On March 16 and 17, UFCW Local 653 hosted a Stewards Conference in Brooklyn Center, Minn., for 90 members who work in a variety of industries. At the conference, participants attended workshops about labor history; understanding union contracts and rights; organizing to build worker power; challenges and threats to worker prosperity; and how to build a broader workers’ movement with partners.
The number of stewards at UFCW Local 653 has grown from 40 to 90 in five months, and includes workers from retail, health care, meat processing, food production and other industries. Conference participants found the workshops and the ability to meet their fellow stewards positive and uplifting.
“A strong union will help improve worker relationships. It will teach us to always look out for the little guy and stand up for our rights,” said Willis Olive, a UFCW Local 653 steward who has worked at Cub Foods for 18 years.
“I love being with the residents and am a steward because I want to have a voice for what is right!” said Casey Pangburn, a UFCW Local 653 steward and nursing assistant who has been with Benedictine Health Center for one year.
“I enjoy the high pace work as well as the great people that I have worked with throughout my career,” said Paul Swanson, a UFCW Local 653 steward who has worked in the retail industry for 26 years. “I am a steward because I want to actively work to improve my work experience and that of my coworkers.”