How politics puts money in your pockets

By DAVID A. COOK
President

By now, hopefully, most of you have heard the good news that we announced last week. In about two weeks, our partners that worked in grocery stores at any time during the pandemic are going to be eligible for a grant of $600 from the USDA and the UFCW Charitable Foundation.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, this local and our fellow UFCW brothers and sisters have been advocating for putting more money in the pockets of essential workers. A lot of politicians and corporations went out of their way to call these workers “heroes” and “frontline workers.” Sadly, when the time came to step up and pay these folks what they deserved, too many fell short.

NEVER GAVE UP
We never gave up on this goal, and UFCW International never gave up on it either. We looked for every avenue we could find to put money in the pockets of our partners. Last week we were thrilled to announce that we’d made a real stride on that front.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this is not enough, but we won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Employees in just three states are eligible for this grant, and one of those states is Missouri. This grant will provide $600 to all eligible workers that were in grocery stores, meat packing, and food production at any point since March of 2020. I know there are a lot more questions about eligibility, and while I cannot answer every one of them now, we are working closely with our UFCW family in Washington D.C. to get all the details to you as quickly as possible.

APPLICATIONS OPEN FEB. 15
The applications for grants will open on February 15 and will remain open until March 15. The amount of money available is finite, and it will be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis. That’s why we’re working so quickly to make sure you know exactly how to apply as soon as you can. The USDA will be accepting applications and vetting the process to ensure that this money goes to the workers who truly qualify. UFCW Charitable Foundation will work with them to distribute funds.

We are excited that our efforts on your behalf have produced real results, but we also have to be honest about how these things happen.

WHY GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS?
I am sometimes asked by our partners why our union “gets involved” with politics. Some have told us we should “just stay out of it” and “not be political.” I understand that sentiment and we have always said the same thing: “as soon as politics leaves us alone, we’ll leave it alone.”

The fact of the matter is that our involvement and work in politics is precisely what led to programs like this one. Our efforts to engage with politicians and government agencies are what led to this moment.

Some of you probably remember that during the early days of the pandemic, funds were made available to all 50 states for a variety of reasons. A handful of states chose to give those funds directly to essential workers. We repeatedly asked our own governor to do the same, and he refused. We’ve asked elected officials to make sure to prioritize workers like you and they often failed.

The point is simple: you may or may not like President Joe Biden or his administration, but the fact of the matter is that they have been willing to work with us to maximize opportunities like this one when many politicians failed.

When our partners ask why we are involved in politics, I will point to moments like this one. Some will ask how we can afford to engage in politics and I would submit that we can’t afford not to.

SUPPORT POLITICIANS WHO SUPPORT WORKERS
Time and time again we’ve said that our rule for political action is simple: we support the politicians who support workers, and we leave other issues at the door. It’s not about political party and it’s not about the countless issues that might motivate many voters. We look for leaders that actually prioritize helping our partners instead of just lip service.

Some of our partners may not always agree with the politicians we support, but we are always consistent on our criteria. We will always work to support the people that will support you.

All of this is to say that those of you contributing to our ABC Fund helped to directly fund this effort. When you hear us talking to partners about giving money per week to the ABC Fund, just know that this is exactly what we use it for. If you’re an ABC contributor, I want to sincerely thank you for your help. If you are not, I would urge you to reconsider.

We will continue to advocate for you, and we will not back down from our mission to improve your lives.

One Comment

  • Thanks for keeping us updated on things that matter. I hope everyone knows by now how much covid affected us as workers on the front line. The mean and disrespect we received was sometimes too much to bear. The amount of extra work when we had not one but five or more employees call in for shifts. To call us non essential is ridiculous. Thanks for standing up for us even years after the fact.

    Reply

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