This last week the Central Ohio AFL-CIO Labor Council held their annual George Meany Awards Banquet. It was very impressive!

George Meany was the first president of AFL-CIO and encouraged unions to be more involved in legislative agendas and social programs. He had strong values and believed unions should help fight for social justice and human rights causes around the world. His memory is celebrated by unions all over by honoring those who set the example for his beliefs.

It was amazing to hear the stories of all the work people had done to help others in central Ohio! Two groups we hear so much negativity about were providing the banquet audience with some fantastic stories about their service to others less fortunate. These two groups were unions and high school students. By giving of themselves, volunteering their services, these people demonstrated the ideals most of us want to provide but don’t because we’re caught up in our own lives and needs.

At a time when unions are concerned about their future, the celebration also highlighted on the leadership abilities of union role models for youth. Two union members were honored for their service to scouting. Another union member was an advisor to the outstanding group of high school students.

Lately, some politicians and pundits have been enjoying union bashing. It’s hard to understand why that is when these groups of people volunteer so much of their time to help others. A perfect example is the One New Toy campaign in central Ohio. Every year at Christmas time, the unions in central Ohio work to provide toys for children who come from homes where they may not find presents under a Christmas tree or maybe not even have a tree.

Another award recipient from the banquet who organizes United Way activities with unions, spoke about the generosity of union members donating money and time to the United Way campaign. Unions coordinate their efforts to help United Way provide assistance to those in need. Apparently with some politicians and pundits they either don’t really know what unions do or think that must be the wrong thing to do.

The high school students received a standing ovation for their efforts. A sample of their projects is on this page: . How many high school students do you know would spend their time sleeping outdoors overnight in cold weather to demonstrate the plight for homeless people? Or provide meals for those in need? Or work to make homes and neighborhoods look a little better? These kids found out how they can help make the world a little better. Instead of some of the negativity we hear about kids today, they show the opposite. It’s not just a few but 300 high school students who have participated! And, again, union members took their time to help these kids to help others.

Neither of these groups are very good at publicizing their outstanding work. They just do what needs to be done for others. Maybe both groups need to get the word out a little better to help counter the negativity and show what they’re all about but they’re very humble people and advertising their efforts is now what they’re about.

One other thought, many states are becoming right-to-work states. Right-to-work isn’t what the name implies. It’s about union members not being required to pay union dues. It doesn’t just take away money from unions when members decide not to pay dues. It takes away money that helps the homeless, those who are down on their luck and need a little boost, or the presents that parents can’t afford to buy. It’s ironic, too, some people want to work in unionized shops because the wages are better but they don’t want to pay union dues that can help others when they need it and make society a little better.

The next time you think about bashing a union, think again. Maybe you need to thank a union. Maybe someday you will need the assistance they provide.

Congratulations to those award recipients at the Central Ohio AFL-CIO Labor Council’s George Meany Ceremony! You ALL deserve a standing ovation!

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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