Restart by Roger Brunelle

 In News, Newsletter: Summer 2020

2020 began full of new possibilities and DC 35 hit the ground running with a number of things on the agenda. In January, we completed the filming of the third party certification video commercial to use for elected officials and potential contractors to organize. The video was primarily going to be used for the third party certification legislation we had filed in Maine. The bill was sponsored by Senate President and 1887 member Troy Jackson and co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Sarah Gideon. Speaker Gideon is a champion of ours now and was also throughout the LePage years. Although the bill was tabled, we gained valuable information from our partners and adversaries on future attempts to craft this bill.

Our media team, 617MediaGroup, was at the Brentwood facility during the apprenticeship training for our industrial apprentices. Over three days, they filmed our apprentices demonstrating sandblasting and spraying techniques. They also conducted interviews with our apprentices and interviewed our instructors on the importance of third party certifications for personnel working on industrial projects. 617MediaGroup also conducted interviews with one of our contractors on the value of having properly trained personnel on their team. I would like to personally thank industrial instructors Wayne Cummings, Jeremy Allen, and Donny Verville for putting together all the displays and setting up for the video shoots. This was a great team effort among the organizing department, training department, and political department for 617MediaGroup to be able to shoot this video. I would also like to thank Justin Desmond and Eric Redding for their coordination and cooperation to make this happen. View this video on our Youtube channel.

I was assigned by General President Rigmaiden under Section 45 of our Constitution to attend a membership mobilization training seminar in Hanover, MD. This training seminar is designed to give us the tools we need to reach out to the membership in a more streamlined way and to increase our efficiency in communication and mobilization. I don’t have to tell anyone that the 2020 elections are extremely important to the IUPAT and all of the organized labor. It is critical that we elect candidates who support our collective bargaining rights and will work toward strengthening those rights instead of destroying what we have fought for over many years. The current administration has eroded those rights since taking office in 2017. Under the Trump Administration, we have lost more in the last 3 years than the 50 years before he took office. We’ve spent more time and resources trying to keep what we have rather than moving the ball forward to better the lives of working people. DC 35 will be working diligently in all the states in our jurisdiction to make sure that the voice of working people is heard on Election Day at the ballot box.

But with the unprecedented event of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, these tools went into effect almost immediately. All of you have received texts from a platform that we now use called Hustle. This platform allowed us to do mass texting with the interactive component of being able to respond to you directly. This unique feature allowed us to answer your questions in real-time and communicate with you on your questions and concerns regarding the virus, job site information, training courses, and DC 35 and Local Union business. All of you received messages from either Justin Desmond, Jorge Rivera, Jay Kinslow, Eric Redding, or myself. It was from a number that you probably didn’t recognize, and many conversations were had to explain this platform to the recipients. There is no need to save this number and please continue to use the direct mobile number of those that had texted you, if you have it saved in your phone. If you note at the top of every article in this newsletter, our cell phone numbers are published under our picture. That is our direct line for you to use for questions and concerns.

Throughout this pandemic, communication has been a key component of everything we have done thus far. DC 35 was able to pivot very quickly from our normal day-to-day operations to keeping our members informed and safe on the job site. Our most important task was to make sure our members and their families were safe, and we never stop doing the work to make that happen.

Our staff and industry partner meetings changed from in person to virtual via Zoom or conference calls. Our political communications changed as well, especially with our elected officials. Throughout the pandemic, I was in communication almost daily with various elected officials both here locally and in Washington, D.C. We were trying to advocate for several different things that needed to be in relief packages for the support of our members.

We enlisted your help in telling your stories and voicing your concerns to your elected officials. Although we weren’t successful on every front, your participation is what matters in these efforts. Your participation is what moves the ideas and concerns and forces these elected officials to take action to protect our families. Most elected officials do not understand who we are and what we do unless we tell them. One thing was abundantly clear throughout this pandemic: the current administration does not understand working people and does not understand our industry.

Many workers were considered essential, however, we were treated more as expendable. The time is now to make that change. Using our voice together as one, we can change and promote legislation that directly helps you, your family and your union. And, ultimately, your voice at the ballot box matters. We can see firsthand that elections have serious and potentially deadly consequences. Your vote and the vote of your family members matter. Please make every effort to vote in the primaries and general election in November. I assure you that absentee voting and mail-in voting are safe and secure. Please do not believe the misinformation that is being promoted by people who are trying to influence voter turnout by spreading these lies. If you have any questions or concerns about voting please contact me, and I will assist you in any way possible. When we fight, when we vote, we win!

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