Two Young Local 400 Members Gain the Skills to be Strong Voices for the Millennial Generation
While most young adults soaked up the summer sun, two Local 400 members —Brittany Metts, 20, from Safeway #1276 and Stephanie Pryor, 29, from Giant #326, — were in Amherst, Mass. attending the 37th United Association for Labor Education (UALE) Northeast Summer School for Union Women.
The School brings together rank-and-file members, staff and officers of unions and workers’ rights organizations to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the U.S. labor movement, and to develop skills that prepare them to serve as the next generation of union leadership.
Metts and Pryor were chosen to attend the Summer School because they have been active Local 400 members throughout the community, attending rallies, meetings and events representing the younger membership.
Both women had the opportunity to take courses in leadership, collective bargaining, labor law, grievance handling, public speaking, organizing, safety and health, and mobilizing for political and legislative activity.
Metts’ favorite class was leadership where she learned the importance of listening, identifying situations and obstacles when in a leadership role along with communicating effectively. The biggest accomplishment she had while at UALE was gaining more confidence and belief in herself as a leader.
Metts also offered some suggestions of her own to her union sisters in the room struggling with reaching out to the youths.
“It’s all about being personable and telling your story,” she said. “You can’t put an age on maturity.
“Yes, I’m only 20 but I have gone through some experiences that say a 40-year-old just experienced,” Metts added. “We as humans, as women, have a lot more in common than you think, if you just take the time to listen.”
Pryor said, “it’s important to have an open mind and just take a moment to talk with people around you in your stores.”
Pryor’s favorite class was in collective bargaining where they did a mock negotiations exercise.
“We learned all the tactics management play and how to read their body language,” she said. “Though I was lucky enough to be on the union side of the table during the exercise it was still tough knowing that the ‘members’ would be counting on you. It really opened my eyes to the pressures the leadership of our union faced at the bargaining table with Giant and Safeway recently.”
Metts and Pryor hope to serve as leaders for the young adults in Local 400 and the community. When they return, they plan to put their new skills to work by leading a youth workshop for the members who are under the age of 35. The workshop will help generate a network of young Local 400 members to meet and discuss not only issues at work but also life’s challenges.
“We want to engage the young members and grow the network so they can be the voice of young workers at rallies, events and most importantly inside their facilities,” said Metts
Metts and Pryor would like to close the gap that sometimes exists between the older and younger generation of workers.
“We want both generations to understand that there are so many mentors around you and stepping outside of your comfort zone is a good thing,” said Metts. “We all are in this family, we are all union brothers and sisters so, regardless of age, we need to stick together.
For video highlights of the Summer School visit sistersolidarity.blogspot.com