Essex County News

Essex County Democratic Committee Holds 12th Annual Labor Awards Breakfast


WEST ORANGE, NJ – On Feb. 13, Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman, LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. honored Michael Capelli of North East Regional Council of Carpenters, Greg Lalevee of International Union of Operating Engineers, Lionel Leach of CWA Local 1039, Amy Lewis of Teamsters Local 97 and Wayne Richardson of LIUNA local 55, at the 12th Annual Labor Awards.

“Thank you to everyone for supporting our celebration of labor and the contributions that each honoree has made,” Jones said. “We are here recognizing our brothers and sisters in labor with the understanding that our collective mission is about the quality of life for all working families,” he added.  

“Our labor leaders are the variable in what makes New Jersey work,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) during her opening remarks.

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Dignitaries that addressed the gathering applauded Jones and acknowledged the importance of organized labor and the Democratic Party continuing to work in unison. “There is a difference between just being a friend of labor and having the ability to effectively articulate labor issues, LeRoy Jones is the person that you want in the room,” said Freeholder Gerry Balmir.

Freeholder Wayne Richardson added, “I express my gratitude to my family and to our Chairman. My household is committed to labor and I am proud of the progress that has been made. As we continue to move forward our level of organization and tenacity towards our efforts has to exceed the forces that are being levied against us.”

“Reflecting on the laws that we now have in place regarding hours, wages, and workplace safety, we can see that over the span of the past 100 years, organized labor and the Democratic Party, working together, have made tremendous strides, we are fortunate to have a chairman that actively works to build upon each victory,” said Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin.   

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. noted that partnerships between the labor community and his administration have led to the successful revitalization of parks and recreation throughout Essex County.

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34) congratulated the honorees, noting that the Annual Labor Awards Breakfast is a tradition that was started by the late Philip Thigpen, longtime former chairman.


Michael Capelli

Capelli is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. The position is the latest step in a union career that has taken him from apprenticeship to his current role as leader of 10 local unions representing over 21,000 members in New Jersey and New York State. He has been active for years in local politics, is a resident of Elk Township and is married with three children.

Greg Lalevee

Lalevee worked his way through the ranks of IUOE Local 825, beginning as a crane operator, working as a union organizer and Business Representative. Lalevee was elected the Local’s Business Manager in 2010. Under Greg’s leadership, Local 825 orchestrated several changes and transactions to strengthen the union’s financial footing, consolidate its membership, establish a new labor-management coalition, while taking every opportunity to relentlessly pursue job opportunities for his members. Lalevee is the proud father of three daughters Morgan, Taylor and Carly.

Lionel Leach

Leach was elected as the youngest (at age 43) and the first African American male president in CWA Local 1039, New Jersey. Leach's main focus has been to make the union more efficient, giving the membership more say in running the organization, being proactive and fighting for fair contracts and fair labor practices. The 5,000 plus members of 1039 are comprised of public sector employees including: Department of Children and Families, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Juvenile Justice Commission and the NJ State Parole Board. CWA 1039 also represents childcare workers in the private sector.

Amy Lewis

Lewis is a 27-year Teamster who represents over 2,000 members within Teamsters Local 97 Union, who are employed with Rutgers University, (Newark, NJ), University Hospital, (Newark, NJ) Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, (Clinton, NJ) New Jersey State Prison, (Trenton, NJ), and Northern State Prison, in Newark, NJ. In addition, Lewis is the Medical Health Director for Teamsters Local 97, and is responsible for overseeing all of the Teamsters Business Agents, and staff who represent University Hospital, Rutgers University, Rowan University Campuses, and the Correctional facilities in the State of New Jersey.

Freeholder Wayne Richardson

Richardson grew up in Newark, and graduated from Barringer High School. As a young man in the 1980’s, he served as a district leader and assistant ward chairperson in Newark’s North Ward. Richardson worked in construction, and later as a business agent for Laborers Local 108. He is currently an organizer for the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund (LEROF,) and has served as the President of Laborers Local 55 since 2009. In 2014, Richardson was promoted to the position of Lead Organizer for an area including New Jersey, Delaware, the five boroughs of New York and Long Island. 

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