Honoree Hoffman pledges to protect workers
Belleville – State Rep. Jay Hoffman, chairman of the Illinois House Committee on Labor and Commerce, pledged to hold the line against anti-worker legislation after receiving the Friend of Labor award from the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council.
The 49th annunal awards dinner was held Sept. 3 at the Bel Air Bowl banquet center.
In remarks upon receiving the award, Hoffman (D-Swansea) said he is glad to use his position of influence to protect working people from Gov. Bruce Rauner and his anti-worker allies.
“I made a commitment way back in 1990, to organized labor, that if I was lucky enough to get elected, I would fight for working men and women,” Hoffman said. “I think I’ve done that.
“I guarantee one thing, as chairman of the labor committee, that when Rauner and his allies put in bills that would take away the rights of everybody in this room – that would get rid of collective bargaining, reduce wages, take away pensions, that would hurt people who are hurt on the job and not take care of their families –that every time that they put those bills in and they get assigned to the labor committee, we will defeat those bills and they will get nowhere.
“I promise you this – as long as I’m the chairman, these Rauner bills that are anti-working family, I can guarantee you they are going to die a death, and they’re never going to see the light of day.”
In presenting the award, Labor Council President Bill Thurston noted that Hoffman has been a prosecutor, businessman and public policy advocate. As a legislator he has helped secure much-needed capital construction projects including roads, schools and bridges, plus tax relief and prescription drug relief for senior citizens.
“All of these successes have helped create and protect jobs for Illinois workers and stimulated much-needed economic growth,” Thurston said.
Hoffman also wrote the book, Hope from the Heartland: Jobs, Clean Air, Energy Security, which outlines ways to use our natural resources, create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Other award recipients were as follows:
MAN OF THE YEAR
• George R. Badgley Labor Man of the Year – Stan Koerber of Machinists Lodge 313 was chosen for his many years of service to his union at the state, regional and local levels and to his community.
Koerber joined the union in 1972 as an apprentice auto technician and became a journeyman in 1974. Since then, he has served on negotiating committees and other positions with the local’s executive board. He was appointed secretary-treasurer in 1989 and continued until he retired in 2010.
He was an elected delegate to five Grand Lodge conventions and a delegate to the Machinists District 9 E-Board from 1978 until 2010, becoming president of that board from 1996 until he retired. He was also a delegate to the Illinois State Council of Machinists, Midwest State Council of Machinists and the 12th Congressional COPE.
Koerber has served on the Central Labor Council, the St. Clair County Democrat Club and the United Way Illinois auxiliary board and Metro East Services Allocations panel. He volunteered with the Salvation Army and blood drives, was an elected trustee on the Freeburg Village Board, and spent 18 years as a volunteer firefighter and 14 years as an ambulance volunteer. He also coached youth softball, baseball and soccer.
After receiving the honor, Koerber thanked the Council, introduced his family and spoke in support of the United Way.
“All you guys out there, when you get that pledge card, get with it! Get that money over to them. They can use it,” he said. “We need to support the people who really need the help.”
Then he honored union business representatives and agents.
“Those are thankless positions, and they don’t get enough credit for the work they do,” he said. “They are the ones who keep the middle-class going, by continually keeping these contracts out there. Without a standard like this, everybody would be working for nearly nothing. So give them a pat on the back when you see them, and thank them for what they do.”
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
• Labor Woman of the Year – Darenda “Rendy” Hahn of the Cahokia Federation of Teachers Local 1272 Secretarial Council was chosen for her service to the union and to students.
Hahn was president of the Secretarial Council since from 2007 to 2014 and now is a mentor to the council’s new president.
Hahn has served on the local’s negotiating team and grievance committee and joined in the IFT Leadership Education and Development Program, becoming an AFT-trained local trainer for managing student behavior, health and safety and youth safety. She also has trained monitors and administrators on effective in-school suspensions.
Her workshops for fellow union members included behavior management, anger management, bullying, anti-social behavior and workplace safety. She has participated in the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health Conference and worked with students on safety issues.
• Community Service for an Individual – St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook was chosen for his service as a state representative and to his union and the community.
Holbrook was a union member for 27 years, first of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, then the United Transportation Union, and later of UFCW Local 871C, where he has been president, secretary, treasurer, district county representative and trustee. He retired from Ethyl Corp. after 26 years and was then elected, in 1995, to the Illinois House, where he served for 16 years and was a founding member of the Illinois Labor Caucus.
Holbrook was appointed county clerk in 2013 and has already led the first total purge of voter files in eight years, put candidate filing online and worked with law enforcement to create a voter integrity hotline.
Holbrook has also been presented awards for his work with the handicapped, for his record on senior issues and health care issues, and as an advocate for St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Eddie Caumiant, regional director for AFSCME Council 31, presented the award.
Said Caumiant: “I’ve known Thomas Holbrook for a long time – mostly as the representative in the House who really did bring the issues, concerns and cares of his constituents to the job with him every day, who really did listen, and really did allow space, not only for agreement and support, but for honest discussion and disagreement at times, and always a path for respectful resolution of those issues. I wish we had more like that in there now.”
LESSIE BATES NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE,
• Community Service for a Group – The Lessie Bates Neighborhood House in East St. Louis serves more than 18,500 people from St. Clair and Madison counties each year and has been operating for more than a century.
The mission of the United Methodist-owned community center is “to strengthen and empower individuals and families to help them move out of poverty.” Its work includes educational, employment and family support services, and it employs more than 230 full-time and part-time staff plus about 300 volunteers. About 120 members of Teamsters Local 50 on the staff provide critical services to the elderly, blind, disabled and handicapped.
The center partners with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Head Start program to provide early childhood development and child care, with Catholic Urban Programs to provide emergency homeless services, and with Children’s Home and Aid for homeless youth and crisis intervention services.
“It’s only because of our partnerships that we’ve continually been able to deliver critically needed services to children and families throughout St. Clair and Madison counties,” said Bill Kreeb, executive director, upon accepting the award.
Kreeb added a dire warning.
“Sad to say, because of the situation here in the state of Illinois, by the end of September, we’re probably going to end up having to lay off more than 120 of our Teamster members who are staff at the Neighborhood House,” he said.
He asked those in attendance to write letters to Gov. Bruce Rauner urging him to help pass a budget to keep the center and others like it across the state operating.
“It’s unfair and unjust that the budget has not been passed in our state,” he said. “We cannot go to the most needy people in our community to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.”
• Distinguished Service Award – Allsup Inc., of Belleville, was honored for its services to disability recipients, veterans, senior citizens and their families. When founded in 1984, it was the first nationwide, private Social Security disability claims services provider, and it has since secured benefits for more than 250,000 customers across the U.S., racking up a 97 percent success rate. Its motto is, “Life Reclaimed.”
In 2008, Allsup added Allsup True Help, which provides financial and health care information and services to its customers such as Medicare Advisor, Medicare Coordination Service, Allsup Benefits Corp., Employment Services and Veterans Disability Appeal Service.
Allsup customers include people with disabilities, veterans, seniors and their families, plus caregivers, financial advisors, employers and insurance carriers nationwide.
• American Income Life Volunteer Award – Russell Schleicher was chosen for his many community volunteer efforts and his service to the labor cause.
Schleicher joined the Stove Mounters Union while working at Weyerhauser Paper in Belleville, and then served in the Army in Vietnam. He was hired into civil service at Scott Air Force Base and joined Local R7-23 of the National Association of Government Employees and has remained a member for over 38 years.
His community activities revolve around his memberships in the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association, the Belleville Gear Jammers Car Club, the Sons of Union Veterans Civil War Re-Enactors, and as president of the 55-57 Chevy Okaw Valley Classic Car Club.
Among his volunteer efforts, he helped build and design the forge in the blacksmith shop at the Belleville Labor and Industry Museum, and he volunteers as a “smithy” at the museum.
• George Meany Scouting Award – Nicholas Schubert was honored for scouting activities that have covered most of his life, going back to 1999 when he joined Troop 1 at Jefferson School in Belleville. He was a member until 2004 and served on the summer camp staff until 2006, eventually earning the Eagle Scout designation,
As an adult, he became assistant scout leader, committee member and committee chairman for Troop 1, and in 2013 was Buffalo Trace Council District Executive, working with volunteers, fundraising and events. He is now an Order of the Arrow Chapter Advisor and is certified for National Camping School and as a programs director.
Aside from scouting, he is a learning behavior specialist and is certified as a paraprofessional by the Crisis Prevention Institute. He has a degree in business administration from Lindenwood University, a master’s degree in teaching from Fontbonne University and is now working toward a master’s degree in education. He is a member of Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative Employees Union IFT/AFT 6143.
Schubert is also a YMCA youth soccer coach, an usher at Bethel Methodist Church in Mascoutah and he cooks dinners for needy kids at the Leu Civic Center in Mascoutah.