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Is it a Job or is it a Career? Nah! It’s a Labor of Love.

In the twilight of our work, we often muse over the question whether we are clocking in and out daily as an employee or have invested our life’s effort in a real career. Over the span of a career at ATU, we can influence others, make headway on contracts, help protect family sustaining jobs, organize to improve workplace standards…the list goes on!

I’ve had a career of fulfilling a portion of my life’s calling! A Labor of Love.

Starting as a driver in Kansas City, serving as a steward, an Executive Board member, Vice President, and President of Local 1287, and culminating as Executive Vice President of the most influential and strongest transportation Union in our two countries.

As a founding member of the Latino Caucus, I made friends! As a welcomed leader in all conferences and Caucuses, I made friends. As an often shrewd negotiator at the table, I approached each contract negotiation as if I would have to live under the terms and conditions. I even earned the respect of and made friends with transportation managers. One of the most important aspects of my career will be the friends who will champion me into the next phase of my life. 

Please humor me as I share some notes that I wish to impart as I retire.

Family FIRST! Just over two years ago, I lost the love of my life to cancer. Lee Ann’s illness gave me pause to direct my attention to family circumstances beyond my control. While it was difficult to manage work responsibilities and my wife’s progressing illness, my friends at ATU were a constant uplifting source of energy to me. Make time for family every day! 

Embrace optimism! Many of my friends know that I have a healthy spiritual life. It is the wellspring of the times I faced that were too difficult to manage alone.

Don’t settle for less than you and our members deserve. Collectively at the table or in your own work. Fight like hell when it’s necessary but often, utilizing your integrity, knowledge, and skill is enough to prove your point.

Protect your reputation. With advances in social media and other technologies, words can often be used against us. Don’t give people a reason to assail your reputation. I’ll refer to integrity again; build yours through honesty, strong principles, and core values.

English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote , “if you can fill the unforgiving moment with 60 seconds worth of distance run, then yours is the earth and everything that’s in it!”

DON’T WASTE TIME! It’s precious and it goes by fast.

Treat every aspect of your valued work as a stepping stone, and a learning opportunity in your career, particularly the difficult paths that confront you.  Don’t think you can go it alone or with a small click.

I want to say special thanks to the members of Local 1287, former President Jim LaSala, Warren George, my mentor Mike Siano, Oscar Owens, and all other International officers and reps.

I thank each of you who travel the road daily, you have been such an integral part of my amazing Labor of Love at the Amalgamated Transit Union.

I leave with a tear in my eye and yet a smile on my face, confident that like many before me I’ve planted a few shade trees which, long after my name is forgotten, ATU members will enjoy the shade from.

I, an ordinary man, thank each of you for the extraordinary opportunity to have had a career that has been a Labor of Love.