Editorial: Keep Moving Forward

In true Local 1500 tradition, 2023 has been a bustling year, filled with our yearly rituals and never-ending challenges.  For the first time since 2019, we held all four of our General Membership meetings in person at Frank Meehan Hall.  We increased the level of in-person participation in those meetings and were able to seamlessly transition to a YouTube platform for our virtual participants.  Please be sure to check out the schedule on the back cover of this paper for the next meeting.  We also held another successful virtual Shop Steward Seminar.  Similarly, this year we also had some changes with staff, retirements and new hires joining our team.  

One change I want to expand on is, as of March of 2023, I assumed the role of the Legal Fund Plan Manager.  This was a position previously held by President Newell and as his successor I plan to build upon the foundation he established and continue to grow the value of that benefit for our membership.  Another change was the appointment of Michele Wright as the Union Trustee on the Legal Fund, a position previously held by now-retired Union Representative Lynn Shiels.  Michele also serves as the Office Manager and works closely with the Legal Department daily.  The Legal Fund is a benefit we don’t talk enough about, and I wanted to take the time to share how important it can be.  Similar to other benefits covered under many of Local 1500’s union contracts, this benefit is designed to help provide a better lifestyle for the members of our union.  As a member, you may be eligible for reimbursement of attorney’s fees incurred for legal services you have received.  Some of the more commonly used services are:

•          Matrimonial Proceedings  

•          Name Change       

•          Immigration                         

•          Adoption                          

•          Bankruptcy                        

•          Preparation of Wills         

•          Criminal proceedings

•          Civil Court Proceedings

•          Family Court proceedings

•          Refinancing of your Primary Home

•          Administrative Hearings with School Districts

•          Sale or Purchase of your Primary Home

I wanted to focus on the importance of this benefit not only because I believe it can make a difference during some challenging times, but also because this benefit does expire if your reimbursement is not submitted timely.  I hope you make the fullest possible use of this plan, please be sure to reach out to our Legal Services Plan Director, Nicole Norris, Esq. or our Legal Services Secretary, Wendy Punzo.  They will guide you and assist you through the eligibility process.  To get more information please contact the Legal Services Department at 516-214-1310.  You can also visit UFCW1500.org to download reimbursement forms, to get a full list of covered services, and to check out your summary plan description of the Legal Services Trust Fund.

I mentioned earlier about our transition to a YouTube platform for broadcasting our General Membership Meetings.  For those of you that live on the outskirts of our jurisdiction, we have made it easy for you to attend these quarterly meetings.  Of course we always want as many members as possible to physically attend our meetings, but we do understand the challenges that distance, weather, and other commitments play in your lives.  If you just can’t make the ride into our headquarters that evening, you can simply log on to YouTube to attend the meeting.  You get first-hand information about what’s been going on with your fellow members, and also what you should expect to happen with your jobs in the upcoming weeks and months, whether bad or good.  Please make every effort to attend our next General Membership Meeting.

Unlike the 2023 General Membership meetings, we held our annual Shop Steward Seminar virtually again this year.  But have no fear, this was the last year that we plan to have a remote steward seminar.  In 2024, we will be meeting with all of our great stewards in person.  I’m really excited to hold our first in-person seminar since 2019!  It will be five years since we’ve gotten together and that’s just too long.  We will be getting the details out to the stewards early next year and our Representatives will be reminding you early and often to ensure we have the best attendance ever.

Another thing that happened in 2023 was our reelection into office.  I appreciate everyone who was involved in signing petitions and getting our leadership team elected for another three years.  I am so humbled and proud to be this great union’s Secretary-Treasurer, and we have already gotten to work to make Local 1500 as strong as it has ever been!

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays.  Our membership is critical to the communities you serve, as evidenced by what you did through the pandemic to keep us all moving forward.  You make every weekday, weekend, birthday, anniversary, and party happen.  And especially this time of year, you make the holidays happen!  Thank you for everything you do, and I wish you the best holiday ever!