Bob Mahoney had planned on attending his bowling league banquet Thursday, May 1. His Local 200United colleague and fellow Union Representative Deb Lauria was able to convince him to at least stop by the annual WNY Area Labor Federation banquet, being held the same evening. He wound up staying and, to his surprise, he received the group’s Leadership Award.
“I am humbled by it,” he said. “Obviously I work hard here but I didn’t expect an award.” Mahoney did have an inkling earlier in the week when acquaintances would randomly congratulate him. “‘What are you talking about?’ I kept asking,” he reports. “They’d say ‘Whoops’ and walk away. So I received hints throughout the week.”
But he still didn’t expect the award he received. “They didn’t give me much of a heads up.”
Mahoney, 62, has always been a dedicated union man. He has been a union member since his first job after high school. He was a member of the United Steel Workers while he worked at the Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna. Following his career at the steel plant he became a member of Service Employees International Union and worked for the Buffalo Convention Center beginning in 1980. During his 30-year career at the convention center he was an activist, a steward and a member of countless bargaining committees. He began working at SEIU Local 200United in 2011, representing mainly janitorial workers.
“Working for Local 200 has been an enlightening experience,” he says. “Former President Jerry Dennis is one of the greatest activists I have ever met. He approved all my schooling in the 1990s at the Worker Institute, part of Cornell University, here in Buffalo. A lot of my knowledge came from studying at Cornell and Jerry Dennis was very instrumental in that. I represent the people that he talks about with so much passion, low-wage janitorial workers.”
One of Mahoney’s more notable organizing successes came in 2013 at Lucarelli’s Banquet Center in Lackawanna, not coincidentally the site of Thursday’s banquet. “All the people that spoke at the banquet emphasized that I organize the union,” Mahoney notes. “Everybody went crazy when they said that; I thought there was going to be a shout out for Lucarelli’s, not an award for me.”
Future bookings at the banquet hall include a banquet for the Western New York Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association on May 14, and SEIU Local 200United’s Meet the Candidates event on Sept. 10.
Mahoney is a staple in the Western New York labor community and demonstrates his unyielding commitment to his fellow brothers and sisters in labor by attending every rally, picket line and demonstration for any union in our community. He understands the important role politics can play in our labor movement and further exemplifies his dedication to the movement by taking an active role in the WNY ALF Political Action Committee and as a Democratic Committee member in Hamburg where he lives with his wife, Marlene.
Warm congratulations to Bob Mahoney on his well-deserved honor.