Diversity is a word used a lot these days, usually in reference to racial or religious diversity, but it can mean so much more. Teamsters Local 237 is truly diverse in a number of ways. Not only do our members come from every possible background, but they also perform many different and valuable services all over New York City and Long Island. Each of our titles brings a special and valuable point of view that makes our union strong.
Despite our diverse makeup, Local 237 members are united in a common purpose: to preserve a decent livelihood for all members and further their goals and aspirations. Our union is committed to working hard for members, regardless of their title or background, and this makes it one of the best in the state.
Our most significant family trait is providing service to the public. At Local 237, we call ourselves a “municipal labor union.” That technical-sounding term simply means that we represent workers employed by different local governments as opposed to private corporations. We are all bound by our responsibility to protect and serve the great people of
New York, not a corporate board or stockholders. Our well-being is tied to the prosperity of taxpayers and the understanding of the politicians who create government budgets. That gives all our members common purpose when it comes to politics and government affairs.
At times it can be frustrating to have our salaries and benefits under the control of the government, some of which function more efficiently than others. The two budget negotiations in New York City and Albany present clear examples of the pros and cons of government responsibility. The city has just passed a budget that, while containing some cuts, is not the doomsday scenario that many feared. Careful planning in previous years allowed Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to avoid thousands of layoffs or new taxes that once were predicted. In Albany, however, at press time, debate on the state budget was still raging although it is months late. I fear all the confusion will only add to anticipated cuts and new taxes.
Albany has put itself in the position where it must either make difficult cuts or shut down the government entirely, something that has never happened in the history of the state. It is regrettable and embarrassing that we find ourselves backed against a wall in this way. It seems that communication has broken down between the different branches of government charged with controlling New York’s financial health. A lack of reasonable discussion will lead to a lack of reasonable solutions, resulting instead in cuts rammed down the public’s throat in a desperate attempt to keep the government’s lights on. All of us— both inside and outside organized labor— will suffer the consequences.
The only cure to this dysfunction is for the public, including all of us, to take a more active role in public affairs. Because we have common goals, Local 237 members will continue to band together to use our collective might to influence elected officials. I also encourage all of you to become involved, by calling your local legislators and joining politically active groups in your neighborhoods.
To keep updated on the news and the viewpoints of Local 237 supporters, I encourage everyone to turn to our radio and cable access programs if you have not done so already [See schedule on page 13]. We have an exciting summer planned with excellent guests who are looking forward to sharing their ideas about the future of our state’s unions and government. An informed membership is a strong membership, and with that strength we can shape our own destinies.
As Albany struggles to get its act together it presents a unique opportunity to channel the public’s discontent with our political officials into electing fresh, honest voices to state government.
Summer is a time when the weather and political campaigns heat up. We already began discussing union endorsements and will be paying close attention to the candidates vying for statewide and local races. We need to ensure that the next generation of elected officials understands our needs and common problems.
Enjoy Your Summer
With the summer season in full swing, I hope everyone can escape the pressures of serious work-related concerns for awhile. We work hard to provide for ourselves and our families, but it can be debilitating if we don’t relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We wish everyone the best possible summer and look forward to September when we have great plans in store for Local 237.