SUSAN F. HORWITZ
Sandulli Grace P.C.
Susan Horwitz has tirelessly served the labor community as an attorney at Sandulli Grace, PC since 1984. She has been a strong advocate for the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA), the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (MCOP), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1228 Broadcasting Workers, and more
She has won victories in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Labor Relations Commission, arbitrations, and contract negotiations. Christopher Broderick, secretary of the BPPA, says that “Susan has not only been an educator, an advocate, and a champion for labor rights of our members, Susan has been a mentor to many of us. She has always helped us to understand that when you are right you should stand your ground but when you need to accept something you may not like you should do so with dignity.”
Susan grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn in a politically-active family, with her father serving on the New York City Council for over twenty years. Social justice advocacy and representing public servants are in her blood.
Susan began her work as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer paralegal in Tacoma, Washington. Following that experience, she worked for five years in personnel and labor relations at the U.S. Labor Department in New York City. She then attended Northeastern University School of Law, becoming a coop student for Sandulli Grace and beginning the work she has dedicated herself to for so many years.
Susan lives in Brookline with her husband James Cooper, labor arbitrator and 2013 CGA Boyle Award winner. Their daughter Phoebe works at Jackson Hole WILD, a Wildlife Film Festival and Science Media Center in Jackson, Wyoming, and their son Will is in college.
I want to thank the Labor Guild for this wonderful honor. I have had the opportunity to work with the Guild since the 1980’s and over the years to participate in its wonderful labor education program. The Labor Guild is truly a Beacon of positive collaborative energy at a time of so much negativity in this country. I wish the Labor Guild another meaningful 50 + years of educating and empowering working men and women and fighting for social justice.
I am generally more comfortable talking about issues like pay parity, first responder stipends, the Quinn Bill or of course my favorite topic recently, Police body worn cameras. So I thought maybe I should make my talk tonight educational as Joe Sandulli is known to do, but then I realized that most people in Boston and my client the BPPA had already heard way too much about body cameras. So instead I will talk a little about my work and my inspiration.
Most people talk of the influence of their parents and family and I am no different. In particular, my parents have been my primary inspiration.
My father Sam grew up in a small town in CT and at the time, in the 1920’s and 30’s, as a religious Jew he was bullied and ostracized. He would describe to me how poorly he was treated by the kids in his neighborhood when they would tease him because on Friday’s he had to carry a live chicken across town to the Rabbi for it to be blessed before it was killed for Friday night’s dinner. This stayed with my father his whole life and made him a man who respected all people.
When he was a member of the NY City Council in the 1980’s as the chairman of the General Welfare Committee, my father worked with then Mayor Ed Koch to shepherd the NYC Gay Rights bill through the Council. Prior Chairmen had worked to block the Council from even voting on the bill. When my Dad was asked by religious Jewish constituents, who were not supportive of the bill and who in fact picketed in front of my parent’s house, why he would work to pass this bill, he explained that he knew what it was like to be discriminated against and that he would fight to end discrimination in any way that he could.
These were the kind of messages of fairness and inclusion that both my parents instilled in me and I have been very proud to carry forward in my life and into my work as a labor lawyer.
At Sandulli Grace we represent a variety of union clients including many police unions. I relish the daily challenges and rewards of representing these men and women who serve and protect us all every day. The police officers are a population that most people take for granted and unfortunately enjoy criticizing. This is despite the fact that when trouble pays us a visit, the first ones we all call to help are the police.
I am also very humbled knowing that I am receiving this Award as a result of being nominated by one of my clients. It is one thing to work hard to effectively represent your clients, but it is also so much more to know that you are valued and respected. One of the wonderful assets of being a union labor lawyer is the opportunity to represent union clients over many years and even decades. To see them through good times and not so good times. I am proud to call these clients my friends. We work hard together, fight hard together and are there for each other.
I have also represented IBEW Local 1228 which represents broadcast technicians for over 30 years and I am so very pleased at our recent victory at the Board where we established that freelance workers are statutory employees rather than independent contractors as the Employer had claimed. The Union then handily won the election and is now bargaining for its first contract. It is great to be in on the forefront of changing workforces.
I also want to give a shout out to the MTA. The job that the MTA did in working to defeat Question 2 and beating back the expansion of charter schools was inspirational. If the MTA had been running the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania or Florida, we would be watching a very different transition in Washington.
Of course, I also want to acknowledge all the wonderful people I work with at Sandulli Grace. Every day they challenge me to think of creative ways to help our clients and inspire me by their daily devotion and commitment.
I am also most thankful for my family here tonight. My brother from Philadelphia and several of my cousins are here. My husband, Arbitrator James Cooper is a prior recipient of the Boyle Award. Jim had knee replacement last week , but would not miss this wonderful evening.
Our children, Phoebe and Will are here and earlier I mentioned how much I have learned from my parents, but family learning is also learning from our children. We should all be open to such learning and growth. They have taught me to be more patient and empathetic. This has not only helped me to be a better person but it makes me a more understanding and sensitive lawyer.
Finally, I have a small audience activity. I recently read that we can all increase our social resilience by shaking hands with people that we meet. Apparently, shaking hands with someone for 6 seconds raises each person’s oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is often called the love hormone or the hug hormone. So shaking hands makes you biochemically primed to like and want to help the person whose hand you have shaken. Therefore, I now try to start all bargaining sessions by shaking everyone’s hands. So please, let’s spread this good feeling and shake hands with someone sitting near you for 6 seconds.
Thanks so much!!!!