The Greater New Haven Labor History Association is pleased to invite you and your members to this year’s annual meeting and conference, featuring key note speaker John Wilhelm, President of UNITE HERE, who will be presenting the annual Augusta Lewis Troup Award to the late Vincent Sirabella. We are delighted that Mr. Sirabella’s family will be joining us.
“Vinnie Sirabella was an extraordinary labor leader, truly a prophet,” Mr. Wilhelm wrote in a recent email message. “Working people in New Haven are better off today because of his amazing work in such historic struggles as the three strikes of Local 35 at Yale in the 1970’s and his militant support of the 1975 strike by the New Haven Federation of Teachers. UNITE HERE members throughout North America are better off because he inspired so many rank and file leaders and staff. The whole labor movement today would be better off if more labor leaders had listened to him.”
In 1995, the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council and the Greater New Haven Labor History Association dedicated their joint publication, the Labor Almanac: New Haven’s Unions in the 1990s, to “New Haven’s Mr. Labor,” Vincent Sirabella. The Almanac included excerpts from John Wilhelm’s 1993 eulogy for his friend and mentor. He wrote of Mr. Sirabella’s deep commitment to and passion for the labor movement and his work in New Haven and across the country.
Sirabella was a rank and file union member for 20 years, Wilhelm wrote, “working in hotels, restaurants and race tracks on the East Coast from Rhode Island to Florida” before coming to New Haven to work as trustee and then elected leader of Local 217, later serving as the Business Manager of Local 35 at Yale University and the President of the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council.
“[His] remarkable set of talents enabled Vinnie to accomplish things which seemed impossible,” Wilhelm wrote. “I think of the 1971 strike by Local 35 at Yale, a resounding victory for the union, in what turned into a nationally known civil rights struggle. He literally carried that strike on his back, standing up to an incredibly wealthy and powerful employer that no one in Connecticut had ever successfully challenged. He united union members who had never stuck together before: skilled tradesmen, dining hall workers, custodians, groundskeepersundefinedItalian, Irish, Polish, Blackundefinedmen and women…
“I think too of the general strike he organized in New Haven in 1975, in response to a local judge jailing 100 members of the Teachers’ Union, because they went on strike,” Wilhelm continued. “Vinnie insisted that in his town we could not tolerate anyone going to jail for striking…I don’t think there had been a general strike in the U.S. for several decadesundefinedhe put it together. We were set to go, all over town, for noon on a Tuesday. Because the threat was real, the Board of Education settled and the teachers were freed.”
Our second Augusta Lewis Troup award recipient this year is Anthony Riccio, the author of several books about the Italian American working class experience, including the soon to be published Farms, Factories and Families: Italian-American Women of Connecticut. Riccio, who is the Stacks Manager at Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University, has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to documenting the important history of this population that has contributed so much to the labor movement’s struggles and achievements. In addition to his writings, his remarkable photographs vividly evoke the lives of workers and their families, and he graciously contributed several of them to our traveling exhibit, “New Haven’s Garment Workers: An Elm City Story.” One panel of that exhibit, entitled “Garment Workers: Their Stories and Their Lives,” consists almost exclusively of photographs from Anthony’s book, The Italian American Experience in New Haven.
The event will also include a tribute to the late David Montgomery, our long time member, mentor and inspiration, presented by Professor Cecelia Bucki of Fairfield University; opening remarks from our dedicated outgoing President of eight years, Nicholas Aiello; and a preliminary discussion about the possibility of expanding to become the Connecticut Labor History Association. Music will be provided by our troubadour, Frank Panzarella; refreshments will be served; and there will be ample opportunity to meet other GNHLHA members and friends.
Please join us for this exciting event!
The GNHLHA Executive Board and Staff
Nicholas Aiello, President; Mary Johnson, Vice President; Bill Berndtson, Treasurer; Troy Rondinone, Secretary; Dorothy Johnson, Lula White, Steve Kass and Anson Smith, Board members
Joan Cavanagh, Archivist/ Director
See below for detailed meeting agenda
GREATER NEW HAVEN ANNUAL HISTORY ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL MEETING & CONFERENCE
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012, 1:30-5:30 p.m.
267 Chapel Street, New Haven
KEY NOTE SPEAKER: John Wilhelm, presenting a posthumous award to Vincent Sirabella
1:30-1:45 Gather; music by Frank Panzarella
Welcome--Nicholas Aiello, Outgoing President, GNHLHA
Program OverviewundefinedJoan Cavanagh, Archivist/ Director
Tribute to David MontgomeryundefinedProfessor Cecelia Bucki,
2:15 Presentation of Augusta Lewis Troup Award to Anthony
Riccio, author of The Italian American Experience in New
Haven; Cooking with Chef Silvio; and Boston's North End:
Images and Recollections of an Italian Neighborhood --
3:00 Music--Frank Panzarella
3:30 Presentation of Posthumous Augusta Lewis Troup Award to
the late labor leader Vincent Sirabella and keynote
addressundefined John Wilhelm, President, UNITE HERE; followed
by question/ answer session with discussion
4:30-5:15 Pizza & refreshments
Business Meeting: Report on the Year’s Work
Joan Cavanagh & Steve Kass
Election of Officers
Preliminary Discussion about Transitioning to become the
Connecticut Labor History Associationundefineddiscussion led by
5: 15 Closing Remarks by the new President
This event is free to current (dues paid to May 1 2013) GNHLHA members with a $10 suggested donation for all others. Please pre-register if possible so we can get a head count for seats and pizza! Email email@example.com or call (203) 777-2756 ext. 2
PLEASE JOIN TODAY OR PAY YOUR ANNUAL DUES, if you haven’t already done so! Make your check out to GNHLHA and mail to 267 Chapel Street, New Haven CT 06513, or join online.
Regular Individual $25_________
Organizations: 100 members or less $100________
101-300 members $250________
Over 300 members $500_________