Throughout the pandemic, essential workers have played a major role in keeping the U.S. moving moving. These men and women not only work in grocery stores, but they labor in meatpacking plants, liquor agencies and more.
In Pennsylvania, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 represents some 35,000 members who have been hard at work making sure people have access to everyday needs. Their president, Wendell Young, joined the AWF Union Podcast to talk about the Local 1776 membership and what it means to have a pro-union president in the White House.
Representing commercial workers during a pandemic
Young said the vast majority of the Local 1776 members were deemed essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. He praised their work ethic, patience and understanding, including the ability to work together to protect each other.
From an organizing perspective, things have gone well. Despite mixed information from the state and federal governments, Local 1776 and their signatory employers worked diligently to protect the workers. Young said this action caught the attention of some non-union workers in the jurisdiction, who worked to organize with the Local.
Having a pro-union president
Young and other UFCW leaders are ecstatic Joe Biden is in the White House. His actions thus far have pleased the union and they look forward to what the future holds.
President Biden took immediate action as a pro-union president. First he nominated former Boston mayor and Laborer Marty Walsh for Labor Secretary. Additionally, President Biden’s decision to fire National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Peter Robb has received cheers from the labor community.
President Biden proposed legislation. Young applauded the American Rescue Plan, which helped struggling families overcome some financial obstacles.
Looking ahead, Young and other union leaders are excited about the American Jobs Plan, passing the PRO Act and more.