April 6, 2020

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

As the press continues to report of the staggering number of Americans who have contracted the Coronavirus, I’m certain you join me in offering our kindest thoughts to each and every one of them for a full recovery. We also must send our sincerest sympathies to the families of thousands of people around the world who have lost their lives. 

With this news, we must be cognizant with a Union membership in the thousands, that it’s likely some in our own membership and their family’s are either suffering from the Coronavirus, have tested positive for the virus, or are at home scared with concerns they have the symptoms. I write to you now, since in the past few weeks I have spoken to many in our membership who are experiencing every scenario I just outlined. I know you pray with me, that “our own” return to good health and stay safe. I urge all our members in need to continue to contact me and/or any Union Officer for assistance. All prior Union announcements providing information for counseling and professional assistance will be E-Mail blasted out to the membership again. While all members want to return to their regular functions of employment and financial earnings, we truly must prioritize and pray for good health and the lives of each other as brother and sister members of the greatest local in the land. We are all now using the words “be safe”, “be well”, and “be healthy” more seriously than we ever have in our entire lives, not knowing which of us can potentially be harmed and when this entire nightmare will be over. I urge our members again, please follow all guidelines and advice provided by the government and medical experts. It’s an absolute must for your well-being, and the well-being of others around you. Also, kindly include in your prayers, all first responders, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, and other medical professionals serving on the front lines at the risk of their own lives.

While some outside our ranks will say the words “stay strong” is really just words and lacks real meaning, I say they know nothing about the oldest entertainment Union in the United States of America. Our membership is a rare workforce, unrivaled in our skills, our talents, our unity, our grit, and our love for one another. Local One STRONG means “LOCAL ONE STRONG” brothers and sisters. I have no doubt who we truly are. Our 3,550 members will inspire each other while we wait this crisis out from home, until our Union returns to “creating the magic” for millions of people from behind the scenes.

Your Executive Board, Officers, and staff of both the Union and our Trust Fund Office continue to fully function on behalf of our membership. I offer my heartfelt thanks to our Officers and staff who out of absolute necessity must report to the Union and Trust Fund offices to carry out responsibilities that just cannot be performed at home. The Business Agents, the Treasurer, Secretary, Officers, Trust Fund Administrator, his staff and I schedule five or six conference call meetings each and every day, speaking with members in need, Dept. Heads, Shop Stewards, “every Local One employer,” Fund professionals, attorneys, government officials and any politician who can assist our membership. Aside from membership entry into the Union building, every facet of the Union continues to function via the full-time service of every Officer. Be advised all Local One salaried Officers decided after last week’s Executive Board Meeting, to voluntarily take a 20% reduction in their weekly earnings. Be aware the Union’s full-time Officers are not eligible for a hardship annuity distribution, as other rank and file members are due to venue closures. 

The Union, its Officers and staff will continue to work 24/7 towards researching creative ideas, accepting ideas from members, and fully serving our Union membership while we persevere. Take care of yourselves and your families my friends. Local One “Stay Strong”.

Sincerest regards,

In Solidarity, 

James J. Claffey Jr.
Local One I.A.T.S.E. 

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