UFCW Int’l Union’s Collective Bargaining Director
gives national overview of contract negotiations
at Food & Drug Conference; cannabis entrepreneur
describes progress in raising standards for workers

Speakers Hunt and Henry Give Tips on Communicating and Forging Lasting Connections with Members and Prospective Members

Calling for a better future for all workers in the American economy, the director of collective bargaining for the country’s largest private-sector Union provided attendees of the 2019 Food & Drug Conference with a review of critical contract negotiations across the country.

Milton Jones of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union began his address by describing the importance of labor contracts as “protectors of good jobs in industries that fuel our country’s middle class.”

The veteran activist for Union rights and civil rights drew applause from Union representatives and others when he said, “No matter your gender, age, race, creed, creed, color, country of origin, status of citizenship, language spoken pregnancy status, family status, sexual orientation or gender identification, you can get paid the same rate for doing the same job” because of a Union-negotiated contract.

Jones described obstacles in the way of obtaining a fair society, including an economy driven by “part-time and gig jobs that have emboldened many irresponsible corporations to cut wages and benefits and misclassify workers as independent contractors or temporary workers, and even punish those who dare to speak out and improve their lives.”

He also said these obstacles can be overcome, noting “more and more workers are realizing that some of their problems are bigger than ever before and we cannot fix them alone.”

This realization is especially true among millennial workers, who are turning to Unions in growing numbers, he said.

Jones’ remarks were prefaced by an introduction presented by Bryan Wynn, director of UFCW Region 8, which includes Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

Focusing the spotlight on a vital new industry in many parts of the country, Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State, conducted an on-stage dialogue with David Spradlin, entrepreneur and operations director for Perfect Union, a major cannabis employer that is setting standards of quality and service for dispensaries and growers. Spradlin explained why he has welcomed the UFCW to serve the needs of his employees, his business and the industry he is bringing in from the margins of the American economy.

Loveall and Spradlin were joined in a panel discussion by Nichole Rice, UFCW 8’s legislative director, and Jay Trumbull, UFCW 8’s representative serving cannabis workers.

Bracketing the Food & Drug Conference’s lineup of industry speakers and panelists were presentations by Todd Hunt on “Communications Bleeps and Blunders” and Patrick Henry on “The Four-Chord Member Experience: Turning Members into Fans and Fans into Advocates.”

Both presenters used humor and their personal stories to illustrate their messages about effective communications, marketing and leadership.

Illustrating his call for precise language in communicating with Union members and others, Hunt, a former advertising executive, provided humorous examples of inexact and unclear signs, advertising slogans and vocal interactions between service providers and customers. To promote clear communication, he recommended repetition, attention to detail and consideration for one’s audience.

“Keep in mind the people we are communicating with don’t necessarily know the lingo we use — in your case CBA, H&W TFO — and at times they’re too embarrassed to ask,” he said. “So use the full expression.”

Henry, who is a songwriter as well as a humorist, brought his guitar to the stage to provide a musical narrative of his transition from would-be country music star to motivational speaker and family man.

“As a songwriter, I tell stories,” he said. “It’s important for us to tell the right story if you want to achieve the right results.”

Extending the idea to those in the Union movement, Henry emphasized understanding and empathizing with the needs of members.

“Who are the people you’re reaching out to, that you’re serving?” he asked. “What are you doing to make them feel special, unique, valued, protected? What are you doing to tell the Union story?”

Click here to view videos of the 2019 FDC presentations.

More Highlights from the 2019 Food & Drug Conference