Memorial Day Message from LIUNA Vice President Ray Pocino

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, as a nation, as a union, and as individuals, we honor those who laid down their lives in service to our country.

These brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms are deserving of our respect, our remembrance, and our thanks.

Whether in private reflection, by watching or participating in a local parade, or through service at a memorial or cemetery, we see the highest virtues of our country and our citizenry illuminated by the beacon of their supreme sacrifice.

Every day, but especially today, we should honor and remember the last full measure these service members gave to our country.

In Solidarity,

Raymond M. Pocino
LIUNA Vice President
Eastern Regional Manager

A statement from LIUNA’s Raymond M. Pocino: “Kris Kolluri will Deliver for the Region.”

Today is a great day for the New York metropolitan region and for the commuters, businesses, and families who rely on rail service between New York and New Jersey. I applaud Governor Phil Murphy and Governor Kathy Hochul for their nomination of Kris Kolluri to serve as chief executive officer of the Gateway Program Development Corporation. The GPDC has been doing much of the heavy lifting to address the region’s critical need for a safe and reliable commuter rail system connecting New York and New Jersey, a system that not only connects these two great states, but in its importance and activity, also serves the entire nation.

I have known and worked with Kris for several decades now, I can state unequivocally: Kris Kolluri will deliver for the region. He has dedicated his professional life to public service; to issues pertaining to transportation and economic development; and to achieving great things by combining the vision of a great leader with the focus and drive of a professional who understands that details matter. He is an industry-expert, a consensus-builder, and a person of high-character and dependability. In selecting Kris Kolluri to serve this important role, governors Hochul and Murphy got things right.

As vice president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and eastern regional manager representing more than 40,000 construction craft laborers in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Puerto Rico, I am acutely aware of the tens of thousands of jobs which will be created building the tunnels, tracks, and bridges needed to increase rail capacity and resiliency on the nation’s busiest commuter rail line.  I also spent more than 20-years serving as commissioner of both the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and many more years advocating for a safe and efficient transportation system. Inasmuch that I understand the issues, I remind people that the Northeast Corridor line presently relies on a century-old rail tunnel, a frequently failing bridge, and a transit system where delays have become more common than delivering people to their destinations on-time. We need better infrastructure, we deserve better service, and Kris Kolluri can help us achieve better results.

Raymond M. Pocino is Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), representing more than 40,000 construction workers in New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Delaware, and Puerto Rico

Statement from Local 77 Business Manager Carl Styles

As part of their protest against a contractor who stated to union officials that he would only hire workers of Macedonian and Serbian decent, members of the LIUNA Union 77 have been staging a peaceful protest outside of Lincoln Elementary School in Edison Township. The union believes there is no room for discriminatory hiring practices in this community or any community and are willing to fight against unscrupulous practices that hurt workers. The contractor Pal-Pro Builders has been hired by Edison Public Schools to perform work. 

Before the school day on Friday, September 3, 2021, members of LIUNA Local 77 began setting up to peacefully protest. As part of their preparations, they assembled props including an inflatable rat, which symbolizes unfair labor practices, as well as a coffin and banner which symbolizes how bad employment practices kill middle class jobs.  All of these things were set up before school had started and the coffin and banner were down before students arrived.  How do we know this? Because at 8:21 a.m. a school official actually knocked down the display which was never put back up before its removal.

Regarding the coffin’s use as part of the protest.  Some have argued that its use was inappropriate for an elementary school setting.  We agree and have begun a review of the process and will work to ensure we don’t make this mistake again.  We think it is not good to expose young children to the imagery and we also think it distracts from the issue-at-hand—that a contractor hired in Edison is using what appears to be discriminatory hiring practices.  We believe workers should not be discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or any other arbitrary standards and we are willing to fight to ensure workers are protected.

To be clear.  We do not condone the use of any props or messaging that may negatively affect children and apologize for the poor judgement. In this instance, the coffin was down before students arrived and we think that is for the best.  We will work to do better, and we hope Edison Township Public Schools will, too.  We need to send a message that Edison Township Public Schools will not reward discriminatory business practices.  On this matter, we should ALL be on the same side!”  

Rev. Carl E. Styles is Business Manager of Building Laborers Local 77 representing more than 1,500 members if Central and Southern New Jersey. Through its innovative apprenticeship and training programs, industry-leading labor-management partnerships, and commitment to protecting the rights of workers, Local 77 is proud to serve its members, its signatory contractors, and the communities where they live and work.  Reverend Styles also serves as Pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church in Camden, New Jersey. 

Never too Big to Organize

LIUNA Local 199 took on huge multinational bank, JPMorgan Chase (and won)

With a market value of some $460 Billion, JPMorgan Chase is a huge corporation to say the least. The multinational investment bank and financial service holding company has offices all over the world, but the decisions they make and actions they take affect local families, businesses, and communities. This is why Delaware-based Local 199 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)–along with its affiliated funds–decided to take on the corporate giant. Big companies can put a big hurt on the little guy, and sometimes the little guy has to fight back.

Yes then No

JP Morgan Chase has big expansion plans for its Chase Bank. New brick-and-mortar retail branches are being built throughout Northern Delaware. Local 199 Business Manager James Maravelias was aware of that fact which is why he approached representatives to JPMorgan Chase about hiring union contractors and skilled union labor to build their proposed branches.

“To me, hiring union contractors and workers is a good business decision,” explained Maravelias.  “A company like JPMorgan Chase would benefit from productivity, dependability, and quality construction.  They seemed to agree with me when they promised to hire a union masonry contractor for one of its new branches in Wilmington, Delaware. When time came to actually do the hiring, however, the bank was silent on their promise. As a result, we decided we’d remind them, and the community, that breaking one’s word is no way to operate.”

Taking it to the Streets

With so many branches in the immediate area, LIUNA Local 199 had ample opportunity to let the public know of JPMorgan Chase’s underhanded practices.  Working with the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund (LEROF), Local 199 members joined organizers at information lines near Chase Bank customers.  While many people were sympathetic to the union message, the actions did not lead to a positive outcome, so the union decided to shift strategies and bring the message to JPMorgan Chase’s corporate headquarters in New York City. With huge corporations like this, you sometimes need to bring your message to the top, and that would be JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Diamond. 

The Delaware and New Jersey LECET Funds joined LEROF researchers on a deep dive of JPMorgan Chase’s business practices. With pages upon pages worth of information at-hand, the union laid out a pattern of questionable business practices—from averaging more than $1.7 billion in fines each year, to settling lawsuits on racial discrimination and discriminatory lending practices, to having a lower tax rate than the average America (despite reporting almost $120 billion in net revenues last year).   As the union spelled out in flyers, signs, and conversations, going back on the promise to hire local contractors and local workers in Delaware was another example of poor corporate behavior.

Yes Again

In an organization as large as JPMorgan Chase, you don’t always find out what message or method helped change their mind but change their minds they did.  The Wilmington. Delaware branch that was supposed to be built using union contractors would be built union again. 

For LIUNA Local 199, the focus now moves from information lines and activism to delivering quality craftsmanship.  “We will always fight and scrap to win work,” explained Maravelias, “but longer term, we want to build mutually beneficial relationships with project owners like JPMorgan Chase. We want them to know that when you work with LIUNA, you work with a union that wants its partners to succeed and will do what it takes to make that happen.” 

Remembering Their Sacrifices

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today is Workers Memorial Day, a day for us to honor the dead and injured and recommit ourselves to advocating for safe workplaces for all.

The facts in America are alarming: on average more than 100 workers lose their lives from a work-related injury each week. That is one death every 99 minutes.  We should never accept even one injury or illness on the job let alone one every 99 minutes. We all must do better.

Brothers and Sisters, you know as well as I do–workplace deaths are largely preventable with proper planning, training, and worker protections. Let’s never forget that point and practice it each and every day. Afterall, as a union, we set the standards for occupational safety and health.
I thank you for your commitment to working safe and wish you and your family the very best. 

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Raymond M. Pocino
LIUNA Vice President and
Eastern Regional Manager

For stronger worker protections, Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Angelo deserve our thanks

By Raymond M. Pocino
International Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager
Laborers’ International Union of North America

Good government is good for New Jersey and the Three Sons Restoration case is a classic example of how creating, monitoring, and enforcing wage, hour, and labor laws is an effective way to support workers, save taxpayers money, and create an environment where honest businesses and not habitual cheaters are hired for public work.

Three Sons Restoration, LLC was a contractor of nefarious reputation. For years LIUNA heard rumors of the company exploiting their workforce. We heard it enough times that our union assigned organizers to investigate the claims. Over the course of many months, we met with Three Sons employees and listened to their stories. We visited worksites and pulled payroll records. It was clear that Three Sons was breaking several laws and we knew it. Of course, knowing something to be true and being able to do something about it are two different things. This is where good government and the leadership of Governor Phil Murphy and Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo were so critical.

Let’s cut to the end of this story and Three Sons Restoration. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Labor issued work stoppage orders for wage violations at two construction sites managed by Three Sons. This was a first-of-its-kind action taken by the department after Governor Murphy expanded the department’s enforcement authorities only months before.

In 2021, Three Sons was assessed approximately $2.75 million in back wages, penalties, and fees following a NJDOL investigation into the contractor’s failure to pay its employees the state prevailing wage at six job sites. Approximately 90 employees will receive the back wages they earned but were denied by their employer.

LIUNA believes in protecting and advancing the rights of workers and thankfully so do Governor Murphy and Commissioner Angelo.  Especially in public construction where work is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, cheating workers and falsifying documents becomes the “easy” way to gain a competitive advantage. It is easy, I should point out, until one is caught in the act by the State of New Jersey. Then, life for crooked contractors is anything but easy. This is as it should be, and thankfully, as it is today.

Raymond M. Pocino on the NJ Economic Recovery Act of 2020


In the middle of a global pandemic, there has never been a more urgent time to develop new and improved standards to recruit, retain, and support businesses here in New Jersey. Garden State residents will be pleased to know that this legislation incentivizes private investment and directs resources to help our main streets, our urban centers, our struggling communities, our working families, and businesses of all sizes.  

It is a fact that New Jersey is competing with other states, other countries, to retain and attract job-creating businesses. While we must compete with other states, we should not be at war with our own future by crafting policies that are too generous or lax in accountability and compliance. It may have been a long time coming, but the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 recognizes this point and gets it right for New Jersey.  

I am grateful to Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin for their roles in advancing legislation that is smart, targeted, transparent, and in the best interest of ALL New Jerseyans.

Raymond M. Pocino
Vice President – LIUNA
Eastern Region Manager

Labor Day

Labor Day Message from LIUNA VP and Eastern Regional Manager Pocino

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions of the American worker and that is a great thing.
Each and every day, we have unions like LIUNA to protect and advance the rights of workers–and that is far greater. We are better together, better united, better when we care for others and commit to the cause.


On this treasured national holiday, I celebrate my fellow union members—professionals on the job and dedicated and committed activists wherever and whenever they are needed.
Happy Labor Day to you and your family, and thank you for helping make LIUNA the very best it can be.


In solidarity,

Raymond M. Pocino
Vice President – LIUNA
Eastern Region Manager

Workers Memorial Day

Workers Memorial Day

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Workers Memorial Day, we honor the dead and injured and recommit ourselves to protecting the men and women who go to work each day expecting to arrive home the same way they left. 

Each year in America, thousands of workers die and millions more are injured or take ill because of their work. We should never accept even one injury or illness on the job and must always strive to make our workplaces even safer for everyone.

As we all know, workplace deaths are largely preventable with proper planning, training, and PPE.  Safe jobs really do save lives and never was that as important as it is today. 

This Workers Memorial Day and everyday, I thank you for your commitment to health and safety.  

I hope you and your families are doing well and staying safe.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Raymond M. Pocino
LIUNA Vice President and
Eastern Regional Manager

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month has its earliest origins in the celebration of International Women’s Day, which was itself a focal point for the women’s rights movement of the 1900s. By the mid-1970s, celebrations had expanded to a week-long observance of women’s achievements in many parts of the country.

In 1981, recognizing the growing popularity of Women’s History Week, Rep. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Orrin Hatch sponsored a joint resolution officially proclaiming the week of March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Over the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week. Beginning in 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.

In the spirit of honoring Women’s History, we wanted to shine the spotlight on four female activists whose contributions help shape the labor movement into what it is today. Our current successes are built on the shoulders of these extraordinary women.

AI-JEN POO

Ai-Jen Poo began organizing domestic workers in 2000, and 19 years later, she is still actively organizing.

Once thought to be an impossible industry to organize, Poo proved otherwise, founding the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) in 2010. Now, 20,000 member-strong and growing, Poo fights to give domestic workers the same lawful rights as any other employee. This includes: fair wages; vacation time; and overtime pay. The NDWA also offers training and other support to its members and has even organized a campaign to combat the human trafficking of domestic workers. Given the often-isolated environment of domestic work, Poo has helped provide workers the community they frequently lacked and sorely needed. Together, these workers are raising awareness, offering hope, and reminding people that all workers deserve a just working environment.

Poo’s numerous accolades include recognition as a 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, a 2013 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and being named to TIME magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World; Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women list; and Fortune.com’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

CORETTA SCOTT KING

To merely associate Coretta Scott King with her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. is to ignore the hard work and accomplishments of Scott King over her many decades of activism.  As she described back in 1976, “I am not a ceremonial symbol – I am an activist. I didn’t just emerge after Martin died – I was always there and involved.”

That involvement, in many ways, was shaped by the hardships and injustice she faced.  As a child during the Great Depression, she picked cotton to pay for her education. Though her family was of modest means, it didn’t stop white supremacists from burning down her childhood home.  Scott King was an instrumental part of the Poor People’s Campaign and used her influence to organize protests and apply pressure on those with power, pushing for change, especially as it relates to economic justice.

As co-founder of the National Committee for Full Employment/Full Employment Action Council (NCFE/FEAC), part of her activism was based on leading the legislative fight to guarantee jobs for all Americans. Just four days after her husband’s murder on April 4, 1968, Scott King returned to Memphis to support the city’s striking sanitation workers. She reminded the 50,000 marchers in attendance about the journey already traveled, from desegregation to voting rights, and the building of political power. She then spoke of journey ahead, stating: “And now we are at the point where we must have economic power.”

JESSIE DE LA CRUZ

Jessie de la Cruz became a farmworker before most other kids even started school. At just five years old, she labored in the Southern Californian fields, pruning vines and picking fruits and vegetables. She witnessed firsthand the harsh conditions and mistreatment of the largely immigrant fieldworkers, which led her to join the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union in 1965 and, at Cesar Chavez’s request, to become its first woman recruiter.

Given the cultural limitations imposed on women, de la Cruz confessed that labor organizing wasn’t always easy for her. Yet over four decades, she succeeded in helping expand the movement and raise standards for farmworkers.  In 1968, de la Cruz ran the first UFW hiring hall, which was conveniently built next to her home. In addition to collecting dues, dispatching workers, and organizing union actions, the bilingual de la Cruz helped translate documents and assisted Spanish-speaking members with appointments and filling out legal documents. She eventually taught English to members, giving them the tools to help themselves.  Never one to rest, de la Cruz continued to speak for working people and the poor until her death in 2013, at the age of 93.

MOTHER JONES

Hers is a name known to most Unionists, but her many contributions in support of working people may be less well known.

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was born in Ireland, emigrated to Canada during the Great Famine, moved to Memphis to start a family, lost her husband and four children to disease, moved to Chicago to start a dressmaking business, and lost her home, shop and possessions in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

During the rebuilding of the city after the fire, Jones joined the Knights of Labor (KOL), and following the collapse of the KOL after the events of the Haymarket Riot of 1886, she joined the United Mine Workers (UMW), rising to prominence as a fiery orator and fearless organizer during the first two decades of the 20th century.

So how did Jones get her nickname? In June 1897, after addressing the railway union convention, rank and file members began calling her “mother.” Jones leaned into the nickname, claiming she was older than she was, wearing outdated black dresses and referring to the male union members as “her boys.”

In the decades that followed, Jones was described as the Mother to Millions of Working Men and Women. She traveled the country in support of workers, giving speeches, coordinating actions, and organizing workers. Be it textiles, mining, manufacturing, or steelwork, Mother Jones was on the front lines. She led strikes, battled corporate interests, and was banned from more towns than any other union organizer of her time. When she was denounced on the floor of the US Senate as “the grandmother of all agitators,” she smiled and replied “I hope to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators.”

One particular action of note: to attract attention to the cause of abolishing child labor, in 1903, she led a children’s march of 100 children from the textile mills of Philadelphia to New York City “to show the New York millionaires our grievances.” A staggering one in every six children between the ages of five and ten were engaged in “gainful occupations” in the United States at that time.