By SHERI GASSAWAY
Labor Tribune publisher Ed Finkelstein has been honored with the 2018 Robert O. Kortkamp Humanitarian Award for his years of caring dedication and service to the working men and women of Missouri and southern Illinois.
Finkelstein, who’s been active in the Labor Movement more than 50 years, received the award last week from the Missouri Alliance of Retired Americans (MOARA) at its annual Kortkamp Memorial Luncheon 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 MOARA.
“This could not have gone to a better person, candidate or friend,” MOARA President Dave Meinell said as he presented Finkelstein with the award. “Thank you for all your help.”
HONORED AND TOUCHED
Finkelstein, who has headed up the Labor Tribune for over 45 years, said he was honored and touched to have received the award in memory of Kortkamp.
“Bob Kortkamp was a humanitarian, a trade unionist and a man who would give you the shirt off his back,” Finkelstein said. “And if you needed something done, no matter how difficult it was, you could turn to Bob and he would never say no.”
Finkelstein added that the award really honors the efforts of the Labor Tribune – not just his own efforts – but all the efforts of the people who have made the paper what it is today including current Editor Tim Rowden, former editors Sherwood Kerker and Jim Templeton, senior reporter Kevin Madden and the newspaper’s entire staff.
“And there’s a second group I’d like to recognize for making this award possible,” he said. “I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Rose (Jonas) and my family for their support and for giving me the time over the years to do my job and do it right.”
TIME TO RETIRE?
Finkelstein said it’s an 80/81 year. He will turn 80 this month, and the Labor Tribune is 81 this year.
“You’d think it’s time to relax, and in fact, is this a hint?” he joked. “But the reality is that it’s not to be. ‘Right-to-work’ is here again after 40 years. We have the same problem of a group of millionaires and billionaires wanting to control this economy and wanting to control the workforce to improve their bottom lines, and workers be damned. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Finkelstein said there have been a lot of changes in the Labor Movement over the last 50 years, but that this decade is unique – most notably the era of Trump and the lack of balls Republicans have in standing up for the dignity of America.
“But change is in the air,” he said. “I can feel it because 310,000 Missourians signed petitions to put ‘right-to-work’ on the ballot because they are pissed.”
Finklestein added that a million kids across the nation marched recently over gun control and Democrats are winning in districts traditionally carried by Republicans because people are so upset.
‘TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHANGE NOW’
“We must take advantage of the change now,” he said. “So, I offer you all a challenge in Bob Kortkamp’s name: register to vote and make sure your friends families and neighbors are registered to vote.”
Additionally, he urged audience members to fill out a postcard being distributed by We Are Missouri pledging to stand against “right-to-work” and vote “NO” on Proposition A when it appears on the 2018 ballot. He also encouraged them to get two other people to sign the cards.
“We will defeat ‘right-to-work’ and bring balance back to the Missouri legislature by electing more Democrats, but only if we get organized and only if we vote,” Finkelstein stressed.
HELP DEFEAT RTW
If you are interested in signing a pledge card to stand against ‘right-to work, contact We are Missouri at 855-218-9825 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate to the campaign online by visiting wearemo.org and clicking the red “Donate” button at the top of the page.
Or, if you prefer, you can mail your donation to:
We Are Missouri
227 Jefferson St.
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Last week I was honored to receive the Robert O. Kortkamp Humanitarian Award from the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans. It was a special honor because of its namesake, the late Bob Kortkamp, the loved, respected and admired trade unionist who was the St. Louis Labor Council’s veteran secretary-treasurer and a good friend. Along with Bob Kelley, the innovative and highly respected retired president of the Council, we “grew up” together in the Labor Movement.
In accepting this wonderful award, I goofed.
For the past 81 years, the Labor Tribune has been a community effort: a community of our supporting unions, support staff and incredibly talented journalists. In recognizing that fact I proudly named our current and former editors, true professionals, I’ve been honored to work with over my 45 years at the paper’s helm: Tim Rowden, Sherwood Kerker, Jim Templeton and senior reporter Kevin Madden.
But I inadvertently missed naming one of our most successful editors, who actually served as our managing editor for many years: Dana Spitzer! I am embarrassed by this inexcusable goof.
Afterwards I apologized to Dana, who was there; true to his nature, he gracefully accepted my apology; but I need to make this public apology to this incredibly talented journalist and friend.
Dana brought a renewed sense of professionalism and journalistic fervor to the Labor Tribune. As a veteran Post-Dispatch reporter, his commitment to the Labor Movement, expressed in his unstinting hard work and dedication telling Labor’s story, enhanced the tradition of our founder, Maury Rubin.
Dana, again, publicly, my apology for this oversight. Plain and simply, I regret it with all my heart!