The Seattle-based program Adopt-a-Street helped UFCW 367 members be able to help give back to the local community.
By Andrew Anderson and Madi Williams
On April 22, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367 participated in the Adopt-a-Street program at the Hilltop Safeway at 1112 S M St. here in Tacoma. Adopt-a-Street, Seattle’s grassroots litter-removal program, is an open volunteer program for individuals as well as organizations.
Michael Whalen, a member of the UFCW Local 367 since 2015, pitched the idea for the event to the executive board for approval.
Mike Solberg, a Grievance Rep and Recorder for the executive board for the UFCW Local, was available for questioning about the details of the event.
Q: What made you decide that the UFCW Local should do Adopt-a-Street for Earth Day?
A: We had a member bring it to the E-Board for approval. He, and we, wanted to bring back to the community and we saw a need. This is our first location and, if we’re successful here, we want to take it to other locations.
Q: How long does Adopt-a-Street last? Is the clean up for today or over a certain amount of time?
A: We’re hoping to continue here and then move to more locations. This is the second time at this location and we visit here as needed. We typically do this four times a year at least.
Q: Are you planning on doing any other community clean-up type of projects?
A: We have nothing planned, but we do have members doing volunteer work such as with homeless organizations.
Q: This article is focused on UW Tacoma students in particular, is there anything you believe students should know about your organization and the work that you do?
A: We have a new organizing campaign that we’re beginning and we also have things such as workforce development and training. It’s a great thing and our members are out here doing the work.
When speaking with Whalen, he spoke about how he brought the event to the attention of the board.
“I brought Adopt-a-Street to consideration around mid-pandemic. [When getting this approved it] starts by talking to my co-workers, then the stewards at where I work, and then I spoke with my Union Rep at the time and from there it went to the executive board where we took a vote.”
When questioned as to how this could pertain to UWT students or how the UFCW Local 367 could aid them,Whalen spoke about the value of students and their hard work.
“Student worker is sometimes another name for temp workers, and I hope that UW is a place that will become stewards of worker rights and laborers as well. This gets us out into the community and it’s a good first little step to continue to grow as a local and as a community.”
Whalen also shared that the UFCW Local 367 is in bargaining talks with employers to improve safety conditions, working under the phrase of “Respect – Protect – Pay.” They are also endorsing the Home in Tacoma project, which affects their membership as well as the community at large.
Members and Union Representatives worked together to clean the sidewalk areas around the whole Safeway building and in the grass across M. St. Everyone was happily engaged with one another soaking up the sun and helping to clean the Tacoma community. Afterwards, everyone took a group picture in front of the Adopt-a-Street sign.
Students wanting to find out more about Adopt-A-Street can visit: https://www.seattle.gov/utilities/protecting-our-environment/volunteer/adopt-a-street. Students wanting to find out more information about the UFCW Local 367 can visit their Facebook @UFCW367 or their website at https://www.ufcw367.org/about.