The United Way of Wyoming Valley and the Local Labor Movement have had a long standing partnership, which was officially forged in 1948, with the creation of a Labor Participation Department within United Way of Wyoming Valley.
Through this partnership, United Way, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (AFL-CIO), and other labor organizations work cooperatively in helping to address and meet a variety of human service needs. This partnership has flourished over the years, since both groups have similar missions and concerns "in helping to improve the quality of life of people."
The local labor movement has proudly joined in with other caring segments of the community to do its part in helping the United Way of Wyoming Valley in carrying out its mission. Acting as a responsible and concerned partner of one's community has evolved, in part, as a result of organized labor's history and basic principles of caring established through their AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations) Community Services Program.
While the United Way of Wyoming Valley and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (AFL-CIO) and their affiliated unions have had a formal partnership since 1948, many of our local public school districts/teachers unions, represented by the NEA/PSEA (National Education Association/Pennsylvania State Education Association) have also been extremely supportive and involved in the local labor movement's overall support of United Way.
The Labor Participation Department consists of one full-time employee, who must be a union card carrying member. The person's title in this position is AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison & Vice-President Labor Participation. Currently, Walter Klepaski, a member of Laborers' Local 215 has been serving in this position and head of the department since the end of 1979.
The Labor Participation Department works cooperatively with the United Way and the local labor movement in carrying out their missions. Some of the broad areas of responsibility of this department include:
- Gaining organized labor's voluntary & monetary support for United Way's year-round activities and operations
- Recognizing labor for their monetary and voluntary support
- Implementing a wide range of the AFL-CIO's "Community Services Programs"
- Working with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council’s Community Services Committee on special projects some of which include:
- Annual United Way Labor Christmas Project
- Annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive
- Annual Boy Scouts of America George Meany Scouting Award
- Conducting the UCAN (Union & Community Activist Training Course)
- Conducting the “Unions in the Community Girl Scout Patch” Workshop
Some "key focus areas" of the Labor Participation Department include:
- Continually identify and recruit labor volunteers for key United Way committees, activities, etc.
- Conduct volunteer training programs for labor's involvement with "Community Services Programs"
- Expand upon the "Labor Leadership Giving Society Program"
- Address dislocated workers about United Way supported services
- Serve as a key contact in providing information & referral services to members of organized labor, as well as the rest of the community
The strong historic partnership that exists between the United Way of Wyoming Valley and the local labor movement (primarily through the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council) have resulted in both state and national recognition. In 1990 the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council and its Community Services Committee won the initial Pa. AFL-CIO Boyer-Uehlein Community Service Award, for their excellence in the area of community services activities. In 1998, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council and United Way of Wyoming Valley attained the National AFL-CIO Model City in Community Service Award, which recognizes labor councils and United Ways who work cooperatively in developing effective community services programs in meeting human service needs. In 2002, United Way of Wyoming Valley and its Labor Participation Department's Labor Leadership Giving Society Program was named a "Best Practice Program" by United Way of America.
Click here to view a Labor History and Fact Sheet.
For additional information you can contact Walter Klepaski, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison & Vice President Labor Participation by telephoning (570) 829-6711, extension 229.