Common Council leader welcomes PEF delegates to Albany
BY KATE MOSTACCIO
PEF’s annual convention took place in Albany this year, and Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis welcomed delegates to the city and encouraged them to enjoy the sites downtown.
“Welcome to Albany,” Ellis said. “We appreciate the work that you do.”
Ellis, the first African American male to win a citywide election in Albany, serves as upstate political director for the New York State Nurses Association and was a key figure in NYSNA’s organizing of nurses at Albany Medical Center, the first private unionized hospital in Albany.
“When you had parents in the union, you didn’t have to worry about finances,” Ellis said. His story growing up was different. His parents worked 40 hours a week, but had far fewer benefits. “My mom had no pension or paid health insurance,” Ellis said. “She retired with a salary of $23,000.”
His involvement in the labor movement has given him the financial stability to assist his mother. “Because of the union, I’m able to help supplement my mother’s retirement,” he said.
PEF President Wayne Spence, introducing Ellis, said, “Corey has always believed real change starts in the community and he continues to give back to the community that helped him become who he is today.”
Ellis grew up in Albany’s South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods, and returned to his hometown as a union and community organizer after earning his bachelor’s degree in political science.
He urged PEF delegates to spread the word to the next generation about the different lives union and non-union workers, like his parents, can lead.
“Tell your children that story,” he said of his mother. “Our children have to understand why they have the things they have in this country.
“Flex your muscles and share your strength,” he added. “Remember, it was the union that made you strong.”
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