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Longtime 1199SEIU Member and Organizer Honored by Northeast Central Labor Council at Annual Legislative Breakfast in Plattsburgh

1199er Dylan Smith is Calling on Elected Officials to Support Governor’s Proposal for $15 Minimum Wage, Accepting Award on Behalf of All Workers Struggling to Make Ends Meet

What: Northeast Central Labor Council Annual Legislative Breakfast

When: THIS MORNING: Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m.

Where: American Legion, 62 Quarry Rd., Plattsburgh

Who: Area elected officials, labor leaders and rank and file union members, this year’s honoree, Dylan Smith, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Background: This year’s Northeast Central Labor Council Legislative Breakfast is being held right on time to discuss some of the biggest issues on the 2016 New York State legislative agenda, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The clock is ticking with less than two weeks until April 1, the date that the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a budget for the new state fiscal year. The annual event, held this morning at the American Legion Post 20 in Plattsburgh, provides an opportunity for labor leaders and rank and file members in Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties to catch up with their elected representatives, and make their positions known on the most pressing issues for North Country working people.

Dylan Smith, an organizer with the powerful healthcare workers union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is being recognized this year for his commitment and dedication to the North Country labor movement. He describes his job as “empowering our members at CVPH Medical Center to make their voices heard, take control of their work, and demand respect and dignity.”

Smith’s remarks about the honor take an interesting and broader twist, as officials in Albany are discussing Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $15, through a gradual phase-in. “This award is bittersweet because although we are growing stronger as a union at CVPH, too many that come through the doors every day are not able to make ends meet at home. I’m talking about staff and I’m talking about patients. I’m talking about Republicans and Democrats and those who have no political party affiliation at all. Poverty crosses all partisan lines. Simply too many North Country residents must make choices between buying gas, paying the heating bill, or just going without. Many must work more than one job, losing precious time with their families and suffering fatigue that makes it hard to face another day. No one who works hard should live in poverty.”

Smith is calling on all elected officials to support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. “I call on Senator Betty Little, the entire North Country delegation and the entire NYS Legislature to support the Governor’s proposal for a $15 minimum wage. Many of the working New Yorkers who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage are right here in our area. This is about the American Dream of respecting and rewarding hard work. Let’s continue to advocate for $15 until we cross the finish line and working people are paid a fair wage for an honest day’s work,” he said.

Labor Council President Michele Bushey has praise for Smith. “We honor Dylan today because we know his actions always reflect what is best for working people. So we are not surprised that he is taking this opportunity to urge everyone to recognize what we already know -- that the minimum wage issue represents justice and hope for the future, that workers deserve to be justly and fairly rewarded economically and that all work must be valued.”

Smith is accepting the award “on behalf of all the workers who are struggling to make ends meet and who are standing up to make a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.”

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

The Northeast Central Labor Council represents unions that are members of the AFL-CIO in Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties. The AFL-CIO is umbrella federation for U.S. unions, with 56 unions representing 12.5 million working men and women. We work to ensure that all people who work receive the rewards of their work—decent paychecks and benefits, safe jobs, respect and fair treatment.

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