East Alton – Helping others and dedication to the labor movement were the themes at the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor’s 25th Annual Labor Awards Banquet, held at Julia’s Banquet Hall on March 27.
FRIEND OF LABOR
Illinois State Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) received the Friend of Labor Award.
David Hayes, a retiree from Machinists Bluff City Lodge 660 and member of the Federation executive board, said Beiser was unanimously chosen by the board for his steadfast support of working people.
Beiser described how he and his wife grew up in union households and saw what that did for their families.
“The truly is an honor for me,” Beiser said. “I’m proud to be able to honor those who went before us. I’m proud to be part of the movement as it is today. And I’m proud to help pass it on to the younger generation.”
Beiser, was a special education teacher, city council member and city treasurer before his election to the Legislature in the 111th House District in 2004. He has won re-election ever since.
UNITED WAY AWARDS
Two awards were given by the United Way.
• Donnie Cathey of United Steelworkers Local 1899 received the Karen Brown Heart of the Community award for his selfless and exhaustive volunteer work helping the needy and homeless and his service with Local 1899’s Torch Club.
Cathey’s charity work includes providing hams, turkey and toys to needy families at the holidays, working with the Good Samaritan House homeless shelter for women and children in Granite City, and getting needed goods to the homeless. He has been a member of Local 1899 for 24 years.
• Joe Mercurio, president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 309 in Alton, received the Odell Fox Award for union members who help others.
Mercurio has coordinated the Branch 309 food drive for the past 21 years.
Mercurio said he could accept the award only on behalf of all the other Letter Carriers who have worked in the annual food drives, which fill local food pantries at a vital time after school is out.
Food banks and shelters benefit from an upswing in charitable donations during the winter holiday season, but by the spring and summer months, their stocks tend to dwindle to critically low levels.
ONE LESS THIS YEAR
Due to this year’s would-be honoree declining, no award was given for Labor Leader of the Year.