Tonko to bring union director to State of the Union

Congressman Paul Tonko
Congressman Paul Tonko
Article Audio:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, will bring Capital District Area Labor Federation Director, Mark Emanatian, as his guest for the 2023 State of the Union address.

The Capital District Area Labor Federation, also known as CDALF, serves over 40 affiliated unions and an estimated 120,000 individuals. Emanatian, who has been in the role of director for seven years, said Tonko’s invitation came as a surprise.

“We got involved in doing mass food distributions, where the cars came up, during the pandemic,” Emanatian said. “So we helped put together a coalition with Catholic Charities with the Regional Food Bank, with all of our unions and lots of community groups, and tried to do the best we could, and we’re still doing it, and I think that’s why Congressman Tonko who’s worked with us for years, I think that’s what he was recognizing when he invited me.”

Emanatian explained he has watched each State of the Union address since watching Lyndon Johnson in 1966, when, as a child he took it upon himself to take notes on it.

“I’ve watched every one of these, Emanatian said. “And I was just shocked, I mean taken aback, it’s a great honor. I’m thrilled, nervous, but thrilled. My wife made me get a new suit.”

Poverty affects a large part of the population, about one-third, Emanatian said. For many who can not afford rent, bills and the other costs of living, food is often the first thing to go, he explained.

“I’m urging the government to help more than they’re helping,” Emanatian said. “I also think it’s all of our responsibility to try to build a better world, and feeding people has to be a big part of trying to do that. We could use as much help as possible, The Regional Food Bank, the Food Pantry for the Capital District, your local food pantry right up the street.”

The US is currently experiencing the best economy for American workers in decades, Tonko explained in a statement. He cited higher wages, better benefits, and better jobs.

“This boom for workers was only possible thanks to our nation’s unions,” Tonko said in a statement. “President Biden and House Democrats understand this acutely, and we are working every day to strengthen the unions that form the backbone of our nation. In that work, I’m so grateful to have incredible partners in Mark and CDALF, who are each day proving the necessity and the power of unions to protect all workers and ensure Americans are provided with a living wage, retirement security, and health benefits.”

Tonko thanked Emanatian for joining him for this year’s State of the Union. He explained he looks forward to continuing “our push to empower worker to unionize and have dignity at work.”

President Biden will address a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol for the address Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply