On behalf of the entire Local 237 Executive Board, thank you for the honor of representing you. We are humbled that our members have given us the opportunity to lead this great union into the future.
There is nothing more important than meeting with our members, learning about the issues important to you and fighting to make your lives better. I believe I have the best job in the city, representing some of the hardestworking men and women in New York. I don’t take this great responsibility lightly. You count on this union to protect your livelihood, and I look forward to working with all of you to prove that Local 237 is the best union in the city.
I want to commend all the members who voted in this election, no matter who you supported. Our power comes from an active and engaged membership, and nothing demonstrates that better than an election. Members voiced their opinions by casting thousands of ballots. Democracy can be messy, but once the ballots are counted it is time for all to come together and unite for a common purpose. We are committed to securing contracts that our members deserve and defending their rights in the workplace, and I ask that each of you join me in fighting for these goals. That’s what a union is for.
It is fitting that our union’s election corresponded with New York City and Long Island elections. Each of the candidates that the Local 237 Executive Board endorsed for citywide office won, and in Islip, Long Island, we helped to elect a town council member who opposes the service cuts advocated by the Town Supervisor. I congratulate all of the candidates and pledge to work with each of them to strengthen public services and make our communities better places in which to live and work.
We can be certain that we won’t always see eye to eye on every issue — even with those elected officials whom we have supported. But only through active engagement can we build alliances, influence policy and defend workers. As we have seen over the past year, this is especially true in times of crisis.
The last year has not been easy, and I’m sure the next five years of my term as president will pose many challenges. Our first priority is both protecting and creating good jobs. When people are working, tax revenues rise, crime stays low, businesses expand and families feel secure. I have faith that with perseverance and determination, these tough times will soon become just a bad memory.
After months of public debate, health care reform is taking shape in Washington. The proposed laws are complicated, but the main points of the legislation are encouraging. It now seems likely a public option will be included— insuring millions of currently uninsured Americans. There are also new rules that should improve private health care and stop insurance companies from denying vital benefits while slowing the escalating cost of health care.
These new initiatives should be funded with taxes on the wealthiest, reductions in wasteful health care spending and from the excessive profits of the insurance industry. Some plans call for tax increases on high quality health insurance policies, the kind that union members have fought hard to earn. Such proposals are inexcusable. Many people with strong insurance plans are not rich, and workers should not have new financial burdens placed on them. As union members, some of this reform may not affect us directly, but the high cost of health care strongly impacts contract negotiations. When the cost of health care benefits increases, there is less money available for wages and other benefits. It is important for all workingclass Americans to have affordable coverage within their reach.
In the end, our union, city and our country appear to be moving in the right direction. I believe the worst is behind us and I have every confidence that our members will have prosperous days ahead. Together, we will make the next five years the best yet.