Message from Pawel Gruchacz, Deputy Supervisor
The first thing I want to say to all the members and families of Local 78 – I hope you are well, staying safe and following the necessary guidelines to protect yourself and your family. To say we are living in a crazy, uncertain time is an understatement.
Given the uncertain times, the need to stay separated, and the uncertainty and concerns that arise from these circumstances, the Executive Board of Local 78 has decided to publish a newsletter to communicate directly with the members and families of the Local. This newsletter will be published on a regular basic and we hope that it will serve as a way for us to communicate what is going on with your Union and for you to communicate your concerns with us.
Open lines of communication are the key to our success, especially during these times. It is our commitment to always provide you with accurate, factual information. Rumors and gossip can only add to the problems and challenges we all face.
Brothers and sisters, these last few months we have faced possibility the greatest challenge in our lifetime. A global pandemic has swept across our nation, requiring an almost complete shutdown of our economy and way of life. For months New York City was the epicenter of this crisis. And as a result of industry was virtually shut down. Our work, dangerous under normal circumstances, was impossible. Some limited, emergency work continued. But not enough to sustain our membership.
The combination of New York State unemployment benefits, along with the federal government’s emergency action, provided some relief. And your Trust Funds took action to provide emergency assistance.
I have pleased to report that it appears to have the weathered the worst and there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. New York is slowly re-opening. Jobs are beginning to start up. Contractors are contacting the Union and asking for workers. But we must remain cautious and as we return to the jobs, we must make sure we adhere to ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS that are in place. That should be easier for us, than in other trades. We know better than anyone else the importance of safety and have always worked using the most stringent precautions.
Throughout these past months, the leadership of Local78 and LIUNA has continued to attend to the business of running your union. I want to thank Bobby Bonanza, the business manager of the Mason Tenders District Council for his continued support and leadership during these times. He continues to be one of our unions most important allies. Whenever we have asked him for his help, he has been there and provide us with whatever we need. Thank you, Bobby.
Our International Union, under the leadership of General President Terence Sullivan, Secretary Treasurer Armand Sabitoni and, especially our Vice President & Eastern Region Manager Raymond Pocino, have made all the resources of our union available. They have provided invaluable support, information and guidance throughout these troubled times.
At the local level we have continued to run your Union in the most prudent, responsible manner possible. As the toll of the pandemic set in, we took the difficult step of downsizing the staff. This is always a difficult decision but given the circumstance, we had no choice. As things move forward, we will revisit our staffing needs and see if there is the opportunity to bring back some or all of those positions. The finances of your Union remain stable. The shutdown has forced us to look closely at every dollar we spend and for ways to save money. Just one example is the parades that we all enjoy and participate in. Because of the ban on such activities, the Local we save over $75,000 this year. While we all love participating those activities, health and safety requirements demand that they be put on hold. Therefore, those resources normally allocated can be re-directed the other needs.
Your Trust Funds remain strong. The trustees recently voted to increase the hours of eligibly from 700 to 1000 hours. This brings our eligibility requirements in line with similar requirements of other building trades unions and will ensure the continued strength and viability of our funds. Action was also taken to provide a one-time emergency withdrawal from your annuity account, without penalty.
Even during these times, our organizers have continued in their jobs of working to increase our market share. One thing this crisis has shown the world is the need for safe, trained workers to protect everyone. Our training and expertise should serve us well as the economy reopens and looked to hire the most skilled and trained workers possible.
Brothers and sisters, I want to reassure you that we will come through these difficult times stronger and more united than ever. We have all faced challenges. before – in our personal lives and in our work. But we have survived and gotten stronger. Today is no different. Please stay safe, protect yourself and your families and remain good union members. Together we will prevail.
Good Bless you and our Union.