Redmond Accepts Solidarity Forever Award From Labor Heritage Foundation

Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Saul [Schniderman] for that kind and generous introduction, for chairing the executive board of this great foundation and for continuing to share your knowledge about our history and heritage.

It’s a passion I share.

One of my roles at the Steelworkers International was in the Education Department. I conducted training sessions with fellow Steelworkers members on labor history.

I did that work for four years for the Steelworkers Education and Membership Department and I really enjoyed that work. I really enjoyed it because the labor movement has such a rich history.

And our history the history of workers, the history of labor as we all know, is the history of our nation. They’re intertwined. They can’t be separated.

And it’s important and I want to thank the Labor Heritage Foundation for their mission in lifting up our history and celebrating our heritage and for organizing events such as this one.

And I’d like to shout out Jennifer [Schwartz], Hetty [Scofield] and Larry [Smoot] on the Labor Heritage team, and everybody from the AFL-CIO sideChuck [Marson] and Kyle [Roberts] and the facilities team for making this event possible.

To the excellent musicians and singers for sharing your talent.

To Saul Schniderman who was one of the founding members of this foundation some 40 years ago, and to the entire Executive Board.

Brother Tim [Driscoll], thank you for hosting this event and serving as master of ceremonies. You’re a natural.

Brother Chris Garlock, thank you for this award. I’m truly honored.

And I’m humbled to be honored alongside your predecessor, your current radio show co-host, and our sister forever, Elise Bryant.

Even though she stepped down as Executive Director after a decade at the helm, Elise hasn’t turned it down one bit. She’s still singing. Here with the fantastic DC Labor Chorus, and last night at a May Day event. And just last week they were singing in front of the Supreme Court, and at the Department of Labor for a Workers Memorial Day event.

They’re always on time. They’re always on key.

And by being out there, engaging with the community through music and the arts, you’re not only illuminating the past, you’re shining a light on the future. You’re shining a light on our rich heritage and showing people, young and old alike, that unions are how working people can affect change and improve their lives yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We need to keep singing those songs. Keep telling those stories. Keep developing those images that stick with people, that engage people in a different way in the way that only art and music can.

Some of us were more blessed than others in artistic gifts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share our enthusiasm about a film about Bayard Rustin, say, or musicals about Joe Hill or Mother Jones, and the many plays and popular songs that address work and class issues.

We need to keep encouraging and supporting these efforts, and the musicians and artists who champion labor and the working class.

Because, first and foremost, they are workers, as the world saw last year when the writers and actors stood up to the motion picture industry and took to the streets and won good contracts.

And they can lend their talents and influence to strikes and bargaining campaigns and other fights across our movement.

To the workers behind the camera and behind the scenes. Workers at symphonies and orchestras. Workers at theaters and theme parks. Art handlers and facilities workers at museums and arts organizations. And to all the workers who support artistic work.

Our movement is built on solidarity, and solidarity can take many forms. We need to continue to foster a movement that leverages our creativity and encourages creative ideas to bring people together. And we need to continue to build those relationships and find opportunities for all our unions to work together.

That’s how we keep our momentum. By picking each other up. By supporting each other. By standing together and marching together and fighting together.

That’s what the labor movement is all about. It’s our foundation. It’s our history.

It’s how we won in the past and that’s how we’ll build a society that is just and fair, and win a future that works for all of us.

It’s the legacy we carry forward, and the Labor Heritage Foundation is instrumental in bringing our legacy to the forefront and shaping our future.

Thank you, again, for this honor.