Essex County Democratic Committee, Inc. | 11th Annual Labor Awards Breakfast
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11th Annual Labor Awards Breakfast

11th Annual Labor Awards Breakfast

March 14, 2014

Contact:  Roslyn Smith



West Orange, NJ – Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman, LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. hosted his inaugural event on Friday, March 14th at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. The event recognized several leaders who have been influential in advancing the causes of working men, women, and families. The honorees were Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3), Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7), Gerard Balmir, Analilia Mejia, and Vikki Thurston.

“Our labor leaders are the variable in what makes New Jersey work,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) while opening the award portion of the morning to over 150 attendees from all over the state, including many labor leaders and public servants. Ruiz also serves as the Vice-Chairwoman of the Essex County Democratic Committee.

Honorees and officials speaking as a part of the program commended Jones and expressed their enthusiasm about all that will be accomplished in his role as chairman because of his diverse experience working in public service throughout the years.

“We lost a giant when we lost the late Philip Thigpen, Sr., but I know that LeRoy Jones is well-suited to fill those shoes,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

“I remember my time as an intern in Trenton some years ago, usually interns are the ones that are sent to make copies and get coffee, but LeRoy Jones took the time to really mentor me when he did not have to, this award that I am receiving today with his name on it means a lot,” said Assemblyman Troy Singleton.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo during his candid remarks acknowledged that due to partnerships within the labor community, he and his administration have been able to make strong strides within the county in efforts such as the improvement of parks and recreation facilities. DiVincenzo also acknowledged the legacy of former democratic chair, the late Philip Thigpen, Sr. while emphasizing that Jones, a mentee of Thigpen, is the most poised person to carry the baton.

In the morning’s closing remarks, Jones expressed his gratitude to the honorees, overall appreciation of the labor community, and reaffirmed his great respect for Thigpen, Sr.  “Each of today’s honorees embody the essence of the labor movement and what it means to live in a Democracy where there are worker’s rights and equal protection. Organized labor is the heart of our party, New Jersey will continue to be a shining star as long as we practice commitment, compassion, and work together shoulder to shoulder,” Jones said.


Senator Stephen Sweeney

Senate President Steve Sweeney represents the Third Legislative District, which includes portions of Gloucester and Cumberland counties and all of Salem County. He is currently the Vice President of the International Association of Ironworkers.  As an ironworker by trade,  he has used his own experience to advocate on behalf of organized labor and rights of workers. He has sponsored laws to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage,  helped craft the New Jersey Paid Leave program,  and continues to fight for New Jersey’s middle class working families.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton

Assemblyman Troy Singleton has devoted his life to public service in government, political, and policy posts at all levels. He serves as Assistant to the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Northeastern Regional Council of Carpenters, which represents over 40,000 members in New Jersey and New York. In 2011, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 7th Legislative District.  Assemblyman Singleton has focused on issues, ideas, and initiatives that support hard working taxpayers and strong New Jersey communities.

Gerard Balmir

Gerard M. Balmir presently serves as government and community affairs director of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the 20,000-member union affiliate in New Jersey. In his position, Balmir works collaboratively with government and community leaders, business and labor, to encourage sound economic development policies that grow the economy, create family-sustaining jobs, and improve neighborhoods and communities.

Analilia Mejia

Analilia Mejia is a progressive community activist with a proven track record in organized labor. She has experience at the national  and state level. She has worked with Jersey Roots, SEIU, and currently serves as the Executive Director of NJ Working Families Alliance, an organization that was instrumental to propelling Earned Sick Day ordinances to Jersey City, NJ and Newark, NJ.

Vikki Thurston

Vikki Thurston serves as CWA Local 1037’s Executive Vice President.  Vikki has been dedicated to the labor movement for many years and has been an advocate for women and minority workers.  She has been a leader in the fight against wage discrimination and has sought to be a role-model for other women.

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