Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 7th, 2017

Who is Jerry Ebert? Plight of the Sullivan County Workforce Part 4

During the past several weeks people have been reading about the plight of the Sullivan County Workforce through the eyes of Teamsters Union Leader Jerry Ebert.

As Ebert concludes his series for a bit – People are asking – Who is Jerry Ebert?

One thing for certain is that taking over the leadership union position formerly held by Sandra Shaddock is not an easy task.

Before Ebert explains in his own words who he exactly is – I would like to personally thank Sandra Shaddock for all her hard work and being an inspiration for so many in her fight for Sullivan County Workers.

Everyone will agree that Jerry Ebert is keeping the fight for our workforce going strong.


Part IV: The Plight of Sullivan County Employees

“Who the Hell is Jerry Ebert?”

 By Jerry Ebert, Teamster Rep for Sullivan County Government Employees

That’s a recurring question I’ve heard since being invited to write this column four weeks ago. Before I take a break for a few weeks, let’s get that out of the way.

I’m the third oldest of 12 kids, born in 1953. Nearly everything I know about negotiating comes from living in a house with 14 people and one bathroom.

My father loved Sullivan County. Although we were raised one county south, he taught us to hunt, fish and play the horses, all within a 10-mile radius of Monticello.

I negotiated my first-ever union contract in Liberty in 1980, and organized the Sullivan County Government Employees in 1985. Five years later I fell in love with my future wife while she lived in Hurleyville.

The late folksinger Pete Seeger was good friends with my parents, and took us kids under his wings. From him I learned so much about trying to help people improve their lives. He told wild stories of his experiences with Woody Guthrie organizing workers into unions, and those stories inspired me. This is a picture of him and me at a union rally, two years before he passed away.

In 1994 I left the Teamsters to organize Catholic High School teachers in the archdioceses of NY, Long Island and New Jersey.  During those years I ran afoul of John Cardinal O’Connor –  and my devoutly-religious mother –  after organizing a series of demonstrations in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Then I was asked to help organize laborers removing asbestos from government projects in New Jersey. We angered the local mafia after exposing corruption within the industry in a front-page story in the Trenton Times that mentioned my name, against my wishes.

That’s when I decided I’d much rather return to my roots in the Hudson Valley. In my line of work you’re bound to make enemies, but I preferred enemies who wouldn’t excommunicate or shoot me.

Teamsters Local 445 took me back. I organized several police departments and highway departments, the Case Managers at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, and others. Then I was assigned to represent workers at the West Point Mess Hall, the Dutchess Mass Transportation System, the McDonald’s delivery drivers serving the Hudson Valley, NYC and Long Island, and others.

Teamster leader Barry Russsell offered me the opportunity last March to represent Sullivan County Government Employees again , and I couldn’t say yes fast enough. When I had last helped negotiate their contracts between 1985 and 1993, every one of those contracts were approved by the employees by near-unanimous votes. I want the same for the contract I help them negotiate later this year.

They deserve a great contract. With folks making as low as $23,000 per year, and nearly everyone else making an average of $10,000 less than surrounding counties, school districts, correctional facilities, towns and villages, they deserve a deal that will once again make them feel as though they’re being paid what they’re worth.

I’m not a union-a-holic, and recognize that there’s some bad ones and some good ones, just as there are good and bad lawyers, politicians, doctors, and God knows, religious leaders.  Nor am I a liberal or a conservative…I prefer to stay open-minded to the arguments on all sides of any issue.

But to my dying day I’ll believe that folks working for medium-to-large companies or municipalities are much better off negotiating a contract to secure and improve their pay, benefits, working conditions, protection against unfair discipline, time off, and recourse to independent arbitration. If you’re not negotiating, you’re not doing business. As my mom would say, “If it ain’t on paper, it ain’t.”

You hear people talk about “the good old days” of the 1950s and 1960s when America’s middle class was strong. Back then, 35 percent of our workforce negotiated contracts. Now, it’s 13 percent. You can check the numbers on the website US Bureau of Labor Statistics. To me, that explains everything. The middle class needs to take the bull by the horns, as it once did. We need to do business if we want to succeed at business.

Especially in places such as Sullivan County, where businesses largely depend on the ability of the middle class to spend money, earning a decent paycheck is vital to the success of the local economy.


I’m grateful beyond words to be back in Sullivan County. After what I’ve seen of folks south of here, I am so relieved to be with people who are much more decent and down-to-earth. Yes, our county has big problems to solve, but so does the rest of the world.

At least the people of Sullivan County are basically good-hearted. Take the word of someone who went away, only to come home humbled and appreciative.

Once Again – Thank you – Jerry Ebert.


Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

2 comments to Who is Jerry Ebert? Plight of the Sullivan County Workforce Part 4

  • Jerry, I remember you very well. I worked for Sullivan County from 1984 to 2000. You did a great job for the employees. I hope you are successful this year, people need to be paid a living wage.

  • Joanne Madden

    Jerry, I also remember you very well. I worked for Sullivan County from 1986 to 2010. During your stay with the union it was nice to know how hard you fought for the front line at the Department of Social Services. Back in the days when hard work was appreciated and never questioned. I hope you are very successful again this year.