The busiest time of the year


November is upon us and for most of our partners that means one thing: more work than ever. The holidays are the busiest time of the year for many of you, with longer hours and more customers. The partners of UFCW make the holidays happen. You are the reason that countless families will have their holiday meals. They will crowd into your stores to buy all the trappings of the holidays.

It’s during this time of year that I like to take a moment to say a few things.

Most importantly, please be safe. More customers and busier stores means more shoplifters and troublemakers. Remember one thing: nothing in your workplace is worth your life. Do not put yourself in danger to save your company a few bucks in stolen items.

Safety doesn’t just mean knowing how to avoid people breaking the law, it also means keeping yourself safe from other potential threats. During this time of year there will inevitably be dangerous winter weather. I would never encourage you to use weather to avoid work, but make sure your commute to work is safe. If it is not, consider your options.

That same weather will also drive panic buyers. You’ve seen them before: as soon as we get reports of an incoming storm we see people rush to stores. The lines are long, the products fly off the shelves, and tensions are high.

For those of you that worked during COVID or have seen multiple winters in the stores you know this is nothing new.

Between the biggest holidays of the year and the various conditions brought on by the winter, this time of year is the busiest many of you will experience. It doesn’t have to be a threat to your safety though, and your job is not to put yourself at risk.

The public sometimes does not appreciate how vital you are when this time of year comes around. They may not always recognize that grocery store workers and pharmacy technicians are some of the most important workers they count on. Without you the shelves are empty, the lanes are closed, and products would spoil before they ever made it to the tables of the public.

We know how hard you all work, and we will always be grateful to represent you and fight for you on the job.

This time of year brings other regular occurrences too.

Like the animals that migrate, there will be a predictable influx in your workplace of seasonal workers, whether they are college casual folks back home during the holidays for the week or the surge of new hires brought in to fill the gaps, you see them every year.

This year will be our first holiday season with the Flex worker program in place. While this program may enable your employer to hire workers in even larger numbers for the busiest times, it also ensures that our current partners have ample opportunity to maximize their hours and schedules. There will be no shortage of available hours and those of you that wish to use the program may find yourself able to work more hours and make more money or work closer to home.

Some of you may have seen boxes in your stores for this year’s annual toy drive. We will be donating toys this year to Mercy Children’s Hospital. These toys ensure that every child, even those in the hospital, can get toys for Christmas. Nurses at Mercy told us that sometimes the youngest children in their care are worried that Santa won’t know to bring them presents since they aren’t at home. If that doesn’t motivate you to give a little, then nothing will.

These toys also serve year-round. Children who have successful procedures, birthdays, or get good news about their illness are often treated with a new toy. You can collect new unwrapped toys at your store in a box in your breakroom. We are happy to come retrieve them, or you can bring them directly to our union hall. Finally, we have a link on our Facebook page if you’d prefer to donate money instead. Every penny that is donated is used to purchase toys for these children.

As workers and union members it can be easy to get caught up in the work during this time of year, but that’s why sometimes we have to stop and remind ourselves that this time of year is also a wonderful one. For so many of us it means a chance to see family and break bread or exchange gifts.

We know how hard you all work for a better life every day, but what good is that better life if we don’t find people to share it with?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Find joy.

You make the holidays happen.

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