,
The Joe Pretti Memorial Golf Classic held recently at the beautiful Teamsters Union Hills Golf Course in Pevely has taken their fundraising total to more than $45,000 to ben- efit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Renewing their commitment year after year, Local 655 has been very successful in the drive to fund research while honoring the memory of former Local 655 Union Representative Joe Pretti, a dedicated and popular man who died from leukemia some 20 years ago.
“We are driven to help raise funds that will support finding a cure to the deadly disease of leukemia and lymphoma,” said Local 655 President David Cook. “Through creative fundraising efforts from all UFCW’s locals across the United States and Canada, the UFCW’s total contributions to leukemia research have exceeded $28 million, and that makes us extremely proud.”
Over the years, UFCW members have golfed, walked, danced, canoed, raffled, run, and more — making the UFCW one of the top contributors to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an organization devoted to finding a cure for this fatal blood disease. Every dollar raised by the UFCW is used for research. Local companies donate all foodand beverages for the annual tournament.
This year’s tournament director, Nick Trupiano, said he is proud to play a bigger role in the fundraising efforts.
“It’s a terrible disease that takes the lives of so many good people,” Trupiano said. “People like Joe Pretti.”
The wisdom of the Missouri labor movement taking a bi-partisan approach to helping protect union members and their families – all workers – was highlighted at a recent meeting of UFCW Local 655 shop stewards.
Republican State Representa tive Anne Zerr and Democratic Representative Jeff Roorda applauded the efforts of labor unions to help Missouri grow while lambasting the efforts of some of their colleagues for their anti-union stance on issues.
“I’ve tried that working with Labor is good business,” Zerr told the some 100 shop stewards. “Positive labor-management relationships are good for business and trying to screw one another makes no sense.
She noted that over the years, when the economy is in difficult times, union workers have been willing to make major concessions to help their companies survive. “The unions get it.”
Zerr noted that the unions provide skilled labor, training workers that “do a great job.” As for her Republican colleagues, she said, “We need to help them understand labor, that you fight for decent wages and safe working conditions, which is something we all want. Too many people died in the past fighting for these issues; people need to understand that.”
She urged Local 655 and all of the labor movement to continue to work with – and educate –Republicans about the value of a strong labor movement, not only for their members, but also for everyone who works for a living.
“Some of my colleagues don’t get it,” she added, “They think that getting rid of unions will improve Missouri’s economy. That’s just wrong. We need to be offering incentives to get people back to work, that’s how we improve our economy.”
Noting that she was a utility worker member of Laborers Local 110, and her husband is a hod carrier member of Laborers Local 660, she made the point: “We raised our kids on union wages, and did it without a college education. I was happy to have someone there to negotiate for me, to stand with us when it was needed.”
As for the anti-worker right-to-work for less, Zerr said that it “is not good for Missouri. Wages will go down. Do we want to be like Alabama?!”
LET THE ‘WINGNUTS’ CONTROL US?
Speaking from the Democrat’s view, State Representative Jeff Roorda, introduced by Cook as a “man who has our back,” said that it’s up to workers, all Missourians, to make a clear decision: “Are we going to let a handful of wing- nuts decide who is in charge of our state and country?”
“We need to create a turnaround” and change the composition of the Missouri Legislature if working Missourians want a climate that creates jobs and economic growth.
He pointed out that while there are some Republicans who understand and support working people and unions because it’s the smart thing to do, others “say” they are pro-labor but then turn on workers after being elected.
Senator John Lamping (R-Ladue), “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who said he was pro-worker in his campaign, and widely touted that concept when elected with Labor’s support, “kicked sand in your face.” Lamping has voted for almost every anti-worker proposal in the legislature.
Representative Paul Wieland (R-House Springs), who boasted of being pro-labor, when two local unions did not support him, he told the presidents of those unions he wished he could single out their members for retribution.
Local 655’s Cook confirmed that threat: “We were one of the unions that had a conservation with him. We went to Rep. Wieland to talk about working together in the future and his words were, ‘If I could screw Local 655’s members, I would.’”
“When these anti-worker Republicans talk about a ‘friendly business climate those are code words for busting unions,” Roorda said bluntly.
KEY RACES TO SUPPORT
In no uncertain words, Roorda urged the shop stewards to get involved in their local political races to ensure worker-friendly candidates are elected. Some of those key races that can impact the Missouri Senate and get worker- friendly supporters are:
State Representative Jill Schupp (D- Creve Coeur), running for the Senate seat now occupied by Republican John Lamping
State Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Jefferson County) running for the term-limited friend of labor, Senator Ryan McKenna (D- Crystal City).
State Representative Ed Schieffer (D-St. Charles), running for the Senate seat now occupied by Senator Scott Rupp.
“Your fights are my fights. When I believe in a cause, I put my heart and soul into it. And I believe in what you stand for,” Roorda said to wild applause.
Roorda is the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association Lodge 58.
Annual Shop Stewards meeting sees largest turnout of political leaders
As soon as current food contract negotiations are over, Local 655 will do a major reallocation of our internal resources in an effort to enhance the lives of our members and their families over the long term, President David Cook reported to almost 200 shop stewards attending the annual All Stewards meeting at the union hall.
To make that reallocation work will take a renewed effort and extended engagement by our union’s shop stewards, President Cook said, reiterating the union’s #1 goal: obtain the best possible contracts to provide our current members and families with a high quality of life as well as our members of the future.
Contract negotiations are going slowly, Cook said, because of the health care issue. He criticized the Obama Administration for postponing implementation for a year a key component of the new Health Care Act, requiring large employers to provide health care or face major fines.
“That means we are subsidizing Walmart,” one of the stewards said, with President Cook adding, “That’s absolutely right…you and your employers are helping pay the health care costs of Walmart employees who, in the majority, have no health insurance, go to the emergency rooms and that cost gets passed off to us in terms of higher insurance premiums.”
He added that the new law is already working because premium increases which used to be double digit year are not two and three percent. While we support the new law, it needs revisions, he added.
The largest turnout of political leaders yet attending a stewards meeting, both Democrats and Republicans, were on hand to meet and talk with our stewards. President Cook said that if it were not for a number of right-thinking Republicans, and certainly our Democratic friends, we’d have the phony, anti-worker right-to-work (for less) law in Missouri today.
Referring to the just-completed session of the Missouri Legislature where major anti-worker attempts were batted down, President Cook warned that “It’s not over yet,” noting that a veto session will come up soon and everyone will have to work hard to sustain Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes of the bad laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.
To fulfill the “Union Proud” direction of Local 655, President Cook said it hinges on three concepts:
• Better communication with member and the public. He urged the stewards to take the union’s message to both audiences to help grow the union, which will help protect and improve the contracts we now have.
• Re-allocation of the union staff’s time to strengthen our organizing efforts to grow the union and enhance our political involvement to protect workers’ rights and contracts. He pointed out that to do this will take a renewed commitment from shop stewards to serve as the union’s representative in the work place.
• Build partnerships throughout the community and the politicians, both “right-thinking” Democrats and Republicans, to enhance the effectiveness of the union’s efforts. He noted Local 655’s recent involvement in the Gay Pride celebration and the immigration rally as two key examples of Local 655’s outreach to support groups who in turn will be our allies in our fights for workers’ rights.
“We need partnerships if we’re going to build a better America, a better St. Louis, a better union, as a counterbalance to the massive corporate greed that’s taken ahold of our nation,” President Cook stressed.