As President of Local 1996 and a Vice-President of our International Union, I am tasked with assuring the well-being of our Union family. Along with Leon Holderfield, Secretary-Treasurer of our Local, we take this responsibility to heart.

As this year comes to an end, we should take a minute to reflect on the many challenges and victories our Union has gone through in 2016. After all, it helps to know where you have been, in order to know where you want to go.

Our Union has negotiated and settled many contracts this year. We have been able to maintain, and in most cases improve, the conditions and benefits at the facilities where our members work. We should be proud of this!

In some industries, we are facing shameful attacks by companies. Despite having their best earnings in years, some employers continue to propose cut-backs that are harmful to workers.

As of the date of this publication, negotiations with Pilgrim’s Pride, our largest poultry processing plants where we represent over 2,700 workers, are still ongoing. In light of the company’s continued attacks, our Union is committed and ready to take a strong position to keep our contracts the best in the industry.

In the health care industry, Kaiser Permanente, where we represent over 2,000 workers, continues to thrive. In late October, KP opened a state-of-the-art call center in Duluth, GA. This means a growth of good Union jobs for our Union families. Keeping these jobs in America, where they belong!

We are gearing up for negotiations with Kroger; our largest retail contract which is set to expire in March 2017. The negotiation committee has been selected by the membership. You spoke and we listened. Many of the issues that you raised will be bargained with the Kroger Company.

Together with our negotiation committee, we will perform our due diligence to assure that our members’ interests are first and foremost in our contract with Kroger.

As we enter 2017, we will undoubtedly face new challenges. Some corporations will continue their vile attacks on workers, while others will bargain fairly. Brothers and sisters, no matter what these companies’ proposals are, I know that by sticking together, we will persevere!

The Executive Board, all of the staff, Leon and I will proudly continue our march to lead our Union towards the common goal of improving lives just as strong and diligently as in every other year.

From the entire leadership and staff of Local 1996, we sincerely wish you and your family a prosperous and Happy New Year.

Let’s continue the momentum to have an even better 2017!