For the first time in its 53-year history, the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York/New Jersey and Vicinity held its annual dinner dance on the New Jersey side of its jurisdiction – specifically Atlantic City.
“We came here to show solidarity with the fine union workers in Atlantic City after the New Jersey AFL-CIO asked us to consider it,” stated PMC President Joseph Soresi.
However, the location was about the only noticeable change to the program that took place June 27. Once again, the port council honored three people from labor, the maritime industry and government.
Receiving the Paul Hall Award of Merit was Peter Busacca, a union member since 1973 active at the local and state levels. He joined IBEW Local 827 in 1973 as a lineman with Bell Atlantic. He climbed the ladder within his local holding various positions. During the1989 strike, he coordinated activities between his local and the Hudson County Central Labor Council. He became a delegate to the council, and later became its secretary-treasurer. In 2002, he succeeded the late Ed Pulver as the council’s president.
Busacca is the longtime executive secretary-treasurer of the PMC. Upon his retirement from Bell Atlantic’s successor company (Verizon), he joined IATSE Local 59 and created the nation’s first U.S. Department of Labor Stage Technician Apprenticeship Program.
In accepting his award, he remembered the role Pulver played in getting him involved in the Hudson County Central Labor Council: “Ed was a really good guy. He showed me how to be a good president at the central labor council. What we try to do is make a difference in workers’ lives.”
Busacca thanked the port council for the recognition as well for coming to Atlantic City.
Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of U.S.-flag TOTE, Inc., was presented with the Herb Brand Memorial Man of the Year Award.
A fourth generation industry veteran, he came to TOTE in 2010 with almost 30 years in the shipping business himself. He told the audience that as a young boy, he loved going to the docks and aboard ships with his grandfather.
“My grandfather instilled in me that you can’t be successful unless every single employee is successful,” Chiarello stated. “I am proud of our partnership with our unions. We want to make sure everyone goes home safely each day.”
Chiarello emphasized remarks he has heard MTD President Michael Sacco make many times to union members: “’We can’t be successful unless the companies are successful.’ The same goes for the companies with regard to the union.”
Sacco introduced Chiarello, calling him “a respected leader in the maritime industry. He’s a forward thinker who’s helping create and maintain good American jobs. And he’s someone who fosters the productive, respectful relationships that exist between his company and maritime labor.”
Additionally, Sacco pointed out that under Chiarello’s leadership, TOTE is building the world’s first two LNG-powered containerships in San Diego, which will be U.S.-flagged.
Unable to attend the dinner was U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who was named the Government Man of the Year. He did prepare a video in which he said he was grateful to be recognized, “but it should be me thanking all of you for your advocacy of hard working folks.”
As the ranking member of the Senate Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Committee, he stated the U.S.-flag maritime industry is critical to the nation’s economy and economic success.