Wednesday, March 25, 2015

True Colors Awards 2015

The presentation by President Bess Watts and videos honoring the Federation of Social Workers and Thomas M. Privitere from the 2015 True Colors Award dinner. Congratulations Award recipients!

Federation of Social Workers IUE-CWA:
No one can navigate the waters of the labor movement and understand the culture without having mentors and organizations to help lead the way.  Just learning all the acronyms takes 10 years … and then you forget what the acronyms stand for ...  

Representatives from the Federation of Social Workers
When we began forming Pride at Work almost 10 years ago, one organization in particular offered support that went above and beyond the norm to ensure we were on the right footing and help make our chapter successful. Let me list just a few things that the Federation of Social Workers-- at the time under the leadership of President John Vasko--did for our chapter:

    Within 2 months of the chapter’s founding the Federation of Social Workers became organizational members and allocated 5 slots for their members to join Pride at Work

    FSW provided space and hospitality for our meetings (including lots of pizza … )

    John Vasko and other federation members provided mentoring in the dynamics of labor within the Rochester community and New York State

    The FSW Executive Board approved the cost of the first printing of 2,000 brochures as well providing a mailing address  for Pride at Work

    FSW purchased a table for our 1st  “True Colors” Award dinner

    They let us know of opportunities for exposure and helped spread the word about Pride at Work

All of this enhanced our credibility from the beginning and has played a huge part in our chapter’s growth since then.
When John retired, Evelyn Evans continued the support for Pride at Work, and now Chad Kyler continues that legacy.  Our chapter thanks you for all the support you have given us over the years.   Our success and visibility have happened because of you.  We’re honored to give you an award for your leadership and hope to continue working with you in the future for the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion in the workplace.    

It is an honor to present the 2015 True Colors Award to the Federation of Social Workers! 

Thomas M. Privitere:

Our dear friend Tom Privitere has a solid labor background as Director of Field Services for the NYS Public Employees’ Federation for 28 years; as Staff Field Representative for AFSCME for 9 years; and as Civilian Human Resources Director with the City of Rochester Police Department and Deputy Clerk of the City Court of Rochester, Criminal Branch. You could say Tom knows where the bodies are buried.

Tom served as Staff Liaison to PEF’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus for many years and, as chief negotiator for PEF, was instrumental in including historic domestic partner benefits in state labor agreements for the first time in 1995. Tom participated in the 1993 Gay March on Washington, DC, where an estimated 1 million LGBT citizens demanded equality and justice at home and in the workplace.  At SEIU headquarters in Washington, he was one of the gay union/labor activists from across the country who signed what later became the charter for Pride at Work, an affiliate group of the AFL-CIO. 

I was introduced to Tom through Harry Bronson, a Monroe County Legislator at the time, over 10 years ago.  Harry said, “If you want to learn about politics and the dynamics of labor from an LGBT perspective, you must get to know Tom!”    When I first met Tom my first impression was, “Wow, does this man like to tell stories!”

Not only did Tom end up becoming a mentor and a friend, he was a founding member of the Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride at Work AFL-CIO and currently serves as our Vice President. He also helped found the Rochester chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and has served on the Board of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

Bess Watts presenting the True Colors Award to Tom Privitere
Real heroes don’t know they’re heroes.  Tom doesn’t know his personal impact on people: that just by being the good man he is, he fosters courage and confidence.  He creates a climate of inclusion which encourages everyone to blossom.  He makes it feel safe to stick your neck out and do things you never thought you could do.  He is a throwback to the early, radical union organizer who lived and died for the cause of workers’ rights.  He models insistence and persistence, but mostly he offers a priceless vision of hope to those who are struggling with injustice. 

Pride at Work has benefited from Tom’s creed of fairness.  We believe our chapter has made some great contributions over the years, largely because we were planted in rich soil … though we’re not sure what goes into that compost!  Thank you, Tom; it turns out you are a master gardener for justice and inclusion and helping Pride at Work grow. 

With all this being said, I know that you’re most proud of being a grandpa and father and it shows. I know this because you haven’t made a Pride at Work meeting in the last 6 months.   Seriously, we love you and cannot thank you enough for your contribution for the advancement of LGBTQ equality not only in New York but the entire country.   It is an honor to present to you the 2015 True Colors Award.


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