by Randy Shannon
October 23, 2009
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George, a former USW Local 1211 officer and an open hearth worker at Aliquippa’s former Jones &Laughlin Steel, accepted the Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council’s honor of induction into the Labor Council Hall of Fame.
Labor Council Legislative Liason Charlie Hamilton also received a Labor Hall of Fame Award. Mr. Hamilton is a retired but dues paying member of the NALC Branch 84 and a former worker at Babcock and Wilcox. Mr. Hamilton talked about the union history of several generations of his family, and union activism as a way of life.
The annual Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council banquet was chaired by Pres. Dennis Bloom. Vice-President Denise Cox and the AFL-CIO Representative to Pennsyvlania Frank Snyder also hosted the ceremonies. Many international AFL-CIO and CTW unions were represented by their locals. SOAR – Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees and the PA 4th CD Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America had full tables at the banquet. Democratic Party County Commissioners, Row Oficers, State legislators, and judgeship candidates were present.
Mr. Snyder presented the award to Mr. George, who then made extended remarks. President Bill George began his remarks by praising the Labor Council’s “great job keeping working people together.” He talked about the important strikes and the many electoral campaigns in the County, and reminisced about the campaigns he and Charlie Hamilton had shared.
He then turned to Blue Dog 4th C.D. Congressman Altmire’s staff representatives Michelle Dorothy and Jim Ferucci and said: “Altmire is going to vote right on healthcare, or you don’t come back.” Over 200 participants at the event erupted into strong applause.
Mr. George introduced his family members and talked about the strong family ties in the labor movement in Beaver County. He recounted President Obama’s remarks praising the fighting spirit of the ethnicly diverse Aliquippa workers at the recent AFL-CIO national convention in Pittsburgh.
Mr. George recalled how the steel workers at J&L Aliquippa won the battle for freedom of working men and women in the United States. When J&L fired union activists their case went to the Supreme Court in 1937, which upheld the provisions of the Wagner Act protecting the right to organize.
Mr. George pointed out that our history of struggle means more than ever today when President Obama is putting 30,000 people in Pennsylvania to work under the stimulus bill. “Obama is as generous and understanding as FDR, our hero. Labor must get on board with Obama. The labor movement in 2010 must raise the level of effort as never before. It’s time to rise up and fight back against the right wing idiots.”
“Republicans called FDR’s programs communist and socialist and opposed every measure to help the elderly and unemployed for his first term. In this election we have to send a message that there is no room for the far right wing in elective office. The Republican Party has run all the moderates like Sen. Arlen Specter out of the party.
Pres. Bill George’s remarks reflected the AFL-CIO’s new policy articulated by President Rich Trumka. Labor will no longer support candidates who do not vote with labor on the important issues, especially healthcare.
The Congressional Democrats are only 12 votes away from majority support for a strong public option that would be based on Medicare plus a 5% premium. Cong. Jason Altmire is still listed as undecided.
Progressive Democrats along with labor are lobbying Cong. Altmire to support meaningful healthcare reform. Now is the prime time to call 4th C.D. Cong. Altmire and demand his vote for healthcare: 202-225-2565, 724-378-0928. Ask Congressman Altmire to vote for the Weiner Single Payer Amendment to guarantee Medicare for All.