Commendations, honors, and plaques surrounded Doug Stock as he sat in the kitchen area of his home in Fredonia earlier this week. Although early Tuesday evening his attention was soon drawn to a document he had received more than five decades ago that was to serve as the beginning of a new journey and mission.
“This is my letter of resignation” he said as he opened the envelope, “When I left the school system down there. January 30, 1967 … that’s where I started my union work. “
Stock was born and raised in Staten Island, served in the US Navy, and was later employed as an assistant supervisor in one of the county’s smaller schools. Although he enjoyed what he was doing, he was tired of the hustle and bustle of life in the Big Apple.
However, a link through his late wife’s father would eventually bring Stock to Chautauqua County that year. His father-in-law would hunt in this area with George Shepard, manager of Local 593 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
With the candidates dropping out of an apprenticeship program here, Stock was dejected when he received Shepard’s call asking if he was still interested in coming to Dunkirk. He never thought about it and made his way west.
54 years after that decision, he is a giant in the local workforce.
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What began as an electrician apprenticeship at Fredonia Electric in the Fine Arts Building of the State University of New York in Fredonia has grown into an even bigger calling.
After becoming a member of Local Union 106 IBEW in Jamestown in 1971, he worked and held numerous leadership positions in several unions. Most recently, he was President of the Dunkirk Area Labor Council, which is part of the AFL-CIO.
However, during the past Christmas break, Stock finally had a chance to catch his breath. After decades of meeting, traveling, and working with community businesses and elected leaders, he decided to take a step back.
At the end of last month he ended his long term as President of the Council, which he had held since January 2006. “I’ve met a lot of great people and a lot of great union members.” he said of his time. “I didn’t have a family up here. … Most of my friends are all trade unionists. “
As a journeyman electrician, Stock worked on a variety of industrial and commercial projects across West New York. From 1985 to 1999 he was Business Manager of the IBEW Jamestown Chapter, overseeing five funds – including Health and Pensions – totaling more than $ 14.9 million. He also negotiated and handled a number of labor disputes and complaints for membership of 200 people in the public and private sectors.
“He was the guy you would call (in a labor dispute)” said lawyer Charles DeAngelo from Fessenden Laumer & DeAngelo. “Everyone trusts him.”
During those 14 years, Stock worked with district officials and economic development on major projects in the north of the district, including the Dunkirk Hotel, now the Clarion, the expansion of Brooks Memorial Hospital, and a number of schools.
In 1999 he became the AFL-CIO’s regional human resource development coordinator, responsible for setting up rapid-reaction workshops in union facilities and assisting with a series of layoffs in manufacturing in Western New York. Over a seven-year period in the position, he said he worked with 1,000 laid-off workers annually.
“Doug is a guy from the private sector” said DeAngelo. “He understood that these companies had to make money for the workers (to benefit from it). … He is one of the most important workers in this district. “
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In the 1970s, Stock was active in politics, particularly with the campaign of US MP Stan Lundine of Jamestown. Because of his union status, he was the point of contact for a number of Lundines visits to manufacturing facilities across the Southern Tier.
However, his work for the community and the workers went beyond party lines. In addition to solid relationships with former county executives Joseph Gerace and Mark Thomas and Reps Rolland Kidder and William Parment, all Democrats, he also praised former Senator Catharine Young, who stepped down from office in March 2019.
“She worked very well with unions” Share said. “A lot of us were really sad to see them go.”
Former district chairman Jack Glenzer, a Fredonia roommate and Republican, also paid tribute to Stock’s efforts. “He told me once” Share said “You know, you and I are two different people who represent two different organizations – Democrats and Republicans. … I really enjoyed working with you and you were always fair. “”
Glenzer’s comments define a legacy of relationship-building and partnerships that Stock has built over the years not only with local officials but with a number of contractors and companies. In addition to being a manual worker, he served for many years on the board of directors of the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, served on the state United Way Board and the Western New York 2-1-1 Advisory Board for two years.
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Over the decades, Stock saw many good things, but many more bad things. Western New York lost numerous high-paying manufacturing jobs in the steel and manufacturing industries from the 1980s to the 1990s, most recently in 2015 at the Carriage House in Fredonia and Dunkirk.
Nonetheless, Stock remained loyal to a place that he regards as his home. “I love this area and haven’t moved” he said when talking about the loss of his first wife in 1984. “We had a lot of fun up here. The kids enjoyed it up here and all three went to schools. I stayed and became active in the local (unions). “
He also has a hobby that leads him to a number of auto shows as a member of the Lake Shore Street Rods Association. His 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle takes him to shows in the area and he usually takes part in the Dunkirk Memorial Day parade.
Don Williams Jr. of Dunkirk succeeds Stock, who hopes to stay in a role emeritus. “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my union brothers and sisters.” he said and noticed the encouragement from his wife Joann over the years.
Going forward, he plans to continue his role on the County Workforce Investment Board. He notes that both Shepard, who brought him to town, and Joe Granto, a former steel union representative, were important mentors in his early years.
DeAngelo, a well-respected labor law attorney, noted his admiration and respect for Stock’s work and relationships. “He is a role model for me” he said. “I look up to him.”
John D’Agostino is the editor of OBSERVER, The Post-Journal and Times Observer based in Warren, Pennsylvania. Send comments to [email protected] or call 716-366-3000, ext. 253.