Notes from the Road is an occasional column by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, the evidence of Union Strong was abundant. The late fall storm clogged up our highways and roads during the busiest travel period of the year. The heavy snow also downed trees and cut power to hundreds of thousands of NH residents. While many of us were thinking creatively to stay warm and cook our Thanksgiving meal, thousands of our union brothers and sisters were out in the middle of the storm, clearing roads and restoring electricity.
Having family members work on holidays is something that is all too familiar to me. As a 17-year employee of the NH State Liquor Commission, I had to work many holidays. As a child, I remember many other holidays where my mom, an RN at a nursing home, also worked. There were many holidays that my family spent apart, although we took great satisfaction in the knowledge that my mom was providing such valuable service to seniors.
With a strong appreciation for the sacrifices made during the holiday season, I took to the road this past Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to say thank you to our SEA brothers and sisters who were working. Ryan, Tammy and Enes were working at the Franklin Liquor Store when I arrived on Friday morning. The store was busy, which came as no surprise, and shelves needed to be stocked and product bagged at the register. We shared stories of lost electricity and hectic Thanksgiving Day meals and marveled at the work being completed by power crews who came from all over North America.
From Franklin, my next stop was at the NH Veterans Home in Tilton. The Vets Home is a place that we are all proud of because it is symbolic of the reverence we have for those who have served our country. It was important to me that our SEA members knew that we are all proud of them and appreciate the exceptional level of care they provide our veterans. Chapter leader Dayle Auger guided me on a walk-through, and we were able to connect with many members, wishing them well and thanking them for their extra efforts on behalf of the SEA.
In the late afternoon, I stopped at the Manchester liquor store. Manager Peter Kanteres and his excellent staff did well to keep up with the dual demands of helping customers and stocking shelves. Thanks to the good efforts of our union, many of the part-time employees at State liquor stores were receiving time and a half pay for working the holiday. As I tried to thank them for working, they were thanking our union for fighting on their behalf.
It felt right to be visiting with our members who were working on this day to personally thank them. I knew many more were out there on the job – highway crews at DOT, E-911, police units, and more – but I also knew to stay out of their way as they worked on storm recovery. To all of them, our heartfelt gratitude for a job well done.