One of the things I like most about our work at CALMC is getting to know the outstanding labor and management leaders with whom we work. This week, I want to highlight one of those people on her retirement.
Joan Fluharty will retire this month from her role as Director of the Community Services Department of the United Way of Central Ohio. Even before Joan began her work with United Way in 2002 as the Central Ohio AFL-CIO Labor Council liaison to the organization, she had already built a distinguished record of helping people.
After joining the Kroger Company in 1976, Joan became actively involved in her union, UFCW Local 1059. She served as a Steward prior to being hired as an organizer in 1989. A year later she became a union representative for the local. In this role she was involved with the UFCW Women’s Network, the Central Labor Union Women, and actively worked in several voter registration and get out the vote drives.
In her role with the United Way, Joan has used her union and community service skills to help countless individuals in areas ranging from food referrals to housing assistance to building ramps for the disabled. She has led many projects, including the Unions Care/Christmas Care Program in which unions team up with St. Stephens Community House to provide a week of food to families in need during the holiday and school break. This program is one of the largest food distributions in Central Ohio, serving over 3,500 families in one weekend.
While the projects with which she has been involved are too numerous to list, one of her efforts has helped strengthen the Central Ohio AFL-CIO Youth Services Award, and program that involves school groups with union sponsors to develop projects for the good of youth and the community. Under Joan’s leadership, the award presentation was moved to the school of the winners so they could be honored by their teachers and classmates. This change creates a powerful opportunity for students to learn about the role and importance of organized labor.
Joan’s exemplary record of work in the labor movement and the relationships she has built has resulted in enhanced support by labor for the United Way. In the last 5 years, labor contributions to the United Way of Central Ohio have increased, with the 2013 campaign bringing in over $100,000. Her accomplished fundraising maintains a focus on teaching people about the lives they are improving by supporting United Way programs.
In recognition of her distinguished record of service to labor and the community, this spring Joan was presented the prestigious George Meany Award by the Central Ohio Labor Council, AFL-CIO. This award was highly deserved.
What has impressed me the most about knowing Joan has been her unceasing desire to help others and promote organized labor. She has consistently demonstrated the ability to work with labor and management to help others. She was always involved whenever there was a project, fundraiser, or people to be helped. Her positive attitude and dedication will be missed.
Joan Fluharty has improved the lives of thousands of people in Central Ohio and is held in high regard for her many years of service. On behalf of the staff and members of Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee, we wish the best to her and her husband Mark in her retirement.
Thanks to the Franklin County AFL-CIO and the United Way of Central Ohio for assistance in this blog entry.