Labor leader turns 90 with big party

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 2:41 PM EDT
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TOWN OF POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - He has been a top figure in organized labor in the north country and beyond for decades.

Over the weekend, Ernie LaBaff was honored at a big birthday bash in Potsdam as he turned 90.

LaBaff was president of the Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union from 1985 to 1997, advocating for workers including those at the aluminum plants in Massena.

Along the way, he has also been a St. Lawrence County legislator and chaired economic development boards.

There was a huge turnout for his birthday which LaBaff says is a tribute to his bipartisanship - he says party labels don’t matter.

“I get more crap sometimes out of the Democrats than I get out of the Republicans. But what’s funny to me, in 2018 they gave me the Silas Wright Award that’s an honoree Democrat and this year the county board, which is 12-3 Republican, passed a resolution honoring me. So now I’ve got both sides saying he’s not a bad guy. That’s the best you can have it,” he said.

LaBaff’s family was out in force for the big day, and he was presented with proclamations passed by the state Assembly and Senate recognizing his achievements.