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Sunday Labor Column: It Didn’t Take The Buffalo News Long To Go After New Erie County Exec-Elect Poloncarz’s Labor Support, As Well As Take A Big Shot At Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore & Boo Hoo - Collins Says It “Wasn’t Fair”

Published Sunday, November 13, 2011 11:00 pm
by Tom Campbell/Editor-Publisher
Sunday Labor Column: It Didn’t Take The Buffalo News Long To Go After New Erie County Exec-Elect Poloncarz’s Labor Support, As Well As Take A Big Shot At Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore & Boo Hoo - Collins Says It “Wasn’t Fair”

News, Notes & A Bunch Of Observations Made While Covering The Western New York Labor Community Over The Past Several Days, Including A Look Back At Election Day 2011:

To no one’s surprise across the Western New York Labor Community, The Buffalo News just couldn’t wait.  Less than 48 hours after Democrat and Labor-Endorsed Mark Poloncarz celebrated his victory over incumbent Republican, anti-Worker/anti-Union Erie County Executive Chris Collins, The News took its first official, post-campaign shot at Erie County Exec-Elect Poloncarz’s support from Organized Labor in the just-ended election.  Labor support of Poloncarz poses question read the headline in The News on Thursday.  Wrote Reporter Denise Jewel Gee: As the county comptroller prepares to move into the county executive's office in January, he will face the question: What do these unions want?  While not totally unexpected, The News wasted no time continuing its mission of negatively branding Labor by asking a question that seems to have been asked by The News itself.  Typically, the story drew a number of reader responses from anyone who has an axe to grind against Organized Labor or who was devastated that their candidate - Collins - had lost a race to a candidate who didn’t have the kind of large campaign war chest that he enjoyed.  Looking back, it’s interesting how The News continues to bash Labor Unions and its Members every chance it gets, even though The News itself is Union-Represented.  And how interesting the story came out just a day before The News reached a tentative agreement on a new, two-year contract with The Buffalo Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 31026 (See BREAKING LABOR NEWS: Buffalo Newspaper Guild/CWA Local 31026 Reaches Tentative, Two-Year Agreement With The Buffalo News, Union Representatives Call New Agreement A “Good Contract,” Ratification Vote Scheduled To Be Held Wednesday).  In the end, it was just another opportunity for the powers to be at The News to take a shot at Organized Labor, no matter that Collins never gave Organized Labor the time of day or attempted to fairly negotiate with a multitude of County Unions on new contracts during his time in elected office.  In fact, Collins couldn’t wait to blame Organized Labor for anything and everything in the Erie County Executive’s Race that didn’t go his way.  Like his protégé, Jane Corwin – who lost her Republican run for the 26th U.S. Congressional District Seat to Democrat/Union-Endorsed Candidate Kathy Hochul, Collins was – and still is – so out of touch with Working People that he couldn’t quite comprehend the fact that he had indeed lost.  “Things didn't work out.  Sometimes life isn't fair,” Collins was quoted as saying in a story that also appeared in The News.  “I just can't imagine what else we could have done in this campaign.  The public has spoken.  I don't quite know what to make of that, but they did."  Well, Boo Hoo Chris!  Thankfully, enough voters across Erie County had it with the wealthy Clarence businessman who “ran Erie County like a business,” but who was so polarizing, caustic and vindictive that, in the end, he was his own worst enemy.  Looking forward, Poloncarz will fill a void that Collins never could.  His working roots background will help him deal fairly with County Unions, something Collins never was interested in doing, and Poloncarz will work with Union Leaders on new contracts that are fair for both sides.  In the end, trumped-up questions that serve as the impetus for bogus news stories by Buffalo’s only daily newspaper ultimately help to reinforce negative stereotypes in the community and that does no one good.  This is yet another reason to visit WNYLaborToday.com several times a week to find out what’s really going on in the Western New York Labor Community, including positive stories involving Labor and Management working together to bring about common good.

 

And speaking of bashing Labor Unions and their Leaders, The News was at it again today (Sunday, November 13th) when it ran an extremely unflattering Front Page photo and subsequent story on Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) President Phil Rumore, who was blamed for every ill when it comes to Buffalo’s Public School System.  Again, the story amounts to yet another broken record on how The News reports on Organized Labor.  Let me say that I’ve known Phil Rumore for a great number of years and anyone who really knows Phil Rumore knows he’s dedicated to the BTF Membership.  In short, Phil continues to put his money and commitment where his mouth is.  He’s willing to stand up for them, time and time again, including going to jail when Teachers took a stand and went out on strike several years ago.  Like him or not, Phil Rumore does his job well and the story that appeared in The News unfairly painted him as a Labor Leader whose time has passed him by.  The News also loaded its story with quotes from a number of unidentified individuals and some from those who had been unsuccessful in their runs for elected BTF/Union Office in the past.  Again, what else should anyone in the Western New York Labor Community expect in a one-newspaper town?  As WNYLaborToday.com has stated time and time again, if Organized Labor is to truly get its own message out and get it out unimpeded, it must have its own media outlets to communicate not only to its Members, but the general community, the business community and the elected community.  Depending on such mainstream media outlets as The News for any kind of fair and/or positive coverage on Organized Labor does not fall into the realm of reality.  Mainstream media outlets like The News are only interested in stories that involve pickets, strikes or worse yet, indictments.  Quite frankly, they’re not interested in getting Labor’s side of the story.  It’s become easier for them to just paint Labor as the bad guy.  With that said, it’s time for Labor to forget about The News and other mainstream media outlets that do so and look to grow its own, like Your Regional, On-Line Labor Newspaper, because it truly is the only way to combat the negative news reporting like The News continues to offers its readers, both in print and on-line.

 

And speaking of the mainstream media and non-friends of Organized Labor, it was quite an interesting piece by Business First Reporter Jim Fink, who was down at Republican Headquarters on Election Night to get the skinny on the Collins loss.  Here’s some of what Fink had to report for Buffalo’s weekly business newspaper: Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz pulled off the second major Democratic Party upset victory in the past six months as he ousted incumbent Chris Collins, his Republican challenger, in a bitter campaign for Erie County Executive.  Poloncarz, with over 90 percent of the votes tabulated had 53 percent of the vote to Collins’ 47 percent.  Collins conceded the race, but did not personally call the County Executive-elect.  Poloncarz, who came from blue-collar, working-class roots in Lackawanna while working his way through law school, will be inaugurated on January 1st.  The Poloncarz victory comes after a Collins-backed candidate, State Senator Jane Corwin, a Republican, lost to then-Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, a Democratic, in a special election in May for U.S. Representative Chris Lee’s former Congressional seat.  Lee’s seat is a heavily Republican district.  Poloncarz was considered a long-shot candidate when he entered the county executive race this spring.  His message of returning previously cut county services and allocations resonated with voters.  A poll released by Siena Research Institute last month showed the gap between the two narrowing until they pair were statistically tied last week.  Poloncarz received major backing from many labor unions and high-profile Democrats like Governor Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and U.S. Representative Brian Higgins.  Collins becomes the first county executive to only hold his position for a single four-year term.  It also returns the politically-strong post to the Democratic Party for the first time since 2000.  At Republican Party headquarters, it was a quiet scene with a heavy tinge of bitterness in the air.  “I just don’t think Chris was able to fully get his message out,” said John Mills, an Orchard Park businessman who is also Republican minority caucus chair of the Erie County Legislature. “Poloncarz was able to get all the negatives out.”  Former National Fuel Gas chairman and current Erie County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Chairman Phil Ackerman, a close Collins confidante, said he felt the voters didn’t appreciate Collins no-nonsense, business-like approach to running $1 billion a year county government.  “The loss is probably a symbol that the majority of voters still want hand-outs,” Ackerman said.  Can you believe Ackerman’s comment? - The loss is probably a symbol that the majority of voters still want hand-outs.  Ackerman is a grand example of the 1% in this country who not only need to pay their fair share in taxes, but should be targeted by the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  He – not the majority of voters – has not only gotten taxpayer hand-outs, but personally helped give them out via the Erie County IDA to businesses that fail to create good paying jobs (See WNYLaborToday.com’s Labor News Report: Using A Northtown Lexus Dealership That Received Taxpayer Dollars From An Industrial Development Agency To Move Its Business From One Side Of The Street To The Other In Suburban Buffalo, Area Activists Join Organized Labor In Calling For IDA Reforms).  Ackerman is a classic example of  what’s wrong here in Erie County and across Western New York.  Ackerman – like Collins - is yet another wealthy individual in power who’s so out of touch with the populace that his comment was more than insulting.  Ackerman should be singled out as yet another local poster child for what’s really wrong with Western New York - not the majority of voters - who’ve now awoken from a prolonged period of non-involvement and sent yet another strong message last week to the Republican Party, those elected officials and the wealthy who pull their strings – No More!  Hey Phil, one last thing - I wanted to know, did you hear them?

 

On another related note, and as a reminder - there’s much discussion occurring on the Internet and on the Social Networks for Working People not to work or shop the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally known as Black Friday – the number one day for retailers across the U.S.  De-Occupy Black Friday ’11 is the call that’s also gone out for a national and general strike.  Americans are being asked to refuse to work the day after Thanksgiving and to say “no” to Corporate Greed by refusing to shop.  Just think about it – a Black Friday that would be really black!  What a message that would send to the 1%!  This call is just one of many that are being made for Working Americans to take part in a national strike.  And with things going the way they’re going, a real and prolonged national strike just might become reality in the not too distant future.  That’s how bad things have gotten and it just might be a tactic that will not only show the 1% that the 99% mean business, but allow the so-called Millionaires Tax to become reality.

 

And finally - WNYLaborToday.com would like our Viewers/Readers to know that there’s still time to take part in this year’s Labor’s Day for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive/Bell Ringers Day up in Niagara County, which is set for this Saturday (November 19th).  The Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council is asking those interested to give two hours of your time at specified location to collect much needed monies to assist families in the Niagara County area through Salvation Army-Sponsored Programs.  The dollars collected will go to support Christmas baskets filled with food and toys for needy families, as well as other items to bring the joy of Christmas to them.  This annual Red Kettle appeal at Thanksgiving and Christmas is the Salvation Army’s one major appeal of the year.  With a great turnout, it will be a success again this year.  The Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Council is looking for volunteers to fill four store locations across Niagara County.  It’s a great way to represent your Union Local, the Labor Movement and to give back to our communities that we all live and work in.  Any Union Local interested in getting involved should contact Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council/United Way of Niagara Labor Liaison Bill Jakobi at 716-285-8461/716-434-1190 or via e-mail at bill@uwgn.org ASAP so we can start filling in the time slots for all locations.  Your cooperation and involvement is greatly appreciated!  And don’t forget to show your Union Colors and Logo when you participate.  Show your pride of being a Union Member who has made a decision giving back to the communities where you live and work!

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