Stepping Down, but Always Part of the Team
This is my final column as Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW 8-Golden State, but it won’t be the last you’ll see of me.
As I start a new chapter of my life as a retired Union officer, UFCW 8 will remain a part of me and I will remain a part of UFCW 8.
I may not be at the Union offices on a daily basis, but I will find some ways to be useful, just as many other retirees have made themselves useful over the years.
It’s hard to stay away from UFCW 8 because this great Union is more than a mere organization — it is a family and a way of life. The leadership and staff share a special bond that keeps us united in our focus. That focus is all about improving the lives of our members.
This focus is so intense and pervasive at UFCW 8 that the division between our professional lives and our personal lives has been almost completely erased. When duty calls, we are willing to sacrifice our family time and our sleep time to get the job done.
With that kind of work ethic, a Union can accomplish great things — and we do. We are proud of the contracts we negotiate for our members. We are proud of the grievances we often win on their behalf. And we are proud of the services we provide our members every day — in the stores and in our 10 Union offices from the California-Oregon border in the north to Kern County in the south.
Among those who deserve praise for UFCW 8’s passion and commitment is our President, Jacques Loveall. It has been my great honor to work with this visionary leader since the beginning of his career. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, the needs and aspirations of working people are foremost in his thoughts.
Here’s an example:
After years of planning, Jacques took time off and embarked on an eight-day expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak. Along with colleagues Lee Schreiter and David Knoll, Jacques used the opportunity to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars to help children stricken by leukemia and lymphoma.
Jacques reported regularly to his friends and colleagues back home. And what was he constantly thinking about during the exhausting climb? He was thinking of ways to organize the porters who carried the team’s gear. Jacques figures that, if the porters carried less weight, they could improve their health and extend their working lives. In addition, more jobs would be created in a part of Africa where 70 percent of the adults are unemployed.
Even when he was 10,000 miles away and at 19,340 feet above sea level, Jacques was thinking of the welfare of working people!
Kirk makes it easy
While scaling down my activities at UFCW 8 will be difficult, the presence of Kirk Vogt as the Union’s new Secretary-Treasurer will make the task easy on my conscience.
Kirk is a talented, hardworking and highly-experienced professional. He is also a kind and compassionate human being, a good friend as well as a trusted colleague for three decades.
I am excited by the prospect of watching the Union’s future unfold under the leadership of Jacques and Kirk, with assistance from Joe Ambrosi and the other talented and dedicated staff of UFCW 8.
Before I sign off from this column, I want to thank my wife, Norma, and my daughters, Norma and April, for their patience and support over the years. They, too, are part of the UFCW 8 family.
I’ve always assured my daughters that “cream rises to the top” — that if they work hard and persevere, they will stand out from the crowd and accomplish great things.
The same goes for our Union, UFCW 8-Golden State. We are a great Union because of our hardworking and hard-focusing leadership, and because we have a proud membership that understands the meaning and power of Solidarity.
I don’t expect our Union to miss a beat after I retire from its service. This organization was never about me.
It’s about teamwork. It’s about all of us working together for a better world.