Editorial: The Anatomy of Your Union

Our union is made up of thousands of members, just like you.  I am sure you see fellow members every day when you are at work, and you probably spend a good amount of time talking with them and getting to know them over time.  

But do you know the structure of our union?  Did you know about all of the people that you can count on that make the union, and your job as strong as it can be?  Let’s start with your shop steward.  Your steward works at the same location you do, maybe even alongside you in the same department.  Your steward is a person you can go to with routine questions about your union, or if something just isn’t right at your job, you can talk to your steward.  Stewards all have copies of your current contract, as well as other pertinent union information.  It’s very easy and convenient to communicate with your steward because most days you already see them at work.  

We also have a number of Membership Servicing Representatives that roam from store-to-store meeting with members and making sure your needs are met.  The MSR’s work a different schedule than your regularly assigned Union Representative.  Our MSR’s work evenings and weekends every week so they can see the folks that work those days/shifts.  As most of you know, sometimes our Union Representatives are going from grievance meeting to grievance meeting, or better yet from fire to fire, to extinguish problems that arise, so if you have a question or a minor concern, reaching out to one of our MSR’s is a pretty good idea. 

Of course, you also have your Union Representative that you can call on.  Their shop card is posted by the time clock and in the break room with all of the information necessary to reach out to them either by phone or by email.  If you need to get in contact with your representative, either speak with your steward, or reach out to them directly.  You should know that your steward is pretty much in daily contact with your Rep and in some instances, can probably get a hold of your Rep even quicker than you can, so, utilize your stewards.  Plus, your issue or concern may not be unique to you, so your steward should be made aware of any issue that could affect multiple members at your location.  Your Rep visits your location regularly and conducts routine paperwork like payroll checks and safety inspections to make sure you are as safe as possible.  Reps also hold grievance or suspension meetings with management or Human Resources.  Rest assured that your Rep will bring your concern to management and make sure it is addressed.

Our union is also made up of ten rank-and-file vice presidents.  What are those?  They are members that work in the stores just like you and are elected to serve on the Local 1500 Executive Board.  They have all been around and active in the union for a long time.  They help make decisions, approve all expenses, and vote on many aspects facing our union.  They bring a very important perspective from the membership to the rest of the leadership of the union.  And while they are not stewards (anymore), you may also see them in your store, and you can also ask them for help if you need it.  Now remember I said there are only ten of them, so the chances of you working with them are pretty slim, considering the size and scope of our membership.  I’d like to take this time to introduce you to our rank-and-file vice presidents:

  1. Charles Haughwout of Stop & Shop #511.  Chuck has been a member since 1980 and is the senior member of our executive board.  He has sat on countless contract negotiating committees.
  2. Daniel Gleason of King Kullen #1.  Danny has been around since 1990 and has also been a negotiating committee member for many years.
  3. Keith Jefferson of Stop & Shop #505.  Keith started with Pathmark way back in 1986 and in 2015, brought his talents to Stop & Shop.  
  4. Robert Schnaars of Stop & Shop #564.  Rob started as a member in 2000 and is an avid dart player, among other attributes.
  5. Bjorn Romahn of King Kullen #3.  Affectionately known as George, Mr. Romahn has been with King Kullen since 1987, and along with Danny, has been on many contract negotiation committees. 
  6. Joaquim Almeida of Mannix ShopRite #109.  Jack has been a member since 1985, and is a true fighter for his coworkers, both at the store and at the bargaining table.
  7. Raymond Marrero of Fairway #182.  Ray has been a member since 2013, surviving through Fairway’s bankruptcy and eventual acquisition by Village Supermarket, and he’s still going strong!
  8. Jeanne Bottitta of Buonadonna ShopRite #801.  Jean has been working for Buonadonna ShopRite since 2012 and before that she was at Pathmark since 1990.  She is a true supermarket veteran.
  9. Alicia Boake of Glass Gardens ShopRite #289.  Alicia has been working for Glass ShopRite since 2014, and prior to that worked for Pathmark since 1986.  Alicia has always been very active in Local 1500 events!
  10. Artan Shabani of SRS ShopRite #293.  Artan is our newest executive board member.  He has been a Local 1500 member since 2010 and always puts his coworkers first!

We also have a team of three Field Directors that oversee daily operations in all of our shops.  You may see them visiting your store at some point making sure everything is running smoothly.  They are another resource for you to use if you have an issue at your location.  Obviously reach out to your steward or Rep first, who will get their Field Director involved if necessary.

Our Executive staff is also here to make sure you are represented to the best of the union’s ability.  Our Director of Operations keeps all departments moving in the right direction.  Our Recorder and Executive Vice President ultimately oversees all field servicing operations.  Our Secretary-Treasurer (yours truly!) makes sure all of the union’s finances are in order, oversees, our media and political outreach, our office staff, and our organizing staff’s efforts.  And last but certainly not least is our President.  His office is where I like to say, the buck and the bullshit stops!  He proudly and firmly makes sure everyone in our organization is cohesively working to better serve our great membership.

We are building the strongest support group ever here at local 1500.  Every steward, vice president, Membership Servicing Representative, Union Representative, Director, and Executive Staffer takes a little knowledge from their predecessors and mentors to make them as available as possible to your needs.  We all come from a long line of people that have fought very hard for you over the decades. 

The next time you punch in and walk through your job site and look at your coworkers, know that you are not by yourself.  Think about the team of people you have standing alongside you to make your job the best experience it can be.  Think about being able to pick up a phone and call for back-up any time you need to.  And think about the very large family that you belong to.  Thank you for being part of our great union family!