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Despite Horrible Weather And A Heavy Downpour, 100 Union Members Take Part In A “We Are One!” Rally In Olean/Wide Variety Of Labor Unions Represented, Working Families Urged To Stand Up & Get Involved To Battle The Attack On Workers’ Rights

Published Wednesday, April 20, 2011 5:00 pm
by Labor Representatives & WNYLaborToday Staff

(OLEAN) – Despite horrible weather and a heavy downpour, 100 Union Members participated in a “We Are One!” Rally that was held in Olean late Tuesday (April 19th) – joining together to protest the attacks on Workers’ Rights and Collective Bargaining across the United States and calling for Working Families across the Southern Tier to stand up and get involved in the battle.

Cattaraugus-Allegany AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Karen Fenner - a Union Member represented by Olean’s United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5429 for the past 13 years, who became the first woman elected president of the Central Labor Council earlier this year, urged “her Brother and Sister Union Members to stay strong and continue the fight for workers” during the hour-long rally that was held in Lincoln Park in Downtown Olean, located on the corner of East State and South Union streets across from City Hall.

Fenner told those who participated in the rally that she was “proud” of the many and diverse Public and Private Sector Unions who made the commitment to get involved, despite the bad weather, and thanked a group of Union Members from the Jamestown AFL-CIO Central Labor Council in Chautauqua County who traveled to Olean to participate in the rally. 

“Today’s crowd includes members of NYSUT (New York State United Teachers), CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association), the Steelworkers, the IAM (International Association of Machinists), the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the CWA (Communications Workers of America), the Sheetmetal Workers and members of the Carpenters Unions,” she rattled off.

David Wilkinson, president of Jamestown-headquartered IBEW Local 106, meanwhile, told WNYLaborToday.com that his Union had 10 members participate in the rally, many of whom are currently employed on the Olean High School Improvement Project. 

Many Union Members held signs that read: “You Can’t Have My Union Rights, I’m Not Done With Them Yet” and “This Is What Democracy Looks Like.”

NYSUT’s Southwestern Region Director David Eggert served as master of ceremonies for the rally, which featured several speakers, including: CSEA Western Region 6 Director Flo Tripi, who traveled from a meeting in Rochester to attend the Olean Rally; Jim McCabe, a retired faculty member of Jamestown Community College’s Olean Campus, former president of the JCC Faculty Association and Executive Board Member of the Cattaraugus-Allegany Labor Council; United Steelworkers District 4 Staff Representative Frank Hotchkiss, who traveled from Buffalo to participate in the rally; Olean Teachers Association President David Lasky; and a representative of the Bolivar Teachers Association.

The speakers told Unionists that that “Unions are the organized voice of Working Americans, whether they belong to Unions or not,” and that the “increasing concentration of wealth in the top one-percent of Americans is a threat to Democracy.”  Subsequently, those who attended the rally began to chant: “This Is What Democracy Looks Like!,” which some Labor Leaders said was an “echo from the demonstrations that have been held in Madison, Wisconsin” where Republican Governor Scott Walker has launched an all-out attack on Workers’ Right and Collective Bargaining.

Prior to the rally, Fenner told WNYLaborToday.com: “We want to let our elected representatives in the City of Olean, as well as in the Cattaraugus County Legislature, know that Organized Labor is standing up for and will fight for the need to create good-paying jobs and to stop the attack on Workers’ Rights that started in Wisconsin and is spreading to other States across the country.  We’re also hoping this rally will work to grab the attention and energize all Working People in the Olean area, as well as throughout Cattaraugus County, and motivate them to get more involved in this fight.” 

The Cattaraugus-Allegany Central Labor Council counts 10 affiliated member Unions that combine to represent 10,000 Union Members across Cattaraugus and Allegany counties in the Southern Tier. 

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