A Tattoo Shop ‘Connection Provides A Pipeline’ For Four Area United Steelworker Locals To Pool Their Resources & Purchase $4,000 Worth Of Rubber Gloves For CWA-Represented Health Care Workers Battling Coronavirus Here In WNY
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Pictured above, United Steelworkers (USW) Representatives deliver 50 boxes of donated rubber gloves to Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1168 here in Western New York, which are being distributed to local Health Care Workers on the Front Lines of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Pictured above, holding up a bag of donations, is: Denise Abbott - CWA Local 1168 Health and Safety Representative and Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President (on the left); and USW Local 6992 President Angelle Gregoire (on the right). From right to left in the back are CWA Local 1168’s Ann Converso and Robert Andrusko, and USW Local 135 President Thomas O’Shei. (Photos Provided To WNYLaborToday.com By USW District 4’s Lisa Husami)
(WESTERN NEW YORK) - A tattoo shop connection provided a pipeline for four area United Steelworker (USW) Locals to purchase $4,000 worth of rubber gloves for Communications Workers of America (CWA)-represented Health Care Workers who are on the front lines battling the Coronavirus crisis here in Western New York.
After learning there was still such a need for the PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) from the CWA in Buffalo, four USW Locals joined together to pool their dollars and purchased the gloves through North Tonawanda’s Kairos Tattoo Supplies, which is owned by Joey Devereaux, who came through in the clutch for his aunt, USW Local 6992 President Angelle Gregoire.
“It was ‘my idea’ and I called (Devereaux),” said Gregoire, whose Local represents Manufacturing Workers at the local DuPont Plant in Tonawanda. “(Kairos Tattoo) is a supplier of the gloves to local tattoo shops ‘and he found a lead on the great number of gloves we wanted.’”
In addition to 50 cases of the rubber gloves that cost $4,000, the USW Locals - Local 6992 at DuPont, Local 135 at the Sumitomo Tire Plant, which is also located in Tonawanda, Local 277 at Goodyear’s Niagara Falls Plant, and Local 763 - which represents Members employed at the American Rock Salt Plant in Mount Morris/Livingston County, purchased 300 Tim Horton Gift Cards valued at $10 each for Health Care Providers working at local hospitals.
“I ‘am always proud to be’ a USW Member, ‘but even more proud of what our Members and Locals have done,’” Gregoire told WNYLaborToday.com. “People in the community ‘just don’t realize how much our Members and Locals do (give back).’ People think that Unions are there ‘just to protect their Members.’ ‘They just don’t understand how much we really do.’”
USW Local 135 President Thomas O’Shei said: “This ‘is what we do and how we do it.’ Our Front-Line Health Care Workers ‘needed help and we found a way (to get it done).’”
“The CWA Members ‘were extremely appreciative’ of the donation,” O’Shei told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper. “(CWA Local 1168 Health and Safety Representative and Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President) Denise Abbott ‘reiterated’ during our (recently-held) Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation meeting ‘how incredible’ Organized Labor ‘has been to our Front Line Health Care Workers throughout this pandemic.’ At that time, (Abbott) ‘had also stressed there were still some facilities in the area in dire need of PPEs.”
Denise Abbott, CWA Local 1168’s Health and Safety Representative - who also serves as Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President, told WNYLaborToday.com: “It was ‘incredible, overwhelming.’ Their vehicle ‘was filled with boxes.’ ‘In a time of such need, Labor always steps in every time there is a call (for help).’ When we opened the boxes, the gloves were the color of black. We asked, ‘Where did they come from?’ ‘Who would have thought to reach out to a tattoo place?’ ‘I wouldn’t have thought that.’ ‘This makes my heart burst.’ For our Labor Brothers and Sisters to do this, ‘we can’t thank them enough.’ ‘They’re helping get us through this god awful time and I am very proud of them.’”
It was USW District 4 Staff Representative Jim Briggs, who also serves as President of the Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, who initially put out word through the USW pipeline for help for the CWA-represented Health Care Workers.
Immediately, he said, the four USW Locals “jumped in” to help.
“It ‘became evident’ that First Responders in hospitals ‘needed help (in securing more PPEs) and (the USW) came up with a plan.’ ‘We do what we can to help - they are our Brothers and Sisters.’ ‘It’s a small part in the grand scheme of what Labor does in our community and Organized Labor is proud of that,’” Briggs told WNYLaborToday.com.
“We ‘all know what they (Front Line/Essential Workers) are going through.’ ‘It’s stressful.’ We ‘don’t want them working if they’re not safe.’ And the USW ‘knows about’ health and safety. ‘We’ve answered the call for our’ Members (who are deemed Essential Workers and are currently working). ‘We’re proud to be part of an organization that does this for our Members and others,’” Briggs said.
As for the donated coffee cards, Briggs added: “It was our way of saying: ‘Relax – this one’s on us.’”
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: The photos that appear with this Labor News Story were taken and provided to Your On-Line Labor Newspaper by USW District 4’s Lisa Husami.