In times of sadness, we are comforted and inspired by the ways our Union family responded to the tragic events of recent months.
Together, we witnessed a senseless act of mass violence in Las Vegas, followed by the terrible loss of life, property and jobs in fires throughout Northern California.
Almost simultaneously, our fellow Americans suffered through devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Our members reacted to each of these tragedies with life-affirming generosity.
This is especially evident closest to home. When Secretary-Treasurer Kirk Vogt and I went to Santa Rosa to assess the damage caused by the fires, we were moved deeply by the spirit of our members who lost everything. Through the pain, they focused on the positive side: healing and rebuilding.
When faced with their own seemingly unbearable challenges, they showed their concern for others and their willingness to help each other.
A common comment from those who lost all their material possessions was “It was just stuff.”
In the fires’ aftermath, we were continually reminded of the bonds which connect us to each other and our Union.
We experienced the compassion of our members on a daily basis. When our District Union Representatives (DURs) entered stores in fire-ravaged areas, members immediately asked them, “How are YOU doing?” and “Did YOU lose anything?” These are questions our DURs typically ask the members.
Our representatives worked long days and nights to find the whereabouts of members and determine whether they lost a home and needed shelter or any other kind of assistance.
The DURs and office staff provided valuable information, advising and directing members to the resources available to them. Just as important, they were ready to listen when someone needed to talk about his or her experiences.
The Union website, UFCW8.org, also provided information about assistance available to fire victims.
We’ve witnessed many acts of generosity — to our members as well as store supervisors, managers, vendors, drivers, sales staff and other affected individuals in our industry.
We thank UFCW International President Marc Perrone, our International Union, our sister UFCW Local Unions, the UFCW Northern California Trust Fund employees and our service providers for their generous donations to the UFCW 8-Golden State Disaster Relief Fund.
We also recognize our employers who stepped up — whether it was Safeway paying for housing for nearly two weeks for evacuated employees, or Foster Farms donating $100,000 to a local food bank, or Petaluma Poultry, Save Mart/Lucky, Rite Aid, Raley’s or our other independent retailers providing their assistance to those in need.
Of course, we want to thank the first responders — the firefighters, police and medical personnel who risked their own lives to protect people they’ve never met.
We are one family
In sad times and happier times, Union members don’t lose sight of who we are and why we’re here: people banding together for the common good.
We don’t care about your family background, the color of your skin, how old you are, whom you worship (or don’t), or the language you speak. We march together and won’t stop until everyone can share in the bounty of our amazing country.
This is why, in our Union, we call each other Sisters and Brothers. We are family.