Editorial: The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Hello and happy Fall from all of us here at Frank Meehan Hall. As the Summer months have faded away and the days get shorter it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on what really matters. With the Holiday season looming the stresses of shopping, decorating, planning and cleaning can easily become overwhelming. But no matter what, this is a special time of year for experiences with our friends and families. Like many of you, our family has changed in 2018, some expected changes and some not, but I am happy to report that we are in great shape and fighting the good fight for you every day!

President Speelman challenged us all at the beginning of the year to try and go the extra mile.  He asked us to try and think outside the box, make the yearly events even better and find different ways to better serve and interact with our members.  Our team started planning and, although I may be a little biased in my opinion, I think we did a great job overall.  If you think about the last 2 ½ years, I hope you can see how dedicated we have been in terms of providing an increase in the value of your membership, negotiating strong contracts and protecting the market share to make it easier for our unionized employers to flourish and expand.

I am proud to report that after many successful months we have finally brought our charity fundraising to a close for 2018.  This year our fundraising events included a Bowl-a-thon, a fishing trip, a comedy club night, a Brooklyn Cyclones Game, a NY Yankee Game, countless in store raffles and some good old fashion “give us your money” events!  In addition, as we have for many years, we were a flagship sponsor at the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk and the Light the Night walk to help fund research to end Leukemia.

We made some big and exciting changes to our Scholarship program this year.  After decades of awarding scholarships valued at $500 a semester, I am so proud to say that we have successfully raised that amount for the 2nd year in a row.  This year we were able to award $750 per semester to each of our recipients.  In addition, thanks to the help and dedication of Nicole Norris and Wendy Flores from our Legal Services department we also hosted our first annual Scholarship breakfast here at the hall.  Seeing all our winners and their families gathered together, interacting, breaking bread and being celebrated by not only our Union, but also by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and her Commissioner of Labor John Skinner was incredible.  Our goal is for this event not only to continue but more importantly to grow each year!

Following in the footsteps of some of our UFCW sister Locals on the west coast, this year Local 1500 also launched its 1st Annual Back to School Giveaway!  When we started planning this program, I don’t think that any of us anticipated the unbelievably positive reaction that it would generate for our members.  Each student was given a Local 1500 backpack which included notebooks, pens, pencils, a pencil case, highlighters, notepads and sanitizers!  Looking at the pictures and hearing the Union Representatives retell the stories of their members, and their children’s, reactions to the supplies was truly amazing!  This year we were able to provide supplies to over 125 students and are planning for an even bigger year for the program in 2019.

So far in 2018 we have successfully negotiated and ratified 11 contracts and have high hopes to settle a few more before the Holiday season is over.  We completely appreciate the patience and understanding that the members working for Tops, Fairway, Gristedes, D’Agostino’s, Mandell Key Food, 5 in 1 Key Food & Matlyn Key Food have shown this year.  Please know that we are doing everything that we can to come to an agreement that you can not only be proud of but will also overwhelmingly ratify in the coming months.  As I’m sure you know that there have been many hurdles while negotiating with these employers, including but not limited to bankruptcy, financing issues, significant loss of business and increased competition (both Union and non-Union).  In light of all of these issues, we have had to be very careful not to rush to judgement, jump too soon and/or bring you a substandard settlement to review and vote on.  Throughout this process President Speelman has said numerous times, “We are not in a hurry to get a bad contract!”  As always please keep in contact with your Union Rep’s, Field Directors and watch our social media accounts for updates on this process.

Looking beyond the remaining days of 2018 is tough because there is still much to do before it ends.    However, Local 1500’s 2019 agenda is very aggressive and will be primarily focused on Organizing.  In addition to an increased involvement from our current staff we are going to be looking for member volunteers to assist us.  We are also talking about taking a few Local 1500 members out of the stores on a leave of absence for 3-6 months to help us on very specific organizing campaigns throughout our jurisdiction.  If you are interested in joining us in this effort, please email us at Jobs@ufcw1500.org and put “Membership Organizing Assistance” in the subject line.

In the spirit of the season, I think it is more than appropriate to take this chance to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your Secretary-Treasurer.  This honor is not something that I will EVER take lightly or for granted.  As part of your Union executive team I commit that we will continue to look for new ways to provide you great service, protect your jobs (both at the site and through pro-worker legislation) and continue to negotiate the best contracts in the industry.  Our final events for 2018 are our December 5th General Membership Meeting and the Annual Breakfast with Santa event on December 9th, which are both held at our Union Hall.  We would love to see you at these events and would really enjoy spending some quality, personal time with you all.

On behalf of my family, I want to wish you and your families a very happy and healthy Holiday Season.  This is a time to be grateful and I am extremely grateful for my membership in this great Union and hope that you are as well!  See you all in 2019!  #MyUnionhasValue