Largest UFCW local in nation elects first female President; youngest person of color Secretary Treasurer; first Latina Recorder to top offices
SEATTLE (Oct. 30, 2020) — The democratically elected Executive Board of 40 rank-and-file members — along with President Faye Guenther, Secretary Treasurer Joe Mizrahi and Recorder/Executive Vice President Mia Contreras — began their new terms of office this week at UFCW 21. They lead what is now the largest UFCW local in the nation with more than 46,000 members in grocery stores, health care, retail, cannabis and other industries. UFCW nationwide has one of the most diverse and young memberships in the nation, and Guenther is now the first woman to be elected President of UFCW 21.
Guenther, Mizrahi and Contreras began working together in 2008 to identify, recruit and train a new generation of member leaders. This effort has paid off with member-led victories that include raising the minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of workers, gaining paid sick leave for a million workers across the state, and also helping pass the strongest Paid Family and Medical Leave law in the nation, all while negotiating high industry-leading standards in hundreds of UFCW 21 contracts. The goal of UFCW 21 is to identify, recruit and train more than 4,500 leaders in the next two years.
In addition to member leader development, the newly elected leadership is committed to building pathways for all workers to exercise their power and voice and organize into a union without interference from their employers. UFCW 21 has welcomed more than 1,000 newly organized members to its ranks during this year’s COVID pandemic.
Over the next two years, the team plans to launch several new initiatives, including launching WeTrain Washington to expand training to all essential workers, advance workplace safety, and ensure essential workers are treated as essential, with jobs that they can thrive on.
The UFCW 21 leadership team will continue to fight hard for Personal Protective Equipment and other worker protections during the COVID pandemic. The union will relentlessly pursue: 1) Workers’ fair share of profits earned during this crisis by the employers; 2) Safety at work; 3) Racial and gender equity, including the right to wear Black Lives Matter union buttons at work.
Guenther started with UFCW in 1999, organizing health care workers and building to win first contracts through strike preparation. After graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law, she rejoined UFCW 21 in 2008 and helped run campaigns, worked as Staff Director, and in 2015 was elected Secretary Treasurer. She was appointed acting President by the UFCW 21 Executive Board in 2019 after former President Todd Crosby became Organizing Director of UFCW International Union. Guenther serves as the lead negotiator on contracts, co-chair of UFCW 21’s health and welfare plan, Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council, and sits on the UFCW International’s Advisory Board.
Mizrahi graduated from University of San Diego School of Law in 2007 and then came to work at UFCW 21 as a Union Representative, Organizer, Political Director, and then Staff Director. His work helped gain and enforce stronger contracts, and pass some of the strongest worker protection laws in the nation, like paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, and secure scheduling. Mizrahi has served as a Trustee on the union’s Sound Health and pension plans since 2015, and was appointed by the Board to serve as Secretary Treasurer in 2019. He serves as a Vice President of MLK Labor, the AFL-CIO central labor council for King County, and has been appointed the co-chair of the Sound Trust.
The third top officer of the union is Mia Contreras as Recorder. Contreras has worked as a Union Representative and the Member Action Director before becoming Executive Vice President and Recorder in 2017. She has led campaigns to pass and enforce contracts that have set the standard in industries across our region. Contreras serves as the Executive Vice President of UFCW 21 and sits on the board of the United Latinos.
UFCW 21 is the largest private-sector union in Washington with more than 46,000 members working in grocery stores, retail, health care, cannabis and other industry jobs. UFCW 21 is a chartered member of UFCW International with over 1.4 million workers in North America. Learn more at UFCW21.org.