Building a Strong, Progressive UFCW

Tony Speelman 2012

Anthony Speelman was born in Bronx, New York and currently resides in Medford, Long Island. He attended College at Suffolk Community in 1975 where he majored in Communications and Meteorology.  While in college he began working for Dairy Barn Stores, a chain of drive thru convenience stores located on Long Island.  It was at this time he became a member of UFCW Local 1500. Read his full bio here.

I just returned from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s 7th Regular Convention held in Chicago, Illinois from August 12 thru 15th.  As Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 1500 I proudly attended as an official delegate to the convention.

I say with great confidence and enthusiasm that your Union, both at the Local level and the International level, is well prepared to face the great challenges that affect today’s members and challenges that will affect our next generation of members as well.

First and foremost, I want to congratulate our own Local Union President, Bruce W. Both, for his re-election as a Vice President of the UFCW International Executive Board.   President Both's position as an International Vice President is a reflection of the hard work and success of our union’s 23,000 members.   UFCW Local 1500 and President Both are very well respected throughout this country.  It was assured at the convention that we clearly set the standard for our work in the fields of servicing, political mobilizing, protecting our market share with aggressive organizing, and a state of the art social media and public relations department.

I also want to congratulate International President, Joseph T. Hansen, Secretary-Treasurer, Anthony M. Perrone, Director of Organizing, Pat O’Neill, Director of Collective Bargaining, William McDonough and Wayne Hanley, National President of the UFCW Canadian Division, on their reelections to their positions.  This is without question the best team to lead our Union’s 1.3 million members into the future.

In each key area that makes up the building blocks of any successful Union, the UFCW is building a foundation for a bright future for the membership with innovative campaigns and strategies.

The UFCW continues to lead the way with contracts that are some of the strongest throughout the entire labor movement.  Long before the Affordable Care Act, Pension Protection Act and other legislative actions taken by Congress to address problems, our UFCW International Union was developing ways to provide the best and most affordable healthcare and pension plans in the private sector.

Although some non-union companies may offer health and pension plans (considering many do not), workers know these plans fall far short of UFCW standards.  That’s why non-union retail workers throughout the country continue to reach out to our Union to organize.


The UFCW is also leading the fight for corrections to the Affordable Care Act, to minimize the negative impact on part-time members.   It’s clear when it comes to employee working conditions: UFCW’s contracts leave non-union employers like Walmart and Target in the dust.

Politically, the UFCW continues to stand and fight for the progressive ideals that have been the historical cornerstone for quality working conditions in America.  Through the Active Ballot Club’s voluntary check off system, the UFCW is able to support politicians (both Democrat and Republican) that will preserve key laws such as, over-time after 40 hours, increasing the minimum wage, strong job safety standards as well as defeating the relentless attempts by anti-worker politicians to eliminate your right to collectively bargain.

On the Organizing front, the UFCW is holding irresponsible employers like Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and many others accountable.  For example, the non-union British owned Fresh & Easy has recently announced plans to sell off its stores in California after the UFCW educated California communities about their unfair labor practices and their affects on retail jobs throughout their community.   

Through a UFCW sponsored program, Our Walmart, Walmart workers throughout the nation have become empowered holding walkouts and strikes.  The bull’s-eye is now on Target, they’re being forced to change how they do business nationwide after being found guilty of violating federal labor law. The UFCW is successfully meeting the challenge of non-union companies who water down retail jobs throughout our nation.  Our union demands an even playing field for those employers with union contracts.

Finally, the UFCW has a Media and Communications Department that is well ahead of so many other Unions and companies.  Through the use of text messaging, social media (you can follow me @aspeel1500) and press releases, our Union is well known through out the country for fighting to advance the lives of workers.  Our media activities encourage Union solidarity amongst our members and empower non-workers to join together and become a part of our UFCW family. 

As I stated, I have never been more confident and enthused about the direction of the UFCW under President Hansen and his team.  Our future is bright, our battles will be won and we will remain One Union that speaks with One Voice!