LaborPress’s annual Public Service Awards ceremony honored the hard work of a cohort of New York City’s powerful service unions whose members keep the city running.

The honorees of the Sept. 7 event are some of the most influential figures in organized labor today. They included NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, PSC-CUNY President James Davis, SEIU Local 246 President Joseph Colangelo, CSA President Henry Rubio, ATU Local 726 President Daniel Cassella and AFM International President Tino Gagliardi.

As president of NYSNA, Hagans has presided over a series of recent strikes and historic contract victories, ushering in needed improvements to the working conditions of registered nurses. The union recently reached a contract agreement with New York City Health + Hospitals that includes a major pay increase for its 8,000 public nurses in the city.

“As the president of the New York State Nurses Association and a nurse for over 30 years, I can tell you that nurses are dedicated to public service. Many nurses see our work not as a job or career, but it’s a calling. That calling is to public service,” Hagans said.

As President of the Professional Staff Congress, Davis has been a principled leader in the fight to protect the rights of 30,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York. Recently he  Davis has also taken a stand on the rights of municipal retirees against the ongoing efforts

of the city to shift their health care coverage.

“The members of my union also care deeply about the health of the labor movement in New York City and beyond,” said Davis. “They want a labor movement that stands up for working people and retirees. It doesn’t back down from a fight that takes principled stands and finds creative solutions. So on behalf of my 30,000 members, it’s an honor to accept the Public Service award.”

Colangelo became president of SEIU Local 246 in 2004 and has focused his career on improving the health and safety of his members – both in their daily work, as well as in the battle for disability benefits after 9/11.

“The fact of the matter is that most of us in labor have been involved because of our passion for protecting the working men and women in this country,” said Colengelo.

Cassella presides over a local representing 2,000 employees and retirees of the New York City Transit, in the largest transit union in North America. ATU transit and allied trade members enjoy the highest wages and benefits in the industry. His influence has spread from Staten Island where he is based to throughout the state of New York.

“Congratulations to the rest of the honorees, and thank you very much,” he said.

Rubio began serving as the President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, this past January after having served as the union’s Executive Vice President and First Vice President. He secured a landmark gain for his members in securing flexible, paid parental leave benefits and bridging gaps between the different levels of principals.

“Thank you for the work that you each are doing, that we’re doing together as a union family, as a labor movement. At no time but in recent history has the world looking at the labor movement a different way, with a different perspective,” Rubio said.

Gagliardi was just recently elected International President of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada after serving as the president of Local 802 and navigating a series of challenging contracts for his members before and during the pandemic.

“It’s really something to be in a room full of leaders of the American labor movement, which we all have in common,” Gagliardi said. “ I want to thank all of you for being here today, and I do appreciate the distinguished honor that [LaborPress Publisher] Neal Tepel has placed on me today.”


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