An educated membership is an unstoppable force. The only way unions lead change at work and in our communities is through educated members who are empowered to fight for fairness and justice. That’s why UFCW funds tens of thousands of dollars in post-secondary scholarships each year: one scholarship at a time, we are building capacity in our members and their families.
Jenny Wu is a proud UFCW 1518 member and mother. A cashier at the West Broadway Safeway, Jenny has raised an ambitious and intellectual son: Eric Chen, a fifth-year Computer Science and Biology major at the University of British Columbia. Eric is the latest recipient of the UFCW 1518 Affiliation Scholarship. “I really appreciate the scholarship,” he says. “It shows my hard work is paying off and it helps me continue my studies so that I can keep learning more.”
Every year, UFCW 1518 funds 20 affiliation scholarships of $1,000 each, awarded on a merit-basis to UFCW 1518 members and their dependents. Eric’s impressive resume made him an ideal candidate: just 22 years old, he researches DNA sequences at the BC Genome Sciences Centre. UBC has also recognized Eric’s academic achievements by awarding him with additional scholarships over the last three years. “He really has worked hard towards this goal. This is his dream career,” says Jenny. Eric has plans to work for a few years after graduation before going to graduate school for a program in computational biology or bioinformatics.
In addition to scholarships based on academic performance, the union also supports scholarships that encourage community involvement and leadership. UFCW 1518, together with Save-On-Foods, funds the Joint Diversity Scholarship, which awards $1,000 to student leaders who promote diversity awareness in their community. The UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship recognizes community involvement and labour activism in post-secondary learners, awarding six scholarships of up to $8000 each to union members and their dependents.
Erin McDonagh is the most recent winner of both scholarships. “These awards have meant everything for me. They have changed my life,” she says. An honours neurobiology student at the University of Victoria, Erin’s dad, Mark McDonagh, is a 33-year member from Save-On-Foods in Brooks Landing. “Not only for financial reasons, but receiving this recognition from my dad’s union speaks to how important the union has been in my life,” she continues. “Because my dad had a union job I never had to move around. We always had the security that he could provide for us. Receiving these awards is the next level of security this union has provided to me.”
UFCW 1518 supports workers by representing them to management, ensuring the employer follows the collective agreement, advancing members’ grievances to arbitration when needed, and lobbying government for fairer labour laws. But without an educated and engaged membership, unions cannot realize their full potential and power. That’s why creating opportunities for members to pursue continuing education is an essential part of UFCW 1518’s fairness mandate. “I think it’s great that I get to have a union to back me up and support me,” says 18-year-old Kourtney Trill, a Chilliwack Save-On-Foods member and recipient of the $1,000 UFCW Beggs-Dowling-Mathieu Scholarship Award. “Winning a scholarship is not something I thought I would have had the chance to do through my union!”
Education is just one part of the union advantage! More than 50 scholarships are available every year for UFCW 1518 members and their dependents.