Welcome to Local 983

President Joe Puleo

Telephone Number 212-815-1983
Fax Number 212-815-1727

Brothers and Sisters, Welcome to Local 983's new website!

On our site, you can download forms, contracts and get benefit information, you can look up contact information for union representatives including shop stewards; you can read the latest media covering the hard work of our members and union issues at In The News: To find out what we do and who we represent click on About Us.

You can also learn about up coming meetings on our Calendar page. We’ll also be putting up photos of Union events, both celebrations and struggles in our Events page.

So please go up to the site's navigational bar on top and click away.

We hope the sisters and brothers of our local, as well as visitors interested in who we are and what we do, will find the site both useful and informative. We have tried to make it easy for our members to find your benefit information and forms.

If you ever have any questions or need assistance, feel free to contact the union office. Our number is 212- 815-1983.

The President and the Tow Truck Driver

photo: Pete Souza/White House

Clarence Baugh, who clears a path for all presidential motorcades through New York, has served every president since George H.W. Bush. But until this week, he’d never met one.

The New York cops call him the tow truck driver to the presidents.

 

Published: September 25, 2014

By Michael Daily

The Daily Beast

The President and the Tow Truck Driver

Clarence Baugh, who clears a path for all presidential motorcades through New York, has served every president since George H.W. Bush. But until this week, he’d never met one.

The New York cops call him the tow truck driver to the presidents.

Pete Souza/White House

“In a world in turmoil where the president of the United States is in search of a course of action, one man clears the path ahead, and if there’s anything in the way, he moves it,” an NYPD sergeant said this week. “His name is Clarence Baugh.”

Baugh is the longtime driver of the tow truck in the “sweep team” that precedes all presidential motorcades through New York, ever ready to remove any and all obstructing vehicles.

He is also so manifestly and forthrightly pleasant as to seem like good nature personified, unsoured by his previous assignments hauling away the vehicles of resentful scofflaws in Brooklyn and Queens.

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“He’s a guy, you’d almost want to thank him if he towed your car,” an NYPD commander marveled.

And 49-year-old Baugh’s unfailingly sunny disposition in this troubled cosmos no doubt encouraged the cops to set things right when they discovered a startling fact.

“He has served every president since the first Bush, and he never met one,” another police commander said.

Thanks to the cops, that was about to change when President Obama helicoptered into Lower Manhattan from JFK Airport on Monday morning to begin a four-day visit to New York.

The presidential motorcade was once again preceded by the sweep team, a marked highway unit car followed by an NYPD intelligence division command car and a bomb squad vehicle, and then the new white tow truck that recently replaced the old one that Baugh always kept sparkling, as if it were new.

“Make sure it’s clear,” Baugh said of his mission.

The sweep team and the motorcade soon arrived at the United Nations, where Obama delivered an address about climate change. The next stop was the Sheraton Hotel.

From there, Obama headed for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The sweep team was leading the way when it came upon an unattended red car parked along the route.

The car proved to be an NYPD vehicle, but it still had to be moved. Baugh hopped out and towed it a block away with practiced speed and ease. He had rejoined the team outside the Waldorf at 3 p.m. when he got a call on his cellphone from the Secret Service. He afterward made a happy announcement to an NPYD lieutenant.

“I said, ‘The Secret Service called me. I’m going to meet the president,’” Baugh would recall. “He said, ‘You’re going to meet the president?’ I said, ‘Yes.’”

At 3:30 p.m., the Secret Service called again. A friendly agent escorted Baugh up into the hotel. Baugh was told that he should introduce himself when Obama entered. But he should not hand anything directly to the president and should instead present it to an aide.

Baugh had brought nothing but his remarkable good will, and it was in full gleam for all to see when the president entered. Baugh noted that Obama appeared to be in very good spirits.

“He seemed to be a happy person when he came out,” Baugh later said.

Perhaps Obama was having a good day, despite the campaign against ISIS and the accompanying mess in Iraq and Syria, as well as the continuing troubles in Ukraine and the Ebola epidemic turning endemic in Africa, not to mention various crises and falling polls at home.

Whatever the explanation for his good cheer, Obama no doubt was experiencing the brightening effect that Baugh has on seemingly everybody he meets, from disgruntled scofflaws to hero cops and apparently even the most powerful man on Earth.

“When people see me, they see my personality and right away they say, ‘You’re a nice guy,’” Baugh later allowed when asked about his encounters with others.

“Be polite, be respectful. Even though you’re going to have people who are rude to you, always stay polite, stay respectful.”

Obama seemed to Baugh to be a very nice guy himself.

“He said, ‘Oh, I see all your medals,’” Baugh recalled.

Obama was apparently making reference to the unit pins that Baugh wears in his uniform shirt and to the ribbons from several decorations above his badge, these including a black one bearing the letters “WTC.”

That stands for World Trade Center. Baugh responded after the first attack there in 1993 and helped tow wrecked cars from the bombed garage. But the WTC ribbon is from the attack on 9/11, which saw Baugh race to the scene after the first plane struck.

He was helping to evacuate people from the stricken North Tower when the second plane hit. He got back in his truck and had just started it up when the South Tower came down, the roiling cloud of debris pursuing him as he drove away. He circled around to the North Tower and saw what he at first took to be clothing tossed from the flaming heights.

He then realized it was not clothing but people jumping. He could do nothing but watch in horror until that tower also came down.

More recently, Baugh headed out in his truck to do what he could when Hurricane Sandy struck the city. And he has remained perpetually ready for whatever else might arise, keeping his truck as sparkling as his persona.

“Wash it, wax it,” Baugh says of the truck. “You never know what it’s going to have to do.”

District Council 37 : DC 37

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