Frank Meehan: Simply One of a Kind
By: Bruce W. Both
Frank Meehan, a veteran New York labor leader, who was at the forefront of battles to improve the working conditions of thousands of union members, passed away on March 31, 2015.
Frank was more than a labor leader. He was a generous and caring man who cared about the people he represented and their families. He always wanted to help them achieve a better life for themselves and their families. Frank has worked diligently to improve the working conditions and living standards of the union's members and their families.
Frank began his career in the Retail Food Industry at an early age as a part-time worker for the King Kullen Grocery Company and through the years rose to become a store manager.
As an active union member, Frank worked unselfishly for many years to promote the welfare of the members of UFCW Local 1500. This service led to his appointment in 1958 to the position of Organizer. Turning his considerable talent to the task of organizing, he worked long and hard signing and scouting new stores to come under the Local 1500's jurisdiction.
Frank was then appointed to the position of Union Representative and serviced the members of Local 1500. In January 1979, he was unanimously elected to the position of Secretary-Treasurer, and in 1984 he was elected President of Local 1500. He also served as Plan Manager of the Welfare and Pension Funds; President of the Executive Board; President of the Credit Union Board of Directors and a Trustee of the Scholarship Fund.
During his career Frank held many outside positions. He was Executive Vice President of the Long Island Federation of Labor; Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers District Council of New York and New Jersey; Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Executive Board; Vice President of the New York City Central Labor Council; Vice President on the New York State AFL-CIO and a member of Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi’s Labor Commission. Frank was a recipient of the 2002 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award.
Outside of bargaining, Frank put our union’s focus on helping our communities. He began volunteering and working with St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, which at the time was a small hospital of less than one hundred rooms in Bayside, Queens. With the help and our partnership, it has become New York's largest and most experienced provider of long-term care to children with medically complex conditions, and New York's City's only post-acute care facility for children.
Frank was one of the first leaders of the UFCW to initiate the UFCW’s national relationship with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. His vision, emotion and charisma were contagious. He helped create a national partnership that has raised nearly $1 billion in the battle to cure blood cancers.
Frank Meehan, former President of our union for over 20 years, retired on March 1, 2005. The Executive Board of Local 1500 unanimously bestowed the honor of President Emeritus to Frank at the February 2005 Executive Board Meeting.
Frank was also honored at our last Shop Stewards Seminar in October as it marked the 10th anniversary of his retirement.
I had the pleasure of knowing Frank for over fifty years. He was my friend and my mentor and I shall miss him, as we all will miss him.