Introducing your Union Plus Union Member Advocate
From the day of our founding by the AFL-CIO, strong customer service advocacy and labor-friendly, social responsibility have been core values for Union Plus. We take the buying power of millions of union members and give it back in the form of savings and service. We've got your back!
A big part of Union Plus customer service is the Union Member Advocate – and we’d like to tell you more about the current person in this position. Flying from Florida to Washington, D.C. in 2008, Carl Calabro became the Member Advocate for Union Plus to continue his work fighting on behalf of union members. The Member Advocate listens to your concerns and ensures you are getting the highest quality service from your 40+ Union Plus benefits.
Union Plus is constantly learning how to better serve union members. No matter how small, every comment on a Union Plus program is helpful. Carl has the ability to bring any concern before Union Plus program providers to guarantee you are fully represented.
History of union work
Union history was in Carl’s house growing up in New York City, his grandmother being an organizer from the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). Raised in New York, he also remembers the atmosphere of a strong union presence. After graduating from Buffalo State College, a State University of New York (SUNY) campus located in Buffalo, New York’s Elmwood Village, he began working various administrative positions in healthcare.
The experience in healthcare informed his later move to work for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East local 1199 in Florida, where Carl worked as the assistant to the President. While at SEIU local 1199, he saw the power of unions improve the working conditions of health care workers, and the fight for hard-fought contracts to improve standards such as paid sick leave and vacation.
“I really loved the activism aspect, and seeing the ability of unions to really change the working conditions of health care workers,” says Carl.
Hardship grants for union members
Carl’s role also includes managing the hardship grant program that ensures assistance to union members in financial need. In early 2012, the legacy of union service became personal for Carl when he experienced a serious motor vehicle accident that left him disabled for 6 months.
Since his auto-accident, he has seen the strength of union solidarity from both sides of the hospital bed. Carl knew how fortunate he was that his union-earned disability benefits were there to help pay the bills until he could return to work, and he certainly knows how every dollar counts when you are not working.
In 2012, Union Plus was able to send thousands in aid including:
- $159,850 in Disability Grants
- $27,000 in Job Loss Grants
- $10,000 in Hospital Grants
- $10,500 in Strike Grants
“I do appreciate the dozens and dozens of thank you notes,” says Carl.
Union-made customer service
A now seven-year member of the Office and Professional Employees Union (OPEIU) Local 2, Carl is also the newest shop steward at Union Plus. Union Plus staff are proud members of OPEIU local 2, and Carl’s new role entails resolving issues between boss and coworker, providing a sympathetic ear and defending his fellow workers.
When asked about the number one thing he would like to tell union members, Carl says, “Just contact me.”
If you’ve had an issue with a Union Plus program and haven’t contacted your Union Plus Union Member Advocate yet, here are some reasons to do so!
- Get your voice heard and get the resolution you deserve.
- Receive answers for any Union Plus benefits or grant questions.
- Give Union Plus feedback, tell us your opinions, and what we can do better.
If you can’t resolve an issue with a Union Plus program provider, let Carl know by completing the online Union Plus Feedback Form so Carl has some detail about your situation and how he can help.