Melville, NY - April 1, 2014 - Five distinguished Long Island labor leaders, including posthumous recognition of one who sought and won elective office and distinguished himself as a Suffolk County legislator and as the legislature’s presiding officer, will be honored by The Suffolk Community College Foundation at its annual Salute to Excellence Gala “The Year of Labor” whose proceeds will be used to fund need and merit-based scholarships, emergency student loans and quality academic enrichment programs. The Foundation distributed $500,000 in scholarships last year.
Gala sponsorships, tickets and journal advertisements are available now through the Suffolk Community College Foundation website: sunysuffolk.edu/gala.
“The Year of Labor” celebrating these outstanding labor leaders – John R. Durso, Richard C. Iannuzzi, Richard O’Kane, Ellen Schuler Mauk and posthumous recognition of former Suffolk County Legislator William J. Lindsay, Jr. -- will be held on April 24 at the Hilton Long Island in Huntington.
“We will celebrate and recognize five great labor leaders from Long Island whose advocacy for the middle class advanced the most important engine in creating the American Dream and a better life for each generation,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay.
“The mission of the Foundation is to reduce the economic barriers to higher education and foster student success. The Salute to Excellence Gala is the College’s single largest event held annually to generate financial support, community awareness and most importantly make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Executive Director of the Suffolk Community College Foundation Richard C. Guarino. The celebration will begin at 7 pm.
John R. Durso of Bellmore has served as the President of Local 338, RWDSU/UFCW, since 1999 and represents more than 19,000 men and women working in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Hudson counties, as well as into New Jersey.
Local 338’s members include: supermarket and drug store employees, health care workers, pharmacists, delivery workers, dairy workers, and employees at warehouses and numerous other retail food services. Durso is also the President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the fourth largest central labor council in the United States, representing 250,000 union members in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Durso serves as an International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Vice President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the UFCW, and a Vice President of the New York City Central Labor Council. In addition, John holds positions on the Towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead Labor Advisory Boards, and the Town of Hempstead Workforce Investment Board.
He is a lifetime member of the New York branch of the NAACP, a board member of the Long Island Association, Vision Long Island, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, and is also the Chairman of the United Way of Long Island. Durso also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Council, as well as the Advisory Boards of the ENERGEIA Partnership, the Long Island Community Development Corporation, the Rauch Foundation, John Thiessen’s Children’s Foundation, the Queens Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and is the Chairman of the Nassau County Living Wage Advisory Board.
Durso and his wife, Peggy are the proud parents of four grown children; John Jr., Michael, Jessica, and Jim and also the also the proud grandparents of two. Peggy was herself a 27-year member of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, of Smithtown has served as president of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) since April 2005, leading the union through a period of tremendous growth, with membership now at more than 600,000.
A leading voice in the labor movement at both the state and federal levels, Iannuzzi serves as a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and of the New York State AFL-CIO. He also serves as delegate to the national AFL-CIO, co-chair of the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition and a member of the board of directors of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, one of the world's foremost human rights organizations.
With nearly 500 full-time employees, NYSUT represents a diverse membership that includes in-service and retired members in New York's public schools, colleges, universities and health care facilities, as well as dozens of private schools and colleges, non-profits and government agencies. Its programs are provided from 16 offices around the state; its more than 1,000 affiliates bargain collectively for benefits, working conditions and professional improvements.
Richard and his wife, Joanne, have three grown children, including daughter Deborah, a NYSUT member who teaches English at Central Islip High School.
Richard “Dick” O’Kane of Brightwaters was unanimously elected President of the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council in January 2013 and took office in July of the same year. Prior to his election as the union’s president, O’Kane served the council as a delegate, trustee and executive board member.
Prior to his current position O’Kane was a proud 43-year member of Iron Workers Local 361 where he held the position of Business Manager/Financial Secretary Treasurer for 13 years. O’Kane also served the membership as president, vice president, recording secretary, executive board member, sergeant-at-arms, and delegate to the international convention.
In addition, he was the co-chairman/trustee to the Iron Workers Local 40, 361 & 417 Union Security Funds and was also a Delegate to the NY State District Council of Iron Workers and in later years was the organization’s financial secretary.
Prior to serving in the office as business agent and then business manager, he worked in the field as an apprentice, journeyman, foreman, assistant foreman, general foreman and superintendent.
O’Kane also served on the Executive Board of the Labor Management Board of IMPACT for the International Association of Iron Workers Region II.
O’Kane currently serves on the Executive Boards of the Long Island Federation of Labor and the Long Island Labor Advisor Committee.
Dick O’Kane resides in Brightwaters, NY with his wife Karen and enjoys time with his son Christopher, daughter Jamie, Jamie’s husband Brian and the couple’s children, Emily and Matthew.
Ellen Schuler Mauk of Garden City is past president of the Faculty Association of Suffolk County Community College (NYSUT/AFT/NEA) where she served for 30 years and represented the 500 full-time faculty members and more than 1500 adjunct members. As president she has also served as the chief negotiator for the local and negotiated contracts with five county executives and five college presidents.
Schuler Mauk is a founder of the Suffolk Coalition of Public Employees, a coalition of 11 unions representing law enforcement, civil service workers and community college faculty and administrators that since the mid-1980s, has lobbied for issues of mutual benefit to its member unions, shared legislative strategies and bargained as a coalition for the self-insured health benefits plan that covers all Suffolk County employees and retirees. Schuler Mauk served on the Labor/Management Committee of the Employee Medical Health Plan of Suffolk County that provides oversight, sets policy and addresses appeals for the 48,000-plus participants.
Schuler Mauk currently serves on the NYSUT Board of Directors and its executive committee. She is a trustee for the NYSUT Benefit Trust and is a member of the American Federation of Teachers Higher Ed Program and Policy Committee.
She has conducted workshops within NYSUT and AFT on effective political action, internal organizing and membership involvement, union executive board training, new member/new faculty programs, and health benefits programs. She has also served in various leadership roles for the Long Island (N.Y.) Chapter of the Labor and Employee Relations Association.
Schuler Mauk was a professor of English with degrees from Purdue University and Eastern Kentucky University and also holds a Master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and Baruch College.
Memorial tribute to William Lindsay, Jr., Suffolk County Legislator
William J. Lindsay, Jr. spent the majority of his life as an electrician, a career that began through an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 25. He spent many years as a construction electrician and eventually became involved in the management and leadership of the union. Lindsay served as Business Manager of IBEW Local 25 starting in 1992 and served on numerous boards, including those of the Long Island Housing Partnership and the Salvation Army.
Lindsay ran for elective office as Suffolk County legislator from the 8th Legislative District in March 2001 in a special election to replace Steve Levy who won election to the New York State Assembly. Lindsay then retired from his position at IBEW Local 25 to dedicate his full efforts to his constituents.
Lindsay served 12 years in the legislature—eight of them as presiding officer, where his colleagues referred to him as the “Lion of the Legislature.”
Lindsay, 67, passed away in September 2013 after a valiant battle with lung cancer.
Lindsay resided with his wife Patricia in Holbrook, and has three children, Kathleen, Denise, and William.
Bill Lindsay III was elected to his father’s legislative seat in 2013.