By ED FINKELSTEIN
In a unique and long overdue effort to promote the positive side of labor unions, two locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers here have launched a long-planned positive image campaign on local TV and cable stations, UFCW Local 655 President David Cook and Meat, Deli & Seafood Local 88 President Dan Telle announced.
The first of several 60-second spots, in planning for over a year with the UFCW International Union, began airing Aug. 4 and will run for a total of four weeks.
“We’ve been talking about ways to grow our union for a long time and this concept was born and planned well over a year ago,” said Cook. “Our goal with this, and other spots to follow, is to show that our unions play a positive role in our communities, not only for the services we provide the public, but also our incredible charitable efforts on behalf of dozens of local groups.”
FIRST AD FOCUSES ON SERVICE
The current ad promotes the positive relationship between Local 655 and Local 88’s members and its customers, making the point that the unions’ members are proud to provide quality service to support shoppers and their families while being able to earn family-supporting wages and benefits.
“This effort is a long time coming,” said Telle. “Ours is a ‘people business’ and we haven’t really taken the time before to introduce our people to the customers they are proud to serve. I hope this reaching out to the public is the beginning of a trend for all Labor.”
“We’re your neighbors and friends there every day when you need us,” says one clerk, a “proud union team working hard because you work hard…and deserve good service,” says another, “… shopping at (our) stores makes a real difference… our biggest reward is being there for you,” says a third.
“We value our customers, we know how hard they work and we work hard because they do – we are committed to providing them the best service and proving the value our unions provide every day,” Cook said with pride.
The spot features almost a dozen different union members from both Locals 655 and 88 with the overwhelming message, “Thank you for shopping with us. We’re a proud union family proud to serve you.”
A second ad is scheduled to begin around the upcoming NFL season and reminds shoppers of RAMS owner Stan Kroenke’s direct relationship to Walmart and the fact that their food sales directly impact St. Louis union grocery workers. It’s currently in production.
The ads will urge shoppers to buy at their local union supermarkets.
UFCW 655 responds to questions about TV spot timing as it relates to Teamsters’ Schnuck boycott
With the current boycott of Schnucks by Teamsters Local 688, some union members are posting on social media questioning the timing of the UFCW Locals 655 and 88 ads running on television.
Local 655 President David Cook responded to these inquiries openly and candidly in a new Facebook post this week:
- Why the commercials? …Our union is… in contract talks with our three biggest employers: Schnucks, Shop ‘n Save and Dierbergs, impacting roughly 9,000 of our 10,000+ members. We believe presenting ourselves to the general public in a positive light is an effective means of acquiring leverage in these negotiations in order to win the best possible contract for our hard-working members. With the public understanding us, it will be easier to rally their support to our cause should negotiations not produce the wages and benefits we know our members have earned.
- The commercials are funded exclusively by UFCW Locals 655 and 88. The companies have NO INVOLVEMENT in them, either their content or their costs.
- They ARE NOT meant to counteract the current Teamsters boycott of Schnucks. They were planned LONG BEFORE the Teamsters dispute… (See first point above).
- I am extremely sensitive to the Teamsters’ grievances with Schnucks. I have been in constant contact with the Teamsters leadership as well as with Schnucks to seek an agreeable settlement, even offering to mediate, which Schnucks refused to accept. I will continue to do everything I can to help resolve this conflict.
Our unions believe it is critical that ALL Unions find new ways to communicate the value of what they do to the general public. I believe this kind of “What we do, why we are valuable” communication will lead to greater support for ALL Union workers.
“I can appreciate the concern,” Cook told the Labor Tribune. “The negotiations are critical to our members, and these ads are a vital adjunct to those negotiations. It’s an unfortunate coincidence of timing, but it is what it is.”