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Haines Receives Ritzer Award

Michael Haines is pictured being awarded a medal as the 2021 George Ritzer Memorial Labor Award recipient at Northwest Arena Tuesday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A former pitcher for the Jamestown Expos is this year’s recipient of the city’s labor award.

On Tuesday, Michael Haines, IBEW 106 membership development organizer, received the 2021 George Ritzer Memorial Labor Award during a ceremony held at Northwest Arena. During his acceptance speech, Haines thanked his wife and mother, who attended the ceremony, past award winners and elected officials. Haines said he never meet Ritzer, who served as president of the Jamestown Area Labor Council for more than 20 years.

“I’m honored to be on the list,” Haines said about being the 36th recipient of the award that has been given since 1984.

Haines said his father was also in a labor union as a member of the United Auto Workers.

“He was involved in the labor movement as well,” he said.

Some of the past jobs Haines had before joining IBEW 106 included working for UPS, Blackstone Advanced Technologies and being a member of the Major League Baseball union as a pitcher for the Jamestown Expos minor league team.

Haines said as a member of the IBEW, he spends his time talking to contractors and workers about joining the union.

“There is nothing like the IBEW,” he said. “Some of the best people I’ve met are IBEW.”

David Wilkinson, IBEW 106 member and the AFL-CIO Council president, said Haines has done a terrific job as a labor union organizer.

“Michael has done an extraordinary task. Organizing is a difficult job,” he said.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said it’s unfortunate the Jamestown Labor Day Festival, which is usually when the Ritzer award recipient is honored, has been canceled the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, even though the festival was canceled, it’s important that Jamestown recognizes its labor leaders with the Ritzer Award.

“Labor has been the backbone moving this country forward, and COVID has shown us this,” he said.

George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, also spoke during the ceremony.

In 1984, the late Ben Spitale created the Spitzer award because he wanted to give recognition to a labor leader who was affiliated with the Jamestown Area Labor Council AFL-CIO. The award is given to an individual who volunteers and contributes towards the labor movement and volunteer’s time to community organizations.

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