Fundamentals still apply for 50-year employee
On a recent Wednesday morning, the Bellmore, Long Island ready room was packed with employees and retirees to honor Joe Mittnight, a native Long Islander who celebrated 50 years of service with the company in December. He is one of only seven employees of more than 14,000 in the US with more than 50 years on the books.
Joe, a working underground foreman, began his career as a “streetman” in Underground Lines Maintenance on December 28, 1964. That’s when a gallon of gas cost .25 cents, first-class postage was .05 cents and The Beatles, The Supremes and The Beach Boys topped the pop charts.
Joe, a quiet, humble man, has a simple philosophy for work. “Just do what you’re getting paid to do,” said Joe, who started at an hourly wage of $2.055. “Do your job every single day. Listen to and do what your boss says.”
If you go about your job like Joe, you can accumulate many superlatives in a 50-year career. Some of his colleagues and supervisors over the years describe Joe with words like gentleman, prepared, meticulous, safe, can-do attitude, knowledgeable, polite, quiet, quality work, mentor … and the list goes on.
“I enjoy the work and the people,” said Joe. “The time went really fast. I never expected anything [the recognition] like this.”
The ready room had snippets from Joe’s performance reviews over the years. The first one he ever received on January 14, 1965, just 17 days after he started, hit the nail on the head. It says, “Joe has only been with me a short time, but shows the makings of a good man with some right kind of help given to him. Wants to learn his job. Does not talk much. Is going back to school (nights) to get ahead as much as possible. Told him to keep up the way he is going. He should make it as a permanent employee.”
New York Jurisdiction President Ken Daly had a more current assessment of Joe’s work. “For 50-plus years, Joe has led us through change and been on the first line to our customers. We couldn’t have grown this business on Long Island without his efforts.”
Joining the celebration were some of Joe’s former, now retired, co-workers. Bob De Marinis, VP of Gas Maintenance and Construction, and a Navy veteran, presented a special commemorative “thank a service member” coin to Joe, who served in the Army from 1966 to 1968. Don Daley, Local 1049’s business manager, also praised Joe’s work ethic and years of service.