You gotta have Hart!
Stephanie Hart stepped up to the plate to be a shop steward
When Stephanie Hart’s shop steward retired last year, she wondered who the replacement might be. So she got hold of her union rep, who told her there wasn’t a replacement lined up yet.
“I volunteered right there and then to become the new steward for my store,” Hart said. “I’m really involved in contracts and anything to do with the union, so I felt like I was a natural fit.”
Hart says being a steward has been a great experience. The 15-year union veteran has helped members at her Ralphs 181 store in Palm Springs with any questions they might have.
“It feels good to help people, but it’s also empowering for my co-workers and me to have all of this knowledge,” she said.
Hart’s career at Ralphs started in 2007 while her husband, Tom, worked at the same store. He was a courtesy clerk and suggested she apply.
“I figured it couldn’t hurt, and once I got the job, they put me straight into deli,” she recalled. “I feel like deli is such a great position to start because it’s customer-centered and has lots of production.”
Although Tom eventually moved on to other jobs, Hart decided to stick around. She made the transition from a Culinary Union member to a member of UFCW Local 1167 in 2011. Back then, she worked at Ralphs 179 in Indian Wells, but when that store shut down in 2014, she moved to her current store in Palm Springs.
“I was a front-end cashier at my previous store, so when I made the switch here, I got moved back to deli, but six years ago I got promoted to Starbucks lead and I’ve been loving it ever since,” she said.
In addition to the job protections included in the latest union contract, which she helped ratify in April, Hart says her health benefits are a key reason she loves being in the union.
“When Tom needed a hip replacement, he used my union benefits and we hardly had to pay anything out of pocket,” she said.