On June 25, UFCW Locals 75 and 1059, along with ICWUC and RWDSU affiliates, hosted a labor roundtable with Representative Tim Ryan, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, and essential workers. The event took place in Toledo, Ohio.
At the event, essential workers talked about the critical issues facing Ohio workers, as well as the crucial role that the labor movement plays in fighting to improve the lives of working people, and heard Representative Ryan’s vision to center the needs of working families everywhere.
“The essential workers who kept our shelves stocked and our communities running smoothly through the worst of the pandemic deserve more than just gratitude. They need action, including better wages, strong workplace safety protections, and reliable, affordable health care—including for those who got sick with COVID-19,” said Representative Ryan. “The most important lesson from today’s roundtable is that we still have more work to do to make sure that all of our frontline workers can do their jobs safely and with dignity, and that their families can rest assured they’ll get the support they need.”
“In my time with Kroger and as a member of the union, I have seen firsthand what we are up against when negotiating with the company. Having a union makes all the difference for us getting higher wages and better benefits in our contracts,” said Laura Belincourt, a UFCW Local 75 member and Kroger clerk. “Right now, we are seeing a resurgence in the labor movement with new workers stepping up to organize, but overall union membership numbers continue to decrease in our industry and many others. Workers still have the deck stacked against them. We need to level the playing field and pass federal legislation like the PRO Act, and I was grateful to hear Representative Ryan’s commitment to that fight.”
“Having worked at Autoneum for over 12 years and served as a union safety representative, I can attest to how crucial the issue of workers’ compensation is for those of us who work these jobs,” said Geoff Stinson, a RWDSU member and autoworker at Autoneum. “Workers don’t get the care they need and often return to work with their injury because their claim was denied, or they can’t afford to take the time off without pay. I appreciate Tim Ryan listening to the stories of what we face at my plant and his commitment to look into this issue more.”
“As someone who’s been quite active in my community and politics, in addition to involvement with my union, I’ve frequently heard about bringing manufacturing jobs back to Ohio,” said Scott Piatt, who is a ICWUC member and electrician at Westlake Chemical. “We need to not only bring these jobs back, but ensure that the jobs that are created are good paying, union jobs. After hearing Representative Ryan today, I know that he’ll fight to make that happen anyway he can.”
“I’ve worked in the meat department at Meijer for three years and have always prided myself in helping customers get the products they need,” said Richard Borton, a UFCW Local 1059 member and Meijer meat department worker. “With the increasing supply chain issues, it has been extremely frustrating when we are often out of products or can’t simply give an answer to customers on when certain items will be back in stock. I hear that frustration from customers every single day. I appreciated Representative Ryan’s willingness to come directly to us today, hear our frustrations and questions, and talk about how he’d address these issues.”