The Richard Lipsitz Jr. Collection on Labor Organizing in Western New York
A unique collection in the University Archives speaks directly to the history of the labor movement in Western New York. Richard Lipsitz Jr., former president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and a prominent figure in the region’s labor movement, has spent decades documenting and gathering materials related to local labor unions.
When searching for a fitting place to house this extensive collection, Lipsitz chose the University Archives. He wanted
to ensure that this series of labor movement publications and memorabilia, which is directly connected to Buffalo and Western New York, stays in Buffalo and remains accessible to students and researchers.
From negotiating for reasonable hours and safer working conditions, to securing health benefits and striving for fair and equitable wages for all workers, labor unions have significantly impacted the lives of American workers. The Richard Lipsitz Jr. Collection on Labor Organizing in Western New York chronicles this powerful story through the lens of Buffalo’s labor unions, offering insight and perspective on the role of local and regional unions in politics, education and the welfare of workers.
More than fifty years of labor union memorabilia are found in this collection. Bumper stickers and buttons with such phrases as “Save our Children’s Hospital,” “Health Care for All,” and “SEIU: Justice for Janitors: Fighting for Good Jobs for our Communities” highlight issues that were significant decades ago and remain relevant today. Publications, meeting minutes and correspondence related to various labor organizations, such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Western New York Area Labor Federation, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), make up a significant
Buffalo AFL-CIO Council membership cards from 1953-2010 are part of The Richard Lipsitz Jr. Collection on Labor Organizing in Western New York.
portion of this compendium of materials. Photographs, posters, commemorative items and clippings of articles on labor topics from local periodicals give the collection added depth. Colorful pinback buttons, lapel pins and promotional materials help to complete this the story of the work of labor unions in Western New York.
Richard Lipsitz Jr. has a connection to the University at Buffalo through his late father, attorney Richard Lipsitz Sr. (1920-2018, UB Law ’43). His father, whose papers are housed in the University Archives, specialized in union-side labor relations law and civil liberties. Thanks to both father and son, Western New York labor relations history is well documented in the University Archives.