By Vic Baffoni
Vice President, Bus Dept.
It’s a new year. We have a new administration in Washington and a larger labor-friendly majority in the House and Senate. It is a time of new hope.
It will not be easy. The deteriorating economic conditions in this country are serious and will take time to solve. There are no quick fixes.
With the unfortunate death of National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer, we have suffered a serious loss.
As the new Congress organizes itself in January and February, our focus– with assistance from the AFL-CIO — will be to gain Senate confirmation for labor-friendly cabinet and regulatory agency heads nominated by President Obama. Updates on nominees and the confirmation process will be reported at www.utu.org. Members should visit the UTU Web site regularly to check on updates.
President Futhey, Assistant President Martin and Alternate National Legislative Director James Stem will be working to educate new members of the House and Senate — on both sides of the aisle — about the rail industry and transportation labor’s past and present role in improving productivity and safety.
During difficult economic times, UTU members are fortunate to have good benefits, good working conditions and a strong union to provide them and their families with protections.
Even so, it is not going to be easy. Many of our locals will be entering contract negotiations in 2009 and management is going to point to the financial crisis as reasons to seek givebacks.
Your union officers and representatives will be doing their jobs, which is protecting your rights. This union has a proud history in times of crisis, and I am confident that our strengths will be evident in 2009.