Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union opened its 7th Regular Convention at the McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago. Delegates from across the U.S. and Canada representing local unions, inspired by the theme Blue. Gold. Bold. Powerful Together, are in the Windy City to chart a course for the next five years and beyond. Their aim is to raise standards and build power for workers in the grocery, retail, and food manufacturing industries.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), and activist/author Lilly Ledbetter opened the first day of convention with rousing and inspired speeches to the nearly 2000 delegates assembled.
The convention, brought UFCW delegates from across North America representing over 1.3 million UFCW members together to hold election of officers as well as to deliberate on taking steps to strengthen the UFCW’s strong base of member activists who are at the forefront of creative organizing campaigns, engaged collective bargaining programs and political activism.
“I am here today to tell you we can rebuild the American Dream for everyone,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “I am more optimistic than ever, not just because I know you are here to lead the fight, but because I see more working people coming together around the country than ever before.”
The convention which occurs every five years is an opportunity for UFCW members to come together, debate issues and take back organizing tools to their respective communities.
“This is awesome. I feel so excited to be here – this is our first convention,” said Sharon Hill a member of UFCW Local 932 from Russellville, AL. “We just got our first contract, at Pilgrim’s Pride in Russellville, Alabama, and so to carry that good feeling all the way to Chicago and share it with all these other union members is just so amazing.”
Other notables slated to appear later in the week include U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Sherrod Brown (OH), Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis (GA-5), actor/activist Ashley Judd, and President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters James P. Hoffa. The convention ends Thursday, August 15.
UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.