message from the president

October 2019


Reflecting on the Last Two Decades

While I have been a proud Local 338 member for over 40 years, 2019 marks my 20th year as President of this organization. The experiences I’ve had serving the membership of this union while President has been extremely rewarding, and I am looking forward to continuing my service to you all. Over the years, we have had our fair share of challenges, but the successes we’ve had has made this a privilege of a lifetime.
Throughout my time as President, I have seen this union change and adapt. When I was first elected, our membership primarily worked in food retail, including many of the companies we still represent today like Morton Williams, Gristedes and Stop & Shop. In the mid-2000s we won an incredibly hard-fought battle at Duane Reade to welcome members working in pharmaceutical retail. We have also expanded to represent workers employed in industries like healthcare and transportation and even in the public sector! Local 338 has also been on the cutting edge and over the last several years has organized workers in New York’s medical cannabis program. 
Significant technological advancements have allowed us to better serve our members as well. Our “My Local 338” member portal provides our membership immediate access to their benefits and helps them get in touch with their union representatives. We have also been able to use social media, texting and emails to better communicate with you all. However, while technology has been an incredible asset to our work here at Local 338, it has changed the industries we work in and in many cases, it has and continues to pose a significant threat to the work that Local 338 members do. As we see the introduction and expansion of self-check outs and Marty the Robot, we have seen job roles shift and we must continue to adapt to meet the changes and what they mean for members. 
The A&P bankruptcy was one of the darkest times in the history of our union. Local 338 members made incredible sacrifices, first in 2011 to try to keep the company afloat. However, corporate greed and negligence proved to be too much. Seeing Local 338 members, including many who I once worked alongside with in the stores, struggle was incredibly painful. We fought so hard to place as many members as we could and ensure those who faced layoffs had as many protections as possible in place. Much about the A&P bankruptcy changed Local 338 as an organization, but we survived with the help of our members. 
Even prior to becoming President, the help of our members has been vital to the work we do outside of the workplaces that we represent. We have a rich history of giving back to the community, something that has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades through our partnerships with the United Way, John Theissen Children’s Foundation, veterans’ groups and organizations providing support to those fighting breast cancer. I am also particularly proud of the political program that has evolved since 1999—having people in government who are willing to fight for working people is essential. While the players have changed over the years, the fight largely remains the same as it did last century. We must protect the rights we have earned, even before my time as President, and fight to expand upon the many victories we’ve seen including Paid Family Leave, measures to combat wage theft, funding for childcare programs, improving access to healthcare, and many others. 
Over the last twenty years, I have seen thousands of members retire and welcomed thousands of new faces to our union. It has been because of you, that my journey as President has been as successful as it has and Local 338 wouldn’t be the same without your support. Thank you for all that you have done and I look forward to continuing to advocate on your behalf in the future!

As Always, and In Solidarity,

John R. Durso

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LOCAL 338 RWDSU/UFCW  •  1505 Kellum Place  •  Mineola, New York 11501
Main Office (516) 294-1338  •  Union Call Center (516) 294-1338 ext. 1775  •  Medical Call Center (516) 294-1338 ext. 1776
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