People have said over and over again, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.” It is undeniable this year has been one of the hardest we’ve faced yet. A global pandemic threatened and continues to threaten our health and safety, and that of our loved ones. Many of our homes were lost in unprecedented wildfires. Many more families are still in danger of losing their homes due to the economic recession caused by the ongoing pandemic. When I look back at 2020, however, I don’t just see the trials we’ve endured. I see the strengths and qualities that got us through the year. These same traits are the very thing we need to make 2021 the year of healing and rebuilding that we deserve:
- Solidarity—Our dedication to making our workplaces & communities safe and fair for everyone
- Unity—Working together, our strength is so much greater than the sum of our parts
- Conviction—We do what is right, even when it’s hard
Every day that we’ve donned a mask before work, we’ve acted in solidarity with the healthcare workers in hospitals overwhelmed by the pandemic. Unionists and worker’s rights advocates united to win COVID safety protections for working people across the state of Oregon and Washington. We spoke out about unsafe and unfair work practices in our stores. We stood together to say the hazard still isn’t over, and the grocery line is the front line. We’re holding onto our convictions that workers have the right to safe work and ought to be compensated fairly as we head into Unity Negotiations.
We will soon sit (distantly) across the table from employers in contract negotiations. We must hold them accountable for leaving their employees vulnerable in the middle of a crisis. We will defend the right to safe work. We will fight for fair treatment, and for wages that account for the challenges we face in a public health crisis and the crisis of growing inequality. And we’ll do it together.
Our bargaining committee will, as always, be a group of Local 555 members, working in the stores the negotiated contracts cover. They will be guided not only by their own experience, but by the responses to the bargaining survey, going out after the new year. When we join our voices as one, we can’t be ignored.
2020 was a hard year. And while the passage of time alone is not going to make 2021 any better, our actions will. Here’s to making 2021 a better year!