TO: ALL TCU UNION REPRESENTATIVES
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It has been exactly two weeks since the despicable acts of terrorism that killed more than 6,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York City and 189 or more at the Pentagon outside of Washington, DC. In that time TCU leaders in those areas have worked hard to find out who among their members might have been on the front line that day.
There were no TCU members to my knowledge at the Pentagon, although many of us in the Washington area and elsewhere have family and friends who were injured or killed there.
The story in New York is different: there we have many members in the city and the surrounding area on the Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak, Metro-North, PATH and New Jersey Transit. To date it appears that no members on these lines have been harmed. We can be grateful for this, although many have lost loved ones and friends in the disaster.
However, TCU’s Division, the United Service Workers of America, has been hit hard. As our USWA Division President Lori Ann Ames reported to me, We have suffered several tragic losses, we have had many close calls and some dramatic survival stories. Moreover, these members who were there on the scene have bravely joined in rescue efforts, volunteering in a variety of ways to help out, even to rescuing stranded pets.
Numerous members were working in a variety of occupations at the World Trade Center and, in fact, USWA Local 111-M had its offices in the basement of one of the towers. So it was that, when the attack occurred, 30 members were led to safety by Local President Joe Bonczek.
But at least five of these members were not as fortunate. Confirmed to have been killed were:
Ø Local 111-S has reported three members missing. Only one name known at this time, Ed Strauss.
Ø James Barbella, a Port Authority maintenance supervisor and member of USWA Local 111-M who was in a Port Authority office on the 80th floor of one of the towers at the time of the attack, and
Ø Rocco Medaglia, a member of USWA Local 355 employed by NTX Interiors who was doing renovation work at the World Trade Center that day.
Among these members, there have been losses of family members, friends and coworkers too numerous to count. Adjustment for many will be difficult in the days ahead. USWA Local 111-M Vice President Andy Infante lost his brother, Anthony, a Port Authority police officer. There has been personal dislocation for members like USWA Local 355’s Ronnie Aponte who has not been able to return to his neighborhood. And employers have been dislocated, too: Amson Machine, a USWA Local 355 shop, has been displaced by the disaster from its Manhattan location and the headquarters building of the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC), also in Manhattan, has been severely damaged. It is these brave members of USWA Local 355 employed by CACC who have been going in to rescue pets that had been trapped in buildings when their owners could not return for them.
I had hoped against hope that we would find that no members had been killed or injured and that no one would still be missing. That, sadly, is not the case. With heartfelt sympathy, our condolences go to all who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
And I say ‘thank you’ to all TCU locals, districts, boards, divisions and members who have pitched in to help, as our New York City members have done. You have made us all very proud.
Now it is time for those of us who are not close enough to lend a hand to help out in another, very important way.
I urge you to join in the disaster relief effort by making a contribution today through the labor movement’s own community service fund. During this national crisis, it is important to let the world know that all Americans stand united. It is also important for our union to do its part to help as best we can.
That is why TCU’s Finance Committee authorized a $100,000 donation from the Union to the AFL-CIO’s Union Community Fund. The USWA and its members have added some $10,000 more. Your help is needed and it is needed now. Contributions should be sent to the Union Community Fund’s September 11th Relief Fund either by going online at www.unioncommunityfund.org or by mail to the Union Community Fund, 815 16th St., NW., Washington DC 20006.
I will keep you informed as other news comes in. In the meantime, if you have news of a member who was involved in any way, I would appreciate having the information from you with all details as soon as possible. And if you have members who have participated in relief efforts or related community events to provide support for victims, please also let me hear from you.