OPINION: A ‘Thank you’ will go a long way

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By DAVID COOK
President
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655

Anyone who walks into a grocery store this month will see the obvious: this is the busiest time of year for these stores. Naturally, that means it’s the busiest time of year for the members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 who are working tirelessly to make sure that families across the region have everything they need for their holiday gatherings.

Make no mistake: this is a tough time of year for grocery workers. They work longer hours, handle more product and customers, and deal with more complications than any other time of year.

THANK A WORKER
A special request to all our Brothers and Sisters in the Labor Movement: When you’re in a grocery store between now and the end of the year, please consider a small favor: thank a worker.

You’d be surprised how far a sincere “thank you” can go during these times. Remember, many of these workers have been on the front lines since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. They have worked during an incredibly difficult time for all of us and they have done so in order to make sure that we can continue to have food on our tables.

Let’s not forget, they have done this while being under-staffed. Due to multiple factors, major grocery stores in the region remain significantly under-staffed, meaning more and more hours required of our members with less and less help.

Throughout all of this they have served the public, even though the public wasn’t always kind to them. By now we’ve all seen videos online or on the news of irate customers screaming at clerks and others in the stores over mask mandates or other COVID-related restrictions. While they are not responsible for these restrictions, they are faced with the bulk of the anger from customers who don’t understand basic common decency.

While they’ve been yelled at or heckled, they’ve absorbed it all with grace while interacting with the public for long periods of time during a global pandemic.

A KIND WORD GOES A LONG WAY
Now, as the pandemic hopefully recedes —but doesn’t vanish entirely — they are once again here for us during the holidays.

While some of us might enjoy more time off this time of year with our families, Local 655 workers are enjoying less. Some of our major employers like Schnucks, Dierbergs and Straubs are offering additional compensation during this time of year or additional time off near the holidays. Those moves are greatly appreciated, but they don’t truly make up for what these workers go through.

So let me again say to my Brothers and Sisters: Please be kind and patient when you’re out buying food this time of year. Our members are working hard to make sure you’ll have food on your table for your family, and they have their own families they are working hard for, so a simple “thank you,” a little extra patience, a kinder attitude, all go a long way.

And a thought: if you see someone else giving a store employee a hard time, it would be most appreciated if you would simply remind that individual that the employee is only doing his/her job. Thank you for that consideration.

To all, from our UFCW Local 655 members, officers and staff, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and a HAPPY, HEALTHY New Year.

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