Unions Rally In Dunkirk, Send Message To Chautauqua County & New York State Elected Officials: The Attack On Workers’ Rights “Won’t Be Tolerated And If They Don’t Like What We’re Saying, Then ‘They’ Should Leave Office,” Says One Labor Leader
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: As many as 150 Labor Leaders and Union Members from a variety of Chautauqua County and Western New York Labor Unions and Organizations rallied in Dunkirk late Tuesday to protest the nationwide attack on Workers’ Rights and to send a clear and loud message to elected representatives in the Southern Tier and across New York State that those actions will not be tolerated in New York. A number of speakers underscored the fact there will be a voter backlash at the polls this Fall and told those elected leaders who “don’t like what we’re saying” to leave office. WNYLaborToday.com’s Labor News Video Crew was also at the Dunkirk Rally and Your Regional, On-Line Labor Newspaper will be posting that report in our Featured Labor Video News Cube that appears on the Lower Fold of our Front Page later this week. (WNYLaborToday.com Photo)
(DUNKIRK) – Union Workers rallied in Dunkirk late Tuesday during a public protest over the attack on Workers’ Rights across the U.S. and to send a clear and loud message to lawmakers across Chautauqua County and New York State that “it will not be tolerated” by Working People – warning there will be a backlash this Fall when voters go to the polls.
More than 150 Union Members took part in the rally that was held outside Dunkirk’s City Hall, the third such protest the Chautauqua County Labor Coalition has held since the first of the year across the County. Previous rallies were held in Mayville and Jamestown.
“We have to fight back,” David Wilkinson, Business Manager of Jamestown-headquartered IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 106, told those who attended the rally under sunny skies and warm temperatures. “We will not allow them to steal the ‘American Dream.’ We will not tolerate this anymore. If our (elected leaders) don’t like what we’re saying, then ‘they’ should leave office.”
Paul Schuh, who serves as United Auto Workers Region 9 CAP (Community Action Program and Political) Director, also addressed the crowd, saying: “(Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott) Walker woke up this country. For them to ask you (Public Employees and Teachers) to give up so much is unforgiving. ‘They’ advocate for the wealthy and it’s bankrupted our country. We have to be careful who we elect to office. We have to stand together as Labor and as citizens.”
The rally was jointly sponsored by the Dunkirk AFL-CIO Central Labor Council and the Jamestown AFL-CIO Central Labor Council. Dunkirk Council President Doug Stock presided over the rally and Jamestown Council President Jack Rudy was there to lend this support.
A number of Unions also took participated in the rally, including the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Association of Machinists (IAM), IBEW, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Public Employees Federation (PEF), New York, the Silver Creek Teachers Association, the Southwestern Building & Construction Trades Council, the UAW and United Steelworkers (USW), to name just a few.
Also there to lend their support were Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Jim Briggs, PEF Region 1 Director Kevin Hintz, Western New York AFL-CIO Labor Federation Staff Representative Patty DeVinney, New York State AFL-CIO Regional Representative Angela Blue and Boilermakers Local 7 Business Manager Joe Brown, who traveled down from the Union’s Orchard Park headquarters.
A number of speakers addressed the Union crowd in addition to Wilkinson and Schuh, including CSEA Region 6 Director Roger Sherrie, NYSUT’s Rich Catalano and Andrea Figueroa, among others. In addition, the CSEA’s Rose Conti and Reva Bycznski addressed the Dunkirk City Council individually while the rally continued outside City Hall.
For a couple of the speakers, the message they delivered was also a personal one.
“My sixty-eight-year-old mother still goes to work as a waitress, every day, so she has Health Care coverage and that’s not right,” Wilkinson said. He then ran through a list of School Superintendents’ salaries across Chautauqua County that are in excess of $150,000 – including Jamestown’s superintendent, whose total compensation package is more than $200,000. “School districts are successful because of what Teachers do, not because of administrators who sit and administrate. Teachers deserve every penny they get,” Wilkinson said.
Schuh, who said his wife works as a Public Employee in Monroe County and one of his daughters as a Teachers in the Dunkirk School System, said: “I represent a Private Sector Union and we stand in solidarity with Public Sector Workers. We are being pitted against each other in a ‘race to the bottom.’ We’re being told there’s no ‘other choice’ (but to ask for cutbacks from the Middle Class) because we live in a ‘global economy.’ More than forty-thousand manufacturing sites have been closed in this country. They are gone and they are not coming back. The rich were giving incentives to create jobs and they did – overseas. The Unionized Auto Workers are here today to let you know that we support you (Public Employees).”
Jamestown Teachers Association Vice President Andrea Figueroa told those at the rally that her “Uncle Joe” is a proud member of the CSEA and has worked as a custodian at the State University of New York at Fredonia for the past 34 years. “My Uncle Joe came from Puerto Rico and is one of the hardest-working men I know. He’s proud of his job and proud of the students at Fredonia State. He’s also a homeowner and a taxpayer, and he’s able to support his family because of his good-paying job. But now that’s he’s close to retirement, he’s worried. We need to fight for my Uncle Joe and your uncles and your mothers and fathers and your families because ‘We Are Union!’ and ‘We Are One!'”