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Role Labor Plays Recognized As Three WNY Labor Leaders Included In Buffalo’s Business Newspaper’s 2017 ‘Power 250’ List Of The Region’s ‘Most Influential’ People

Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz, Communications Workers Of America District 1 Director Deb Hayes & Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore Ranked 82nd, 119th & 206th, Respectively

Published Friday, April 14, 2017
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Role Labor Plays Recognized As Three WNY Labor Leaders Included In Buffalo’s Business Newspaper’s 2017 ‘Power 250’ List Of The Region’s ‘Most Influential’ People

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – After consistently being ignored for the most part by the mainstream media, not just one, but three representatives of Western New York’s Labor Movement are on Buffalo’s business newspaper’s 2017 list of the region’s 250 Most Influential People.

Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz, Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1 Director Deb Hayes and Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) President Phil Rumore ranked 82nd, 119th and 206th, respectively.

Business First, Buffalo’s weekly business newspaper, “has for the past (33) years observed and covered the people who run Western New York business,” so said Managing Editor Donna Collins.  The list and ranking comes from a newsroom consensus, she said, after three months of research, reporting and debate. 

“We concede there is no formula for computing power and influence,” Collins wrote in the publication that recognizes Buffalo’s Most Influential.  “Influence means different things to different people, but most of us will agree to this: We know power and influence when we see it.  We take into consideration the way a person wields that power.  What matters is they get things done.  We believe (those named to the 2017 list) carry a huge burden of responsibility for the future of Western New York.”

The Power 250 List featured an array of individuals, from Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the National Football League (NFL) Buffalo Bills and the National Hockey League (NHL) Buffalo Sabres – who ranked Number One, to business owners, politicians and CEOs from the Health Care Industry to Banking to Economic Development and Legal, to name just a few.

WNYALF President Lipsitz’s Area Labor Federation - which oversees five individual Central Labor Councils located in Buffalo, Niagara-Orleans, Dunkirk, Jamestown and Cattaraugus-Allegany that combine to represent just under 150,000 Unionized Workers across Western New York, was the highest ranked Union Leader on the list. 

President since 2011, Lipsitz is currently serving his second, three-year term as WNYALF President.  In addition, Lipsitz is the Political Action Adviser for Teamsters Joint Council No. 46 and serves as Vice Chairman of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and Chair of the ECIDA’s Policy Committee, which according to Business First “vets every project and bylaw before going to the agency’s board of directors.”

Lipsitz told WNYLaborToday.com he was somewhat “flabbergasted” by running across his name and photo while paging through the list: “I wasn’t surprised, I was a little flabbergasted.’  Sure, it ‘feels good’ Labor ‘being represented’ (in the list).  ‘I believe it is accurate to say the Labor Movement has a say in public policy more than it did six or seven years ago and that’s fine with me.’  I think this is a ‘belated’ recognition (from the business community) and a ‘fact that (Labor) is now viewed as a policy player’ in our community.  ‘It’s just taken the business community a little more time to understand that.’”

Asked for his response to having three area Labor Leaders on the list, Lipsitz said: “I ‘think it’s appropriate.’  (CWA’s) Debbie Hayes is a ‘voice for those in the Health Care Community’ and her Union ‘represents a lot of Workers’ here in Western New York.  Phil (Rumore) is a ‘fixture.’  He is a ‘serious policymaker’ in the areas of education and economic development in the City of Buffalo.

Hayes - whose CWA District 1 and its Local Unions (1117, 1122, 1133 and 1168) here in Western New York combine to represent 12,000 Workers employed in everything from Health Care to Communications, told WNYLaborToday.com she was “completely shocked” when she was notified that she was on the list.

“All ‘joking aside,’ I am ‘truly honored to be in the company of such individuals,’” she told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.  “I ‘really believe’ this acknowledgement ‘is about the CWA’ and ‘not Deb Hayes.’  I am ‘so proud’ of our Locals that have worked tirelessly for so many goals for our Members - and 2016 was such an ‘incredible year’ for CWA, ‘fighting battles on every front with our Members and Staff, who got the job done (with contract victories at Verizon and Buffalo’s Catholic Health System).’  ‘It says a lot about CWA as an organization.’”

Asked for her response to having three area Labor Leaders on the list, Hayes responded: “I was ‘extremely happy’ to see three representatives from Organized Labor on the list.  Often Labor is ‘perceived as part of the problem and not the solution.’  But ‘we are part of the solution’ when it comes to community issues and ‘especially when it comes to the revitalization’ of the Western New York Region.  The CWA has ‘played such an important role’ in my life and ‘in the lives of the people we represent.’  We have such ‘good’ Members.”

“We are ‘so lucky’ to have (WNYALF President) Richard (Lipsitz) as president of our Labor Federation.  He is ‘such a strong and intelligent’ Labor Leader and ‘he has helped position Labor in a positive light.’  I ‘really do attribute’ to (the many positives that are occurring across the Western New York Labor Community) ‘to Richard and his leadership.’  And I’ve known (BTF President) Phil (Rumore) since 1983 - ‘I have nothing but love and respect for him,’” Hayes added.  

BTF President Rumore, whose Union represents more than 3,600 Teachers and Members employed in the Buffalo School District, was out of town and could not immediately be reached for comment by WNYLaborToday.com.

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