EmblemHealth and LaborPress Honor 10 Heroes of Labor Who Have Performed Remarkable Acts of Courage and Community Service

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EmblemHealth and LaborPress Honor 10 Heroes of Labor Who Have Performed Remarkable Acts of Courage and Community Service

EmblemHealth and LaborPress Honor 10 Heroes of Labor Who Have Performed Remarkable Acts of Courage


Superstorm Sandy Rescuers and Plumber Who Helped Save Tourist

NEW YORK, NY (October 3, 2013) — An off-duty fire fighter who saved more than two dozen lives during Superstorm Sandy and a plumber, whose quick thinking saved the life of a tourist whose leg was severed when she was hit by a taxi in front of Rockefeller Center, are among 10 extraordinary New Yorkers honored today as 2013 Heroes of Labor. The 2013 Heroes of Labor Awards, which recognizes people who have performed remarkable acts of courage and community service, is hosted by EmblemHealth, as part of its 75-year commitment to the health and well-being of New York’s working men and women, and sponsored by LaborPress, a news information and advocacy resource for the labor movement.

David Justino of United Association with his proud family Lt. Thomas Woods of Uniformed Fire Officers Association, IAFF, Local 854, and wife Michelle
Hero of Labor David Justino of United Association, Plumbers Local 1 (third from left) with his proud family. Justino was honored for his role in helping to save a tourist who was hit by a taxi near Rockefeller Center. Lt. Thomas Woods of Uniformed Fire Officers Association, IAFF, Local 854, and wife Michelle.
Credit: LaborPress

The Award highlights men, women and organizations whose contributions include advocating for access to decent working conditions, wages and medical care, as well as volunteering to help children and minorities. This year, several of the heroes went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives and help New Yorkers during Superstorm Sandy.

“We are proud to host an event that honors the great labor heroes of New York,” said EmblemHealth Vice President Jerry Gallo. “These awards celebrate the invaluable contributions made by working New Yorkers and highlight EmblemHealth’s ongoing commitment to organized labor, which began 75 years ago when it was created to provide access to affordable health care. We remain committed to providing high-quality and comprehensive health insurance to all New Yorkers.”

LaborPress publisher Neal Tepel delivered opening remarks, Vincent Alvarez, president New York City Central Labor Council delivered greetings. Each of the heroes received awards from his or her own union leader.

“The Heroes of Labor Awards highlights the extraordinary contributions made by the city’s working men and women,” said Mr. Tepel. “Their actions illustrate the dedication of our membership, many of whom often go above and beyond the call of duty in the service of our city.” Mr. Tepel presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Robert A. Ledwith, President of the Concrete Alliance and former Ironworkers Local 46 Business Manager, who retired after a career spanning over 40 years. In establishing cooperative trust between labor and management, Mr. Ledwith placed a new emphasis on communication, public relations and industry promotion.

Thomas G. Woods of Uniform Fire Officers Association (UFOA) Local 854, AFL-CIO was honored for saving more than two dozen lives while off duty in his neighborhood during Superstorm Sandy.

David Justino of Plumbers Local 1 was on a coffee break when an out-of-control taxi hit a young British tourist, severing her leg. The quick thinking Justino used his belt as a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding. Dr. Mehmet Oz, who came to assist after seeing the accident from his NBC studio, said that Mr. Justino was the real hero of the day and saved the girl’s life. “It’s very smart thinking. A simple thing like a union plumber’s belt can save your life.”

Other 2013 Heroes of Labor are:

  • Jesus Bonilla, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 15
  • Jorge Chuchuca, Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ
  • Eric Leimeister, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 94
  • Christopher Leo Sr., New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF)
  • Theresa Morris, Civil Service Employees Association, Long Island Region, Local 1000
  • John Reilly, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 802
  • School Safety Agents of the Exploring Program, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, City Employees Union, Local 237


Attendees at the 2013 Heroes of Labor Awards
From Left to right: LaborPress Publisher Neal Tepel; Kyle Bragg of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ; 32BJ honoree Jorge Chuchuca with his wife Candida, his mother, Parcila Abril, and his brother Raul; and EmblemHealth Director of Labor Shawn McLaughlin.
Credit: LaborPress


About EmblemHealth
EmblemHealth, Inc. provides quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 3.4 million people. Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO plans, as well as coverage for prescription drugs and dental and vision care. EmblemHealth offers a choice of networks, including quality doctors and other health care professionals throughout the region, leading acute care hospitals across the tristate area, and physicians and hospitals across all 50 states. For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.

About LaborPress
LaborPress is a news information and advocacy resource for the labor movement, reporting on stories affecting working New Yorkers through its publications, Web site, and e-mail blast to union officials, community leaders and union members throughout New York. For more information, visit www.laborpress.org.

Press Release