Saluted by Missouri Senate for outstanding citizenship
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Tom George, retired president of IBEW Local 1 and former state representative has been honored with the Missouri Alliance of Retired Americans’ 2019 Robert O. Kortkamp Humanitarian Award for his many years of caring dedication and service to the working men and women of Missouri.
George, a 53-year member of IBEW Local 1, was presented with the award at the Alliance’s annual Kortkamp Awards Luncheon on March 27. About 100 people attended the event at Christy’s Banquet Center in St. Louis.
The luncheon celebrates the enduring commitment of former St. Louis Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Bob Kortkamp who was a champion for working people and one of the founders of the Alliance.
George’s storied career includes serving:
- 19 years as president of IBEW Local 1.
- Eight years in the Missouri House of Representatives’ 74th District.
- Vice president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.
- Vice president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council.
- Vice president the Missouri State Conference of Electrical Workers.
- Delegate and trustee of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council.
George’s many accomplishments also included working and serving as:
- Instructor at IBEW Local 1’s Joint Apprenticeship Training Center.
- Trustee on the Local 1’s Joint Labor-Management Committee.
- Vice chairman for the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority.
- Treasurer of We Are Missouri, the broad coalition of union workers and Missouri citizens who joined together last year to defeat “right-to-work” (Prop A).
‘PUT ORGANIZED LABOR, UNION ABOVE’
Jake Hummel, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO and a fellow Local 1 member, thanked George for helping him when he decided to run for state representative. He added that there’s not a Local 1 member who doesn’t know and respect him.
“Even after retirement, Tom has stayed extraordinarily busy and became treasurer of We Are Missouri to help us defeat right to work,” Hummel said. “We couldn’t be here to honor a better person. He’s someone who’s put Organized Labor and his local union above everybody else. Tommy, thank you for everything you’ve done.”
George graciously accepted the Kortkamp award, thanking those who helped him along the way. He said three people, IBEW’s Local 1’s Matt O’Neil, Don Bresnan, Sr. and Don Gralike, helped him when he was very young and got him involved in politics.
“In 1978, I got involved in (defeating) ‘right-to-work,’ and I’ve stayed ever since then,” George said. “I’ve been very fortunate. I have a lot of union brothers and sisters here, and they all have helped me along the years, and I hope I’ve helped them.”
In addition to receiving the Kortkamp honor, State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), presented George with an award from the Missouri Senate saluting his outstanding service as a Missouri citizen.
Walsh, who has known George since she was 15 and later worked with him in the Missouri House, said she talked to a group of union members attending the luncheon and one of them said: “Tommy has always been there for everybody else, and we are showing up for him.”
“I just thought that was a testament to the man he is and the family he raised and to his beautiful wife Joanne who he misses dearly,” said Walsh, who also serves as president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council. “You need to know how much you meant to me and to the people of Missouri and to the people who work there. Congratulations my friend, well deserved.”