FREE COLLEGE. That’s a new member-only benefit United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 is offering its more than 10,000 members, President David Cook announced.
And the benefit also extends to the member’s spouse, children, parents, grandparents and domestic partners, as well as Local 655 retirees.
Local 655’s new two-year college benefit program covers the cost of tuition, fees and e-books through the Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) in Ohio in a program organized through the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union to help their members stretch their paychecks by allowing them the chance to attend, or finish, college while still working.
EGCC is a fully accredited community college and accepts transfer of credits from other schools where members might already have credits. EGCC credits can also transfer to other colleges and universities across the country. The college opened in 1968 and has provided quality education for more than 59,000 students.
“This is one of the single best programs that has ever been offered to UFCW members and their families,” Cook said in a letter to his members announcing the program. “If you’re thinking that there must be a catch or that this cannot be true, I understand. I was equally skeptical when I first heard about the Free College Benefit program. But there is no catch. Several UFCW Locals in other states have already implemented this program with wonderful success.”
Because the courses are offered online, classes can be taken from anywhere as long as members have access to a computer and Internet connection. Anything from a personal computer to the public library will allow students to have full access to the course programs. “And classes can be taken on your own time, allowing members to continue working while they earn their associate’s degree,” Cook said.
The program also offers members access to highly qualified instructors, the assistance of an enrollment advisor, financial-aid and online access to tutoring services.
Available degrees programs include:
• Business Management with additional concentrations in Human Resources, Healthcare Management, Marketing and Finance
• Patient Home Navigator Certificate
• Associate of Arts
• Criminal Justice
• Early Childhood Education
In addition, students who are close to graduating with a degree, who have not had time to do so, can transfer their previous college credits and participate in a unique Associate of Individualized Study Degree program tailored to their individual needs to allow them to finish their degree. Students choosing this option must work with an advisor, get their previous and future work approved by a committee, and complete a minimum of 18 credits with EGCC.
HELPING YOUNGER MEMBERS
“This is clearly another benefit of being a union member,” Cook said, noting that many of the local’s younger members are new to the Labor Movement.
“The younger generation of the workforce may not see the same value to retirement benefits and high quality health care,” Cook said. “They may have health care through their parents, and retirement feels a million years away. They may never have needed their union representative to step in and protect them on the job.
“This program is yet another clear demonstration to them – as well as our veteran members – that their union is a valuable resource for them, now and in the future.”
Local 655 members wanting more information can to go ufcwfreecollege.org.