Stresses stewards’ critical role at UFCW Local 655 Stewards seminar here
“It may not be something we can touch or feel, but the difference YOU make in people’s lives is something that will last long after we are all gone.”
While he was speaking to the shop stewards of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 at their recent Stewards Educational Seminar, UFCW International President Marc Perrone was in effect, reaching out to shop stewards across Missouri, Southern Illinois and all of America whose job is a critical fulcrum in the lives of union families but who seldom get recognition or credit for their vital work.
In an emotionally laced speech, Perrone brought home the importance of a steward:
“What we leave behind – what truly matters - is the good we did, and the lives we have changed.
“While we too often measure a person’s worth in this country by the money they earn, or the car they drive, or the house they have, the reality is that none of us will take the materials of life with us when we are gone.”
QUESTIONS TO ASK
He made the point with a series of simple questions to force stewards to better understand their roles in the bigger scheme of things:
“How should we measure the value of that time off we help give a father or mother to spend with a child?
“How do we measure the feeling that when your fellow member may be struggling with cancer or a terrible illness, our (union) family was there to help?
“How should we quantify the worth we give to someone we defended against a manager or boss who was harassing them, or tried to fire them for no good reason?
“How do you measure making a real difference, or changing the lives of others?”
His answer was straightforward: “I believe you measure it in the meaning and worth we give to the lives others.”
NOT AN EASY RESPONSIBILITY
Recognizing the difficult job of a shop steward Perrone said, “I wish we made it easier on you, and the responsibilities we place on you did not carry so heavy a burden. But when our dawn comes, and we must ask ourselves what difference we made in the lives others, YOU can proudly say…
“I was a steward.
“I was a member of Local 655
“I stood for what was right.
“I made a difference.
“I gave hope and a voice to those who needed and depend on me.
“I gave meaning to many. I helped create a better life for those who matter.”
Emphasizing the unique value of a shop steward, the General President stressed: “Your dedication and hard work is what keeps this union family together. And, it is what will drive us forward.”
“Our local, the entire Labor Movement, has a terrific story to tell. We need your help to get that story to the public and yes, to our own members,” said Local 655 President David Cook in introducing Perrone.