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"‘(They) ‘Should Be Seen As The Engine That Keeps The University Gears Moving In The Right Direction’” - CSEA Members At The University Of Buffalo ‘Deliver Stability During Uncertain Times’

Published Friday, November 20, 2020
by Ove Overmyer/CSEA Western Region Six News

(AMHERST, NEW YORK) - Often unseen and undervalued, Trade Specialists who work at the sprawling campuses at the University at Buffalo (UB) truly embody what it means to be essential.

“The way all our University Employees go about their workday, especially our Tradesmen, ‘is way above and beyond industry standards,’” said Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) University at Buffalo Local President Angie Zitto. “This ‘has become increasingly more apparent to me since COVID-19 became part of our working world.’”

More than 1,000 CSEA Members are employed at the university, including Tradesmen, Custodians, Sterile Supply Technicians, Senior Lab Animal Caretakers and Clerical Staff.

Zitto said UB’s Facilities Department, made up of Professional Electricians, Carpenters, Locksmiths and others, have taken their service to another level during these uncertain times.

“They ‘don’t get a ton to credit for the extraordinary work they do,’” Zitto said. “They ‘often remedy orders in the morning before everyone gets to campus.’ The Facilities and Maintenance Crews ‘should be seen as the engine that keeps the university gears moving in the right direction.’”

Zitto said it is common knowledge around the university that Trade Supervisor and CSEA Member Ed Heckt is fiercely committed and laser focused on making sure his team, the students and the entire academic community they serve remain a top priority - every day.

And it’s also well-known that Heckt, who also serves as CSEA University at Buffalo’s Local 3rd Vice President, is quick to deflect any credit of his own work to shine a bright light on the labor of the CSEA Members he supervises.

“Even though we are ‘short staffed, everyone in our department has really stepped up their game here at the university,’” Heckt said. “Rotating schedules and ‘demanding’ work orders ‘haven’t slowed us down’ during the pandemic.  Our crew ‘doesn’t think twice about showing up and getting the job done every time.’  ‘I’m very proud of the work we do.’  ‘It’s truly a team effort.’”

Glen Waszkielewicz, a Licensed Carpenter by trade, says being employed at the university is a “great job” after working more than 20 years in the private sector.

“I ‘really love working here,’” Waszkielewicz said. “We ‘get to use our problem-solving skills and the crew is like family to me.’”

Zitto said the steadiness and strength of the Facilities Department is reassuring to the UB community.

“We are ‘very lucky to have such dedicated and talented people working here,’” Zitto said. “They ‘genuinely personify what it means to be professional.’”

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