As I am writing to you our lives have been affected by the Coronavirus. Due to the nature of many of our members’ jobs, 80% of our members are working despite the stress and anxiety that comes from not knowing how just going to work could affect you and also your family members when you arrive home. For this I want to extend a thank you to all and remind you that your Local Union is doing everything possible with the employers to keep you safe in the workplace. Please review the many job specific Covid-19 updates we have posted on the Local Union website “Covid-19 Resource Page” and if you feel your employer is not following the recommended CDC guidelines notify your Business Agent immediately.
As the New Year progressed and Covid-19 started its march across the globe, affecting lives everywhere as it entered the United States and changed our lives immensely. Being a service organization the Local has daily contact with members; face to face at the Union Hall, meeting with a member and his employer, either individually or collectively, and at various functions. When Governor Wolf halted all non-essential business operations in the state our way of representing the membership changed dramatically. I am in constant contact with all of our BA’s on a daily basis, reviewing the changes with employers in the business climate we are in today. Changes have come in some cases: several in one day and at times almost changing hourly. Our Business Agents remain in contact with the members and the employers. With an internet connection, a computer and a cell phone we are staying in touch despite social distancing. I could not be more proud of the strength, determination, and creativeness that our team has exhibited in dealing with the pandemic. In my last message to you I reported the Local Union had 23 contracts due to expire this year; the Business Agents are working diligently with their respective negotiating committees via phone and e-mail to keep the process on track. The employers, recognizing they have a responsibility to keep the lines of communication open and continue to bargain are doing what they can, such as video conferencing, to keep the process moving forward. The Local’s Business Agents will be reporting to you on their activities on pages four and five of the Newsletter.
Please keep in your thoughts and prayers our many members who are facing layoff or reduced hours and our members who are working 24-7 to serve and protect the public. The Local Union represents many first responders: police departments, fire departments, and EMT’s. Prison Correctional Officers continue to work, as well as our members working in health care services for the prisons. Many of our members work in health care such as Hershey Medical Center and Pleasant Acres Nursing Home. Additionally public transport workers continue to operate for the public’s needs. Last but not least, our members in freight and small package; working to keep the necessary goods and materials moving through our supply system to keep the store shelves stocked.
If you have been following the Covid-19 updates we have been posting on the Local’s website you’re aware that information and government mandates change daily, sometimes within hours of being distributed. Informational articles concerning the crisis quickly filled the home page of the Local’s website and were becoming intermixed with other equally important articles. A new main page titled “Covid-19 Resources” was created and now contains all of the previously posted material plus any new ones added. This information is easily accessible through a drop down menu box and will remain on the website as long as needed.
Due to time constraints in publishing and delivering a newsletter a certain lead time has to be established. While writing this article to you in early April by the time you read it the Covid-19 pandemic could have changed dramatically and what I am discussing with you may be dated. For this I apologize but as a group the Officers and Business Agents felt it vital to continue to communicate with you via the newsletter.
Though we are adhering to the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and CDC guidelines vital functions must go on. The bills must be paid and the large amount of incoming and outgoing mail the staff handles on a daily basis must still be processed in order to preserve the time lines with regard to grievances and contract negotiations our various contracts contain. Also the buildings and grounds must be maintained being all the more vigilant for proper cleaning and disinfecting to keep ourselves safe as we continue to serve you.
During this time of uncertainty all Officers and Business Agents remain committed to providing our Members the high quality representation to which they have become accustomed. The Safety of our Members, and their families, are the top priority of our Union.
President Teamsters Local 776