Thursday, October 12, 2017

I Worry

By-Tony Speelman

I used to worry about getting to work on time every day.  I had to serve my customers and do it well at Dairy Barn because I needed my job.  I worried about my new born children and my wife and wondered often if I was making the best decisions for their future.  Now my kids are adults and I think I worry about them even more.  In 1986 when I started working at Local 1500 I added more concern as I started to worry about the members.  After all I was a member just a few months before.  I knew what it felt like to work, to be an employee and a Union member.  I knew I had to make sure I treated the members I represented with the care and attention I always wanted. 

To my wife’s chagrin, I woke up one day in 2000 and decided to run for town council.  Apparently, I didn’t think I had enough to worry about and wanted to add the entire town of Brookhaven to my list.  Thankfully I lost, and focused on starting to move up through the ranks of 1500.  When I became Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1500 in 2009 I became responsible for the finances of the Union.  Money coming in, money going out, trying to make sure I did the right thing by the membership.  Without fail…. That is worrisome.  Now I’m the president of this great Union.  That means I am responsible for about 20,000 members.  Correction…that means I am responsible for 20,000 members AND their families.  So, I come to work every morning at Meehan Hall wondering what the day will bring.  Will there be another store closing to be announced today? Are there lay-offs needed somewhere that I’m going to get a call about? What new non-union company is coming to town today?  Which company is next up to try and take away some of our members hard earned benefits?  How did our Pension Fund do this month?  How much money do we need to ensure everyone continues to get the medical they deserve?  How do we battle the onslaught of technology and automation as your employer’s search for new ways to cut their labor budgets to unrecognizable levels?  How are my field and office staff holding up?  Can we afford to add more staff? 

These are just a fraction of the questions I worry about daily.  However, most are questions that have been asked before, and always need to be addressed.  So, it’s really nothing new around here.  My mentor was the late, great Frank Meehan.  I would sit in his office, or drive him to meetings and watch as he handled anything that came his way.  Not just with ease, but with class and with conviction.  I remember thinking that one day all this responsibility may very well land on my shoulders.  Thanks to the hard work of my predecessors, I was prepared when my time came.  One of the most important lessons I learned as a president is—you can’t do it all on your own.  You surround yourself with a team and let then all help make good things happen.  Now I look back to the days of being in those rooms with Frank and realize that I was a part of his team, and we were GOOD.

Now can I control Union density or market share?  No.  What about the stock market or ever-changing labor laws that make it challenging for us to negotiate new benefits or organize? No, but I still worry about it all, though.  However, one thing I do not worry about is the level of confidence I have in my team to get the job done.  For years we have crafted a team of individuals that, when they work together, can handle almost anything that comes our way.  From our recent organizing victory at Hale and Hearty, to overcoming huge challenges during negotiating contracts for SRS, Glass, and Mannix Shop Rite’s our team has accomplished a great deal over the last year.  We have also made incredible strides in servicing our members better and expanding our media and communications efforts.  My team is right there with me every step of the way. 

As this year quickly moves along we are getting ready to begin negotiations with Stop & Shop, King Kullen and Tops.  We feel confident that we will once again be able to deliver solid contracts that you can all be proud of.  With the recent settlements at Shop Rite behind us, our team has mapped out the course for the next round bargaining and we know where we’d like to end up.  But after telling you about many of the things I worry about, where do I get the confidence to make that statement…It’s from you, the amazing membership of Local 1500.  You have shown me time and time again that when our backs are against a wall, you will come out ready for a fight.  This opinion was solidified once again recently when our Shop Rite members filled the rooms at their respective contract update meetings.  Literally hundreds and hundreds of our members came out to show Shop Rite just how much you care about your contracts.  Even though we had settled with SRS Shop Rite the week before I knew you were planning to come out in droves to your meeting as well, so thank you to everyone.

It sounds a little funny to say but the one thing I worry about most, is the thing that gives me the most strength every day…You!

So, keep sticking together, stay involved in the process and be ready for anything.  I am confident that together we can overcome all challenges ahead.  I hope you all had a great Summer and I look forward to seeing you at the contract update meetings and in your stores. 

A Call To Action

By- Tony Speelman

There is a call to action happening for unionized workers.  Companies have seen fit to want to take away your hard-earned and hard-fought benefits.  Whether it be wage increases, holidays, or pensions, everything you are entitled to under your CBA is under attack.  The question is “WHY?”  Why would a company reward its employees by taking things away from them?

Look at Clare Rose…the employees on strike are members of Teamsters Local 812.  Why would Union members take such a drastic measure?  If you ask the employees it’s because the company is trying to reduce their wages by 30%, among other things. If you go to Clare Rose’s own website they state that they are looking to do away with the pension that their employees are currently depending on for their retirement.  The company’s reasoning for their proposal package is that all of their competitors have a separate driver and salesperson model that they are now also looking to follow, so they can remain competitive.  A couple of paragraphs later the company states “As the region’s largest beer distributor, we have a significant economic impact,..” 

So why would the region’s largest and most successful anything be looking to model themselves after their own competitors?  You tell me. 

Clare Rose says “we respect our employees’ rights under federal labor law to conduct a strike” –Not if you replace them with temporary workers which enable you to easily keep your employees out on the street!

Let’s bring it home—Why would a wealthy supermarket owner go on to sell his flagship store for $46 million AND look to take away Sunday time and one half from his employees?  Why would the same owner who, IN ADDITION, just got his share of $48 million from the Key Food Cooperative’s owners’ bonus structure--look to do away with the pension of the very same people who have worked to build his company since even before he was born? You tell me. 

We have been embroiled in this contract fight with Pick Quick Key Food and will not rest until it is settled, giving its employees/our members the respect and dignity they deserve.

ShopRite boasts on their website an annual sales number of $14.7 Billion.  So why are they looking to take away Sunday time and one-half for most of their employees?  Why are they not seeking to give anyone at minimum wage an increase? Why do large companies like these look to make their working men and women absorb the cost of doing business in a competitive market?

As with all of the companies that we represent, Stop & Shop is a great place to do your grocery shopping.  However, If history has taught us anything it’s to be prepared for the worst with Stop & Shop.  They routinely look to take as much as possible out of your contracts and we expect the same this year.  If you work for Stop & Shop, then you must have seen the technology that they are installing in your store, doing away with registers and thus cashiers and baggers.  Couple that with the perpetual budget crunch they have everyone working under and it seems pretty clear that they are looking to operate with as few employees as possible. 

They only way we can fight off corporate greed is to band together and stand strong.  We will be calling on members from different companies to support each other.  It’s time to build on our strength and unity.  You’ve heard me say before that their fight is your fight.  This year is evidence of that statement.  We must show companies that especially now we are more determined than ever to keep what we’ve already earned, and achieve more!

Friday, September 22, 2017

We're excited to announce we're accepting applications to join our Union Organizing team! Check out the job posting below.

We're excited to announce we're accepting applications to join our Union Organizing team! Check out the job posting below.


Job title: Union Organizer

Position location: Westbury, NY
Start Date: As soon as possible

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 is the largest grocery retail union in New York with 20,000 members working in grocery stores, pharmacies, and other industry jobs. We are a committed to building a powerful union that fights for economic, political, and social justice in our workplaces and communities.
We are seeking a self-motivated, skilled and enthusiastic person to join our Organizing team.

Main Function: To identify, recruit and develop workers in the work place and greater community. This includes engaging workers at or near their work place, areas of public transit and the community.

Principal duties and requirements:

•    Bilingual speaking (Spanish) is preferred.
•    Must be flexible and willing to work long and/or irregular hours, early mornings, evenings, and weekends
•    Must have a reliable, insured car and a valid, clean driver's license.
•    Labor, political, or community activism/organizing experience required.
•    Build one-on-one relationships with workers.
•    Recruit and develop the leadership ability of workplace leaders and worker committees.
•    Motivate individual workers and groups of workers to take action.
•    Engage workers in broader union efforts to bring pressure to bear on industry sectors.
•    Coordinate with workers to gather information that is useful in identifying opportunities for membership growth and mobilization.
•    Commitment to social justice and worker's rights required.
•    Willingness to conduct house visits and store visits.
•    Ability to engage and inspire people regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, language, class and/or experiences is required.
•    Must be able to work in a fast-paced team environment.
•    Basic writing and computer skills, general knowledge of Microsoft Office.
•    Preferably live centrally within Local 1500’s jurisdiction.
•    Ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds.
•    Bilingual speaking (Spanish) is preferred.


This position offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience. Full time position is subject to a probation period of six months.

To apply:

E-mail cover letter and resume with subject line “Union Organizer” to Please be as specific as possible in cover letter with experience and skills that you have and include why you want to be a Union Organizer for UFCW Local 1500. No mail applications. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Position will remain open until filled.

The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1500 is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage applications from women, people of color and other members of underrepresented groups who will contribute to the diversity of our staff.

Have a great day,

UFCW Local 1500

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meet Some of the Brightest Members of Our Union Family.

Congratulations to the UFCW Local 1500 Scholarship Winners of 2017.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

UFCW 876's Union Video

Our Brothers and Sisters from UFCW 876 created this new video on what a union is. Check it out!