Immigrants Key In Union Election Effort

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Europa Hair Design is just one of dozens of small businesses on busy Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens. But it was the center of attention one Saturday in October when a crowd gathered in front to rally for Democratic State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, who is running for reelection in the 15th District. He boasted about his dedication to the neighborhood’s entrepreneurs, and says he now counts on their votes.

Addabbo also welcomed the support of labor unions, including 32BJ, a branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents around 70,000 building service workers in the city. Two of the union’s members and political organizers, Donna Klimas, 53, and Anna Dziubek, 32, were standing right behind him during the event.

“We could certainly use your help,” Addabbo told them as they were chatting and posing for a photo.

“It’s for us as well. It’s not only for you,” Anna responded laughing.

“I hear you, I hear you,” the state senator nodded.

Labor unions, whose main focus is to obtain fair wages, health benefits and decent working conditions for their members, are also heavily involved in politics. With their membership estimated in New York State to be around 2 million workers, unions are able to apply pressure on politicians and elected officials on issues important to them. 

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Watch a slideshow of Anna Dziubek and Donna Klimas canvassing in the Polish neighborhood of Maspeth, Queens:

This story was produced by Feet in 2 Worlds, a project at The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Feet in Two Worlds' New York election coverage is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.