George Meany worked his way up through the union to become president of the AFL in 1952. In 1955, he was behind the merger of the American Federation of Labor, which included the skilled trades, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which included the industrial unions. When the AFL and CIO merged, George became the president and he focused his efforts on union reforms and to improve human lives around the world. George opposed dishonesty and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 1963 because of the work he had done for unions but also for his work on society improvements. George Meany was the epitome of the union boss with a cigar hanging out of his mouth but his desire to change the world and improve lives for everybody has encouraged unions to celebrate his life through community awards (George Meany, AFL-CIO).
Last week, we attended the George Meany Awards Banquet hosted by Central Ohio Labor Council AFL-CIO and United Way of Central Ohio Community Services. We blogged recently how unions make our lives better. The banquet validates that through the extraordinary work of ordinary people who have been affiliated with unions.
Awards went to those who work with youth. Congratulations to special needs teacher, Christine Warner, from Columbus City Schools , for her help in building positive characteristics in young girls! Congratulations to electrician, Donald Bringardner, from IBEW Local 683 for his assistance with the Boy Scouts in building positive characteristics in young men!
Another congratulations goes to the Reading Buddies Partnership with South Mifflin Elementary School and Mifflin High School! This award recognizes the outstanding work of students providing service to others. This successful partnership involves the high school students helping second and third grade students with their reading skills on a weekly basis. As a result of this partnership, a positive relationship has developed between the students and teachers see positive results in reading abilities. A number of labor unions have given their support to these students to help encourage the progress.
The George Meany Award went to Mike Kelley retired union member from Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189. Mike has volunteered his time to be involved in many activities that benefitted both the community and his union. He has served on Franklin County boards, Ohio State Building and Construction Trades board and took charge of labor help for United Way. Mike helped with other community needs such as Red Cross blood drives. His work didn’t stop with community support. He also helped his union to make educational improvements at Ohio State University and started a fund to help unemployed members pay their utilities. Congratulations to Mike!
The final award is a Community Service Award and is given to a member of the community who has been devoted to service and making improvements to the community. The recipient of this year’s award was Ron O’Brien, Franklin County Prosecutor. Congratulations Mr. Prosecutor! Ron O’Brien grew up in a union household and told of his appreciation for unions and what they do. Despite his busy work schedule, Ron O’Brien has time to help with the charity organization, Community Newsies, that helps to clothe needy children.
We applaud these great people for the service they provide to the community and for the time they volunteer to help others! Woohoo!!
They exemplify what George Meany said, “The basic goal of labor will not change. It is — as it has always been, and I am sure always will be — to better the standards of life for all who work for wages and to seek decency and justice and dignity for all Americans.”( George Meany Quotes)
So with all the service union members provide to communities, why are they treat as if they are villains?
According to one blog (Townhall.com, March 8, 2011), unions are responsible for problems within the auto companies, public sector, and the one that simply doesn’t qualify based on what’s written above, is union members are bullies. Does it sound like those people who help with scouting, tutoring and providing clothing to children in need create problems and are bullies? More on this later.