By SHERI GASSAWAY
Retired Missouri AFL-CIO President Daniel “Duke” McVey recently was honored with the 2017 Robert O. Kortkamp Humanitarian Award presented by the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans for his many years of caring dedication and service to the working men and women of Missouri.
McVey, who retired as president of the federation in 1999 after 17 years of service, was presented with the honor at the Alliance’s annual Kortkamp Memorial Awards Luncheon. About 100 people attended the event March 23 at Christy’s Banquet Center in St. Louis.
The memorial luncheon celebrates the enduring commitment of former St. Louis Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Bob Kortkamp who was a champion of working people and one of the founders of the Alliance. Kortkamp died in 2011.
Robert “Bob” Kelley, president emeritus of the St. Louis Labor Council and last year’s Kortkamp award recipient, recalled when he first met McVey, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.
DEDICATED, PROUD UNION LEADER
“He had a great sense of humor, was a great contributor and very bright,” Kelley said. “Duke and Bob (Kortkamp) had a lot of matching qualities. They were both very dedicated and very proud of their unions.”
Kelley said there wouldn’t be a Labor Movement in the state of Missouri to continually fight “right-to-work” and fight for workers’ rights if it wasn’t for McVey.
“Duke McVey single-handedly took this organization when it was at its weakest and put strength and vitality into it and carried it across the goal line,” Kelley said. “It’s honor to call him my coworker, a pleasure to call him my friend and my pride to tell you I love this guy.”
In a brief speech after receiving the award, McVey thanked his family, friends and his union family – Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 – for attending the event.
As for the upcoming referendum to stop the so-called “right-to-work” from becoming law, McVey said, “We can win this thing, but we need everyone’s help and efforts. We can work together and I love you all.”
Mike Louis, current president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, thanked McVey for all he has done for the Labor Movement.
“It’s an honor to honor my predecessor’s predecessor,” he said. “Duke, if it wasn’t for you and your good friends like Bob (Kelley) and Bob Kortkamp, we certainly wouldn’t have survived as long as we have.”
MISSOURI ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a nationwide organization, which was founded in 2001. The following year, Kortkamp formed the Missouri Alliance and was elected president and also became a regional board member. The Missouri Alliance currently has more than 87,000 members.
The Alliance’s primary objective is to mobilize retired seniors and community activists into a statewide, grassroots movement that respects work and strengthens families. For more information, visit retiredamericans.org.