They say time flies when you’re having fun…apparently, I’ve been having a blast! I cannot believe it’s already been two years since I became the president of this amazing Union. Naturally, one would typically look back over time and ask themselves, what have I done with the time? Did I use it wisely? Have I accomplished everything that I set out to from the start? Am I doing the best possible job for our membership? Well let’s take a brief look at the past two years together…
My presidency began right in the middle of some very difficult contract negotiations with the 4 ShopRite companies and Pick Quick Key Food. However, since taking office, my team and I have successfully negotiated contracts with SRS, Glass Gardens, Mannix, and Buonadonna ShopRites; Pick Quick, Dan’s Supreme, and Gemstone Key Foods; Holiday Farms, Wild by Nature, Scaturro, HMSM, Associated of Rockville Center, Fairway Market Drivers, IGA in Amagansett and of course King Kullen Grocery, King Kullen Pharmacy and Stop & Shop. In addition, we negotiated our first contracts with 2 new employers, Bogopa Food Bazaar and the Hale & Hearty Commissary. The challenges in bargaining contracts have become exceedingly difficult over the years and I am extremely proud of the job we did. Like everything else I have tried to do since taking office, we did it TOGETHER!
Over the past two years we have hired plenty of new staff and promoted some of our existing staff, that have gone above and beyond, into new positions. With Jennifer and Gloria from our Executive Office both retiring, we hired Stefanie and Nikki to replace them and these ladies are doing a fantastic job. Also joining our team were Yahaira and Jamie in Pension, Nicole and Wendy in Legal, Laura in Medical, and Arnetta & Carla in the general office. We promoted Michele Wright to the position of Floor Supervisor, overseeing the general office operation as well as the Pension, Welfare, Legal and Annuity employees.
On the Field staff side, we hired Jeff Guardado, Paul Waldron, Fred Walter Jr., Jose Schiffino, and Tarrik Thomas. Aly Waddy was promoted to be the Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer and now supervises Michele Wright and our Office Staff, all of Local 1500’s Media and Communications, Organizing, Political Action and has been very active in contract negotiations. Plus, she puts up with all of Rob’s shit daily. Terry Quinones was recently promoted to the position of Senior Director, where her experience will be used to mentor and further the development of the Union Representatives and Directors. Brendan Sexton was promoted to Organizing director and along with his crew is trying every day to level the playing field for our current employers by organizing new ones throughout our jurisdiction. All of these additions and appointments were done with one goal in mind: to provide a better level service to the membership of Local 1500.
On that note, since I became President we have also implemented some Servicing changes. In an effort to visit more of our membership, we have Union Representatives working late nights and weekends every week as part of their regular schedule. We know that many of our members do not work 8-5 Monday through Friday, and yes, we have heard your call for extra visitation in the stores. Now you can expect to see your Reps on a Saturday, Sunday or in the evening more regularly. Of course, to all of our night crews, you are also in a more regular monthly rotation now as well! I am committed to bringing you the best representation and value for your membership.
In speaking of value, you should be aware that Secretary-Treasurer Rob Newell has embarked on a mission to cut costs and save the Union as much money as possible. He has looked at everything from coffee cups to copier leases in an effort to curtail expenditures and continue to protect the treasury. He has looked at every out of balance or expiring vendor contract and negotiated better terms for us going forward. Over the past two years, we have been able to cut costs by more than $350,000 a year. As I mentioned before, our goal is to better service the membership, and every dollar saved has been repurposed into better servicing all of you to ensure that your future and your working conditions are more secure.
We have significantly stepped up our Social Media presence over the past 24 months. With our media team of Nicholas Allen and Tarrik Thomas even winning awards and achieving recognition for their work in our industry. If you haven’t seen them by now, make sure you check out our Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram pages, and make sure you check out our ever-changing website. We are trying our best to communicate with all of you in as many ways as possible!
Although I’ve been on staff for over thirty years, the past two years have really opened my eyes to what we do every day and how much more we are trying to do for the great membership of Local 1500. I’d like to think we’ve made some important changes for the better, but I know there is always room for improvement. If you have a suggestion, idea or something you’d like to see us do for you, please reach out to me at ASpeelman@UFCW1500.org. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.
One final note, another part of our long term Local 1500 family is leaving us in July. I’m sad to say that after 20 years on staff, Jeff Mausser will be retiring and relocating south with his family. Please join me in thanking Jeff for his service over the past 20 years and wishing him and his family the very best in their future! God Bless you Jeff and enjoy your time with Nicole and the kids!