A Message from Local Union 776 President Ed Thompson
Hello, I hope everyone enjoyed his or her summer season despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic. When I was reminded that my message to you was due for the next newsletter it seemed like only yesterday that I was talking to you in the previous newsletter. Experts say that as we age our perception of time seems to speed up. An hour is still an hour, a day is still a day yet they seem to go past so quickly!
2021 is our first full year dealing with the pandemic. We have been able to follow the protocols and methods developed last year to safely, effectively serve the membership. We were able to strengthen them the second time around, and devise new protocols and methods as new problems arose. I am happy to report to you that we will negotiate over 20 contracts this year; all of them on schedule and will be settled in a timely manner.
One of our Local's strengths comes from our diversity. Our large membership is composed of various employer groups encompassing everything from airline workers, construction/rigging, correctional officers, county courts, freight, healthcare, mass transit, borough, city and township municipalities, police, UPS, and warehousing/distribution. Each of these groups shares much basic language in their respective contracts that are standard in all Teamster contracts, and also contains language that is unique to their industry/workplace. This diversity is what helps make us strong. Our Business Agents have a wealth of knowledge in the contracts they serve. If one Agent has a particular circumstance he is not sure how to handle because of being unfamiliar with it, more than likely one of the other Agents has experience dealing with that issue and can provide input as to how to handle it under a different contract. It is this sharing of information that helps provide the best representation possible to the membership.
Organizing is a tough job. Workers who want a say in the workplace but are intimidated and threatened by their employer once they hear the word "Union" mentioned in the workplace. An employer will employ every tactic imaginable to maintain a stranglehold on their workers. The hours an organizer must work are varied and erratic, to say the least. Often the organizer must meet with prospective members after their shifts are over, in some cases with multiple shifts this could mean meeting around the clock on a particular day. So is the life of a Teamster Organizer. Until this year, the Local employed Mark Cicak as our organizer. With the start of a new term in office, Mark took over a Business Agent position which left us in a quandary; how best to continue to organize. The organizing duties were split between Mark Cicak and Mark Andreozzi in an attempt to meet the need of a full-time organizer. Now a Business Agent position is also a tough job. Dealing with members who work various shifts, negotiating contracts with employers, and staying on top of everything daily constitutes a full schedule. Both Marks have done a commendable job, going far beyond what is expected of them daily to serve as both a BA and an organizer. The Local Union Executive Board debated long and hard on how to best handle the situation. Was it fair to the members to have their respective BA also handling organizing? Was it fair to prospective members that their organizer was handing other duties as well? Moreover, was it fair to the "Marks" to ask them to continue to fill two important, vital positions? Taking all of this into account the Executive Board authorized the hiring of a full-time staff position to assume the role of organizer for Local 776. After reviewing recommendations from BA's and staff I'm proud to announce that Ashley Cerzullo assumed her position on October 5, 2021. Ashley comes to Local 776 as no stranger; she was an employee of Hershey Medical Center. I'll let Ashley introduce herself to you and provide some background on herself later in the newsletter.
Many of you have enquired about this holiday season; specifically will the Local be having our annual Children's Christmas Party? The Executive Board has debated on various scenarios for safely holding the party but unfortunately again this year it will not be the joyful event we are accustomed to with the Union Hall filled with our kids and the Christmas Spirit. Details are being finalized and will be announced through bulletin board posts and on the Local Union website.
As we anticipate this Holiday Season Local 776 will again be sponsoring our "Christmas for Kids" community services project for needy families in the York area. Please find a place in your heart to remember those less fortunate than us so that they to can enjoy the Holiday Season.
Our Local Union is strong; our Members are united, they are proud to be Teamsters. When asked by others why a Union? They smile with pride and mention their contract, their wages, benefits, and working conditions, and the security their contract provides. This strength allows the Local Union to provide activities both for education and betterment of your lives in addition to providing activities of a social nature such as the family picnic and the Christmas time events. When you hear from someone saying Unions are no longer needed speak up and tell them exactly what your Union provides to you: A middle-class living wage, health and welfare benefits, a grievance procedure, vacation time, and sick leave to name a few. Then add in what educational and social activities your Union provides and they will begin to understand what this "Union Thing" is.
In closing, I would like to wish everyone a Happy, Joyous, Merry, and Safe Holiday Season!
President, Teamsters Local 776