It is hard to believe that in a few weeks the year 2021 will be over and a new
year will begin. Hopefully 2022 will overshadow the past two years and we will
finally have some semblance of normalcy.
I would like to discuss a big change that will take place as of December 31, 2021, full-time Recording Secretary Tony Ortiz will officially retire from his position at Branch 36.
I have had the privilege of working with this amazing individual both as a letter carrier in Hellgate Station for 11 years. During that time, I witnessed firsthand his dedication to the union and the members as a shop steward and hearing officer at Hellgate station. When management would threaten and intimidate carriers, Tony would stand up and defend those who were reluctant to defend themselves. One of his favorite sayings was, “I stab you in the chest, not in the back.” He feared no one and would stand between the carriers and management, never once backing down from doing what was best for his carrier. This is a quality we as union representatives should and must strive to emulate.
In 2007, Tony Ortiz was asked to fill the position of Recording Secretary for Branch 36. He asked me to replace him as the steward for Hellgate Station. His feelings were that he believed the carriers in Hellgate would have the best representation if I became their shop steward. Tony has mentored and encouraged me on every journey I have taken since that time.
Tony has not only mentored and encouraged me, but he has also encouraged many other letter carriers over the years to become shop stewards for their perspective stations. Many of those shop stewards have advanced to hearing officers, part-time officers, and in becoming a full time officer in Branch 36. Tony Ortiz has been an amazing asset to the union and he will be truly missed by all.
He has touched the hearts of many who have reached out to him with questions or concerns and always addressed each and every one of them in a professional manner. He made every carrier he spoke to feel their concerns were legitimate. Even when they were told what the contract said and not what they wanted to hear, by the end of the conversation they felt better informed and would thank him for it. That is a quality we should all make an effort to display when speaking to the members we serve.
Tony always made his position look easy, but that is far from the truth. Whoever is chosen to replace him as the new Recording Secretary for Branch 36 will encounter the same challenges Tony faced when he replaced his predecessor Recording Secretary Ruben Santiago. They will have big shoes to fill.
I want to wish Tony Ortiz a very happy and healthy retirement; you are and will always be my mentor and best friend forever. I wish you nothing but the best on the next chapter. I am sure I voice the same sentiments as all those you have touched over the years, you will be sincerely missed. God bless you always.
I would also like to wish all of you and your families a very happy, healthy and safe Holiday Season.