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A Look Back At The 2018 Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Labor Council’s Awards Dinner: Keynote Speaker Says The Labor Movement ‘Serves As The Backbone Of Organized Resistance’ To The Right Wing’s Anti-Worker Initiatives

WNY Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz Says Labor Unions & Their Members Are “The ‘Guardians’ Of A System That Provides All The ‘Real Guarantees To A Decent Standard Of Living And Safe And Regulated Workplaces.’”

Published Sunday, January 21, 2018
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
A Look Back At The 2018 Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Labor Council’s Awards Dinner: Keynote Speaker Says The Labor Movement ‘Serves As The Backbone Of Organized Resistance’ To The Right Wing’s Anti-Worker Initiatives

WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: The Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council held its Annual Awards Dinner last week at the Lewiston Fire Hall on Saunders Settlement Road in Niagara Falls, where more than 130 area Union Leaders, Labor Representatives, Elected Officials and Friends of Labor gathered to honor the Labor Movement and its Award Winners.  Pictured above, from left to right are: Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Labor Council/United Way of Greater Niagara Labor Liaison Bill Jakobi; Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Labor Council President Jim Briggs; Union Champions at Work Award Winner Darla Bubar of Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers Association Local 115; Earl A. Frampton Community Services Award Winner Amanda Irons-Rindfleisch of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department/United Steelworkers Local 2001; and Niagara County Building & Construction Trades President Paul Brown, who accepted the Labor Council’s President’s Award on behalf of the many individual Building Trades Unions across Niagara County.  (WNYLaborToday.com Photos)

 

(NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK) – As it continues to battle the many attacks that seemingly just keep on coming, Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz – who served as the keynote speaker during last week’s Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council’s Annual Awards Dinner – told those in attendance the Labor Movement “serves as the ‘backbone of organized resistance’” to the Right Wing’s Anti-Worker initiatives.                                 

The Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council’s 2018 Annual Awards Dinner was held at the Lewiston Fire Hall on Saunders Settlement Road in Niagara Falls, where more than 130 area Union Leaders, Labor Representatives, Elected Officials and Friends of Labor gathered to honor the Labor Movement and its Award Winners. 

Lipsitz said Labor Unions and their Members are “the ‘guardians’ of a system that provides all the ‘real guarantees to a decent standard of living and safe and regulated workplaces.’”

“When ‘you stop and think about it, how could it be any different?’  We participate in ‘unique’ work.  ‘No one in society represents Working People in their economic and social struggles like Labor Unions do.’  ‘No organizations have as their core mission the defense of the living standards and working conditions of ordinary people.’  Collective bargaining and self-organization ‘form the basis’ of Labor Relations in our country.  It is this system that provides all the ‘real guarantees’ to a ‘decent standard of living and safe and regulated workplaces. We are the guardians of this system,’” Lipsitz said.

“And this system and the standard of living ‘we can guarantee for millions of people is under a grave attack.’  This attack ‘didn’t start under the current administration and it won’t end with the overthrow’ of (Republican President) Donald Trump – ‘however that comes to pass.’  Our Labor Movement ‘forms the bulwark and the backbone of the organized resistance’ to the Anti-Worker programs of the Right Wing.  ‘We are in a fight with rapacious, greedy companies, the politicians who support them and with the entire Right Wing Media.’  The ‘main spokesperson of this offensive is the President of the United States.’  ‘Nothing proves this more than the obscene’ Tax Reform Bill that was passed into law in late December.  ‘More is to come, and it may happen at the Federal level, the State level and in the courts’ - considering Janus versus AFSCME,” Lipsitz continued.

“Now, (Niagara-Orleans Labor Council President) Jim (Briggs) asked me to speak to you about these issues, ‘but I don’t think he wants me to scare the wits out of anyone, either.’  So, let me be ‘very clear.’  ‘We can fight, we will fight and we can win.’  ‘Nothing is inevitable, nothing is pre-determined and we have significant forces at our disposal.’  ‘If you leave this dinner with only one thought, let it be that those things that unite us far outweigh those things that divide us.’ ‘Let us join together in the battles yet to come,’” he said.

Niagara-Orleans Council President Jim Briggs told those in attendance that “while it was a difficult year,” it is imperative Organized Labor remind and re-educate its Members as to what Unions do for them: “So many ask, ‘What does my Union do for me?’  ‘They don’t know what their Unions do for them.’  ‘We’ve also got to get more people involved in this fight.’  ‘It’s not just a Union fight.’  ‘We need to change the direction and mindset’ - it’s a ‘people’s’ fight.”

As he’s done so consistently in the past when he speaks publicly, Briggs also focused the spotlight on Working People putting pressure on the New York Power Authority to play a heightened role and do more for those who work, live and raise their families in Niagara County: “How can they ‘not’ help us out?  They sent ‘big money’ to help build Buffalo’s waterfront ‘and I wish they could that here.’  ‘I’m done putting up with the b.s.’  ‘We have to get it done.’  ‘We have to start looking at ourselves in the mirror.’”

Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Labor Council/United Way of Greater Niagara Labor Liaison Bill Jakobi, who served as master of ceremonies, also echoed what both Lipsitz and Briggs hammered on - the need to get more Unionists informed, educated and involved on the issues that impact them most: “We ‘need to create a conversation in the workplace’ and ‘that may be a way to get Union Members to come to their Unions’ meetings and Council meetings.’  ‘We’re not fighting the fight for us - it’s for the next generation, our kids.’  ‘We have to educate and motivate our Members because there’s a lot of work ahead of us.’”

Union Champions at Work Award Winner Darla Bubar, President of the Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers Association Local 115, a New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Affiliate, said she was “humbled and honored” in accepting the award.  She praised her Union’s Membership who she said have “stood together to ‘make a positive difference in our county – never giving up and united through our solidarity.’”  “We ‘fight for the entire’ Working Class,” Bubar said.

Earl Frampton, the former Niagara-Orleans Labor Council/United Way of Greater Niagara Labor Liaison who’s been an area Labor Activist for 50 years, presented Amanda Irons-Rindfleisch of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department/United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2001 with the Earl A. Frampton Community Services Award.  Said Irons-Rindfleisch: “I’ve been ‘welcomed with open arms’ by this Labor Council and ‘have been so excited to be (part of the Council).’  I am ‘so glad that you all want me on your team.’”  “If we had more Union Jobs we could solve so many more social problems,” she added.

Niagara County Building & Construction Trades President Paul Brown, who accepted the Labor Council’s President’s Award on behalf of the many individual Building Trades Unions across Niagara County, thanked Council President Briggs for his complimentary words on the work so many of the Trades donated to repair and upgrade the Council’s Workers’ Memorial in Reservoir Park in Niagara Falls.

“This award is given yearly to a group of people ‘who go above and beyond.’  I want to ‘thank’ the Building Trades Unions, under the leadership of Paul Brown, ‘for everything they’ve done.’  And it’s ‘important for all of us’ to help monitor local worksites, ‘because it is easy to pick out’ Non-Union contracts and Workers who may be on the job.  ‘We need to put our Union Brother and Sisters in the Building trades to work,’” Briggs said.

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