Solidarity at the UFCW International Convention

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May 2, 2018

United. Family. Community. Worth. We are the UFCW.

The 8th Regular UFCW International Convention took place April 23 – 26, 2018 in Las Vegas. More than 1,200 delegates plus more than 1,000 alternate delegates and guests took part in the democratic process of this Union over the week. The entire Members’ Slate of Presidents nominated for Officer and International Vice-President roles won by acclamation. This includes Int’l President Marc Perrone, Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez, as as well as Local 175 President Shawn Haggerty who continues in his role as an International VP representing Canada.

It was a busy week that included inspiring guest speakers, reports on organizing, collective bargaining, and global labour issues, plus debate and voting on changes to the UFCW International constitution. Attendees also took advantage of a lively gathering space in Unity Hall where they could listen to music and check out informational booths from a variety of UFCW groups such as OUTreach, UFCW Canada, and more.

Delegates had the opportunity to take part in workshops focusing on various topics:

  • Strategies for Engaging New Generations of Workers (S.O.M.E.)
  • Servicing Model that will Thrive in a Work for Less Environment
  • UFCW Programs that Add Value
  • Impact of Technological Changes
  • Social Media Trends/Mobile Media Habits
  • U.S. Health & Welfare
  • Today’s Changing Workforce & Growing Our Union

Throughout the convention, videos featuring real UFCW members focused on how the Union can help build a better life.

Guest speakers from the Labour movement over the week included:

In addition to a presidential address from Marc Perrone, UFCW International VPs presented on their various departments and the state of our Union:

  • Esther Lopez, Secretary-Treasurer: “Not just no, but hell no to Right to Work for Less!”
  • Ademola Oyefeso, Director of Legislative and Political Action
  • Stuart Applebaum, Director of Global Solidarity: “Working people are the real foundation of our society.”
  • Shaun Barclay, Director of Organizing
  • Kevin Williamson, Director of National Bargaining

Day two of the convention was all about Canada and the audience heard from the Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, UFCW Canada National Council President Paul Meneima, and astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield. The day also included a powerful speech from Reverend Dr. William J. Barber.

Colonel Hadfield is the First Canadian Astronaut to walk in space, operate Canadarm, and command the International Space Station. He fired up the room with his stories from space and what inspires him to achieve his goals.

“If you want to do something new. If you want to do something that changes things. And, if you want to be able to be in a picture like that [gesturing to a photo of himself on a spacewalk], it requires years and years of tedious, unrecognized work. What the UFCW does, the way it takes care of people all across Canada and the U.S.; The example that it sets; The way that it contributes to the quality of human life and the respect and dignity. It’s only the result of a dogged, purposeful lifetime of work.” ~ Col. Chris Hadfield

The inspiring community leader Rev. Dr. Barber does work on behalf of the revived Poor People’s Campaign in the U.S. Barber gave a passionate speech about standing strong against those who seek to destroy the working class. He brought the crowd their feet several times.

Day three included a sit-down discussion between Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez and Billie Jean King, who is an activist and sports legend. King has been a long-time advocate for women’s equality in sports. She broke barriers when she pushed for equal prize money for women tennis players and continues her work to this day as a champion for equal rights.

On the last day of convention, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger spoke to the crowd about his harrowing experience piloting a damaged commercial airliner to a safe landing on the Hudson River in 2009. He inspired the crowd with his spirit and focus in the face of possible disaster and left with the message that you can achieve great things if you focus all aspects of your life in the right direction.

The next regular UFCW International Convention will take place in 2023.