RWDSU International
Local 108 General Membership Meeting

October 18, 2009

General Meeting Speech-October 18, 2009 
Good morning, brothers and sisters. I would like to welcome you to the Local 108 annual General Membership Meeting. This year’s meeting is being held during a very difficult time in our country. It is my view that we are still in a recession. We are also watching the conclusion of the Iraqi war and the escalation of a war in Afghanistan where terrorists are training and hiding. At the same time, we have begun the process of establishing healthcare reform to deal with our healthcare crisis. People are losing their jobs and homes and the situation is real. Our retail members have been faced with reduced hours and layoffs. Employers in the public and private sectors are demanding that we begin to pay towards our medical premiums and in some cases increasing what we are currently paying. From the State House, County Buildings and City Halls we are hearing words like furloughs and layoffs. This, my friends, has brought about stress and anxiety throughout the State of New Jersey and our country. Unfortunately, this very difficult situation we all face has no easy answer or solution. We did, however, elect an individual to the Presidency, Barack Obama that is actively addressing the depression we are in. He has called for stimulus money which is being used around the country. President Barack Obama has helped keep the doors of vital businesses open. These are businesses that if they closed would have a devastating effect on our economy. I am talking about banks, the auto industry, and other vital businesses. He has also made sure that vital programs such as unemployment has extended benefits. Monies have been made available to keep people in their homes as well as refinancing mortgages. The Obama administration has shown us more in 10 months than we have seen in the previous 8 years. I ask that you be patient as our new president leads us out of this recession. I am not an economist or a Wall Street whiz but what I will tell you is that I believe that job creation is a key element in any recovery plan. Our retail stores are hurting no doubt because of the recession and the record state and federal unemployment rate. That means that those who have a job are spending less or not spending at all and those that are on the growing unemployment roster have nothing to spend. We must invest in rebuilding our infrastructure where necessary. This will provide jobs and renovation throughout our community. I am talking about new roads, bridges, schools and also affordable housing. As a labor movement, we need to be out front calling for job training for our members so they are prepared for the ever changing workforce. Technology, solar and green jobs are the future.  

Our union has had a very difficult year. We have experienced layoffs and a reduction in hours across our membership. At the bargaining table, we have been faced with wage freezes, increases in employee medical contributions and in some cases elimination of benefits. Our goal in every negotiation has been to hold the line. Our union was also forced into a labor dispute with Strauss Discount Auto, a company we had under contract for many years. The dispute began in January of this year after being at the bargaining table for eight (8) months in 2008. The Strauss Company filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 and thereafter, aggressively tried to strip away the benefits from the contract and destroy the union. We found ourselves in a position that either we fight or lose all of the benefits that were gained over many years. Standing up to the Strauss Company required that the staff work 7 days a week and 10-12 hours a day. It also meant making a financial commitment to pay picketers, lawyers and consultants. We felt it was necessary and the right thing to do to protect our members. In July 2009, our members and staff have become tired from the fight. Local 108, at the request of the members, ended the dispute and signed a contract with the Strauss Company. At the end of the day, some might ask ‘was it worth it’? The union was able to keep in place the benefit package for current employees which includes medical and pension benefits. The benefits that new employees receive will be substantially less than those employed prior to the signing of the new agreement. So when someone asks me given the same situation, would the union stand up and fight? My answer is yes. What should we be doing now that is, your union, your family and you? I believe that we must continue to play an active role in healthcare reform. On October 13, 2009, the Senate Finance Committee passed the healthcare bill. The passing of this bill was historic and sets the stage for debate on what the final healthcare bill will be. There are three (3) areas of concern from the perspective of the labor movement and our coalition partners. 

The healthcare crisis affects us in many ways. We live in the greatest country in the world and yet we have over 42 million Americans without medical insurance. At the same time, the cost of medical care is driving our country into financial ruin. Our voices must be heard throughout the debate on a final healthcare bill. In the end, we must have comprehensive reform that provides quality, affordable healthcare for all. 

The other issue of concern is labor law reform that could be found in a bill named the Employee Free Choice Act. This bill, if passed in its current form, would make it easier for workers to join together and form a union without employer interference. The bill is meeting strong resistance in the Congress because of lobbying efforts from big business. We must remain vigilant and steadfast in our support of the bill. 

This is a time for family to help family, friends to help friends, communities to join together and individuals to lend a helping hand to those in  need. This is a time for prayer and faith. I do believe that this period in our lives will become history and better times are ahead of us.  

May God bless you and all of our families. 

I would like to thank all of the members of the Executive Board and the Local 108 staff for their hard work and dedication.


1.         Bergen County Parks Blue and White Collar 4four (4) year contract; January 1,                        2008 – December 31, 2011.


            January 1, 2008 – 3.875% applied to all employees as of November 1, 2007


            January 1, 2009 – 2.85% applied to all employees as of December 31, 2008


            July 1, 2009 – 1.30% applied to all employees as of June 30, 2009


            January 1, 2010 – 3.50% applied to all employees plus $300.00 one time         adjustment  across the board applicable to those on payroll as of December 31,         2009.


            January 1, 2011 – 3.80% applied to all employees on payroll as of December 31,         2010.


            There shall be no co-pay towards medical.


2.         Oakland Public Library four (4) year contract; January 1, 2008 – December 31,           2011.


            January 1, 2008 – 3.9%


            January 1, 2009 – 3.8%


            January 1, 2010 – 3.8%


            January 1, 2011 – 3.8%


            The minimum starting only for full-time library employees shall be $25 over as of            January 1, 2008.  Employees making less than the minimum shall be brought up     to $25.


            No co-pay towards the medical.


3.         Leonia Public Library four (4) year contract; January 1, 2008


            January 1, 2008 – 3.75%


            January 1, 2009 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2010 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2011 – 3.50%


            Ten percent (10%) of cost towards dependant health coverage.


4.         Leonia White Collar/Crossing Guards four (4) year contract; January 1, 2008 –             December 31, 2011.


            January 1, 2008 – 3.75%


            January 1, 2009 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2010 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2011 – 3.50%


            Ten percent (10%) co-pay towards dependant health coverage.


5.         Leonia Blue Collar four (4) year contract; January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2011.


            January 1, 2008 – 3.75%


            January 1, 2009 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2010 – 3.50%


            January 1, 2011 – 3.50%


            Ten percent (10%) co-pay towards dependant health coverage.


6.         North Brunswick Blue and White Collar One (1) year contract; January 1, 2009 –        December 31, 2009.


            January 1, 2009 no salary increase due to the City’s financial contributions.


            Will be starting contract talks for January 1, 2010 onward.


7.         New Milford Library


8.         New Milford White Collar




1.                  City of Wonaque expires December 31, 2009

2.                  Fort Lee Library expires December 31, 2009

3.                  North Brunswick Blue Collar expires December 31, 2009

4.                  North Brunswick Blue Collar

5.                  North Brunswick White Collar


1.                  Oakland Library punitive change in work  schedule Mamie Schantzfischez still           pending.

2.                  Wayne Library refusal to grant vacation to Janice Champagna.

      3.                  River Edge DPW change in health coverage still pending.


Completed Contracts

  • Academy Bus Company- Hillside Unit
  • Andrew Marc- clothing manufacturer- 1 year extension with medical premium increase and bonus.
  • Atlantic Tropical Market Corp.- negotiated new terms under medical premiums.
  • Becerra & Associates- Accountants
  • Big-M- Women’s clothing warehouse- 1 year extension with medical premium increase.
  • Escoster, Inc. - Supermarket
  • Extra Supermarket- East Orange
  • Extra Supermarket- Lyons
  • Extra Supermarket- Avon
  • Extra Supermarket-Jersey City
  • Footnotes- Shoes
  • Kikos- Supermarket
  • Lane Bryant- Women’s Clothing
  • LaRoca Supermarket
  • Pueblo Supermarket
  • Strauss Discount Auto
  • Haledon Corp., Super Supermarket
  • Super Supermarket- Union City
  • Twin City Supermarket
  • 5505 Meat Corp.- Supermarket
  • 719 Irvington Food, Inc.
  • Centro Cristiano Calvario- Church
  • Fleetwood Forwarding- Liquor Warehouse Distributor
  • York Barber Shop
    Pending Contracts
  • Sam’s Department Store- Men’s Clothing
  • Supremo Supermarkets
  • Englewood White Collar
  • Syms Menswear, Inc.
  • Academy Bus- Middlesex
  • Academy Bus- Rutgers
Closed Companies
  • Tiffany Design Services, Inc.- Clothing
  • Pearle Vision/Sunshine Optical
  • Littman Jewelers #547

No Longer Under Contract
  • Coviello Plaza- Parking Garage
  • Lisbon Cleaning, Inc.
  • Santa Barbara Restaurant#6

  • Civic Contributions
  • Citizenship Fund
  • Local 108 Irving Rosenberg Scholarship Fund
  • Increase Member Participation in Cope Check-Off
  • Union Members for Public Office
  • Affordable Healthcare Reform
  • Employess Free Choice Act

Register to Vote with Rock the Vote
Scholarship Local 108 Libraries Gallery Contracts Twitter


RWDSU Local 108, UFCW/CTC CLC | 1576 Springfield Avenue Maplewood, NJ 07040 | Phone: 973-762-7224