Editorial: It’s Union Season

When it comes time to write my September article for the paper, I usually think about how the pending weather change impacts people.  For some that change in temperature brings a smile with thoughts of pumpkin spice and the holidays.  For others it brings lament, because it will be many months before the long hot days of summer return.  No matter what the weather is outside all of us at Local 1500 are busy working year-round for you.  There are no seasons when we aren’t negotiating contracts, getting them into print and in your hands, organizing new employers, investigating grievances, doing safety inspections, or any of the literally dozens of other things that your Union team does each day to try and maximize the value of your membership. 

Over the last year or so our Organizers gave the Union bargaining team a little extra work by winning representational elections at 2 Foragers Market locations, 2 Petee’s Pies locations & our first victory in the urban farming sector, at Square Roots.  Proudly, I can tell you that they are also actively working on no less than 5 other projects which are all in various stages of progress.  This is a very active time for organized labor in our country, and thankfully our team has done well connecting with different groups of workers that are ready to have job security, scheduling stability, and a voice in their workplace.  We are hoping to give you more reports of organizing victories in the coming months.

In addition to negotiating first contracts for Petee’s Pies and Square Roots your bargaining team is also currently negotiating new contracts at D’Agostino, Gristedes, Pick Quick Keyfood (which has 3 contracts), Columbus Foods, King Kullen and King Kullen pharmacy.  All these companies are at different stages of bargaining as I write this, and one or more of them may even be resolved before this article gets to print.  I feel like I should also mention that our members also just overwhelmingly ratified recent settlements at Foragers Markets, Kings, Village ShopRite, Matlyn KeyFood & IGA Amagansett Super Saver.  As if that isn’t enough, they are also in the process of bargaining multiple contracts for our sister UFCW Local 1718 on top of all that. 

To provide a more inclusive experience for our Spanish speaking members we have begun translating our contracts into Spanish as we settle them.  Although that process didn’t come without its hiccups early on I think we have got most of the bugs worked out now.  For our larger contracts, like both our VSM Fairway contracts, Stop & Shop, SRS ShopRite, and King Kullen we will have the contracts printed with both languages in the same booklet. For our smaller shops we will print copies in Spanish inhouse and have them readily as well.  The membership reaction has been great in the shops so far and we will continue to look for other opportunities to stay better connected with our Spanish speaking members.

If you haven’t been on our social media lately, I think you might be surprised by all that you see.  If you scroll back a little you will see that just since July we have had a very successful Blood Drive, a scholarship breakfast, a charity fishing trip fundraiser, a school supply giveaway, and we participated in the Labor Day Parade (on 9/10).  We coordinated and participated in labor political walks for State Senators Gustavo Rivera and Anna Kaplan, as well as for State Senate hopefuls Monica Martinez,  Elizabeth Crowley, & Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, in addition to US Congressional hopeful Robert Zimmerman.  We also took time to honor some of our great members on Member Monday’s like, Corrie Fulton (Stop & Shop), Evelyn Ramos (D’Agostino), Emily Daniels (King Kullen), Daniel O’Brien (Stop & Shop), Patrick Poletti (Wild by Nature), Dougie Gentile (Stop & Shop), Bobby King (Food Bazaar) & Johnny Orta (D’Agostino).

We were super excited to launch 2 new benefit programs for our members over the last few months.  The first of which is ScriptSave Well RX Premier (for part-timers with 1 year or more only) and Augeo (for all members after 60 days).  Both programs provide very different, but extremely valuable benefits for our members.  While ScriptSave is a prescription drug discount program available to everyone in your home (including your pets!), Augeo will offer you a nationwide discount program, opportunities for purchasing with delayed payments on big ticket items, as well as the ability to gain savings through bundling services, even when they are from different providers! I am sure that there are a few folks out there that don’t understand the reasoning behind the Well RX Premier plan, but the answer is a simple one.  Years ago, when the Affordable Care Act became law, our part-time member group lost access to their prescription card.  After looking into quite a few supplemental and discount programs we were happiest with Well RX Premier.  We liked it so much that the Local Executive Board agreed that the Union should cover the monthly cost to increase its value for you.  We hope you find these programs beneficial and most importantly we encourage you to use them!

Although the worst days of Covid are hopefully behind us, our industry is still dealing with flare ups, sickness, and new positive cases daily.  So, to be safe we are still not back to 100% with in-person events like we were pre-2020, but we are slowly and safely getting back to our norms.  I hope to see some of you at the next General Membership Meeting on 9/14, and I know that I will see our Stewards next on October 19th on our 2022 Virtual Shop Steward Seminar.  Until we see each other in person again, I hope you all have a healthy and productive fall, stay connected with your Union and remember to work safe!