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Organized Labor Described As “Integral Part” Of Annual Variety Kids Telethon In Western New York By Fundraising Group’s Executive Director

Annual Telethon Benefits Buffalo’s Women and Children’s Hospital, Traditionally Raises $1 Million Plus - Two Special Hours Set Aside For Organized Labor ‘To Shine’ From 1 P.M. To 3 P.M. This Sunday

Published Sunday, April 2, 2017 2:00 pm
by WNYLaborToday.com Staff/Updated With New Photos
Organized Labor Described As “Integral Part” Of Annual Variety Kids Telethon In Western New York By Fundraising Group’s Executive Director

(NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK) – The Western New York Labor Movement “fits perfectly into” the theme of Sunday’s 2017 Variety Kids Telethon - Variety is Western New York, whom Richard Goldstein, the fundraising group’s executive director, tells WNYLaborToday.com “has been with us for ‘all fifty-five of our years.’”

The Variety Telethon, now in its 55th year, will be broadcast live from the at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls on Sunday (April 2nd) on Buffalo’s ABC-TV affiliate - WKBW-TV/Channel 7 - from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The telethon is considered to be a Western New York institution that has garnered tremendous support from all sectors of the community - including Labor - since it first started back in 1962.  The funds raised by the telethon support the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and numerous other area children’s charities.

“Labor is an ‘integral part’ (of the telethon).  ‘It’s always been,’” Goldstein told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper this week before Sunday’s telethon.  “And Labor ‘fits perfectly’ with this year’s theme - ‘Variety is Western New York’ - because Labor is a ‘vital part’ to ‘all’ of Western New York - and ‘that’s just the way it is.’  The telethon has been part of the ‘fabric’ of Western New York for the past fifty-five years, ‘as has the Labor Movement.’  And (the Labor Movement) has been with us for ‘all’ of those fifty-five years.”

On Sunday between the hours of 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Western New York Labor Movement will be prominently featured, with local Labor Leaders confident of having the 32 available phones there for taking donations filled with Union Representatives, Variety Kids Telethon Labor Co-Chair and Teamsters Local 264 Business Agent Tony Vaccaro tells WNYLaborToday.com.

“It’s the ‘one major thing we do this year,” Vaccaro said of Labor’s involvement in the telethon.  “We ‘have the opportunity to fill every one of those phones with Labor Representatives’ and ‘we’ve already lined up’ representatives from the Teamsters, the Civil Service Employees Association, the Communications Workers of America, the Painters and the Service Employees International Union.  You ‘won’t be able to miss us,’ we’ll be ‘wearing our Union colors.’  ‘It’s all good stuff.’”

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 774 President Guy Newell (Pictured Below at the Variety Telethon With a Briefcase Full of Donated Money From the UAW), who is also serving as a Labor Co-Chair for the telethon, told WNYLaborToday.com: “All Unions will be ‘pulling together’ and it is ‘nice to get’ Western New York’s Unions ‘pulling together for the same cause.’  ‘That’s what I really like about this.’”

With a tremendous goal of helping sick, handicapped and underprivileged children across Western New York, last year’s Variety Kids Telethon raised $1.01 million.  They year before - during the 53rd annual telethon, $1.13 million was raised.  A portion of telethon funds is awarded to other children’s charities as well, with a total of 25 agencies and programs funded in 2016.  All funds stay local and go directly to the programs and equipment that the region’s kids need most, Variety Officials said.

Traditionally, Organized Labor (Including a Donation Made Today by the Buffalo Teachers Federation/Pictured Above) has been annually involved with the Variety Kids Telethon, “but unfortunately, for many reasons, we’ve seen a ‘steady decline’ in Labor’s participation in this local charity,” Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz said.  “(Labor’s) goal this year was to ‘change that trend.’  The Executive Board of the WNY Area Labor Federation has ‘decided to make expanding Labor’s involvement and profile in the community a major priority and we believe this event provides a wonderful opportunity to do so.’”

Feeling there had been a bit of a disconnect in recent years, WNYALF Representatives got on the same page with Variety Kid Club Telethon Executive Director Goldstein, Board Members and the telethon’s staff, as well as with the two Labor Co-Chairmen in January.

“We discussed the ‘many ways’ our Unions ‘can get involved and fundraise for this cause,’” Lipsitz said.  “(Labor’s) major effort is in the ‘Labor in the Community Fundraising Raffle’ where we’ve been selling raffle tickets (Pictured Below/WNYLaborToday.com Photo) for ($5).  The raffle is for two guitars autographed by (musician) Robby Takac of the (Buffalo-based group) ‘Goo Goo Dolls,’ a personal tour of their recording studios in Buffalo, and a (National Football League) Buffalo Bills Package that includes two suite tickets to a 2017 home game and limo transportation to and from the game.”

Variety Kids Telethon Executive Director Goldstein said the conversation that he and his staff had with Organized Labor in January was a “good one” after he said Labor Leaders told Variety they believed the area’s Unions and their Members “were being left out” and “taken for granted.”

“I told them they were ‘absolutely right’ and that we ‘had to change that,’” Goldstein told WNYLaborToday.com.  “And just like that, it’s ‘unbelievable what I am seeing!’  We’ve already received donations for the telethon of ($1,000) from the UAW Regional Office and another ($500) from Sheet Metal Workers Local 71 here in Buffalo.  It’s ‘been the best.’”

On another front, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 112 Vice President William Mayer (Pictured Below on the TV Screen in the White T-Shirt) - who also serves as a Painters’ Union Delegate to the Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, came up with an idea to create a uniquely laid-out hard hat sticker to raise even more money for the Variety Kids Telethon, which he and others have been selling for the past several weeks.

“The sticker features a ‘different’ version of ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ which marries in the ‘old school’ approach with the ‘new school’ approach,” Mayer explained. 

The 2.5-inch round sticker (Pictured Below) incorporates the word “Labor” with a heart system, the WNYALF’s logo on Rosie’s shirt collar and the Buffalo Labor Council Logo on the bottom, along with the printer’s bug.

“We’ve sold more than (300) of them out on local construction sites at ($2) each and we’ve only got about (250) left from the (2,000) raffle tickets we’ve been selling.  In addition, more than $1,000) in cash was raised for the telethon in the just recently held WNYALF Annual Meeting in late March,” Mayer told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.

“We’ve been getting ‘a lot of positive feedback on the sticker’ and raffle tickets with Union Members saying ‘it was a good idea’ and that it was ‘done Union.’  A lot have donated ‘more than’ the ($2) we were selling the stickers for,” May noted.

WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: There are several ways to donate to the Variety Kids Telethon.  Variety accepts credit card donations over the phone at 716-854-7577 and checks can be directly to: 6114 Broadway in Lancaster, New York - 14086.  On the day of the Telethon, donors can call in to the designated numbers on the television screen to make a credit card or a pledge donation.  Donations can be made on-line at any time through Variety’s web site and a $10 donation can be made by texting VARIETY to 20222.  Credit card donations made by mail, phone or on-line entitle donors to a selection of premium prizes that correspond to six donation categories ranging from $10 to $2,017.  These premium packages are listed on Variety’s web site and will also be shown on the television screen throughout the Telethon.  On another front, Variety is raffling off a 2016 Ford Focus, and the winner will be announced live on the Telethon.  The Telethon will be streamed live on www.wkbw.com.  For more, visit: www.varietybuffalo.org.

 

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