Commendations, honors and plaques surrounded Doug Stock as he sat in the kitchen of his Fredonia home earlier this week. Although his attention early that Tuesday evening quickly turned to a document he had received over five decades ago that would serve as the start of a new journey and a new mission.
“This is my letter of termination” he said opening the envelope, “When I left the school system there. January 30, 1967… that’s where I started my union work.
Stock was born and raised on Staten Island, served in the United States Navy, and later became employed as an assistant warden at one of the smaller schools in the district. Although he loved what he did, he was fed up with the hustle and bustle that came with living in the Big Apple.
A connection through his late wife’s father, however, would ultimately bring Stock to Chautauqua County that year. His stepfather would hunt in this area with George Shepard, who was the business manager of Local 593 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
As applicants here were pulling out of an apprenticeship program, Stock was down when he got the call from Shepard asking if he was still interested in coming to Dunkirk. He never thought about it and headed west.
Fifty-four years after this decision, he is a giant in the local union community.
What began as an apprenticeship as an electrician with Fredonia Electric in the State University of New York Fine Arts building at Fredonia has grown into an even more important calling.
After joining Local 106 IBEW in Jamestown in 1971, he worked and held many leadership positions in several labor organizations. More recently, he was president of the Labor Council of the Dunkirk region, which is part of the AFL-CIO.
Around the last Christmas holidays, however, Stock finally got a chance to start catching 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 Chairman of the Board, a position he had held since January 2006. “I have met a lot of great people and a lot of great union people”, he said about his time. “I didn’t have a family here. … Most of my friends are all unionized.
As a Journeyman Electrician, Stock has worked on various industrial and commercial projects in western New York. From 1985 to 1999, he was Commercial Director of the IBEW section of Jamestown and oversaw five funds – including health and pensions – which totaled over $ 14.9 million. He has also negotiated and handled a number of labor disputes and grievances for a workforce of 200 in the public and private sectors.
“It was the guy you called (in a labor dispute)”, said lawyer Charles DeAngelo of Fessenden Laumer & DeAngelo. “Everyone trusts him.
During those 14 years, Stock worked with county and economic development officials on major projects in the north of the county, including the Dunkirk Hotel, which is now the Clarion, the expansion of the Brooks Memorial Hospital and a number of schools.
In 1999, he became regional coordinator for workforce development with the AFL-CIO and was responsible for setting up rapid response workshops in union facilities and assisting during several layoffs in western New York State. During a seven-year period in this post, he said he worked with 1,000 laid-off workers each year.
“Doug is a guy from the private sector”, DeAngelo said. “He understood that these companies have to make money for the workers (to benefit from it). … He is one of the key workers in this county.
During the 1970s, Stock was active in politics, particularly with the campaign of US Representative Stan Lundine of Jamestown. Due to his union status, he has been the point of contact for a number of Lundine’s visits to manufacturing plants in the southern region.
His work for the community and the work, however, went beyond party lines. In addition to having strong relationships with former County leaders Joseph Gerace and Mark Thomas and MPs Rolland Kidder and William Parment, all Democrats, he also praised former State Senator Catharine Young, who resigned from his post in March 2019.
“She worked very well with the unions”, said Stock. “A lot of us were really sad to see her go.”
Former County Director Jack Glenzer, another Fredonia resident and Republican, also appreciated Stock’s efforts. “He told me once,” Stock said, “You know, you and I are two different people representing two different organizations – Democrats and Republicans. … I enjoyed working with you so much and you were always fair. “
Glenzer’s comments define a legacy of building relationships and partnerships that Stock has built over the years with not only local officials, but a number of entrepreneurs and businesses. In addition to serving the unions, he served for years on the board of directors of United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, was a member of the United Way State Council and the West 2-1-1 Advisory Board. of New York State for two years.
Over the decades, Stock has seen a lot of the good, but a lot more of the bad. Western New York State lost many well-paying manufacturing jobs in the steel and manufacturing industries from the 1980s to the 1990s and most recently at Carriage House in Fredonia and Dunkirk in 2015.
Nonetheless, Stock has remained dedicated to a place he considers his home. “I love this region and I did not move” he said when discussing the loss of his first wife in 1984. “We had a lot of fun here. The kids had a great time here and all three went to school. I stayed and became active at the local level (unions).
He also had a hobby that brought him to several auto shows as a member of the Lake Shore Street Rods Association. His 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle takes him to local shows and he normally participates in the Dunkirk Memorial Day parade.
Don Williams Jr. of Dunkirk succeeds Stock, who hopes to stay involved in a distinguished role. “I could not have done anything without the support of my union brothers and sisters” he said, noting the encouragement over the years from his wife, Joann.
In the future, he plans to continue his role on the County Workforce Investment Board. He notes that Shepard, who brought him to town, and Joe Granto, a former steelworker union representative, were key mentors in his early years.
DeAngelo, a respected labor lawyer, shared his admiration and respect for Stock’s work and relationships. “He is a model for me” he said. “I admire him.”
John D’Agostino is the editor of the OBSERVER, Post-Journal and Times Observer in Warren, PA. Send your comments to email@example.com or call 716-366-3000, ext. 253.