About Us

Organizing Department

IMG_4974.JPGRena Wong
Organizing Director

I am originally from California – and am Chinese American by way of Mexico. My dad was a restaurant worker and my mom a domestic worker. They performed hard, low waged work and their jobs had no union representation. My family had no health insurance, retirement savings, or anything else. I was a scholarship kid at UCLA when the Justice for Janitors strike took place in Los Angeles in 2000. That fight by low wage workers (so much like my parents) to be visible and for a dignified living wage inspired me to join the labor movement. Against all odds, those workers dared to fight and hope – and they WON. It was my first glimpse of what is possible when workers organize to build power.

After graduating in 2001, I became an organizer and have worked in Labor ever since. I started with AFSCME in San Francisco, helping to rebuild a Local over two years and preparing members for a contract fight. I joined SEIU in 2004 after moving to Minnesota and was part of the Property Services Division, organizing thousands of subcontracted food, laundry, and janitorial workers like those that first inspired me.

Now with UFCW Local 653, my goal is to build power for workers to set standards in our union’s core industries. By activating our members, organizing non-union workers and partnering with: other unions, faith groups and community organizations we can improve the lives of all workers across our society.

drea.JPGOndrea Shallbetter
Special Project Union Representative (S.P.U.R.) 

My name is Ondrea Shallbetter, a Minnesota native of 29 years. I have been a part of our workforce for 15 of those years. I came out of Cub Foods in Crystal, MN. I worked for My Cub for a little over 8 years which is more than half of my working career, but why? At the time I didn’t know it, but it was because our Union has our back. I did know that I never previously worked a part time job with any kind of benefits, paid vacation or sick days but at Cub I did. So I stayed, worked hard and met some amazing people along the way. One of those amazing co-workers, over the years finally persuaded me to go to one of our Union monthly meetings. She picked me up after work and took me to our local hall; I was quite intrigued after that! That first meeting had enlightened me to all of the facts about our Union that I had for so long been unintentionally unaware of. It gave me more confidence at work to know that I have rights and benefits that I, as a union member am entitled to. My Union gives me power! I continued going to meetings for months and continued showing my interest in wanting to be more involved as a member. Our Union President Matt Utecht took notice, he offered me a position with UFCW Local 653 as a Special Project Union Representative/Organizer in August 2015. My heart is in The Labor Movement and I know my Local Union Leaders can see it! I look forward to educating current and future members about what it means to be an active union member an it’s benefits.  

UFCW Local 653-I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the circus tickets. It was a generous gift and much appreciated. It was a great time, and fun to be with my grandchildren. They enjoyed being greeted by Wally the Clown, the coloring bo… - Mary