New York Service Workers Union Celebrates "Building Workers of the Year"

by Kelsey Schappell
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Kelsey Schappell, WFUV

Service workers union 32BJ SEIU handed out 18 awards Wednesday night, including two "Lifesaver Awards."

Fred Roldan has been working as a custodian at P.S. 45 in Bushwick, Brooklyn for 22 years. Last winter, just a few weeks after the Sandy Hook school shooting, Roldan, 66, served the school in a heroic way. He says he saw a man who looked “agitated” and “out of place.” As it turned out, the man was running from police.
 
Roldan sprang into action.
 
"The police were running into the building. He tried to pull out a gun, and I just grabbed him and threw him on the floor and put him against the wall," he said.
 
Roldan's 7th grade son, Noah, was in the school when the incident happened. He says he's proud of his dad.
 
"Everybody got scared, but, to know that he solved the problem - it's a good thing," said Noah.
 
Roldan said he believes any of the staff would have done the same thing. 
 
“It's something that happened in the spur of the moment. I do not consider myself a hero,” he said.
 
Security guard Irene Love-Legendre won the other Lifesaver award for stopping a rape.  A full-time student by day and security guard by night, Love-Legendre doesn't call herself a hero, either.
 
"I'm just thinking I’m doing my job… It’s something that's expected of me.  But I appreciate that they acknowledge me, that they want to give me this award,” she said.
 
Love-Legendre admits she was scared when she had encountered the potential rape while on patrol.
 
"I was like, 'oh my gosh, I don't want this happening!' But I guess shock and adrenaline just came in and took over," she said.
 
In all, 18 workers were honored during Wednesday night’s seventh annual Building Service Workers Awards from local 32BJ of the Service Employee International Union.
 
"It helps us show how our workers are improving the community," said 32BJ’s Director of Strategic Communications, Teresa Candori. “It’s important to have workers who are on the ball, who are selfless, who care about the people that they serve.”
 
Otis Slaton, 65, received the Longevity Award for his 46 years of service at the Birchwood Court Apartments in Mineola, NY.
 
“Every day it’s something different,” Slaton said of the job.
 
Slaton has been working at Birchwood Court since he moved to New York from Montgomery, Alabama in 1967.
 
“I am very, very, impressed,” he said of his award. 

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