“I was about 20 then and the job paid great,” Ortiz said. “I had awesome benefits and I was given a full-time position right off the bat. I knew I had something special.”
Communicating with others
In 2011, Ortiz and his Union Representative talked regularly about contract negotiations. For the majority of that year, UFCW Local 1167 food division members worked on expired contracts and authorized the union to call a strike — not once, but twice.
“I kept asking my rep what the latest contract news was and he noticed how well I relayed that information to my co-workers,” Ortiz said. “He asked me to become a steward and I’ve been one ever since.”
As contract negotiations are under way again, Ortiz uses his knowledge of past negotiations to keep his co-workers informed.
“I tell everyone to stay calm and united,” Ortiz said. “We know the company always tries to take things away during negotiations, so it’s our job to make sure they don’t.”
When he isn’t working at Food 4 Less, Ortiz loves to work on cars.
“I don’t work on hot rods or anything like that, but I work on lots of cars and I like helping my friends out when they need their brakes fixed,” Ortiz said. “If I can help them save a buck, I’ll do it.”
Throughout the years, Ortiz has owned three homes, raised a family and lived the American Dream.
“I have good things in my life because of the union, and that’s what I try to tell the younger members,” he said.