Young Workers Blog: How my union has empowered me

Young Workers Blog: How my union has empowered me

Brandon Adkins (far left) with other UFCW 1006A activists at a recent stewards’ conference.

This article is the first in a series of pieces written for the Think Forward Young Workers Blog. As part of the blog, young UFCW Canada members and allies will share their views on the benefits of unionization, how their union has helped them at work, and why more young workers should join the union.

As a union steward and activist, a lot of people ask me “what does the union do?” I can rattle off a long list of things that the union does for members, from contract negotiations to grievance settlements to marching in solidarity with workers in the Labour Day and Pride parades.

But what the union really does for me and other members is provide a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one. Our union stands up for our basic rights in the workplace, and most importantly they support members whenever we need help.

That is one reason why I am so proud to be a union activist – as a steward on the frontlines, I give support and advice to my colleagues when they feel like they have nowhere to turn.

I also happen to be a young worker, and I know that many young people sometimes feel underappreciated – like their work means nothing and they are just a number. But our union has shown us that’s not true: at my store, every member’s voice is valued and everyone has something to contribute.

UFCW has also played an integral role in ensuring that my company allows people to move up, and that the process is fair for everyone. In fact, fair rules for promotions helped me get a full-time position in my store. This has given me the confidence to do my best work, and I also appreciate the fact that our collective agreement provides excellent job security. As a result, I don't have to worry about a simple mistake getting me fired (like in a non-union workplace).

With the union behind me, I feel confident and empowered to do my job, knowing that what I do matters and that my brothers and sisters have my back.

Brandon Adkins is a UFCW Canada Local 1006A member who works full-time at a Loblaws in Ottawa. He is a graduate of the UFCW Canada Young-Workers Internship Program (YIP) and is also a steward at his store.