Grocery workers union selects new president

Joe Nikic

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 announced Friday that the union has selected a new president and secretary-treasurer.

The Local 1500 Executive Board unanimously elected both Tony Speelman and Robert Newell to serve as its president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, according to a Local 1500 press release.

“I am honored to represent the proud men and women of UFCW Local 1500, a union I first became a member of when I was 17 years old,” Speelman said.

He succeeds former Local 1500 president Bruce W. Both, who headed the union since 2004.

The UFCW Local 1500 formerly represented Pathmark employees until the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in July to protect their A&P, Food Basics, The Food Emporium, Pathmark, Superfresh and Waldbaum’s stores from creditors.

The financially beleaguered company sold some of its North Shore stores to WakeFern Food Corp., which operates Shop Rite supermarkets, Key Food Stores Co-Operative Inc. and the Stop & Shop Supermarket Corp.

Some of those supermarket employees are covered by UFCW Local 1500 as well as the Local 338 and Local 342 of the Long Island Public Service Employees union.

Speelman began working as a Local 1500 member when he took a part-time job at Dairy Barn when he was 17, according to the release.

Prior to his new post as secretary-treasurer, Newell served as assistant to the Local 1500 president.

He began working as a Local 1500 member working as a part-time shopping cart attendant for a Pathmark supermarket in Bay Shore, according to the release.

“I want this union to become an even greater and stronger union for the decades ahead,” Newell said.

Speelman said he and Newell would continuously work to improve working conditions for Local 1500’s members.

“We will work together to provide a better life for all Local 1500 members, to provide better benefits, and safer working conditions,” he said. “We will make it a priority to secure better part-time scheduling, so our members can better balance a family life.”

The UFCW Local 1500 represents over 20,000 grocery store employees across New York from Suffolk County to Dutchess County, according to its website.

Members of the UFCW Local 1500 are employed by the Stop & Shop, Gristedes, D’Agostinos, Key Food, Shop Rite and King Kullen supermarkets.

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