David Cook, president of UFCW Local 655, has been elected a vice president of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, General President Marc Perrone announced last week.
Until this election, Cook was serving as a member of the UFCW’s International Advisory Board. He is now one of only 30 local union presidents, from more than 1,000 UFCW locals in United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, that serve as International vice presidents. The election will not impact his responsibilities as Local 655’s president.
“I’m humbled and honored to be selected because it will help me further support my commitment to my partners here in St. Louis and elsewhere if the International Union calls on me for help,” Cook said.
“My staff and our outstanding Executive Board make this job easier and more enjoyable every day,” he said. “I often get the credit for the hard work they do, but make no mistake that I would not be a vice president for the UFCW International if I didn’t have the staff and board that I do.”
POSITIVE SHIFT IN PHILOSOPHY
Cook went on to say: “Under President Perrone there has been a shift in philosophy. The shift has been emphasizing how we talk to our partners and the general public. Since the change in philosophy, I have been excited with the direction of the UFCW. I could not be happier to be joining the board when they have the same beliefs we do. We need to talk to our partners and the general public in different ways than we ever have before. I am looking forward to being able to have even more input on the direction of this great International Union in the future, as we continue to work for the betterment of our hard-working partners.”
Cook, a 40-year Local 655 member, joined Local 655 as a courtesy clerk at Kroger in 1977, joined Local 655’s organizing staff in 1987, became a union representative in 1989, and was elected the union’s secretary-treasurer in 2005 and president in 2011. He has been re-elected as Local 655’s president three times since.
HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
Never one to shy away from issues critical to his partners and the Labor Movement, Cook saw the so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) handwriting on the wall years ago that led to the formation in March 2013 of Preserve Middle Class Missouri, a wide-ranging citizens coalition, to begin a fact-based membership and public education effort about this misnamed, anti-worker law. Today he serves as its president.
That educational effort has included radio and TV commercials and the creation of a comprehensive fact book for union and faith leaders documenting the law’s negative impact on workers and providing the facts to combat the onslaught of lies from right-wing and business groups.
Preserve Middle Class Missouri has since partnered with the Missouri AFL-CIO and Protect MO Families, another citizens’ coalition, to expand the grassroots fight to protect middle class workers and their families regardless of whether they are union members.
Despite those efforts, the Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature passed RTW earlier this year, but its efforts to impose the law were thwarted by union members and working family advocates who collected more than 310,000 signatures on a Citizens Referendum petition to place RTW, and whether to implement or scrap the law, on the November 2018 ballot. The signatures are currently being verified by the Secretary of State and local election authorities.
Cook and Local 655 were among the leaders in the successful signature gathering campaign.
Cook has served for the past four years as the Union headquarters chairman for the United Way and is a member of the executive boards of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council and the Missouri AFL-CIO.