Next week, on August 16, at the NYS AFL-CIO C.O.P.E. Convention in New York City,0rganized labor will be making final endorsements for candidates running in this fall’s elections. The NYS AFL-CIO represents 2.5 million Union members and their families, and as such we are one of the most significant voting blocs at the state and federal level.
The Convention is the culmination of a grassroots process which many of our members might not be fully familiar with. When you read “Endorsed by the NYS AFL-CIO” on campaign literature, this is how it happens.
Each of the six Central Labor Councils (CLC”s) who make up the Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO’s (CNY ALF), is charged with interviewing all Central New York candidates for local, state or federal office who have sought Labor’s endorsement. Labor Council delegates, representing their member locals, question candidates about their views on organized labor’s issues.
Next, the entire CLC discusses and votes whether to recommend a candidate for the AFL-CIO endorsement. The agreed upon list is then forwarded to the CNY Area Labor Federation for review by the Executive Board. After discussion, a vote is taken, and the final list of regional recommendations is sent to NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.
The NYS AFL-CIO Executive Board discusses the choices received and votes on a final list of recommendations. This is sent to the C.O.P.E convention floor, where delegates gather from around the State. The convention delegates openly review, discuss, and debate the merits of each candidate before voting on who will ultimately receive the NYS AFL-CIO’s endorsement.
At each step of the way, a candidate must receive a two-thirds approval for his or her nomination to move forward. It is in this way that we can be sure that elected officials who hold the interests of working people at heart occupy these important positions. So please, get involved! Always attend your own Union’s meetings - that is where the process truly begins, at the most grassroots level.
This year, the Statewide NYS AFL-CIO Executive Board made early endorsements of a number of incumbents for statewide office. Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, as well as Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado will carry the banner of organized labor into the fall voting. If you want to be a part of this process and be a volunteer who helps get the AFL-CIO endorsed candidates elected, please call the Central New York Area Labor Federation to ask how you can make a difference!
On June 28th union voters across New York came out strongly to support the NYS AFL-CIO endorsed candidates Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Delgado in the statewide primary elections. We are proud to stand next to Governor Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Delgado as they begin their campaign to win on November 8th and lead our state for the next four years.
Look around, Central New York is booming! Construction everywhere, roads being repaired, new companies springing up, organizing in Starbucks and other marquis companies is spreading like wildfire. It is vital that if Organized Labor is going to continue to grow with the economy and keep wages in pace with profits, that we work together to nominate and elect enlightened, pro-labor officials who will determine whether Organized Labor has a level playing field on which workers can organize and grow the movement. Without organizing, those of us already working under a Union contract will find it harder and harder to maintain fair wages and benefits.
Thank you to all who turned out to vote in last Tuesday’s primary or who carried petitions for candidates, or who volunteered to walk door to door on these crucial campaigns.
As always there is still more work to be done to shape this region’s political future for all workers. Due to the redistricting, there will be a second NYS primary on August 23rd 2022, to pick the Congressional and State Senate candidates. Volunteers are needed to work to Vote all of the NYS AFL-CIO candidates into office on November 8th.
The momentum is on our side. Let’s keep it up! Contact the Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO to learn how you can get involved in making a difference!
Voting Rights and MLK
Politics matters to working people – that’s why your union works so hard to promote access to voting and to encourage at members to speak up, act up, and vote.
Look at what happened at the second Starbucks in Buffalo where the staff recently voted to organize a union. Workers at that store had won the vote of eligible employees, but the company brought in workers from other stores tipped the balance against us. The case went to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last year at this time that would have been a waste of time.
But this NLRB, with four new members appointed by President Biden replacing Trump appointees, saw through the charade and ruled that the workers had won the right to form a union. Now Starbucks has to engage in negotiations with their workers.
That would never have happened without the efforts we made in 2020 to support candidates who support unions and working people. The NLRB is also taking an aggressive stance on the “gig” economy, promising to give Lyft and Uber drivers, and other so called “independent contractors” the right to organize.
In just one year, the panorama for all of us in the union movement has changed dramatically for the better. These victories remind us that we can never let up in our determination to support public officials who recognize the rights of workers.
This is why we feel the urgency to defend the right to vote. We’ve seen attacks by the right wing to limit access to the ballot. We have seen the Supreme Court limit the protections offered by the Voting Rights Act. As our nation gets ready to commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it’s time to double down on our commitment to make the vote even more accessible by passing meaningful voting rights legislation.
It makes a difference. Your voice matters.
This is the season of light. But it’s never one light. It’s a string of lights on a Christmas tree. It’s a Menorah, a row of candles that refuse to go out. It is the lighting and relighting of the candles on the Kinara for the feast of Kwanzaa, beginning each night with the black candle that stands for unity (umoia).
It’s never one light that drives away the darkness or the fear. It is the power of the light we make together as we toil, we are lights to one another.
The bold Buffalo baristers who stood up to their employer and voted, forcing the Starbucks mega chain to recognize their Union; they are lights to all of us. The hundreds of mine workers who rode all night from their Alabama picket line to Wall Street to protest at the front door of the financial firm that controls their employer, the Warrior Met Coal Mine; they are lights to us. The dedicated teachers, food servers, nurses, police, firemen, retail clerks, EMT’s, nursing home and hospital staff, the bus drivers, garbage collectors and all the front-line workers who get up every day to face an ever changing workplace proudly state the nobility of work and every worker with each flicker of their light.
Whichever light you are, know that your union brothers and sisters stand with you. Even when it seems darkest, we are there for one another.
My wish for you and your loved ones is that you get to enjoy a peaceful and healthy holiday season. And if you are a frontline, essential worker we stand with you and hope that you too can take some time to refresh as we continue to engage in our common struggles this New Year. The multitude of diverse lights that constitute Organized Labor will always shine clear the path that our voices follow into one loud roar!
Ann Marie Taliercio. President
Kenny Greenleaf-CSEA , Executive Vice President
Michael Dems-IUPAT District Council 4, Treasurer
Tim BeVard-IBT 317, Recording Secretary
Executive Board Members:
Office of Vice President-Phil Cleary, NYSUT
Office of Vice President-Chris Colabello, NYSUT
Office of Vice President-Gina Corona, PEF
Office of Vice President-Jim Jackson, CSEA
Office of Vice President-Kevin Lockhart, 1199SEIU
Office of Vice President-Alan Marzullo, IBEW 43
Office of Vice President-Dave Scalisi, OPEIU
Central Labor Council Presidents:
Mark Spadafore-1199SEIU, President Greater Syracuse Labor Council
Casey Walpole-CSEA, President of the Oswego Labor Council
Charlie Randal-IBEW 840, President of the Cayuga Labor Council
Tom Hingher-CSEA, President of the Midstate Labor Council
Tim Backus-CSEA, President of the Tri County Labor Council
Phillip Shannahan, SMART 112, President of the Broome-Tioga County Labor Council
Bill Spreter-NYSUT, President of the NYS Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans
Greg Lancette, President of the CNNY Building Trades
King Davis, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)
Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Wins for Kellogg's workers - Amazon next?
Two big wins for organized labor this past week. After two months on the picket line members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union won a new contract with Kellogg corporation.
Workers at all four Kellogg plants had been working up to 80 hours weekly during the pandemic to keep those Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops on our breakfast tables.
In spite of that sacrifice, the company tried to cut pensions and reduce pay for newly hired workers. But with the unity that is our trademark, the workers struck, and the workers prevailed. A new contract with a 3% raise will be voted on this weekend.
In Alabama, Amazon workers are celebrating a regional NLRB decision to overturn the election earlier this year due to heavy handed intimidation tactics at the Bessemer facility. That drive is being organized by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
If the National NLRB affirms the call made by the Regional Director, those workers at the nation’s second largest employer will once again have the opportunity to vote for union representation.
Meanwhile, here in Central New York the timeline for hiring Amazon’s monster facility in Clay seems to have slowed. The company is focused on fighting back against a worker organizing effort on Staten Island, just four hours south of us. Workers at four facilities there are organizing under their own banner, the United Amazon workers.
Amazon burns out its workforce through speedups. They have the highest turnover rate in the industry. Workers do not receive pay for leaves they have earned, injury rates are the highest in the warehouse industry, and the company is committed to destroying efforts to organize. Read these recent New York Times story about how loyal Amazon workers are betrayed by their company.
These are just a few examples of how Amazon fails the workers who have made Jeff Bezos rich enough to fly into space.
And what are we going to do when these practices show up in our backyard?
On Staten Island the effort to protect workers is led by the Amazon Workers Union, an independent union outside the structure of the AFL-CIO. We should be paying attention to their efforts and supporting them. Who will be the ones to step up to organize this vast new labor force of the future? Amazon is hiring hundreds of thousands of workers – many of them in our backyard. Will our organizations rise to the occasion? The workers on Staten Island have shown that they will not tolerate Amazon’s abuses. They will organize to defend their rights. They shouldn’t have to go it alone. This is Labor’s biggest challenge going into 2022. I say we take it on with both hands.
Ann Marie Taliercio
CNY Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Many news reports are calling it “Striketober”.
Organized workers by the tens of thousands walked off their jobs last month for a variety of reasons. But the resurgence of militant action among workers began long before October and shows no sign of letting up.
Nabisco workers belonging to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union, AFL-CIO, walked off the job in late summer to protest company cuts in pension funds, longer work shifts, and the threat of moving more jobs to Mexico. The workers who make those Oreo cookies and so many other household staples found support all across the US and won a new contract that included a $5,000 bonus for each employee.
Another nationwide strike by the BCTGM against Kellogg’s is still ongoing.
Closer to home, nurses at Buffalo’s Mercy Hospital, working under unsafe conditions and understaffed throughout the pandemic, went on strike on October 1. Their union, the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, is still waiting for hospital administrators to show up at the table to discuss a new contract.
These work stoppages and many more are showing the country and the world that our economy, and our very lives, depend on putting the welfare and wellbeing of workers at the center of economic decisions. Each and every one of us can take pride in what our union brothers and sisters are doing, and find ways to not only support but to multiply their efforts in pursuit of a more just share of the fruits of our labors.
At a virtual meeting on Saturday, September 25, former Congressman Anthony Brindisi swore in a new leadership team for the Central New York Area Labor Federation (ALF).
The team, led by UNITE HERE Local 150 President Ann Marie Taliercio, will serve the eleven counties of the ALF area for the next three years.
In her address to the gathering, Taliercio boldly challenged organized labor to rise to the demands of a new era.
"This is a moment for Central New York workers to celebrate, to regroup, and to prepare for the struggles ahead.
Think about where we were three years ago at our last swearing in.
The most anti-labor President in history. Tax cuts for the wealthy. An endless assault on the rights of workers to organize. Across many industries, the word was out that labor was in retreat.
Not today. Organized labor is showing this economy how to build back better.
It’s useful to look back, just for a second, to give ourselves perspective on how far we have come.
Organized labor, in coalition with our allies and partners, helped to turn Donald Trump out of the White House. Organized labor helped flip the Senate in favor of a party that, while we must keep their feet to the fire, at least knows to listen to our cause. With our legislative majorities both in New York State and nationally, we are now enacting an agenda that at last turns the tide in favor of working families and their unions.
Here in Central New York, we have built alliances that go beyond any single politician or party. We are poised to organize the labor force that is building a better Central New York economy based on principles of justice and inclusion.
Our movement, like our nation, has been under assault for a generation or more. Crises such as poverty, climate change, and racial inequity are not something we can ignore. Our members bring them to us every day. The pandemic is just one more example of how badly unions are needed as a strong voice for front line workers across our economy.
Our movement faces a crossroads. We can either stick with what we have and guard our own interests, or we can, as President Biden says, build back better.
We need an even more inclusive, more powerful labor movement. Our country is changing; our communities are changing. We need to welcome, indeed embrace these changes. One of the developments regionally that we can be most proud of these past three years has been the dynamic growth of the CNY Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, led by King Davis. As we watch the transformation of our cities and our region in the coming years, the Coalition will be at the table insisting that everyone in our community has access to the well-paying jobs that come with highways and other projects. I am committed to supporting their work as I know all of you are.
Our history shows that when labor is strong, our communities are strong. When labor is strong, the middle class grows. When labor is strong, housing and construction booms. When labor is strong, education for our children prospers. When labor is strong, families have the time and resources they need to care for loved ones. In short, when labor is strong, communities are stronger, healthier, and more productive.
Please join with me today as we boldly envision where we can be three years from now. We need to support one another, back one another up. We need to organize, and lobby, and educate the public, and build the movement that American workers, Central New York workers deserve.
Brothers and sisters, let us build back better.
This Labor Day, Pass the Richard Trumka PRO Act!
This is an exciting time to be part of the economic revival taking place all across Central and Western New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. After decades of decline, and more than a year of a pandemic, we can see the signs pointing to an economic rebirth of communities large and small.
Organized labor is here to make sure that the fruits of this renewed energy is fairly distributed. This has been the role of labor unions throughout our history.
As Labor Day approaches, we remind ourselves of the people who do the hard work, in sweltering summer and bone chilling winter, of making life better for all of us. Developers and politicians and bankers can make deals and plans and sign contracts, but those who swing the hammers and serve the salads and operate the keyboards and forklifts and monitor the cameras, who pour the concrete and set those girders in the highway bridges – those workers make New York hum.
We are surviving and struggling to adapt to a new world of going to work amidst a still unpredictable pandemic. We have learned in this past year how important it is to pull together and support, with dollars and actions, not just words, the workers who feed and house and supply us with our daily needs, those who care for us when we are sick, entertain us when we go out.
It is up to us to make sure that those people who are building our new prosperity receive the fair share that they are entitled to. We have seen big dreams come and go in the past. This time, with a new attitude in Washington and in Albany, with renewed energy in the labor movement, the promise is real. But it has to be real for all of us. It is no secret that entire communities have been left behind in past development schemes. Pockets of entrenched generational poverty must be tackled head on.
We all play a part.
The labor movement throughout history fought for and achieved the broadest based economic uplift in the history of the world – and created the American middle class. In recent decades we have been under assault as greed, globalism, and divisive politics have chipped away at labor’s rights and workers’ standard of living.
We need to turn the tide. Here’s how you can help.
This Labor Day we are asking all our members (tens of thousands strong in CNY alone), our neighbors, and our political leaders to join with us in supporting the Richard Trumka ProACT, a bipartisan piece of legislation that would adapt the rules of the game to the modern workplace. Named on behalf of our recently departed AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the PRO Act seeks to remove onerous roadblocks that stand in the way of workers having a voice. For decades our labor laws have been skewed to favor large businesses. It is time to correct that imbalance, and the PRO Act is the way to do that.
Workers ask for no special treatment. We seek no favors from any politician of any stripe. We need a clear path to organize, and a voice at the table as the future of Upstate New York unfolds.
Have a happy Labor Day weekend.
And tell your elected representatives to pass the PRO Act, so that next year will be even happier.
May 12, 2021
"Amazon is just the tip of the Iceberg"
Organized Labor understands that in order to continue making a difference in workers lives, we must constantly be organizing and expanding into all of the new twenty first century industries. The working class, the middle class can only thrive and enjoy the benefits and protections under the law once they organize to form a Union and come under the protections of a Labor Agreement.
We look to our brothers and sister in Alabama and their valiant struggle to win a union election, while being forced to swim upstream all the way in one of the most hostile anti-labor environments in the nation. For the moment, the Union’s campaign at Amazon has fallen short, but this should not cause us to lose heart. Instead, we should learn the lessons of Bessemer and recognize that their struggle is also our struggle. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to form a Union. Over a hundred years ago workers came to the understanding that their only hope to attain the American dream was through Union Membership. So too, will the workers of all the new industries, including Amazon also arrive at that truth and Organized Labor will be there to show them the way.
In the meantime, Central New York is about to witness a spurt in job growth unlike anything seen in decades. Think about it – Amazon is building one of the world’s largest warehouses right here in Clay, New York, and has already begun the process of hiring a thousand workers. The new Biden Administration’s infrastructure program includes creating new jobs in diverse fields from construction to clean energy and home health care. There will also be a re-emergence of the service sector and tourism as the pandemic recession recedes which also means more jobs.
The question is this – What kind of jobs will these be?
We cannot wait for management or elected officials alone, to set the standards and rules of engagement for these new jobs. Workers themselves must take control of this process, but they cannot do it alone, nor can a local union. It is that moment in the struggle that calls for all Unions to rise together and stand with the workers as a unified Labor Movement and defeat the anti-labor employer.
Are you ready?
Ann Marie Taliercio
CNY Area Labor Federation, The Regional Body of the ALF-CIO