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Richard Lipsitz, Jr. collection on labor organizing in Western New York

Identifier: MS-0072

Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection was organized by Richard Lipsitz, Jr. under the title "Labor movement," from which the first series title is formed. This series is arranged primarily chronologically, largely comprising materials related to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Western New York Area Labor Federation (ALF, a regional branch of AFL-CIO), Buffalo Central Labor Council (CLC, the Buffalo leadership of ALF), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), and Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA, now known as Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA)). A description of the contents of each box provides a more detailed inventory of this large series.

Viewing these materials chronologically rather than topically reveals the breadth of Lipsitz’s work as well as the concurrent involvement of the local and regional unions in politics, education, and welfare. In addition to documenting regular union activities and meetings, the collection elucidates initiatives such as an adult education program (Project READ) and a group health insurance fund. Unions have a long history of endorsing political candidates as well as reaching out to members to encourage them to vote dating back to 1936 when the AFL and CIO created a league to help Franklin D. Roosevelt win re-election. The endorsements of local politicians in this collection reveal the issues of importance in Western New York throughout several decades. Lipsitz had maintained his files on Roswell, Project READ, and the Cornell Adjunct Faculty Alliance separately, and this separation is reflected in the creation of series for these topics.

The series on Ephemera, memorabilia, and publications includes examples of local and regional union newsletters as well as publications by allied groups. Also included are clippings of articles on labor from local periodicals such as the Buffalo News and ArtVoice, an incomplete run of Western New York Federation of Labor News (1952-1984), and a scrapbook of the Am-Pol Eagle Citizens of the Year / Polish-American labor leaders 1969-2000. The series also includes photographs, clippings, posters, and commemorative items. Of particular note is a scrapbook of photographs of the AFL-CIO Community Services Committee camp at Camp Forty Acres in the early 1950s and a scrapbook of clippings on James M. Mead, a U.S. senator (1938-1946) from Buffalo who had previously represented the now eliminated 42nd District covering parts of Western New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. Memorabilia includes pinback buttons, lapel pins, and other promotional material, as well as Buffalo AFL-CIO Council membership cards, 1953-2010.

Acronyms used in this collection:

  • AFL-CIO: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • ALF: Western New York Area Labor Federation (regional branch of AFL-CIO)
  • CLC: Buffalo Central Labor Council (the Buffalo leadership of ALF)
  • IBT: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, commonly shortened to “Teamsters”
  • CEJ: Coalition for Economic Justice
  • IRRA: Industrial Relations Research Association
  • (now known as LERA: Labor and Employment Relations Association)


  • 1968-2014


Terms of Access and Use

Portions of this collection have been minimally processed. Privacy protected information (including but not limited to certain educational, medical, financial, criminal, attorney-client, and/or personnel records) may be revealed during use of archival collections, particularly in collections that are unprocessed or have been minimally processed. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within the archival collections, and further agree not to publish, publicize, or disclose such information to any other party for any purpose if found within the archival collections.

Terms of Access and Use

The Richard Lipsitz, Jr. collection on labor organizing in Western New York, 1968-2014, is open to researchers. Please note: This collection is stored off-site. Access to collection requires 3 business days’ notice. Contact University Archives at 716-645-2916 to schedule an appointment.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and University Archives before requesting photocopies and/or publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Once permission is obtained, most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

Richard Lipsitz, Jr. was born and raised in Buffalo. After initially attending George Washington University, he transferred to Antioch Washington-Baltimore ("Antioch East"), an experimental satellite campus of Antioch College, graduating in 1973 with a major in Political History. While in college, Lipsitz began his work in the labor movement, advocating for employees at George Washington University Hospital (now represented by 1199SEIU). After returning to Buffalo, he was elected president of the Civil Service Employees Association chapter (CSEA #303) representing Roswell Park Cancer Institute (now Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center). From 1987 until 1995 he served on the AFL-CIO Western New York Hospital and Nursing Home Council, a body created by three sponsoring unions: The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (UNITE HERE, Local 4), and the Laundry and Dry Cleaning International Union. The council was later dissolved, and the employees are now represented by 1199SEIU Upstate. During this time, he completed a Master of Science degree in Education from Buffalo State College, graduating in 1992.

In 1995 Lipsitz began to work with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), including Local 264 and Joint Council 46. From 1999 until 2002, he was the director of the Worker Institute at the Cornell ILR School extension in Buffalo, an initiative that offers union skills workshops, courses for credit, and other training. He was elected president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation (ALF) in fall 2011 and reelected twice, his final term ending March 2021. In 2012 Lipsitz joined the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA), serving as Vice Chair.

The AFL-CIO is a federation of 55 unions. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded in 1886, and the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed within the AFL in 1935. CIO left and formed an independent federation renamed the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1938. In 1955 AFL and CIO merged, with George Meany serving as president. The Western New York Area Labor Federation (ALF) was established in 2001 and is one of nearly 500 state and local labor councils of the AFL-CIO. The ALF consists of five Western New York Central Labor Councils, governed by seven Officers, and 25 Board Members from affiliated Local Unions. The five councils include the Buffalo Labor Council representing Erie County; the Niagara/Orleans Labor Council representing all of Niagara County and the western part of Orleans County; Dunkirk; Jamestown; and the Cattaraugus/Allegany Labor Council representing those two counties in the Southern Tier.

Richard Lipsitz, Jr. is the son of lawyer Richard Lipsitz, Sr. (1920-2018, UB Law ‘43), who represented Vietnam War protesters, advocated for civil rights with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Coalition for Economic Justice, and defended four University at Buffalo faculty members and a library employee in the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the Feinberg Law, a decision that protected the freedom of association and academic freedom under the First Amendment. The University Archives holds the Richard Lipsitz, Sr. papers, MS 5.

Other repositories with labor collections include The Kheel Center, affiliated with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations; the George Meany Memorial Archives, housed at the University of Maryland, which holds the AFL-CIO records; the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit; and the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University's Bobst Library.


43 Linear Feet (33 record cartons, 4 newspaper boxes, 3 print boxes, 1 letter manuscript box, and 1 clamshell box; some items in map case)

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged in seven series.


  1. Labor movement, 1968-2014
  2. Labor education, 1990-2007
  3. Roswell Park Memorial Institute, 1973-1987
  4. Project CARE (Career Advancement Through Retraining and Education), 1993-1997
  5. Cornell Adjunct Faculty Alliance (CAFA), 2005-2013
  6. George Washington University and Daemen College, 1971-1986
  7. Ephemera, publications and memorabilia

Acquisition Information

Donated by Richard Lipsitz, Jr., in batches starting in 2002 and continuing until 2020.


Further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

See also MS 73, Alternative Press collection, a collection of local and national news sources related to labor, anti-war, student unrest, and free speech issues spanning the years 1969-1992, collected by Richard Lipsitz, Jr.

Separated Materials

Some publications have been removed and added to MS 73, Alternative Press collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Marie Elia, Jessica Hollister, and Lucy Bell, 2020; finding aid encoded by Marie Elia, 2020.


Finding aid for the Richard Lipsitz, Jr. collection on labor organizing in Western New York
Finding aid prepared by Marie Elia
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)