HITTING THE GROUND AS A NEW ORGANIZER BY BILLY LANG
As my first entry in the DC 35 Newsletter, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to the Brothers and Sisters whom I may not have met yet but have the privilege of representing. I’ve been a proud member of this union for the past nine years. I started as an apprentice and knew right away that the brotherhood I found in our Union was what I was looking for. Right out of the apprenticeship I had the opportunity to serve as a Steward and was asked to work as a part-time Health and Safety instructor for our FTI, where I helped create our union’s Labor History class. I am an elected officer of the Local 1044 Executive Board and an AGMT-certified Glazier. I spent my first seven years with Sunrise Erectors as a Steward before becoming a Health and Safety Director and Project Supervisor for Ferguson Neudorf Glass. In July of 2022, I accepted a position with DC 35 as an Organizer.
As an Organizer I’ve learned how much work goes into making this union operate, and how important every member is to our effectiveness as a means of upward mobility for the working class. Organizing is the heartbeat of any union and DC 35 has the strongest and closest-knit Organizing department of any union that I’ve come across. Before I started as an Organizer, I didn’t understand exactly how much goes into it. From entering potentially hostile job sites to recruit and offer opportunities to open-shop workers, to creating relationships with politicians in the effort of passing pro-union and pro-worker legislation, the days are long and the job is never done. One day you can be sitting down with a developer or general contractor with hopes of creating jobs for our members, and the next day you can be at the State House lobbying for a responsible contractor ordinance. One thing is for sure, it’s a job that doesn’t get boring. I can honestly say that it has been the most challenging and by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever done.
In November, Business Manager Brennan appointed me as a Business Representative/Organizer and I was assigned to cover the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. DC 35 has its own style of doing this job, and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the most skilled Business Representatives in the country. The Council’s new leadership has set the bar high for how we serve our membership. I’ve learned that the best way to serve our membership as an agent is to maintain a strong working relationship with our signatory contractors and to help them create employment opportunities for our members. This goes hand in hand with maintaining a strong, visible presence on job sites, always being accessible to the membership, and protecting our members by enforcing the terms of our collective bargaining agreement.
Being a Representative/Organizer is just a foot in the door to serve this Union. It’s a title that gives access to the resources needed to empower and create opportunities for our members, but it’s what we do with those resources that counts. It’s an honor to represent my brothers and sisters in this Union. If we haven’t met yet or if there is anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. While I’m a glazier by trade, I’m proud to represent every member of this union no matter what tools you earn a living with.
“The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.” – Thomas Donahue