Teamsters Local 776 President Edgar Thompson
At times it seems we all become so busy and distracted that when opportunity is right in front of us, we ignore it. It’s like the guy who lives next door to a world famous museum or historic site and has never visited it-opportunity lost. Much like deadlines, once past, opportunity rarely offers itself a second time.
On the professional side, Local 776 has tried to avail itself of every opportunity not just to bring workers under the union umbrella but to grow the umbrella itself – to support new industries and commercial efforts in creating good jobs that provide for workers and their families. No matter which of the interested people you hear discussing the possible or likely impact of the Marcellus Shale discovery here in Pennsylvania, there is one thing they all agree on – that the Marcellus reserves are almost unfathomably rich. One expert has been quoted saying, “If the Marcellus were a country, it would rank as a top-10 producer in the world.” In fact, by year’s end, the Marcellus operation will account for one quarter of the nation’s gas supply and production is estimated to triple by the end of the decade. Boom. Opportunity. And, Local 776 has been at the labor forefront of grasping that opportunity. That opportunity, if grasped, can and will have a direct impact on employment opportunities and days worked by Local 776 members. As the project grows, new jobs will be created. The same is true of the Atlantic Sunrise transmission pipeline project. As I contemplated the testimony I offered before the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on behalf of those pipelines, I could only guess how many trucks, forklifts, heavy equipment and the like that Local 776 members would be transporting to and operating at construction sites. It is the reason we were so vigorous in lobbying on behalf of these projects. It is the reason we brought in the Teamsters Pipeline Training force to schedule training for Local 776 members to aid them in obtaining needed Certifications. It’s the reason Local 776 employs an Organizer whose job is to see opportunities to increase the union fold and accomplish it.
Smaller of scale and closer to home, the Local offers members opportunities that many ignore. My advice is to grab hold of them. They’ll only open the door to other opportunities. As an example, we offered discounted tickets to members and their families to attend Nittany Lions’ football games at their home stadium. Those offers were first made to members who had signed up to receive Local 776 E-mail Blasts. Almost all Local 776 events and happenings appear first by way of the Blasts. If you haven’t signed up you are missing out on near instantaneous notification of opportunities that only members can use. Another opportunity to members that will open doors down the road is our Scholarship Programs. $1,000.00 to $10,000.00 is available to help member’s children on their higher education path who grasp the opportunity and apply. There was a great sense of satisfaction, solidarity and pride when dozens of Local 776 members stood before the Newville Borough Council to successfully demand that the Council rescind its decision to lay off a fellow member as perceived punishment for the Officers’ union organizing activities. Local 776 has engaged the communities where we work and live. We hope that we have helped make them better places to live and work. Proudly we have celebrated the special events that make us a community. As we enter the Holiday period, Local 776 opportunities for our kids and the kids of our community neighbors are open and available to all. Please participate.
Lastly, please attend our meetings and functions be they social or work-related. Be positive. Participate. Support one another. Remain positive and professional. If our foes are successful in dividing us from one another, they will be the winners. But, if our message of solidarity rings true, we will be the winners.
Ed Thompson, IBT Local 776 President