Baker appoints labor pick to MassDOT board

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Written by Andy Metzger

STATE HOUSE — With the recent appointment of former UPS mechanic Russell Gittlen, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors is at full 11-member strength.

Courtesy of Machinists Union Dist. 15

Courtesy of Machinists Union Dist. 15

Gittlen will join the body charged with overseeing the state’s transportation system. The board was expanded through legislation included in the fiscal 2016 budget signed by Baker last month.

Gittlen is the New England Area director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and assistant business manager for Local 447. A former mechanic for United Parcel Service, Gittlen is now charged with negotiating large contracts with major transportation companies in New England.

“With Mr. Gittlen’s appointment, all of the seats on the Board of Directors are now filled with members who bring to the table skillsets that are diverse, experienced, and well-rounded,” said Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “I want to thank Russ for joining the Board and look forward to the full Board engaging in a thoughtful, constructive dialog about how we move our transportation system forward in a way that benefits the Commonwealth’s economy and our quality of life.”

State law provides the governor all of the appointments to the board, while it mandates that he select a labor representative from a list of three nominees provided by the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Gittlen is vice president of the Mass. AFL-CIO Board of Directors.

“I think the governor saw the same thing I saw,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman.

Tolman said he had also nominated Joseph Bonfiglio, who served on the transportation board in the Patrick administration, and Brian Lang, who is now on the board overseeing the T. He said, “I know the governor thought very highly of both of them.”

Tolman said the machinists union has raised millions of dollars to train guide dogs for blind people, and said the union has a “tradition of great leadership.”

“Who else is looking out for the blind the way the machinist union is?” asked Tolman.

Lang, who had been the labor member of the transportation board, has taken a slot on the fiscal and management control board governing the MBTA as the state seeks to right the agency after a troubled winter.

The transportation board is led by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Gittlen will join Dominic Blue, Ruth Bonsignore, Lisa Calise, Dean Mazzarella, Robert Moylan Jr., Steve Poftak, Joseph Sullivan, Betsy Taylor, and Monica Tibbitts-Nutt.

“I am happy to welcome Russ Gittlen to the Board and look forward to his contribution, including his experience in negotiating large contracts with major global transportation companies throughout New England,” said Pollack in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with Russ to address the challenges we have faced in delivering efficient, transportation services throughout the Commonwealth.”

Copyright State House News Service