Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays to YOU!

Wishing you the very best this holiday season.

Thank you. 

Due to your tireless work, you've helped hundreds of thousands of New York families enjoy this holiday season. We are truly thankful to you and so proud to represent you, the best supermarket workers in New York.

Please have a wonderful holiday season, and a happy new year!

We'd also like to hear what you think, please take 30 seconds and participate in our Year End Survey, tell us how we're doing!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Local 1500 Toy Drive Helps Hundreds of New York Families in Need

Union Rep. Stone Vargas with Shop Steward Carol Graziadio, from Stop and Shop 529

Since November, United Food and Commercial Local 1500 Members have been collecting and donating toys for families in need for the upcoming holiday season.  "We and our members love doing anything possible to help our communities," Secretary-Treasurer Tony Speelman said, "That's what being in a union is about, sticking together and helping our communities, that's the very fabric of our union." 

Nearly 1,000 toys were donated to the John Theissen Foundation, headquartered in Wantagh, NY.    Since 1992, the foundation has collected over 550,000 new toys and donate them to sick and underprivileged children in over 185 hospitals and child-care facilities across New York year round.

Additionally two Brooklyn ShopRite stores took part in a toy donation challenge.  The two stores competed since November on which could gather more toy donations.  The challenge ended earlier this week between ShopRite 289 and ShopRite 219, with 289 squeaking by with the win.  "The only real winners in this competition are the families receiving these gifts and both stores for doing an outstanding job collecting toys for families in need.  The competition was a fun little incentive for bragging rights, it was great to see everyone working for a greater good," said Rob Ecker, Union Rep.

We'd like to thank all of our outstanding members and Shop Stewards for taking the time this holiday season to give back to our communities.  Great work, you've made many families holiday season more enjoyable this year!

More on John Theissen:
My name is John Theissen. In 1992, I founded The John Theissen Children’s Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. When I was 17 years old I was hospitalized for a brain tumor at a local children’s hospital. During my stay, my family and I befriended a seven-year old girl named Tasha. This little girl was in and out of the hospital throughout the year receiving different treatments for her illness. She received very little family support. She was dropped off and then picked up again when it was time to go home without having a visitor.
Hundreds of toys donated by UFCW

Tasha was very excited about a holiday party sponsored by the hospital staff and was expecting her family to attend. They unfortunately did not. I was still too ill but my family agreed to take her. When Santa asked her what she had wanted, Tasha replied, “ I would like a teddy bear for friend upstairs.” I felt fortunate to be that friend. Her positive attitude and generous spirit inspired me. When I got out off the hospital I wanted to help children just like Tasha.
In 1992, I held a toy drive during the holidays to benefit children in local hospitals. During the first toy drive, I collected over 800 hundred new toys in just two weeks and brought them to three different hospitals. Well that was the beginning of what has become a year round organization. Since 1992, we have collected over 550,000 new toys and donate them to sick and underprivileged children in over 185 hospitals and child-care facilities across Long Island year round. We also donate therapeutic and recreational equipment. Donations enabled us to fulfill wishes and help families with medical expenses. In 15 years, we have never said no to a child in need.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Letter from New UFCW International President, Marc Perrone

To the hard working men and women of the UFCW: I am so incredibly honored to be your new International President.

But this election is not about me, it is about the future we must and can build together. The choice we face, brothers and sisters, is what kind of America do we want to live in?

Will we stand united together and build an economy that every hard-working family deserves, or watch as more Americans fall further behind and struggle to make ends meet?

Let me be clear, we will unite and fight for a more just and fair America. I believe in this union, because I believe that every worker has the right to a decent living, a reliable schedule, quality affordable health care, and respect on the job.

These principles have always guided me and will serve as the foundation of our union’s work going forward. But the ideas and principles to build a stronger union do not lie within any one individual. They lie within all of us. They lie in the collective wisdom and strength of 1.3 million UFCW members, like you, who work hard every day to support their families.

I want to hear your ideas and vision. I want to hear what you think we must do to become even stronger. Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to meet with members like you. I want to visit your worksite and local union hall, engage in a conversation, and hear your thoughts on how we can better the lives of everyone in the UFCW and the millions of workers all across this nation who go without voice.

Working together, we will grow our union, we will bargain the best contracts possible, we will organize smarter, and we will hold irresponsible corporations accountable. I do not want to pretend this will be easy.

It will be hard. It will be challenging. But I know we can do it. No matter the challenges we may face, I will be your ally and champion each and every day.

In solidarity,

Marc Perrone International President

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marc Perrone Elected President of 1.3 Million Member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

Says by uniting together, we can give workers the opportunities they deserve
Official UFCW Logo

CHICAGO, IL—Today, Marc Perrone, a labor leader who has committed four decades to fighting for hard working families, was elected International President of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

As a proud leader and member of the UFCW, Perrone has long fought to organize more members, bargain the best contracts possible, and hold irresponsible corporations accountable. His values as a labor leader have been defined by the belief that every worker has the right to a decent living, a reliable schedule, quality affordable health care, and respect on the job.

"The choice we face today is whether we will stand together and build an economy that lifts up all families, or watch as even more workers fall further behind and struggle to make ends meet,” Perrone said. “Cynics may believe that these divisions and inequities are irreversible. I do not. We, as a union, do not. I strongly believe that by uniting together we can give workers across North America the opportunities they deserve."

Beginning today, Perrone will spend the coming weeks and months meeting with UFCW members throughout the United States and Canada. As part of this listening tour, Perrone will have one on one conversations, visit worksites, and utilize digital and social media platforms to engage with union members and hear their thoughts and ideas on how the UFCW can grow even stronger.

"The ideas to build a stronger union do not lie within any one individual,” Perrone said. “They lie within all of us. They lie in the collective wisdom and strength of 1.3 million UFCW members who work hard every day to support their families. I want to hear their ideas. I want to hear their vision. I want to hear what we can all do to become an even greater and stronger union for the decades ahead."

Perrone will be succeeding retiring International President Joe Hansen.

Hansen started as a meatcutter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1962 and used his experience as a rank and file union activist to help lift up UFCW members and all workers. Hansen was elected International President in 2004 and helped steer the UFCW through a Great Recession, the flood of corporate money into politics, the single greatest legislative attack on labor in history, and the rise of income inequality.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, Joe Hansen never lost sight of our members,” Perrone said. “His commitment and dedication to the hard-working men and women we represent will never be forgotten.”

During his tenure, Hansen increased union density in meatpacking and processing, formed important global labor alliances, and helped lead the labor movement’s positions on comprehensive immigration reform.

* For Perrone's biography, and the announcement of new UFCW officers, please see below:

Biography of International President Marc Perrone:

Marc Perrone joined the Retail Clerks—which later became the UFCW—in 1971 while working as a courtesy clerk at Weingarten’s food store in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Since that time, he has held various positions within the UFCW, including Region 1-Eastern Director and National Director of Strategic Programs, Collective Bargaining and Organizing. For the last decade, he has served as International Secretary-Treasurer, keeping the UFCW on sound fiscal footing in a challenging climate.

New UFCW Officers Elected:

Under the UFCW International Constitution, the International Executive Board is charged with electing a replacement for a vacancy in the office of International President. The UFCW Executive Board consists of 50 International Vice Presidents, primarily local union leaders, and 5 Executive Committee members.

The UFCW International Executive Board also elected former Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill as International Secretary-Treasurer, Esther Lopez as Executive Vice President, and Stuart Appelbaum as Executive Vice President. Paul Meinema currently serves as Executive Vice President and National President of UFCW Canada. Executive Vice President Bill McDonough retired on October 31.


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit, or join our online community at and

Thursday, December 4, 2014

9,000 Stop & Shop, King Kullen Workers Standing Together...Again

By: Tony Speelman

At our Shop Steward’s Seminar in October, my message to the Stewards was the same as all Local 1500 Executives, stand together.

Stop & Shop and King Kullen negotiations are ongoing as you read this, and as expected the billion-dollar employer Stop & Shop is attempting to tighten their grip even further on our union contracts. Even scheduling dates for negotiation sessions were long dragged out process.

The company approached us with one date they were available for negotiations. Finally after tremendous pressure from us, they succumbed and we have been meeting throughout the month of November. My point is everything from scheduling negotiations, to actual negotiations is difficult with Stop & Shop. We aren’t surprised and we don’t expect you to be either. Stop & Shop’s negotiations history with the UFCW is frustrating.  Just take a look at this chart below:

This chart does not and is not intended to bash our brothers and sisters in other Locals throughout our area, but it is intended to shed a light on how difficult this company makes the negotiation process, and how little urgency they exhibit when there are thousands upon thousands of jobs on the line. While negotiations with Local 342 and Stop & Shop are going on with at the same time as ours, keep in mind that if there is a possible stop work action between Local 342 and Stop & Shop, our contracts allow us to stand the line with our brothers and sisters from Local 342. We do not have to cross the line. 

I am not saying it will come to this, but we are all aware it’s quite possible when negotiating with Stop & Shop. My message is clear as always, communicate with your union. Do not believe or buy into company propaganda, which includes rumors heard throughout the store. Do not back down; stand up for your union and your coworkers.

Stop & Shop’s plan is to divide us and take away our solidarity. Our job as union members is to stick together to demand more from our employer. The only way we can do this is with full commitment from every member. Negativity, double guessing and bad talking the negotiation process is doing no good, it’s just what Stop & Shop wants to hear.

This holds true for all members who aren’t working at Stop & Shop or King Kullen, we’re all in this together and we all need to stick together. Last year we saw hundreds of Local 1500 members volunteer to support Stop & Shop workers if a potential work action would occur, and I expect the same for this round of negotiations. That feeling of solidarity is special. I get goose bumps just writing about the selfless actions of fellow UFCW Local 1500 members who are willing to stand up for their brothers and sisters.

Please enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season. As always my door is open to speak to anyone who has any questions or comments. You can always tweet me @Aspeel1500. Happy Holidays, stay together, united and we will succeed!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Statement from New York's Largest Grocery Workers Union on Mayor de Blasio's Decision to Shut Down Carriages

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, New York State's largest grocery workers union, released the following statement regarding Mayor de Blasio's decision to shut down the horse carriage industry, and pledged full support of the Teamsters:

"The 23,000 men and women of UFCW 1500 support the Teamsters, and the more than 300 hardworking men and women who rely on this historic industry to make ends meet," said Tony Speelman, Secretary-Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500. "We cannot and will not sit idly by while the professional fates of these working men and women hang in the balance. We remain committed to standing with our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to protect the careers of these dedicated carriage drivers."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Nation Calls for $15 an Hour

As nation rallies against abuse of power,

Walmart workers continue strikes in protest of company’s disregard for their rights

***Follow the conversation and see photos at #WalmartStrikers, @ChangeWalmart and

NATIONWIDE -- Tens of thousands of Americans are protesting at 1,600 Walmart stores across the country today, calling on the company to pay associates a minimum of $15 an hour and provide full-time work. The broad group says the country’s largest employer and the Waltons—Walmart’s majority owners—are abusing their power and hurting American families by allowing Walmart to violate workers’ rights. While the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart brings in more the $16 billion in annual profits; and the Walton family has built up nearly $150 billion in wealth.

With protests already underway, Walmart workers—members of OUR Walmart—are continuing a nationwide strike protesting the company’s illegal retaliation against associates who speak out for better jobs.

In Phoenix, Sandra Sok walked off the job Wednesday for the first time and said: “Many of us are living in deep poverty and going hungry because the Waltons won’t pay us a fair wage. When my coworkers speak out about these issues, the company tries to silence us. For all of my brothers and sisters who have experienced illegal threats, I am on strike.” Sandy is paid only $400 every two weeks and has worked at Walmart for nine years.

Reports from protests around the country include:

Los Angeles: Walmart workers, on strike to protest Walmart’s retaliation, and community members are continuing a 24-hour fast outside a Walmart store in protest of the hunger that Walmart and the Waltons are forcing onto many of their families.

Washington, DC: A live band is gearing up to support striking workers outside the District’s new Walmart, where a group of workers held a sit-down strike on Wednesday. This is the first time that workers at the new store in Washington and in neighboring Virginia are on strike.

Albuquerque: A group of “Raging Grannies” will sing to show their solidarity with workers.

Denver: Santa Claus, his elves, Walmart workers and hundreds of community supporters are preparing to deliver a bag of coal to Walmart.

North Bergen, New Jersey: Members of the clergy are set to deliver a symbolic food bin to the store while chanting “dignity, not charity.”

Walmart workers started walking off the job on Wednesday in cities nationwide. Inspired by workers in Los Angeles who held the first-ever sit down strike in company history, associates in Washington, DC held a sit-down strike Wednesday at the new store on H Street. Workers in Washington, DC and Virginia are on strike for the first time and are joined by workers who walked off the job in cities and towns nationwide.

"The Black Friday rallies and demonstrations represent a dramatic escalation of the growing protest movement among employees of America's largest private employer. But they also represent the vanguard of a sharp challenge to the nation's widening economic divide and the declining standard of living among the majority of Americans," Peter Dreier, Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College, writes in the Huffington Post. "It is sometimes difficult to recognize historical events as they unfold, but it is likely that future generations will look at these Walmart protests as a major turning point that helped move the nation in a new direction, similar to the sit-down strikes among Flint auto workers in 1937, the Woolworth lunch-counter sit-ins by civil-rights activists in 1960, and the first Earth Day in 1970, which jump-started the environmental movement."

“Our communities are suffering because Walmart won’t pay many of our neighbors enough so they can fill their stomachs,” said Nicole Ramirez from BAYAN – USA Pacific Northwest, an alliance of Filipino organizations. “I am out here with other Filipino youth and students supporting these brave Walmart workers who are on strike for their right to speak out. Our community is calling for $15 an hour and full-time work because we can’t let the Waltons abuse their power and destroy American families any longer.”

Growing pressure on the company to raise pay and provide full-time work comes as an increasing number of Americans and Walmart workers point to OUR Walmart as making significant changes at the country’s largest retailer. Since last Black Friday, the company committed to raise wages for its lowest paid workers, rolled out a new scheduling system that allows workers to sign up for open shifts and improved protections for pregnant workers in response to public calls from OUR Walmart. Workers at more than 2,200 Walmart stores nationwide have signed a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing consistent, full-time hours.

The Walton family, which controls the Walmart empire, is the richest family in the U.S.—with the wealth of 43% of American families combined. While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth.

Walmart workers began speaking out last week about the severe hunger issues that too many of them are facing because they can’t afford groceries. A group of workers started sharing their stories on Walmart Hunger Games Tumblr after reading about their co-workers’ struggles in a new analysis about Walmart’s role in reinforcing the hunger crisis in America.

For the past three years, Walmart workers have been raising concerns about persistent understaffing at stores and its impact on wasted food, un-stocked shelves, long check-out lines and lower sales, noting that better jobs at Walmart will improve customers’ shopping experience and strengthen the company’s bottom line. The company has reported losing up to $3 billion a year because its shelves go un-stocked. Consumers, analysts, shoppers and workers say that by improving jobs, Walmart can mend its reputation with shoppers, grow the business and help workers support their families.


UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publicly commit to adhere to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of its employees.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thank You & Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank You.

It's not said enough working in retail, so we'll say it again, Thank You.

Your tireless work this week has helped thousands of New Yorkers have a memorable Thanksgiving.  From the entire staff at UFCW Local 1500, thank you. We wish you a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Upcoming Events:

Black Friday Protests:
Celebrate Black Friday by standing with Walmart workers fighting for fair treatment on Black Friday.  Find out more here

Holiday Breakfast with Santa Claus:

Join your union for a morning of holiday celebration.  All attendees receive a free photo with Santa and breakfast.  Sign up before the event reaches capacity.

December Newsletter: Now available online, download your copy!