AFSCME honored three retiring International vice presidents on Thursday in a moving tribute to the lasting legacies of these labor stalwarts.
IVPs Gary Tavormina, chair of the Retiree Council; Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4 (Connecticut); and Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5 (Minnesota), were all recognized for their decades-long contributions.
President Lee Saunders reflected on their accomplishments, saying, “I've seen them organize, I've seen them fight, and I've seen them inspire. I've seen their dedication to public service workers and I've seen them move people to collective action. I admire their leadership, and I'm grateful for their advice and their strong voice on our International Executive Board.”
Tavormina began his public service career as a corrections officer at New York’s Green Haven Prison, a career spanning more than three decades. He was president of Local 1041 and continued his union activism for decades more after retiring. He was elected president of New York’s Chapter 82 in 1991 and became chair of the National Retiree Council in 2012.
Under Gary’s leadership, the Retiree Council has added seven new retiree chapters and thousands of members. He’ll continue as president of Chapter 82.
“You in this room are the future of this nation,” Tavormina, who has been an AFSCME member since 1957, told the delegates. “Don’t give up. Rise up and be proud.”
Sal Lucianois steadfast trade unionist who made AFSCME a powerhouse in the state of Connecticut. Raised in Waterbury, Connecticut, he started his career in public service as a social worker in the Department of Children and Youth Services.
Luciano is a fighter for pension and retirement security, and has stood up to outsourcing and privatization. A shrewd coalition-builder, he’s been tireless advocate for veterans, and a political innovator who helped found the Connecticut Working Families Party. Following the illegal layoff of thousands of state employees in 2003, he played an important role in the lawsuit against Gov. John Rowland.
“My AFSCME family: The fabric of my life has been made richer and fuller by all of you. You are all warriors who fight every day for social justice and economic justice,” Luciano said. “You bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.”
Eliot Seidegrew up in a working-class union family: his father was president of the Commercial Printers Union local in New York City, his mother was an AFSCME member. Seide served AFSCME across the country, building a powerful legacy in Minnesota over the last 15 years.
His vision and leadership led to a successful merger of Locals 96, 14 and 6 into Council 5 – a bigger, stronger fighting force for tens of thousands of public service workers in Minnesota. A brilliant tactician, Seide has been respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and has been doggedly committed to his members.
“Thank you for the honor and the privilege of fighting for workers for the last 40 years. There is no greater privilege. And thank you to Council 5, the greatest fighting force I’ve had the opportunity of working with,” Seide said.
The retiring IVPs exemplify the lifelong commitment to working families, to progressive values and to fighting for a voice on the job embodied by so many AFSCME members. Even in retirement, their legacies will shine brightly.