President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local #338
A 35-year-old veteran of the retail industry, Durso got his start as a deli clerk.
What one factor is most important to success?
If I only could pick one, hard work and dedication would be my choice. They seem to be the most integral to success.
What do you look for in an employee?
The first think I look for is honesty and integrity. Second, it is important to have a willingness and hunger to learn and grow. I want people who are constantly striving to make themselves and our organization a better place. Also important is a strong desire to help people. That’s what our job here at Local #338 is all about, helping our members.
What’s the best way to save money?
Set aside a portion of your paycheck each week. Put it into a savings account and leave it there. Build your budget around what is left. Pay yourself and your future first.
What’s the best way to spend money?
The best way to spend money is spending it on the people who you love, as long as you are spending responsibly and within your means.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
My greatest pleasure has been my children, being a part of their lives, and watching them grow into good, productive and caring men and women.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I exercise when I first get up. It helps get my juices flowing, and helps clear my head for the day.
How do you deal with stress?
Exercise is a great stress reliever. I also try to maintain a “glass is half-full” perspective. I take a moment to put things in perspective, and many times you realize the situation is never as bad as it first seems.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
That giving back to the community in which you live is the right thing to do. Always conduct yourself with dignity and respect. Life is about lifting up others and helping make people’s lives better then they had it before. I hope that my life and my work is an example of this for my children. At Local #338, our goal is to treat our members as we want to be treated ourselves, help make their lives better, and to give back to the community through food drives, blood drives, toys for sick children and other such charitable acts.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
Adversity is not always a bad thing. It is important to learn from it and not to let it get you down. When faced with adversity I dig in, determine to work harder, pray for strength and be thankful for all that I do have.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
Queens is the most vibrant and diverse area in the world. You can find every culture, ethnic and economic group here in Queens. Queens is a microcosm of the world. It reminds me of the labor movement, where workers of all different backgrounds come together and work together.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local #338 represents over 16,500 men and women-like supermarket employees, health care workers, pharmacists, deliverymen, dairy workers, and other retail food services-across Long Island, New York City, and into New Jersey. Durso began his career as a deli clerk with the Waldbaum’s Supermarkets chain in 1970. He joined the staff of Local #338 as an organizer, then served as a business agent, and was appointed president in 1999.
A great admirer of Teddy Roosevelt, Durso says his greatest accomplishments are his four kids: John Jr., Michael, Jessica and Jim. His wife Peggy was herself a 27-year member of Local #338.