My first thoughts after announcing my retirement were to the very beginning of my postal and union career. Some days it seems so long ago (41+ years), and some days it feels like yesterday! My ascension to the Presidency was not the result of many years of working and waiting, rather, a series of comedic occurrences and being in the right place at the right time.
Once I became President, and without a mentor, I let my instincts take over and spent a lot of time with the “trial and error” method. As I look back now, I can’t believe all of the time, effort, and personal (family) sacrifices I expended trying to make Branch 86 a vehicle that the members could believe would address their concerns as they arose.
Consider these numbers:
- Planned and chaired 8 state conventions (as the State NALC President);
- Prepared for, and chaired, over 320 Branch 86 membership meetings;
- Prepared for, and successfully concluded, over 325 local contract negotiations;
- Met with specific Post Office groups in their respective towns over 250 times after-hours;
- Prepared and chaired over 400 Executive Board meetings;
- Prepared for, and conducted over 300 Steward Training Seminars;
- Traveled overnight (and left my family) over 150 times on “union business” ;
- Exclusively prepared and oversaw 36 Branch 86 Retirement Dinners
- Attended over 60 Committee of Presidents meetings in various locations
- Attended between 800-1,000 wakes and funerals of deceased members and immediate family members;
- Visited hundreds of members who were hospitalized;
- Sent hundreds of Branch 86 activists to specialized trainings to improve their skills;
- Attended 17 NALC Biennial national conventions;
- Attended 21 Connecticut State Association conventions;
- Conducted thousands of daily office visits;
- Met with carriers at Bradley Airport assigned to work on Christmas morning 17 years in a row;
- Visited hundreds and hundreds of carriers on their routes to discuss their personal concerns;
- Initiated many middle-of-the-night merger meetings with other Connecticut Branches;
- Attended many (other) Connecticut Branch meetings to share information.
One often wonders if they did enough. While I am more aware of my shortcomings than others, it is only when I look back and consider the above that I allow myself the satisfaction of knowing that I did a lot. l, like very few, can recall where Branch 86 was and where it is now. –I did the very best I could, and I am left to hope that it was enough. –Michael L. Willadsen, President Emeritus