Last month, over 30 UFCW members from various regions of Myanmar took part in a shop steward development training program in Chicago. The training, which also had a health and safety component, was organized by Region 6 because of the high interest from workers. The training used new interpretation equipment to increase the capacity to interpret in Karen and Burmese simultaneously.
Many of the UFCW members who attended the training work in meatpacking plants, and talked about the discrimination they face at the workplace and in their communities. They also spoke about the challenges they face when it comes to access to information in their languages.
UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez visited with the participants and encouraged them to take their rightful place as leaders in their union. The participants expressed a strong interest in building solidarity with their coworkers from different countries and backgrounds, and left committed to talking to their coworkers about becoming members of our union and sharing the information from the conference.
“Coming together is the beginning,” said Tomas Lian of Local 1149. “Keeping together is progress. Working together is success! Unity is our strength.”
The UFCW’s Occupational safety and Health Office has developed a language identifier tool that can help locals learn more about the languages spoken by members. The UFCW Steward Handbook and basic OSHA rights booklets have been translated into Karen and Burmese and are available for local unions.