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Fighting the forces of darkness: AmNews and Bill Lynch hold second annual labor breakfast

Amity Paye AmNews Web Manager | 9/27/2012, 2:16 p.m.
The Amsterdam News and Bill Lynch Associates hosted the second "Tying Communities Together: A Celebration...
Fighting the forces of darkness: AmNews and Bill Lynch hold second annual labor breakfast

When Dukes got to the stage, she received a standing ovation and continued the theme of family. "I moved to New York and met Basil Paterson, who really became my father," she said, giving the story of her life from the beginning, when she was born in Alabama.

"Hazel Dukes, that's more than family, she is me--we need more Hazel Dukes in this world," agreed Paterson as he delivered the breakfast's keynote address.

Dukes continued to explain how her ties to the labor family strengthened when she and Percy Sutton "ran Rockefeller out of Gotham City," and when she proudly helped David Dinkins beat out Ed Koch to become mayor.

"Then I met these two real gangsters," said Dukes, calling out Michael Mulgrew and Gresham. "We're going to change this city because we live in this city, and this is our city ... I will fight and it will be heard that I tried to help somebody in this city."

Anywhere you see union leadership collected in one room, fighting for the progress of their city, you will see politicians as well, and the Amsterdam News' second annual labor breakfast was no different. Among the distinguished elected officials present were City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Ruben Wills, Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, Assemblymen William Boyland and Karim Camara, Irvington, N.J., Mayor Wayne Smith, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David and state Sen. Bill Perkins.

"And now for a quick commercial break," said Tatum, allowing each politician two minutes, and only two minutes, to address the breakfast.

Dinkins, the first Black mayor of New York City, said, "I know I wouldn't have never become the 106th mayor of this city if it were not for your support, and it started with unions.

"Basil, Lillian and I are the same age, and you young folk may not understand, but us old folk, we stick together."

Liu spoke about the widening wealth gap, the need to end stop-and-frisk practices of the NYPD and the importance of unions in creating a middle class. Liu said the labor movement and the community working together "is a powerful combination. It's more powerful than the sum of its parts. ... When labor and community get together, it's something that cannot be stopped."

Union leaders also took the opportunity to speak to the bevy of politicians who spoke to them during the breakfast.

Gresham called on the politicians to ally with unions and working people. "We don't want anyone who feels they're here to represent the 1 percent. This is a great city and we are proud to represent great diversity, but if you don't want to represent those with little wealth and only represent those with greater wealth, then you will never get the union vote," said Gresham "If you can't do that, kiss your a-- ... I mean, kiss your aspirations of being mayor of this city goodbye."