When Gregory Reynard, Jr., started work as a meat cutter at Kroger #402 in Blacksburg, Va., on September 21, 2010, one of the first things he did was join Local 400. He didn’t need any persuading; he knew first-hand about the power of union representation from his father, who was a leader in his International Association of Machinists Local Union.
Plus, he spoke up right from day one. “I noticed we were only meeting every quarter,” Greg recalled. “I said we should meet more often-we can get stuff done twice as fast.” Within a week, he became a shop steward.
“I like being a steward,” Greg said. “You get to help people. You help achieve a balance between what the corporation wants and the satisfaction and rights of the workers. You can help make the store a good working environment rather than a sweat- shop.”
Greg, 24, goes beyond his normal responsibilities as a steward to get involved in Local 400 actions. Recently, he joined a rally supporting striking Walmart associates at the store in Christiansburg, handing out buttons to customers and talking with workers about the benefits of joining a union. “There was a lot of fear there,” he said. “But I told them with a union, you get fair working conditions and seniority rather than favoritism-and once you get to 51 percent, you have nothing to fear.” Greg expects to be heavily involved in bargaining for a new contract with Kroger-Roanoke. “Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little,” he said, “but I don’t see us having much to give. But the more members we have, the more we can get. The more active we are, the better agreement we’ll have.”
“Kroger doesn’t give you anything,” Greg emphasized. “You have to fight for it tooth and nail, and I’m ready to stand up with my brothers and sisters to get it.”