May 1, 2015
Celebrating UFCW Moms: Local 655 Member Fights Right To Work; Stands Up for Union Rights that Gave Her and Her Daughter Better Life
One such union mom, Theresa Hester of UFCW Local 655, recently shared her story of how the union has changed her life in a testimony before the Missouri State Senate to explain why Right to Work laws are wrong:
In 1998, Theresa moved to St. Louis after graduating from high school. That year, she established three goals her herself: continue her education, provide a better living for herself and her young daughter, and get off government assistance.
For a few years, she moved from job to job, but none allowed her to be able to support her daughter the way she wanted – until 2003 when she started working at Shop ‘n Save and became a member of UFCW Local 655.
Unfortunately, that same year, she and her co-workers were forced to go on strike in order to save their healthcare and benefits. Theresa experienced union solidarity first-hand, saying “we were out there, walking day and night, fighting for the things we needed to support our families. The thing that stood out to me was how united we were on our common issues during that period. I realized the real power of a union is how people come together.”
Theresa has come a long way since that first eye-opening experience and has now been a Local 655 member for 12 years. She says that being a union member has allowed her to raise her daughter in a good environment, and have the flexible scheduling she needs to attend PTA meetings or participate in after school activities with her daughter. “There’s no greater feeling than knowing you can tell your child that you’ll be at their performance, or Christmas party, or whatever the case may be,” she says.
Additionally, Theresa’s union job has enabled her to meet the goals she set for herself years ago. She now lives in North St. Louis in a home she owns and is able to afford. Not only does she no longer need government assistance, she was able to pay for and attend accounting school.
“I know personally the benefits of having a union job and what it does for hardworking families,” Theresa told the state Senate during her testimony. “I’m free to work any place I choose.”
That’s why Theresa has been speaking out about Right to Work laws in her state. When she talks to her co-workers and friends about the legislation, they are very concerned because the proposed law is so confusing, deceptive, and has such potential to hurt hard-working families.
Theresa argues that legislators should be discussing raising the minimum wage, creating jobs that pay living wages, and investing in education and infrastructure. She knows that Right to Work laws create unsafe workplaces, weaken worker power, and diminish the likelihood of workers having a pension or healthcare.
“Because I have a union job, I sleep easier at night knowing I have great benefits, better working conditions, great healthcare, and a voice that someone will hear,” Theresa says. She gives credit to her local union (UFCW Local 655) and the contract she and her co-workers help to negotiate for making that possible.
Our union family wouldn’t be what it is without your brave, strong, and united voices. Are you a UFCW mom, or a member with a story to share? Tell us at http://www.ufcw.org/resources/members/share-your-story/.