My name is Charlie Mullen, and I’m a member of UFCW Local 663 working for Lunds & Byerlys in Minneapolis. Recently my union rep Scott Larson stopped by and we got to talking about how young people understand and view what the union does for workers, and I told him the story of how I first was acquainted with workers unions. He suggested I share it here.
2011 Wisconsin protests spark union consciousness
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and my mother is a public-school teacher and union member. In 2011, when I was in the 6th grade, then-governor Scott Walker introduced legislation that would strip most of the collective bargaining rights, pension, health insurance, and sick leave of most public sector workers. Many public workers struck in protest, including the teachers in my mother’s union and those in the union representing the school district I attended, forcing the districts to close the schools. Many unions and other groups organized protests at the state capitol.
Every day that I was out of school, I was at the capitol with my mom, her coworkers, and tens of thousands of other protesters. I’ll never forget just how amazed I was at everything I was seeing. Watching tens of thousands of public workers come out every day to support one another and make their voices heard in support of their rights was a sight that I will never forget. I know that unions organized the demonstrations and defended the workers while they were on strike. It was a powerful experience that taught me an important lesson about solidarity and the power workers can hold if they fight for and support each other.
UFCW 663 union membership means power and pride
One of my favorite parts of my current job is my union membership. When I learned at my interview that my job was a union job, I was overjoyed, and I’m very proud to tell people I’m a union member. I feel this pride when a new employee asks me what the union is all about or how to receive their union benefits. I feel this pride when I think about how we are the union and we support and defend each other. I feel this pride when I see my rep stop by my work and check up on all the union members, to make sure we’re doing well. It never fails to impress me how workers in unions can wield such power when we organize and work together.