LP Leadership Award-Winner James Slevin with (l to r) Vincent Pitta, Neal Tepel, James Shillitto and Ben Kallos.

New York, NY – LaborPress honored five leaders in labor at its annual Leadership Awards Reception held in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, December 3. This year’s award-winners included Nicholas LaMorte, Civil Services Employees Association Region One president; Mark Gregorio, president, TEI Group; Matthew Chartrand, Ironworkers Local 361 business manager; Mark Cannizzaro, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators president, and James Slevin, Utility Workers Union of America president. 

LaborPress Publisher Neal Tepel co-chaired the event with labor-side attorney Vincent Pitta. Tepel began the evening by thanking the attendees and saying about Pitta, “I don’t have to introduce Vincent Pitta. Everybody knows him. Vincent Pitta has co-hosted these events for the last ten years.” 

LP Leadership Award-Winner Nicholas LaMorte with (l to r) Vincent Pitta, Lester Crockett, Neal Tepel and Ben Kallos.

Tepel continued by speaking about LaborPress. “LaborPress is unique. It tells the story of labor men and women and unions every day. The last decade has seen LaborPress utilize a broad spectrum of communication platforms to deliver comprehensive daily news and information for working men and women across the country. It has recently begun a new venture marketing/digital/advertising services, in alliance with Sid Paterson Advertising. Already, LaborPress reaches millions of followers each week with a special section in the New York Daily News, labor news reports on WOR/iHeart radio, social media briefs, Facebook posts, Twitter feed, digital newsletter, video broadcasts and more.” Tepel announced that as of last week, LaborPress reached two million people, plus 25,000 in labor.

LP Leadership Award-Winner Mark Gregorio with (l to r) Vincent Pitta, Neal Tepel, Lenny Legotte and Ben Kallos.

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos introduced the awards presenters, but before that he introduced New York State Senator Robert Jackson, who led the crowd in a chant of “New York State is a union state!” He also congratulated the honorees. Council Member Mathieu Eugene also greeted the crowd, and thanked Tepel for his leadership, saying, “LaborPress is a public service.” Kallos said, “We need a voice when large corporations and media are trying to bust unions and LaborPress is that voice.”

Next, Kallos welcomed presenter James Shillitto, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 president, who spoke of Slevin’s rise through the ranks, saying, “From the very beginning he was a hard-ass guy to deal with. A true trade unionist.” Slevin presides over a membership of just under 50,000. Slevin thanked Tepel and Pitta, saying he was “truly humbled,” but that, “It doesn’t happen with one individual…we’ve kept up the fight. The award goes to the men and women in the union.”

LP Leadership Award-Winner Matthew Chartrand with (l to r) Vincent Pitta, Neal Tepel and Ben Kallos.

Next, LaMorte was introduced by Lester Crockett, Civil Service Employees Association Region Two president. He said, “I’m honored. Nicoloas LaMorte [is known] by anyone who’s been in the labor movement. He has always been the same over the years. He has big ears to listen, and a small mouth to keep it quiet when necessary.” LaMorte said that he represents 50,000 members and “I couldn’t think of anything else that I’d rather do.” He called himself a “custodian from Farmingdale,” referencing his earliest job, and said, “I accept the honor, not for me but for all of you [and] for the members. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

Lenny Legotte, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local One business manager saluted Gregorio. Legotte spoke of Gregorio’s rise in the elevator industry, and how important Gregorio has been, as “most contractors are multi-billion dollar corporations.” 

LP Leadership Award-Winner Mark Cannizzaro with (l to r) Vincent Pitta, Neal Tepel, Erminia Claudio and Ben Kallos.

“Mark is a great union contractor,” Legotte said. “He is a rock star. You are one of the most talented elevator guys I have ever met in my life.” 

Gregorio accepted his award saying, “I am grateful to be here and for this acknowledgement. I’m just a guy who gets up and goes to work and tries to make the world better every day.” 

Tepel introduced Chartrand, saying, “This is a guy who wants to make sure every one of his guys is working every day. He is 24/7.” 

“I’m honored to be here with every honoree,” Chartrand said. “It’s not just members we represent. We try to bring non-union [workers] into the union. To have a guy making $10 an hour and you drop him off at the hospital when he gets hurt…and a year later [he joins the union] and says he got health care, his wife got health care…Thank you!” 

New York State Senator Robert Jackson reaffirms the state’s commitment to unions.

Erminia Claudio, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators executive director, presented Cannizzaro with his LP award, thanking LaborPress for “recognizing our outstanding leader.”

“[Mark Cannizzaro] was inspired by public school teachers,” Claudio said. “I can attest to his incredible dedication and talent.” 

Cannizzarro said, “When management and labor work together, great things happen…New York City is a labor town, but it is only a labor town because we make it a labor town…Thanks to the CSA team, and my lovely wife Barbara. I’m honored to represent 64,000 leaders. It is my great honor to do so. The New York City public school system could do better, but it is doing very well.”

New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene (right) talks with attendees of the LaborPress Leadership Awards reception.

Tepel concluded the evening by thanking Stephanie West, LaborPress’ Vice President and Director of Operations, and the unionized waiters and waitresses who worked the event. 

Tepel also thanked the sponsors of the reception, which included Empire BlueCross Blue Shield, EmblemHealth, Alliance Direct Benefits, Magnacare, Humana, United Health, Healthplex, William Schwitzer & Associates, General Vision Services, and many others.


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