December 2, 2020
To All Members of Local 72:
First let me share with you a bit of history. I had hoped for and expected, as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters expects, a smooth transition into office after election last year. However, the past President that you voted out of office refused to cooperate and prohibited key supporting service individuals from communicating with the incoming Executive Board during his lame duck period in November and December of last year. Despite such childish behavior, which, while meant to impede the incoming Board, would only hurt the members, your new Board has ignored those efforts and moved forward to provide you with the representation that you deserve. Although the Coronavirus intervened early on and has prevented and/or delayed every aspect of our activities, for example, membership meetings, it has not prevented the Board from accomplishing some good things for you individually and for the Local as a whole.
Since taking office, I have developed significant relationships with the Joint Council and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Those should only pay dividends for our Local in the future.
At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, I learned that several Sections Thruway wide had been shut down due to one individual in each of those Sections exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. After a number of discussions with Thruway leadership, I developed a plan which was emailed to Executive Director Driscoll on March 25, 2020. A copy of the text of that email is included with this letter. His response was that the Thruway Authority believed it was already doing enough to protect its employees. Approximately one week later, the Authority basically adopted the plan that I had presented, utilizing a 3-day 10-hour day workweek. As a direct result of your Local's efforts, you were not only safer, but you also ended up getting paid for 40 hours while only reporting for 30 hours of work every week.
Regarding our dental plan, from the first meeting that we had with the Healthplex representative, I was determined to improve the plan. The Welfare Fund Board, consisting of Local 72 Vice-President, Kevin Scarsella, Local 72 Secretary/Treasurer, Ron Kozak, and me, again met with the representative and agreed upon a new dental network proposal that will increase the number of dentists available to provide services to members. In addition, the Welfare Fund Board is working on increasing the total dollar limit available for an individual's dental implants and expects to have that resolved soon. These are significant benefits.
Vice-President Scarsella is taking a series of classes to qualify him to run a Zoom meeting so that the Local can begin to have remote membership meetings until the pandemic is considered to be under control and it is safe to congregate once again. When he feels secure in his ability to work with this technology, we will schedule a Zoom membership meeting. Prior to that, we need all of our members’ email addresses or cellphone numbers so that we can send, by email or text, each of you the telephone number and the code for the meeting. If you have access to email, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org so that a list can be compiled for notification purposes. If you do not have access to email, please call the Local office at 212-691-4228 and speak to Fraeda. Whether you are emailing or calling, include your name, job title, job location and telephone number. I trust that all of you with access have noticed that changes are being made to improve the Local website.
The Local has fewer members now that toll personnel are gone, resulting in decreased revenue. We intend to address this change without interrupting the services that the Union provides to you. To that end, the Board has been proceeding to secure office space to take the place of the space that the Local has occupied since its inception. It is anticipated that the rent for the new space will be about one fourth of current expense. Also, toward that end, Trustee Joe Yormick has secured significant insurance savings for the Local.
Since COVID-19 struck shortly after we started working for you, it has not been possible for the Board to engage in a meet and greet with you. This has been a safety issue for both the Union and the Thruway Authority. From the Local's perspective, because arrangements to meet with you would also be cumbersome and less than ideal and would result in additional expense, it makes sense to postpone meet and greets until we can gain easy access to meeting space at your many locations and the Coronavirus is no longer an issue. Hopefully, the promise of effective vaccination will prove true in the near future and we will be able to meet without restrictions. In the meantime, rest assured that you are receiving, and will continue to receive, the best efforts of your Business Agents and Shop Stewards to represent you on a daily basis.
In accordance with our Collective Bargaining Agreement, negotiations toward a new contract commence in March 2022. That's closer than you think, and we will be distributing survey forms to you in the near future so that you can let us know what your priorities are for negotiations.
-- Mike Jovanovic