September 8, 2016
By WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Upstate, New York – From Buffalo to Youngstown (in Niagara County, New York) to Rochester and Syracuse, Organized Labor basked in the sunshine of their Labor Day 2016 Parades across Upstate New York, which allowed Union Leaders and Members to underscore their many victories over the past 12 months and to, once again, remember the sacrifices made by generations of Workers who’ve come before to bring about fair wages, benefits and better workplace conditions.
From Rochester & Genesee Valley AFL-CIO Labor Federation (RGVALF) President Dan Maloney reminding those who took part in the Flower City’s Labor Parade that Organized Labor is the “only one left with the strength to fight back” to Syracuse AFL-CIO Labor Council President Dr. David Nave’s call for Unions and their Members to continue the fight to stop unfair trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement, Labor basked in the glow of a day forged by Workers, for Workers.
In Buffalo, Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz pointed out and celebrated a number of Labor victories, including the Communications Workers of America (CWA)/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) new contract win during a high-profile battle over the Summer with Verizon that had nearly 40,000 Workers out on Strike up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and the just recently-concluded CWA health care victory in Buffalo with a new contract involving the Catholic Health System.
“Labor Day is a holiday to ‘celebrate the achievements’ of the American Working Class,” Lipsitz said. “It is the ‘one day a year’ when the Working People are ‘celebrated for the role they play’ in the ‘day-to-day life’ of society. Workers truly ‘create all the wealth’ – ‘every stitch’ of clothing, ‘method’ of transportation, ‘morsel’ of food, all the houses and apartments in which we live are as the ‘result’ of ‘human labor.’ This is a ‘truism we should never forget.’”
With that said, Lipsitz publicly pledged Labor’s support in a pre-parade news conference in order to assist Amalgamated Transit Union’s (ATU) Local 1342 in its fight for a fair contract with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA): “It’s been seven and a half years that Local 1342 (which represents 1,100 NFTA Employees, including Bus Drivers and Mechanics) has been without a contract. We ‘intend to help them and do everything we can do’ to get them a ‘fair’ contract – and in the ‘not too distant future.’”
ATU Local 1342 President Vince Crehan also spoke, telling those at the news conference: “The NFTA is ‘not paying a competitive wage rate.’ Our Members are ‘underpaid,’ while the NFTA ‘randomly decides’ to cut bus routes. We are back at the negotiating table on (Thursday, September 8th) and we are ‘hopeful’ (we can bargain) a fair contact that ‘all can live with.’”
While a variety of Western New York Unions were represented, the CWA, Teamsters, United Auto Workers (USW), the United Steelworkers (USW) and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) had very large contingents marching in the Buffalo parade. There were even some live Union llamas wearing Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) kerchiefs around their necks as they marched down Abbott Road.