The Journey of Joshua and Jocelyn
Read Christoff's article for April 2015, click here.
In May, UFCW International accepted 28 promising, young, rank-and-file members from across the country to participate in the UFCW Gold Internship Program, which launched with a one-week education curriculum in Atlanta, Georgia.
UFCW 876 was fortunate enough to have two members selected: Joshua Shrum, Kroger #737 in Utica, and Jocelyn Smith, Hiller's Market #7 (now The Kroger Company per acquisition) in Ann Arbor. Both interns have completed the initial training and have been assigned to projects that suited their interests and abilities.
During the week in Atlanta, interns were provided with history, exercises, and training by labor leaders, labor educators, and fellow rank-and-file members on the importance of the labor movement and their opportunity to become more involved.
In addition to the education curriculum, there is a four-week action project where each will be assigned to participate in one of the five different program areas: legislative and political, organizing, collective bargaining, health and safety, and civil rights. Interns will have the opportunity to learn about the UFCW and the labor movement while developing skills in organizing and political action. Many of the 2014 Gold internship class (36 in total) went on to be local union activists, stewards and staff. The program dates are June 21 through August 5, 2015.
Shrum will be spending the next four weeks in Los Angeles, California where he will take part in the Walmart campaign; while Smith will be in Washington D.C. where she will be working with the Department of Labor (DOL).
Shrum has been keeping the union up-to-date with his journey via e-mail.
On June 24 he reported that he and Jocelyn spent time in the city of Atlanta, the heart of the civil rights movement, where they visited Martin Luther King's crypt; museum and home. They then went to Project South, an institute for the elimination of poverty and genocide. Here, interns heard speakers (#blacklivesmatter) and discussed how everyone has a role in this cause and its direct relation to the labor movement. To learn more about Project South visit: projectsouth.org.
The day ended with a visit from Jobs with Justice, an organization leading and orchestrating the way to fight for workers' rights in developing an economy that works for everyone and addressed effective organizing.
As the week progressed in Atlanta, Schrum reports interns watched the film "Morristown: In the Air and Sun" a documentary filmed over an 8-year period in the mountains of east Tennessee, the interior of Mexico, and in Ciudad Juarez, Morristown; which detailed the lives, work, disappointments and hope of workers and the forces that cause immigration. The day concluded with discussion of solidarity with other unions, the economic damages Walmart and IKEA have made on communities and organizing around health and safety issues.
Shrum reports days five and six in Atlanta came with exercises that measured actual privilege and the disadvantages of each intern. A time line of ancestry was created to highlight important social changes in the lives of the interns and their families. The day concluded with organizing strategy, the importance of political and legislative influences and education of the damaging effects of right-to-work laws.
Shrum then spent the week with UFCW 876 where he assisted organizers with hand-billing a nursing home, picketed another, probed a non-union employer and spent a day with his Membership Representative Steven Michael, who also was instrumental in suggesting Shrum be considered for the UFCW Gold Internship Program.
Members interested in gearing up for the 2016 UFCW Gold Intern interview process should express interest to their member representative. Members are encouraged to follow the journey of Joshua and Jocelyn at www.goldufcw.org, www.facebook.com/UFCW876 or @UFCW876 #JJjourney.