Each year as I sit down to write my last article of the year, I always begin
the article and end it with a real sense of gratitude. The year couldn’t have been
the success it was without Branch 36 members pitching in and making things
happen. This pandemic and the ongoing restrictions did not damper the spirit and
determination of Branch 36; we still had all the right people in place to move
things forward this year. People like the hearing officers, seminar instructors,
committee members, and dinner dance participants; as well as many other active
volunteers and dedicated members who stepped up and made a difference.
Branch 36 Hearing Officers are shop stewards in their home stations; but travel to other stations to handle the second step of the grievance procedure. The Hearing officer’s task is to sit down with the Station Manger to try to resolve write-ups and contract violations. It takes a special kind of dedication for a person to do this during a pandemic considering you must travel to outside stations on behalf of the members. It is clearly done out of sheer commitment to our union. Although they are on the clock when they meet with the managers; they do not receive any extra compensation for their efforts. These dedicated Hearing Officers are: Helen Amill, Ed Dyer, Rafael Feliciano, Jose Henriquez, Melinda Hammond, Yvette Kinard, Kathleen Kirton, Howie Mantilla, Heidi Owen, Ed Robertson Jr. , Joey Santiago and David Velazquez. Some of our Hearing Officers are Shop Stewards are in stations outside their home station. More proof of their ongoing dedication happens whenever they are asked to be Shop Steward Seminar Instructors. There have been many Virtual Seminars during this pandemic. Just looking back on the last two weeks alone, we have had a Virtual seminar for CCAs converting to career status and a Shop Steward Seminar on Article 7 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement pertaining to the maximization of PTFs. In a few days, we will host a Seminar on the NALC Health Benefits Plan. These seminars are put together by Pascual Ortiz, Danielle Smith and Sonny Guadalupe along with the help of several hearing officers. I am pleased with the turnout and interest in these virtual seminars.
Other active committees are the Food Drive and Dinner Dance Committees. Much thanks goes to Tayry Vega of Audubon Station and Melinda Hammond of Williamsbridge Station along with the help of many shop stewards. Their great efforts raised the level of participation to new heights this year for the NALC Virtual Food Drive. Proud to say, we donated $23,015.00 to City Harvest, that’s a lot of t-shirts sold. Thank you Tayry and Melinda!
We all wondered beforehand what our Dinner Dance would look like this year. We were aware that everyone wanted to get back into the party mode, but New York City implemented a vaccination requirement for restaurants and catering halls. The requirement was to provide proof of a vaccination to eat in a restaurant or catering hall. This stopped many from attending. We usually have over 500 attendees. Ticket sales came in slow, but by the time the seating arrangements were being made, we had over 300 people. That is a very respectable number and everyone enjoyed themselves. The food and drinks were excellent and the dance floor stayed full. I am positive next year; we will be back to over 500 attendees. The Dinner Dance Chairperson is Carmen Flores and the committee members are: Patricio & Elizabeth Montenegro, Melinda Hammond, Yvette Kinard and Helen Amill. Thank you for a job well done. A special thanks to Malani Smith and Jendaya Cain for their help with selling raffles for the Muscular Dystrophy Association at our Dinner Dance.
Although the Dinner Dance was a joyous occasion for all, it was also a somber one because we lost many good people this year. Three key people: Ruben Santiago, Ruby Almeida and Anthony Puccio, who never missed a Dinner Dance, were remembered by all with a moment of silence to celebrate their memory.
A fourth person, who never misses our Dinner Dance, Cleveland Morgan was not ready yet to travel from his home in Georgia to New York City. We all missed you, Cleve and look forward to seeing you next year.
There were seven plaques this year for retiring officers and shop stewards. Four of those recipients were in attendance. Edwin Robertson, Sr. from High- bridge Station, Pedro Mack from Time Square Station and Tom Nelson from JAF Station received a plaque to tout their accomplishments. We also had plaques for Natan Sheyer from Village Station, John Rodriguez from Cathedral Station and Sheila Mitchell from Manhattanville Station. We wish all six a happy and healthy retirement. Much thanks for all you have done for our members; you have made a difference and you are all much appreciated!
Our full time officer, Tony Ortiz was an honoree at this year’s Dinner Dance. Tony Ortiz has decided to retire from Branch 36. He has been Branch 36’s Recording Secretary for many years. Prior to that, Tony was a Shop Steward and Hearing Officer at Hellgate Station. I first met Tony when we carried mail together in FDR Station. He has always been dedicated to making the lives of our members better. He is a champion at raising money for MDA and in organizing the Baseball League and he will be missed. I wish you a happy and healthy retirement. Tony, you deserve it!
Many people were instrumental in making this a successful year for Branch 36 and it is my distinct pleasure to thank them all. Thank you!