Editorial: Mapping Your Engagement

Every year our Executive team here at Local 1500 sits with various committees within our union universe to discuss a plan of action for the next year or so.  We discuss everything from the union’s benefit funds, upcoming contract bargaining, organizing targets, fundraising, etc., the list goes on and on.  We always keep in mind that we must do everything necessary to protect the best interests of our members and of the participants in the various funds.  This planning typically happens at the beginning of the year, however there are some meetings that take place throughout the year to allow for review and for any necessary adjustments.  Some meetings are mandated by our union bylaws or the International Constitution, and some are used to engage and/or benefit our members.  No matter what the reason may be, every meeting presents an opportunity for us to provide better representation and a clearer understanding of our members’ needs.  Some of these meetings are intended solely for union staff, but did you know that as a member of Local 1500 there are meetings and events that you should be attending?

As we wrap up the first quarter of 2024, I am noticing how many events are repeated in all of our calendars every year.  We all celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays with our families and friends.  But here at 1500, we also have all sorts of events that are repeated throughout each year.  Some of these events happen every three months, like our General Membership Meetings.  These are meetings where the union officials report the latest business to our membership.  The union staff discusses the status of various aspects of the union – a literal quarterly State of the Union address for our membership.  This is also a great opportunity for members to get involved and get answers to questions they may have.  This time also allows for the union and the members to learn from each other.  If you haven’t attended one of these meetings, I highly recommend that you do.  To find out when these meetings take place, please see the schedule below and for more information please visit us at UFCW1500.org.

The Local 1500 Blood Drive is an event that was started by our beloved former President, Tony Speelman and is now passionately led by our Director of Operations, Paul Santarpia.  This is a great opportunity to do something that directly helps your community.  Donating blood actually saves lives, and we do it here twice a year.  At the recent blood drive held at our headquarters on March 14th, 73 people donated, resulting in a total collection of 87 pints of blood!  That is great news, especially because blood is often in very short supply in New York, and especially on Long Island. Thank you to everyone who took the time to come out and donate, you are true heroes.  And we are doing it again on Thursday, August 1st, so please register online and come through any time between 1:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.  This time we’re holding our annual Blood Drive and BBQ, where you can save a life by donating AND have some incredible food.  It’s always a blast and a very successful event, so please join us on August 1st!

Fundraising is an important aspect of our jobs that we schedule every year.  We have several fundraising events planned so far for this year, including our annual bowling event in Dutchess County.  This is always an extremely well-attended event, and it is well worth the trip.  We reserve the entire 40-lane bowling alley for our event!  We raised over $6,600 at last year’s event, and we’re shooting to crush that number this year.  So please join us at Local 1500 Night at Fishkill Bowl on Saturday May 18th at 5:30 p.m.  Bring some extra cash for the raffles and get ready to have a great time!  And always remember that it’s for a great cause.

Our comedy show fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday June 9th, at Governors Comedy Club in Levittown.  Last year we raised over $4,000 and raffled off dozens of prizes!  Be on the lookout for more details very soon.  What’s better than laughing a body part off while raising money for charity?  It’s a win-win!

Like to fish?  Or hang out on a boat while your buddy fishes?  Local 1500’s annual fishing trip fundraiser is always a great time.  This year we depart from Captree State Park in Suffolk County on Friday, August 30th at 5:00 p.m. sharp.  And although we can all do a better job reeling in more fish, we cannot do a better job at having fun on the boat.  So, let’s pack the boat and make it the most successful fishing trip ever.    

These are just a sample of our regular fundraising events, with others still in the planning phases, so look out for more later in the year.  More event details will be distributed by each event’s respective rep in charge, but if somehow, they don’t get to you, all details will be available on our website and posted on our Social Media accounts.  All the money raised at our charity events goes to the UFCW Local 1500 Charity Fund.  From there the money is subsequently dispersed to many different charities.  And so you know, last year Local 1500 donated over $94,000 to all the charities we work with.

Fundraising is critically important, but as I mentioned earlier there are other meetings or events for members to attend.  We hold contract proposal meetings, and many, many contract negotiation sessions.  These are very important meetings for you to be a part of.  The proposal meeting is your time to speak out about what you want to see differently, or changed, in your contract.  And if chosen or elected by your peers to serve on your bargaining committee, you will have the unique opportunity to sit across the table from the people in charge of your company and speak on behalf of all of your coworkers.  Imagine the feeling after you help make positive contractual changes or reshape the working conditions for you and your coworker’s future.  It’s a hard and frustrating process, but it can really be rewarding.  

Everything we do at Local 1500 is based on helping someone.  Whether it be saving the jobs of our members; Or making them the best they can be by enforcing and negotiating better and better contracts; Or saving the lives of people in our communities by donating blood; Or fundraising to help give people who need a little help a fighting chance…your involvement is critical to our success.