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NEA's Van Roekel Receives Reuther-Chavez Labor Award

Posted by Will Rice (will) on Nov 07 2011 at 4:28 PM
FALL 2011 >>

By Andrew Terrell
In presenting the Reuther-Chavez Award for Labor Leadership to National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel, Larry Hanley, himself a recent ADA honoree and president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, reflected on the startling irony of public employees being under attack this year in Washington and state capitals across the nation.

A decade after hundreds of firefighters perished at the World Trade Center, Hanley asked, “Who would have thought that the war that would emerge would be a war on them: government workers?”

Of all public employees,  Hanley pronounced, “No union is more attacked, no workers more vilified, no union fighting harder  
back,” than America’s public school teachers, led by Van Roekel.

As if to prove the point, the honoree was unable to attend, being on a “back-to-school” tour promoting President Obama’s jobs plan.  Accepting ADA’s award in his place was NEA executive director John Stacks.

Stacks recounted how he had spent a month in Wisconsin earlier in the year, fighting the very assaults on public workers Hanley had described.  He said his union had lost thousands of jobs in  statewide budget cuts.

Stacks reminded the audience that the battle for the rights of public employees, of all employees, was “going to be a marathon and not a sprint.

“We have to be vigilant in defending the organized labor movement,” he said.

Andrew Terrell is a former Aide at ADA.