"Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation"
Coretta Scott King
1927 - 2006
The New York City Labor Chorus, with 75 members representing over 20 labor unions and District Councils, was founded in 1991. Our Chorus promotes union solidarity by expressing through song the history and ongoing struggles of workers for economic and social justice. Our dynamic repertoire combines the power and culture of union music with the great gospel, jazz, classical and folk traditions.
Organized labor, united with its community allies, is an irrepressible social force. This is the message of the New York City Labor Chorus. The Chorus, with 75 members representing over 20 local unions and District Councils, was founded in 1991 for the purpose of bringing the message of workers' history and struggles for social and economic justice through song to people everywhere.
The Chorus has a national and international reputation as the premier multi-cultural and multi-generational labor chorus in the United States. It is a powerful cultural tool in the arsenal of workers. Wherever the struggle for people's rights is being waged, the Chorus will be there.
We stand ready to perform on picket lines, at union conventions, union rallies and shop steward meetings, as well as at community events, churches, colleges, and schools.
Our repertoire represents the great legacy of U.S. labor music. The repertoire includes songs of labor struggles, protest, and social significance. It also includes a rich diversity of music from the cultures of all working people: songs in the gospel, jazz, classical and folk traditions.
In 1997, we travelled throughout Sweden. We were hosted by two Swedish unions, LO, a union of several million blue collar workers, and SAS, the Scandinavian Workers Song Association. The Chorus performed at a five day festival in Uddevalla, along with thousands of chorus members from throughout Scandinavia. The Chorus also sang at Carnegie Hall in 1998 as part of a Tribute to Paul Robeson; in 1992 at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park at the Roots of American Music festival, and is featured on the 1998 Peter, Paul and Mary album, "Around the Campfire." Other performances include the 1992 Democratic Party National Convention, South Africa Solidarity Day and the International Workers Memorial Day at the United Nations, and annual performances in New York City's Labor Day Parade.
The chorus hired Jana Ballard as our new Musical Director and Conductor in Spring, 2010. Jana's story is featured in the archives of "In the Spotlight".
Keyboardist and songwriter Dennis Nelson is a native of Brooklyn, New York. He studied music at the Brooklyn conservatory of Music and is a graduate of Hofstra University. He has performed and toured with such artists as Felicia Marion, Valerie Boyd and Paul Fleming, and has been a member of contemporary gospel recording groups such as New York City Family and The New Hope Ensemble. His songs have been recorded by singers Valerie Boyd and, most recently, Desiree Coleman-Jackson ('Dez') on her latest project, "Sing For Me." He was co-musical director wit the gospel musical productions of "Gee Whiz! God Is!" and "Promises Of Gold." He served for many years as organist and choir director for Trinity Baptist church in Brooklyn, and is a music teacher in a New York City public school. Dennis resides in Brooklyn with his wife, Loretta, and their daughter, Kara.
Barbara Bailey, President and Co-founder
Robert Greenberg, Vice-President
Betty Reid, Treasurer
Jonah Wolf, Secretary
Jeffrey Vogel, Public Relations
Ione Foote, Membership Chairperson
Donna Reid, Uniform Chairperson
Rona Armillas, Concert publications
Velma Hill, Fundraising
Tom Karlson, At-large
Jesse Kasowitz, At-large
Cara Schwarz, At-large
Jana Ballard, Conductor and Artistic Director
Dennis Nelson, Accompanist
Unions Represented by NYC Labor Chorus Members
American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 1000
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 37 (DC37)
AFSCME DC 37 Social Service Employees Union (SSEU), Local 371
AFSCME DC 37 Local 375
AFSCME DC 37 Local 1251
AFSCME DC 37 Local 1549
AFSCME DC 37 Local 2627
AFSCME District Council 1707
American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (United Auto Workers Local 2325)
Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1101
Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1180
Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA)
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture (IATSE)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 237 (CSBA)
Operators of the US and Canada (IATSE), Local 52
New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA)
New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), AFT& NEA
National Writers Union (NWU)
Organization of Staff Analysts (OSA)
Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY), American Federation of Teachers Local 2334
Public Employees Federation (PEF)
Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 108/29
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199
Union of Needle, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!)
United Auto Workers (UAW), District 65 Retiree Division
United Auto Workers Local 2320
United College Employees of Fashion Institute of Technology (UCE of FIT)
United Federation of Teachers (UFT)
United Radio, Electrical, & Machine Workers Union (UE)
"The New York City Labor Chorus is a marvelous concept, and the members should be proud of the beautiful and passionate music they make. It's an essential recording for fans of political music, union songs or choral singing."
Live '93 - JM Sing Out! Review
"Magnificent CDs and tapes - I love the spirit of the future - you have me wanting more."
"A Chorus that tells us the story of our fondest hopes and dreams; real, moving, passionate and salt of the earth. Bravo!"
Peter Yarrow - Peter, Paul and Mary
"The NYC Labor Chorus sings history alive to build a better future, remembering the power of organized labor and giving harmonious voice to our best hopes for tomorrow. The Chorus is a Class Act."
"CWA Local 1180 has been a strong supporter of the New York City Labor Chorus since its inception in 1991. Their music speaks to and inspires the labor movement."
President, Local 1180 CWA