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“‘It’s So Buffalo’” - Second Go-Around At Organized Labor’s Meat Raffle To Benefit The United Way Of Buffalo & Erie County ‘Hopes To Surpass Initial’ $18K Raised To Benefit A Number Of Community Efforts ‘That Also Help Union Workers When In Need’

Published Monday, November 7, 2022
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
“‘It’s So Buffalo’” - Second Go-Around At Organized Labor’s Meat Raffle To Benefit The United Way Of Buffalo & Erie County ‘Hopes To Surpass Initial’ $18K Raised To Benefit A Number Of Community Efforts ‘That Also Help Union Workers When In Need’

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – While there are certainly a number of different fundraising events that Organized Labor and its Member Unions hold throughout the year to raise money for a plethora of worthy causes, it would appear the use of a meat raffle might just do the job.

“‘It’s so Buffalo,’” jokingly answered Julie Cosenza, who serves as a Western New York Representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and who sits on the Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council’s Meat Raffle Committee, when asked by WNYLaborToday.com why a meat raffle?

“‘No doubt,’” added United Steelworkers (USW) Local 135L President Tom O’Shei, who also sits on the committee, “‘Everybody likes a good meat raffle in Buffalo.’”

It will be the second time the Buffalo Labor Council will host a meat raffle to benefit the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County in recent years. 

However, unlike the initial effort held in March 2020 - which was conducted in a Zoom format during the Coronavirus Pandemic, Unionists will physically gather at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9 Union Hall in Suburban Amherst on November 12th to take part in the raffle, as well as take their chances on winning a number of specialized gift baskets and sports memorabilia, including several Buffalo Bills football items.

The effort raised an amazing $18,000 for the United Way last time around to help fund a number of supported area community agencies and organizations whose aim is to help anyone in need across the Buffalo Region, ranging from those who are struggling to make ends meet to educational opportunities to a multitude of children’s and women’s programs.

The joint effort between Organized Labor and the United Way also celebrates the 80th year of partnership between the two that goes all the way back to 1942 and World War I, Chrissy Cassata-Stayoch - who serves as Director of Labor Engagement for the United Way and is the Labor Liaison to the Buffalo Labor Council, tells WNYLaborToday.com.

“Our (first) virtual meat raffle ‘was quite the success,’” she said, adding: “‘And it’s something that’s very popular - a very Buffalo thing.’  This has been something the United Way ‘has been looking to do for quite a while and its fun getting everyone from Labor together.’  And the dollars raised ‘go to help so many, including Working People who are struggling to get by.’  (The United Way) ‘works with our community stakeholders to make an impact and bring about systematic change.’”

A variety of high-quality meats will be up for raffle, all from local Federal Meats, including, but not limited to, filets, shrimp and stuffed pork chops - as well as turkey with stuffing and gravy.

There are currently less than 40 tickets remaining for the raffle event, said the IBEW’s Cosenza, who is optimistic the event will raise even more than the $18,000 it previously raised: “That (first amount) ‘was quite a surprise,’ especially since the event was virtual during COVID.  But Labor ‘always shows up - again, again and again, and shows what it can do for our community.’  ‘I’m optimistic (more can be raised this time around) because it is a win-win for all.’  And the United Way is one of those organizations ‘that helps Labor’ and when our families are on Strike - and the money ‘stays in our community.’”

Said USW Local 135 President O’Shei: “‘Everyone likes a good raffle and we will have tons of gift baskets - the Steelworkers’ Women of Steel group donated fourteen alone and we have a lot of Bills’ stuff too.’  This is ‘important for Labor, because our Members are lucky to be in a Union that provides good wages and benefits.’  ‘It’s also important from the point of fellowship with a bunch of Union people getting together and enjoying their time together.’  ‘We’re also big on the United Way because so many of our Members get help with they need it from this organization.’  ‘This is a great cause and we’re happy to be helping out.’”

Union Sponsors of the meat raffle include: Buffalo Musicians Association-American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 92; the Western New York Council of Communication Workers of America (CWA); CWA Local 1122; CWA Local 1133; CWA Local 1168; International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 14; IBEW Local 41; IBEW Local 1249; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 4; IUPAT District Council 4-Retirees; IUPAT District Council 4 Local 43; Iron Workers Local 6; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Local 71; Teamsters Joint Council 46; Teamsters Local 264; United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 774; and USW District 4.

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