‘Defending Labor is My Life’s Work’

By Steve Wishnia, LaborPress

As the son of a Sicilian hotel worker, Vinny Pitta (pictured above, right) understands the dreams and struggles of immigrant families — and the success he’s achieved thus far in his career is evidence of the power of trade unions to fulfill the American Dream. In his ongoing work with labor, Pitta remains steadfast in ensuring that American ideal continues to inspire generations to come.

“Defending the best that life has to offer labor and workers has been my life’s work,” Pitta explained when the Peggy Browning Fund honored him in 2012. Indeed, whether as a labor lawyer negotiating a contract, or sitting on the board of a not-for-profit fighting for immigrant rights, Pitta continues to be a staunch defender of “the best life has to offer.”

Born and raised in southern Brooklyn, Pitta is a graduate of both St. Francis College and Brooklyn Law School. As a partner at the firm of Shea & Gould, Pitta served as chairman of the organization’s labor practice group, as well as co-chair of its government relations group.

Those experiences helped Pitta build important relationships in an out of government that continue to this day. They also served him well in the founding of both the law firm of Pitta & Giblin LLP and the government relations firm of Pitta Bishop Del Giorno & Giblin LLC.

Pitta supports numerous charities and sits on the board of several nonprofits, including the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association [BTOBA] President Wayne Joseph found a tireless advocate and a true friend after meeting Pitta a few years ago. Not only did Joseph and his board go on to engage Pitta & Giblin LLP to help in vital contract negotiations, Joseph later decided to nominate Pitta for the Heroes of Labor Labor Advocacy Award.

“I first met Vinny at the PEC (Public Employee Conference), and frankly, I really didn’t know much about him,” Joseph says.“One of the attorneys from his firm had been doing some of our benefits work, but I had never actually met Vinny. I knew he had an excellent reputation as a lawyer, however, and aside from the obvious, it was clear there was a lot more to Vinny than that. He is such a decent guy — respected by everyone.”

With Pitta in their collective corner, the BTOBA managed to successfully negotiate a long overdue contract. “Vinny advocated for the membership of BTOBA through the contentious negotiations between labor and management,” Joseph remembers. “He implored all parties to hammer out an agreement, regardless of the proposals, counter-offers and concessions that labor and management put on the table. Vinny represented BTOBA throughout the collective bargaining process, firmly committed to achieving a fair contract for union members and their families. The favorable outcome for all parties was a result of the hard work and dedication that Vinny provided.”

The experience taught Joseph a lot about Pitta, in addition to teaching him a little some-thing about himself as well. “To put it mildly, I can be harsh, especially in the heat of negotiations,” Joseph says. “Vinny wanted that contract as much as we did. He conducted himself so calmly, he was always a gen-tleman. It taught me a lot. It made me understand you can get a lot more bees with honey. It was an honor to nominate him.”

Reprinted with permission from LaborPress.