2014 Food & Drug Conference Summary

Building on past successes, the 2014 Food & Drug Conference attracted industry representatives from across North America to a solid two-day program of topical updates and dialogues reflecting the conference’s mission to connect, inform and inspire.

The December event at Caesars Palace Las Vegas featured an array of leaders and expert observers of the food and drug industries, including retail executives, union activists, regulators and manufacturers.

  • George Frahm, a senior executive at Stater Bros. Markets, who explained how his company has succeeded by building employee satisfaction;
  • Supermarket analyst Frank Dell, who examined “drivers for change” in the industry;
  • Ernie Machado, retired director of risk management at Foster Farms, who provided insights in how the poultry producer dealt with public relations crises;
  • Jeff Breseman of E&J Gallo, who described the long history of friendly labor relations at the nation’s largest producer of wines and spirits;
  • Analyst Craig Rosenblum, who explained how “a massive shift in shopper behavior” is spurring changes in the supermarket industry;
  • Ron Auer, executive director of the international CORPaTH pension alliance, and UFCW 8-Golden State in Central and Northern California President Jacques Loveall, who discussed efforts to promote, protect and preserve income security for retired people;
  • Rosalyn Hackworth, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 135 in San Diego, who provided a “capsule review” of reforms in the regulation of pharmacies;
  • A panel on immigration reform featuring UFCW 8-Golden State Union Representative Fatima Valenzuela; Mai Syed of the California Labor Federation, and Martin Hernandez, organizing director of UFCW Local 99 in Arizona;
  • Consultant Noah Pontell, who discussed “Cannabis Capitalism: The 21st Century Gold Rush”; and
  • Motivational speakers Deborah Shames, David Booth and Marilyn Sherman, who inspired conference attendees to improve their communicating skills and get “front row seats” in their own lives.

In addition, the 2014 Food & Drug Conference recognized two retiring union leaders in the food and drug industries: Bill Lathrop, president of UFCW Local 1167 in Southern California’s Inland Empire, and Paul Rubin, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 99 in Arizona.

The award states: “On the occasion of your retirement, we thank you for your decades of commitment, passion and hard work on behalf of all who work in the industries we serve. We honor your inspiring leadership and your friendship. We are privileged to know you, to work with you and to call you a friend.”

In her remarks to conference attendees, Director Ellen Anreder addressed the annual event’s focus on higher standards in the food and drug industries.

“Everyone in the community benefits when a local business prospers and its employees are compensated well, with good health benefits and a reliable pension,” she said. “Everyone benefits when workers earn enough to pay taxes that pay for the community’s roads, bridges and schools. And everyone benefits when people who work don’t have to rely on the taxpayers so they and their children can have health care, enough food to eat and the ability to retire with dignity and live independently.

“This is the fundamental message of the Food & Drug Conference, which serves the perspectives and priorities of all parties in the industries we serve.”