Many years ago, in my earliest days as a Union negotiator, our jobs more or less followed the cycle of a single collective bargaining agreement.
Every three years, as the contract’s expiration date drew near, we would collect the members’ ideas and then sit down with the employers to try to get those ideas written into the next agreement.
After a few weeks of hard bargaining, we’d submit the results to the members for their approval.
Once the contract was ratified, we would concentrate on enforcing its terms and serving the day-to-day needs of the members — until the time came, three years later, to start the process over again.
That’s not the way it works these days. UFCW 8 now represents
workers in many industries — not just retail food and drug workers, but also industrial workers, service workers, winery workers, office workers, health care workers and many others.
Diversity is great for our Union because we’re better able to stay strong when one of our industries has a labor dispute. But it also means negotiations are going on constantly.
As a result, our negotiators don’t have a chance to get rusty. In good times and bad times, we are in a constant state of readiness, always prepared to take on the most difficult issues.
When the time approaches for negotiations with your employer in your industry, we won’t be waiting for you to move us into gear. We will have plans already in place.
Here’s what you can do to help:
Know when your contract is up for renegotiation and understand the important issues that are expected to
dominate these negotiations. (It’s a safe bet that health care and pensions will be among them.) Discuss these issues with your District Union Rep and offer your ideas.
When your President calls on you for assistance, step forward and volunteer in any way you can.
Don’t pay attention to rumors and certainly don’t spread them.
Always speak proudly and loudly in support of your Union!
Support other Unions by respecting their picket lines. Their fight is your fight! No matter where you see yourself three, 10 or 30 years from now, it’s important to work for the best agreement you can have now. It will become the basis for your future earnings, benefits and job protections. We may live in a difficult and complicated age, with new challenges con fronting us regularly, but fighting for a better future will never go out of style.