Happy New Year everyone! The beginning of 2018 brings us not only new challenges, but new opportunities as well. We have recently had some of the most difficult contract negotiations in the history of the Local. However, we have made huge progress with settling contracts such as King Kullen, Stop & Shop, Dan’s Supreme, and Pick Quick. At the same time, we have also had stores close which has caused some members to be displaced and lose their jobs. But with new stores on the horizon, such as Food Bazaar in Starrett City; Village ShopRite on Bruckner Boulevard; Stop & Shop in Mahopac; and Pick Quick Key Food in Baldwin to name a few, we are looking at getting some of these folks back to work and regaining the lost membership. Be on the look out for their grand openings and make sure if you live around these future stores that you go and shop in them!
So, what do we do when we are not negotiating or fighting for peoples’ jobs? Better yet, what can our Union members do to be involved and active on a daily basis? I’m glad you asked because the answer is…A LOT! Let’s start with our General Membership Meetings. Why don’t you come out to the next meeting on Wednesday March 14th @ 7:00pm? You can hear first hand what is happening with your Union and if you’re lucky you can even win a prize! But if the drive is too much for you that night, you should really join us on Facebook Live from the comfort of wherever you are. And guess what…you can even win a prize that way too!
On March 27th we will be hosting the first of our two blood drives for 2018. These drives are always great events and many of your Union brothers and sisters come out, eat and donate blood. Did you know that there is a concerningly low blood supply on Long Island? You will be saving a life. It doesn’t get any more serious or simple than that. I hope to see you at Frank Meehan hall on both March 27th and July 19th. Contact us at www.UFCW1500.org/BDRIVE18 to reserve a time frame.
Throughout the year we do multiple “Union Value Events” in our stores. You may have seen my staff blitzing through your store with carnations for Mother’s Day, Union-made jelly beans for Easter and Halloween, or poppies for Veteran’s Day. If you’d like to team up with your Rep to visit other members with a gift and a message of value, then make sure you contact your Steward, or your Rep directly. We’d love to have you join us for these fun events.
Last year, with your help, we donated about $100,000 overall to our various charities of choice such as the Breast Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, St. Mary’s hospital for kids, etc. You should be proud of your participation as your contributions go a long way to helping people in need. Your Rep will probably be holding individual fundraisers throughout the year in support of these charities. Please make sure you participate!
Don’t forget to apply for a Local 1500 scholarship this year. Last year we gave out $26,000 in scholarships. Apply online at www.UFCW1500.org
There is something I missed. The every-day in between all of these events. What am I talking about? What are we really doing between events on a calendar? Sun-up to sun-down, day-in and day-out, what are we focusing on? I’m talking about Organizing. If you don’t know, you need to know that my staff organizes every day. It’s our future and it’s the only way to protect your futures. Growing your Union is something that is vital to your livelihood and protecting the industry standards in your contracts. If we do not continue to grow, it becomes very hard to survive. The unionized supermarket industry is under attack. Your salaries and benefit packages are under attack.
Our Organizers are out days, nights, and weekends, trying to better the lives of the people working in non-Union sites, as well as level the playing field for the companies we represent. With every organizing victory and contract won, your job becomes more secure. Why am I bringing this up in an article where I am seeking your involvement? Because although I want and expect you to get involved with everything I have mentioned earlier, we NEED you to get involved in organizing. Even if we have every Organizer and Rep out there, we only have about 20 people organizing. You are your best resource. We represent just under 20,000 members in the tri-state area. How many of you have a family member working under adverse conditions or have heard someone complaining that they have no where to turn at their job when there’s an issue? How many people haven’t gotten a raise in years or got fired without reason and didn’t have someone to fight for them? Do you know someone who couldn’t go to the dentist to fix that tooth or get an eye exam because they had no coverage? I know that most of you know of someone that fits into a few of these categories. Direct them to us. We can speak with them and their coworkers discreetly.
I’ll end with this: of all the time that I’ve asked you to give, the most important thing you can do to support your Union is to come out and speak to non-Union workers along with us. Our Organizers do a fantastic job; however, the message of membership value could never have more impact than when coming directly from a member. We need your help. Contact our Organizing Director Brendan Sexton at BSexton@UFCW1500.org or 516-214-1362 if you have someone that he or his team can meet with. 2018 brings us new challenges and new opportunities and while you may be enjoying the benefit of a three, four, or five-year contract at your job, let’s use this time in-between contracts to focus on building your Union stronger. The success of your next contract will definitely depend on it!