By DAVID A. COOK
Some of you might know that I’m a hockey fan. More specifically, I love our St. Louis Blues, and every year I join all of St. Louis in holding my breath and wondering if this is the year. So far, I’m still waiting.
I mention this because one of the greatest hockey players of all time, the iconic Wayne Gretzky, once told the world the secret to his success.
“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
Since he uttered those words, they’ve become a favorite quote of inspirational speakers and CEOs and project managers. Admittedly, it’s become a bit of a cliché, not unlike his also-famous “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
It might be overused, but that’s only because it resonates with so many folks, and it resonated with me because it’s precisely the philosophy that drives your UFCW Local 655 staff and leadership every single day.
I’ve talked extensively about stagnation and the dangers of sitting still. This week at our annual Shop Steward Educational Conference I talked at length about fighting complacency and making sure we — the brothers and sisters of the Labor Movement – don’t ever get comfortable and allow ourselves to fall behind.
For too long, there were too many men and women in Labor who didn’t look to the future. They were too comfortable resting on their achievements and didn’t recognize the changes in the workplace, in society, and in our politics.
In short, too many of us were skating to where the puck had been.
We need to skate to where the puck is going
That’s why this week our Shop Stewards will receive the first-ever digital edition of the Labor Tribune. In the weeks to come, all Local 655 partners will begin receiving the Labor Tribune digitally. There you’ll find some exclusive content, as well as copies of the Tribune you know and love days before the rest of Labor receives the paper copy in their mailbox.
That’s why we’re embracing new ways of engaging our partners during bargaining.
That’s why almost all of our opening contract meetings took place via live telephone town hall conference, and that’s why we streamed our in-person opening meetings live on Facebook for anyone to see.
That’s why my opening remarks at our conference were live-streamed as well, and why we’re doing more and more video content.
That’s why we decided to do away with new member orientations in the coming months, because each partner is getting a one-on-one orientation when their union representative signs them up on a digital application.
We know where the puck is going, and that’s where we have to be. Some of the things we change will work, and some won’t.
This union can’t afford to go where the puck has been, we have to go to where the puck is going. And yes, sometimes the puck won’t be there, and we will adjust again and skate to a new spot.
One thing I know for sure, if we keep going where the puck has been, we will lose, which is not acceptable. Labor can’t afford to drag our feet. Hard-working families have watched for too long as their unions were weakened by political attacks and complacent leaders and partners who didn’t see what was coming down the mountain.
Many of our partners have been with us for a long time and they are used to things being done a certain way. Change can be difficult or confounding, and resisting it is normal.
To those members who want to resist this change, try to remember where we were and now look at where we are. We have to change and break the cycle of trying to hold on, rather than striving to improve the lives of workers.
Looking ahead to where we need to go will remain a top priority as I continue to serve as your president. I will continue to consider what we need to achieve next, what we need to try next, and what new challenge we need to answer. We will continue on this path of fighting complacency and evolving this union family. We will go to where the puck is going, together.