Our History

Local 338 was formed in 1925 by a group of young workers who set out to change conditions they experienced while working in grocery stores. After experiencing unsafe and unfair working conditions firsthand, the founding members established Local 338’s mission from the beginning: bettering the lives of our members and all working people. 

In 1935, our first President, Samuel Wolchok was elected. Two years later, Wolchok went on to create our National Union, the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU). 

May 1941 brought the creation of Local 338’s Health and Welfare Fund, which has allowed us to provide quality benefits for our members for over 75 years. In September of 1941, our first constitution was adopted by the membership, which set forth guidelines that allowed the union to grow. 

In June of 1979, William H. Wynn became the President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) after a successful merger. The UFCW later merged with the RWDSU, becoming our International Union. 

In the Fall of 1984, Local 338 President Emanuel Laub established our Scholarship Program, which has allowed us to provide winners with financial aid through scholarships for over three decades. We later created a scholarship in his honor, which provides four years of tuition assistance to one winner annually. 

Our current President, John R. Durso, was elected in 1999 after spending 15 years as a Business Agent. Durso has always been an advocate for working people, including in his role as President at the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. 

Local 338 is committed to giving back to our communities, starting with our first involvement in the 1940s supporting local efforts during World War II and aiding local children’s charities. In 2015, we established a 501 (c)(3) our own, Local 338 Charities, Inc. to further build upon the decades of community and charitable work that we have done. 

Today, Local 338 has expanded well beyond representing workers in just the grocery and food retail industries. We proudly represent over 13,000 working men and women in New York and New Jersey who work in a wide variety of jobs and industries, including healthcare, cannabis, transportation and non-profit organizations.
Founding Leadership of Local 338
Founding Leadership of Local 338 in 1925
one picture of JFK and second picture of MLK
Top Picture: John F. Kennedy (JFK) at a RWDSU rally to members and press. Bottom Picture Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) speaking to union members