Conference attendees reconnect
for industry updates, inspiration
Concluding a two-year hiatus, industry stakeholders from across North America reunited in Las Vegas to “connect, learn and be inspired” at the 2021 Food & Drug Conference.
Presenters and panelists addressed strategies for enacting pro-worker legislation, innovations in affordable health care, and organizing workplaces in the modern economy. Speakers also paid tribute to the sacrifices of frontline workers who have kept stores running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following introductory remarks by Ellen Anreder, the FDC’s director and president of Bleiweiss Communications Inc., the program began with a panel on “Labor and Legislation: Charting a Path Forward” featuring UFCW luminaries from a variety of regions with sharply different political environments.
UFCW 8-Golden State Secretary-Treasurer Kirk Vogt moderated the panel, which included Amber Baur, executive director of the UFCW’s Western States Region; Ohio State Rep. Brigid Kelly, who also serves as communications director of UFCW Local 700; Steve Lomax, president of UFCW Local 1996 in Georgia; and Brian String, president of UFCW Local 152, which represents workers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The discussion focused on building political power for workers and safeguarding the health of union members in the stores.
“Those [supermarket workers] are the heroes. They prop us up and in return we do everything we can to protect their wages and benefits.”
President, UFCW Local 152
The panel was followed by a presentation by Randy Korgan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 1932 and national director on Amazon for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Korgan showed how data reflect the need for new strategies for inspiring workers at Amazon and other giant corporations to stand up for better pay and working conditions. He outlined the Teamsters’ work in building coalitions with other unions and the public, as well as encouraging regulators to apply anti-trust laws to curtail excesses in corporate power.
“We have no faith that the National Labor Relations Act is going to help. It’s broken. It’s busted. We’re going to build capacity and take direct action, area by area.”
Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 1932
Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State and chair of the UFCW and Employers Benefit Trust in California, then introduced Mark Blum, executive director of America’s Agenda: Health Care for All and CEO of SolidaritUS Health, who spoke on “Labor-Led Health Care Innovation.”
“We’ve done everything and anything we can to keep health care costs under control and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
President, UFCW 8 Golden State
Chair, UFCW & Employers Benefits Trust
Blum described the billions in savings which can be achieved through labor-designed pharmaceutical plans and direct labor ownership of health care delivery systems.
“Dollar for dollar, the most efficient investment in health care transformation is in primary care. We need a strong and robust primary care system so we can prevent chronic disease and manage it much more effectively when it occurs.”
Executive Director, America’s Agenda: Health Care for All CEO, SolidaritUS Health
Blum ended his remarks with a description of SolidaritUS Health, a Labor-owned company which operates primary care clinics for union members around the country.
The 2021 Food & Drug Conference concluded with the return of Chad Hymas, a top motivational speaker and wheelchair athlete who is listed by The Wall Street Journal as one of “The 10 Most Inspirational People in the World.” Hymas shared his message of positivity in a presentation titled “Battling for Peak Performance: The Time to Start is Now.”
The next Food & Drug Conference is set for Dec. 12, 2022, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Click here to view videos of the 2021 FDC presentations.