The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is an institution that has been around for literally decades. We have had a number of International Presidents and Secretary-Treasurers. Our current President Marc Perrone made a promise just a short time ago. He vowed to change the make-up, or shall I say “the face,” of the Board. President Perrone believes that our Board and the leaders of our Union should be representative of those we represent, so he set out to identify individuals in the organization that not only possessed certain skill sets, but didn’t necessary resemble the status quo.
True to his word, President Perrone sought out a few talented individuals right under his nose and in doing so he changed the dynamics of the organization – making history by doing so. Our newest Secretary-Treasurer (2nd in charge) for the UFCW International Union is Esther Lopez. Not only is Esther female, Esther is Latina. Prior to Esther’s historical appointment to Secretary-Treasurer, she was a Director in the Civil Rights Department for the UFCW International Union. Esther has been involved in a number of campaigns directed to addressing Civil Rights matters that involve our Union and our Union Members.
Esther is a leading champion of hard-working men and women, and has worked tirelessly for decades on behalf of immigrants and all families seeking a better life. She has helped lead the UFCW’s ground-breaking outreach effort to the Latino and immigrant communities, and is recognized as a national leader in the areas of immigration reform, as well as civil, human, and labor rights.
Throughout her career, Esther has been a champion of the rights of all workers – regardless of where they come from or where they were born. To help provide hope to immigrant workers, Esther launched a ground breaking program to ensure eligible UFCW members were first in line to apply for citizenship. Prior to that, she spearheaded the Union Citizenship Action Network, also known as UCAN, to help UFCW members become naturalized and get on the path to citizenship. Esther was the lead staff person on the UFCW Commission on ICE Enforcement that highlighted civil rights abuses in the 2006 Swift raids. All along, Esther has never lost focus on the broader goal of giving aspiring Americans the chance to become citizens and ensuring all workers and their families are protected from exploitation.
Esther began with the UFCW in November 2006 when she was hired as Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department. In that role, she has helped put the UFCW on the front lines of the most crucial civil rights battles of our time—fighting back against voter suppression, working to end exploitation of refugees from countries like Burma, Sudan and Somalia, creating more opportunities for women, and expanding LGBT equality.
Prior to her career at the UFCW, Esther played an active role in improving labor conditions within the state of Illinois, serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Labor, as well as in the governor’s cabinet as Director of the Illinois Department of Labor.
Under President Perrone’s watch there have been a number of promotions for people of color and women to Regional Directors for the eight Regions throughout the United States. President Perrone has always taken an interest in the inner workings of the International and local unions and has not only walked the walk, he talked the talk. I would like to commend President Perrone for ensuring that the UFCW takes into account that our Union Members don’t come in “one size fits all” and that we must adapt to the times in which we live. Bravo President Perrone, bravo!