We Are Second To None by Joseph Itri
My dad, who had just turned 93, passed away in February. Between the hospital stay, rehab, and hospice, my brothers and sisters and I were never really sure how his bills would be paid and by whom. He was a self-employed mason, had 10 kids, had no pension or annuity and relied on Social Security and mass health to survive.
It got me thinking about joining the Glaziers & Glassworkers Union when I was 22 and I still say, 38 years later, it was the best decision I ever made. Our District Council 35 pension is second to none. A Journeyman glazier, painter or drywall finisher gets over $400 a week into their annuity account. The Health & Welfare Fund is extremely healthy, and the trustees continue to strive to make improvements whenever we can
Which brings me to this: COVID-19 causing our membership to lose vital hours, the Trustees will be looking to create a plan to help keep as many members and their families on the DC 35 Health & Welfare Plan as possible. It is always a difficult decision on where to draw the line, but I know we will do our best to help the most people we can
I still agree with Governor Baker’s closing of the state and Mayor Marty Walsh shutting down Boston, as well as Business Manager Jeff Sullivan pulling our members from jobs until proper COVID-19 policies were put in place by the general contractors and our own contractors. The safety of the membership is always the number one priority.
The business representatives and organizers joined together to visit jobsites when we were in the “Essential Stage,” and again when all construction opened back up. I’ve also had to go to job sites that were “hot spots” when some of our members tested positive for the virus to see that the situation was being handled according to CDC’s guidelines and general policies. That can be a little nerve-wracking, but it needed to be done.
I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I constantly tweet and post about not getting sloppy with safety measures like wearing your masks, social distancing and washing your hands. I think a little complacency settled in when we went to Phase 3. Now there is an uptick in cases in Massachusetts again. Stay vigilant for your family, your friends, your coworkers and yourself. Remember, IT’S WE, NOT ME! Stay safe.
Now onto the political scene. Invest in your union. Back endorsed candidates who will back us. None of what we have achieved comes cheap. People were killed on picket lines. Union members went on strike, never knowing if they had jobs to go back to. They manned up and because they did we have a strong union today, but our enemies never give up. They have money and time. Let’s not elect their candidates so they can hurt us from the inside. This may be the most important election of our lifetime. In simple terms, vote your wallet. Think of it as a vote for a union job or a non-union job. If Trump, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and the rest get back in kiss your right to join a union goodbye. These jokers are salivating at the prospect of gutting Social Security and Medicare. Don’t help them hurt you.