The 7th Regular Convention of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union opened with anticipation and excitement. Thousands of delegates from UFCW local unions across the U.S. and Canada filled Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.
“This is awesome. I feel so excited to be here,” said Sharon Hill from Russellville, AL a member of RWDSU Local 932 who works at Pilgrim’s Pride. “We just got our first contract, 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.”
Every five years the UFCW holds its regular Convention with the goal of shaping the courseof the union and ensure the lives of its 1.3 million members are improved over the course of the coming years. Nearly 2,000 delegates and alternates came with one message, “We are proud to be blue, gold and bold. And we are powerful together.”
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 delegates assembled.
“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.”
“Let me tell you this union changed my life when I was starting out in high school and in college,” said Rep. Tammy Duckworth. “I do not know if my father was a UFCW member, but I can tell you that you raised the pay and benefits for everyone in my father’s chicken processing plant. That job put food in our bellies and allowed me to go school, and I thank you for that.”
When asked about her experience at the Convention so far, UFCW member Deborah Jones of Local 832 said, “I am pumped to be here. I’ve already got so many great ideas to take back to my local. I think sometimes we forget that we are such a huge union, so it’s just great to come here and meet people from all over. It really reminds you that we are everybody’s union—today just showed that.”