The last drumroll for Lou Matrazzo
DEBORAH A. MILES
The line of people extended far outside the funeral home in Mechanicville.
PEF leaders, members, legislators and friends came to pay their respects to the
family of PEF Vice President Lou Matrazzo, who passed away suddenly March 19 at
Albany Medical Center.
The news of his passing shocked and saddened everyone at PEF and all who knew
“Lou has been a fixture at PEF during the last decade,” said PEF President Ken
Brynien. “He was a straight-shooter. He loved a good fight and all PEF members
benefited from Lou’s efforts.”
Matrazzo worked as a public employee for 37 years and was an information
technology specialist at the state Department of Health (DOH). His co-workers
referred to him as passionate and knowledgeable about issues.
“At the Department of Health, we had the utmost respect for Lou Matrazzo,” said
Associate Health Commissioner Jack Conroy.
“We didn’t always agree, but we enjoyed our dealings with him. He was a
gentleman. We had a very mature and productive relationship. Lou worked
creatively with us to craft settlements where both parties won. He was a
highly-skilled professional person.”
Rising to the top
Matrazzo quickly rose through the ranks of PEF as a steward, Executive Board
member, Albany area regional coordinator, and was elected vice-president in June
He also chaired the PEF PS&T Contract Committee in 2007, and was a member of the
negotiating team in 2003.
“Lou lived life to its fullest,” said PEF Director of Labor Relations Roger
Scales. “As a union advocate, he exhibited extraordinary courage, honesty and
passion. Lou was a man of strong convictions. He was firm and solid in his
thinking. The gains made in the 2007 – 2011 contract negotiations are just some
of the fruits of his labor.”
Matrazzo fought for job-rate parity across the state and was fervent about
getting a cost-of-living adjustment for members living in high-priced areas of
Locally, he fought for better parking conditions in downtown Albany, an issue
paramount to PEF Region 8 members.
Always a leader
He was a visible leader.
former Gov. George Pataki proposed to close three prison facilities in January
2004, Matrazzo held court at Camp McGregor in Wilton, one of the
minimum-security camps targeted for closure. He banded with members from the
Civil Service Employees Association and the New York State Correctional Officers
and Police Benevolent Association, as well as lawmakers.
He told members of the press, “The closure of this facility is bad public
policy, bad fiscal policy and bad corrections policy.” He didn’t mince words.
At PEF’s contract and Go Public rallies, Matrazzo was there. He marched
shoulder-to-shoulder with members in sub-zero temperatures and on blazing hot
days. He shouted his message to the governor from a podium on the steps of the
state Capitol. He led the crowd not only with a bull-horn in hand, but with his
own determination to win a fight he believed in.
When he spoke to PEF Division 205 members at DOH, he shook their hands and
patted them on their backs.
“Lou was never at a loss for words,” said Anna Schrom, council leader at DOH.
“Whenever he spoke to our division members, they would chant, ‘Lou, Lou, Lou,’
as he walked up to the microphone. It started quietly and grew louder and
Matrazzo was respected by PEF members, PEF staff and lawmakers across the state.
He treated everyone with courtesy and appreciation.
“Lou will probably be remembered best by those of us who knew him for the love
and dedication to those dear to him; especially his daughter, Michelle,” Scales
Michelle accompanied her dad to many PEF events, conventions and charity
functions such as the annual holiday gift-wrapping for families of parolees and
the children of St. Margaret’s. In 2004, they teamed up to make sure the
children got special gifts, such as CD players and hair accessories.
He was thrilled when Michelle got her photo taken with then U.S. Sen. Hillary
Clinton at the 21st Annual PEF Convention. He was proud of Michelle’s academic
accomplishments and her taste in music and cars. Matrazzo beamed when he told
co-workers about the Bruce Springsteen concerts they attended, and also how
Michelle selected the aqua color of his Nissan Altima.
“Lou’s passing is a huge loss for all of us,” Brynien said. “We are all better
for having known him. He would want us to move forward, to take care of
ourselves and each other. The best way we can pay tribute to Lou, is follow his
example by being straight-shooters ourselves.”
PEF leaders and staff will gather in June to plant a tree in his memory at PEF