By DAVID A. COOK
A few weeks ago we started reaching out directly to our partners like you with an announcement: we are hiring. Local 655 is seeking to hire union representatives to fight on behalf of our members and help us grow the size of the union. Since then, we’ve received a large number of interested candidates. We’re moving through the hiring process right now, and I have to admit something: I feel energized.
Looking for the next generation of ambitious and hard-working staffers for Local 655 has put a little pep in my step, and I hope the prospect is exciting for our partners as well.
In a few short years, several folks on this staff with decades of service will be retiring — myself included. The next generation of partners and staffers will ultimately be responsible for the future, and that future will be fraught with challenges that aren’t going anywhere. Automation will continue to threaten to chip away at our jobs, the new Dierberg’s pension fund will need careful and thoughtful management so it can ensure that hard-working union members can retire with dignity. Our primary industries will continue to change, and new industries will continue to emerge.
Remembering the stakes makes this process stressful, but exciting. Seeing candidates who express such passion for the work we do and a profound desire to grow this organization is an uplifting reminder that the future is not bleak. In fact, the future is very bright. Local 655 isn’t wavering in the face of today’s challenges, and the prospect of growing our already-talented staff is thrilling.
SPECIAL PROJECT UNION REPRESENTATIVES
At the same time that we are hiring staff, we are also working with a handful of our current partners and the UFCW International Union on an organizing campaign. Special Project Union Representatives (SPURs) come directly from our partners. They take a leave of absence from their current work to join us on various campaigns. They don’t lose any seniority and they continue to get paid and keep their benefits just like they would at work, 40-hours per week.
PARTNERS IN OFFICE
We’re also in the midst of engaging our partners to work in local elected offices. You’ll soon be hearing from us about how you can help make positive change in your community through elected or appointed positions in your own backyard.
Our lives are most impacted by the political decisions made in our own communities, and it’s critical that we stay engaged in those decisions. Your union is prepared to help you seek out those positions so you can affect change in your own neighborhood. The prospect of improving the world, one step at a time, with our own partners leading the way, makes me hopeful for the future.
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE
Like any job, there are some days here that are especially challenging, and over the past year-and-a-half many of us have had reason to perhaps be a little more cynical than usual. So many politicians failed us during the pandemic, so many businesses were lost, and so many frontline workers were underappreciated while they served the public.
At the same time, we saw resiliency in the faces of those workers, we saw some employers do the right thing and put their employees’ first, and some of our elected leaders took charge and made difficult but proper decisions to protect the public.
In short, cynicism is easy. It’s easy to be pessimistic or negative because yes, life isn’t easy. You know what’s hard? Optimism. It’s hard to see the good that can still come, and harder to actively chase that potential good for the future. Seeing the potential future for this local makes me optimistic about what is next despite the challenges we face.
By the time you read this, we’ll have concluded our Annual Joe Pretti Memorial Golf Tournament benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Since its inception, the tournament has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for LLS, and Local 655 remains one of the top fundraisers for LLS in the country. This is an accomplishment I’ve always been deeply proud of, and your Local 655 staff works incredibly hard to make this all possible.
No matter what happens in one day or one week, I’m confident that Local 655 will be in a good place in one year, and in ten years. I’ve seen plenty of reasons to expect good things to happen, and I hope you have too.