By CARL GREEN
East Alton, IL – Several recipients at the 29th annual Labor Awards Banquet of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor last month did not know in advance that they were the winners, leading to some surprised reactions.
The event was held March, as always at Julia’s Banquet Hall, with guest speakers including 12th Congressional District nominee Brendan Kelly and Fifth District Appellate Court nominee Kevin Hoerner.
One of the surprised winners was Charles Yancey, directing business manager of IBEW Local 649, selected as Labor Leader of the Year.
Federation President B. Dean Webb presented the award to Yancey, noting that he joined his local in 1978 and has been directing business manager since 2013.
“I’ve called on Charlie many times, and never once has Charlie let me down,” Webb said. “He’s always helped me out and given advice if I needed help with something. He’s always at our functions – he’s always been there and his union’s always been there.”
Yancey said he did not know he would be receiving the award.
“I did not see this coming, but I am deeply honored to be recognized by my peers,” he said. “All I’ve got to say is that this is a union I’m a part of – which is the greatest thing to be a part of – and I share this award with everyone in this room and everyone who has gone before, because a union is what we’re all about, and that’s all of us together.”
Webb noted that in addition to leading the union, Yancey helped plan and build its impressive new training center on Humbert Road. Yancey’s community actions include serving as a Democratic precinct committeeman and working with the Riverbend Growth Association.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE: TERRY BIGGS
The service award went to Terry Biggs, a 23-year member of United Steelworkers Local 1899 who was made a United Way labor liaison in 2016 and now serves the Granite City area. He has helped organize many of the projects that have supported the region’s laid-off steelworkers.
Biggs said he was humbled and honored to receive the award.
“Growing up as a third-generation steelworker and living through the downturns with my family taught me at an early age the importance of giving back to the community and also of doing your part,” he said.
“Over the past two years, with U.S. Steel being idle, I’ve truly witnessed our community come together and help countless laid-off members and families with resources and assistance to face hardships that the idling put them through. These efforts were made possible by many of you here tonight.
“The greatest reward I’ve been given is the simple opportunity to help members and their families. Because of your support, this is possible.
“I was looking for one great quote to leave you with, and this is what I came across: ‘It’s simple – we need each other.’”
Webb noted that Biggs, a Granite City native who now lives in Germantown, served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 1993, including Operation Desert Storm. He also serves as a sergeant-at- arms for the Federation.
“He was a breath of fresh air to our executive board,” Webb said. “He’s done a great job and will continue to do so.”
FRIEND OF LABOR: RANDY GORI
Rick Stamer, reading clerk for the Federation, presented the award to a surprised Randy Gori by recalling a fundraising campaign years ago for the Glen-Ed Food Pantry in Edwardsville in which Gori, then a young attorney working for a large firm, stepped up and provided $10,000, ensuring the drive’s success.
Soon enough, Gori had helped form his own firm, Gori Julian & Associates, and since then has supported all of the Federation’s charity events and given a total of more than $3 million to local charities, Stamer said, in addition to helping countless workers with compensation claims.
In accepting the award, Gori replied that he is the one who is grateful. “You guys have been with me through thick and thin, through good and bad,” he said. “You guys are the backbone of this country and the backbone of this county. I’m very proud to call you friends. And in the political environment we’re in, we need strong people and strong groups like this to get us through. I’m very surprised and happy that you honored me with this.”
ODELL FOX SERVICE AWARD: HERB FROHOCK
Nick Dodson, a labor liaison for the United Way, presented this award to Herb Frohock, business manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 553, a longtime pipefitter and a local officer since 2000.
Frohock has worked extensively as a youth sports coach, with the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity, in United Way Christmas programs and food drives, and is known for honesty, fairness and integrity, Dodson said.
Frohock said a big part of the honor is being included with the past recipients of the award.
“I could not receive it on my own,” he said. “It takes everybody who donates and spends their time and helps when I ask them. It’s all those people who deserve it with me – especially my family, which has supported me in everything I’ve ever done. When I’m spending time doing stuff for other people, actually I’m not with them, so they support me 100 percent and I appreciate that.”
HEART OF COMMUNITY: PAM MONETTI
Terry Biggs presented the award, noting that it is named for Karen Brown, a longtime community representative for United Way in Granite City who died of cancer in 2004.
“Karen was dedicated and passionate and an outstanding, strong leader with the commitment and deep patience needed to help those in need,” he said. “She gave it her all up to the end, with advice and encouragement to everyone she met to keep the mission going and to keep everyone going forward.”
He then noted Pam Monetti’s long list of community and union service work, among them helping with the steelworkers food pantry in Granite City and United Way events, as a trustee with the Southern Illinois Central Labor Council, Bunker Hill School Board president, vice chair of the Macoupin County Democratic Party and many more, in addition to representing American Income Life. She is a member of Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 277.
Monetti, of Bunker Hill, said many other deserving people haven’t yet been singled out.
“I’m just honored to be in this room with all these union leaders, because I see how much you all do, and you never talk about it, and you never say all the things that you help your communities with,” she said.
“I truly believe that one person can make a difference. Whatever it is, whatever your interests are, you can make a difference in your life and in your community. I’m going to continue to do what I can for that, and I hope you will, too.”
East Alton, IL – Congressional nominee Brendan Kelly told a banquet room full of union leaders, members and supporters at the Madison County Federation of Labor’s annual awards banquet it’s time for Organized Labor to lead a turnaround in the federal government.
That would include electing Kelly in the Illinois 12th Congressional District this November, he said in remarks at the 29th annual Labor Awards Banquet of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor on March 22.
KELLY: THANKS TO LABOR TURNOUT
Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney, easily won the Democratic nomination over one opponent, getting 80 percent of the vote. Now he faces incumbent Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro).
He credited the win to his support from Labor.
“It was a great primary, we had a great turnout, and we did that in large part because of all of you,” Kelly said. “Thank you to Organized Labor – you did it. You get it, and you understand why we have to win the 12th Congressional District.
He recalled his service as state’s attorney and earlier in the Navy as part of his approach to the American way of life and contrasted it to Republican values.
“It is supposed to be about service,” he said. “It is supposed to be about putting the country first and serving one another. The people on the other side have made it very apparent what they believe in. And it’s not service and it’s not taking care of one another, and it’s certainly not Organized Labor.
“Their view of the world is that we’re all better off if it’s just every man for himself. You take care of yourself, I’ll take care of myself, and we have no obligation to each other.”
‘DAMN RIGHT IT IS!’
Kelly said the working people of the district can rise up together to win the election over GOP trickery.
“They’ve done a pretty good job of dividing us over the past 20 or 30 years, and that’s why they have the power they have now,” he said. “The other side wins when they divide people. We’re going to win, and southern Illinois is going to win, by uniting people, and we’re going to bring the power of Organized Labor to be able to win this election.
He noted that the district, which covers most of the Metro-East cities and some areas to the east and south, includes some 107,000 union households.
“Now that’s power,” he said.
“Damn right it is!” called out a voice from the back of the room, prompting another round of applause.
APPELLATE BENCH NEEDS NEW LOOK
Also speaking was Kevin Hoerner, a Belleville attorney for more than 30 years, nominated for the Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon, which covers 37 counties of southern Illinois. Hoerner noted that with Republicans winning two court seats in the 2016 election and a Democratic judge retiring, he has to win just to keep working people from losing more ground on the court.
“For the first time since the courts of Illinois were reorganized in the early ‘60s, we now have a Republican-controlled appellate court,” he said. “I never thought I would live to see that day, but here we are.”
He sees his election to the court as approximating the need for working-class people to be judged in trials by their peers.
“Should the selection of your appellate judge be any different than that? Of course not. I am a product of a hard-working, middle-class family, number nine of 11 children. My father was a truck driver most of his life. He taught us the value of hard work.
“I promise you this – when you elect me to the appellate court, you will have elected one of your own.”