Connecting with members in Southern Alberta – Part 1, Lethbridge

Recently, we had the opportunity to do a tour of Southern Alberta to connect with our members in Lethbridge, Taber, and Medicine Hat.

With more than 32,000 members across the province, it can be a challenge to see everyone as often as we would like to, but we make efforts to visit every corner of the province to interact with our members in their workplaces as regularly as possible.

Our tour started in Lethbridge, where we had a get-together with shop stewards and activists in the area. These members are the very lifeblood of our union, sustaining a long and proud history of labour activism in the area that has ensured strong representation in our members’ workplaces.

President Thomas Hesse talked about the challenges facing UFCW Local 401 union members in the current economic and political environment, noting that the representation our active members do in their workplaces is vital in meeting and addressing those issues.

“The pandemic created one of the most difficult periods I have ever seen in my more than thirty years with our union. Now, we are dealing with historically high inflation that is hitting workers around the world hard,” said President Hesse at the gathering.

“The victories we have won for many of our members over the past few years are at least helping to guard them against the worst of this phenomenon. We couldn’t have achieved those gains without the work of our stewards and activists. But we know we have more to do.”

The next day in Lethbridge included store visits at Superstore and the two Safeway locations to introduce members to newly hired Union Labour Relations Officer Cameron Howey.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than speaking with members in their workplace, hearing about their lives, and letting them know we’ve got their back,” said Secretary Treasurer Richelle Stewart.

Over lunch, we dropped in on Cavendish Farms bargaining to connect with the Union Bargaining Committee. We also spoke to the Company about our groundbreaking Education and Training Fund that provides union members with opportunities to build on their skills and knowledge and improve their working conditions and lives.

The Fund is the first of its kind in Canada.

After lunch, we toured the Maple Leaf pork processing plant to show solidarity with the members working there. Maple Leaf bargaining has become challenging, and we wanted to let the Company know that we are keeping an eye on the situation.

After that, we were on our way to Medicine Hat!