Kansas City—Missouri’s union leaders plus delegations from around the Midwest and Washington D.C. turned out to honor Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Herb Johnson at a retirement celebration here Nov. 30.
Speaker after speaker characterized Johnson as a dedicated and courageous union leader whose personality and character represented the very best of the labor movement.
Machinists International President Thomas Buffenbarger praised Johnson for his leadership and service over the years at every level of unionism, from his local lodge, the state AFL-CIO and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Johnson was a member of former Machinists Lodge 1650 in Kansa City and is a current member of Lodge 688 in St. Louis. He has been Secretary-Treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO since 1997.
Missouri AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey hosted the meeting and kept an audience of several hundred laughing for the better part of a half hour with stories and jokes about their years together at the state federation. McVey also joined the federation in 1997.
“He’s the most positive union man you ever want to meet,” McVey said, “because he thinks nobody is out to screw him and that’s been good, because I think everybody is out to screw me!”
Phil Gruber, Midwest General Vice President of the machinists,
called Johnson an “extraordinary union leader who has devoted 50 years of his life to improving the lives of working people.”
Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, one of several Midwest union leaders at the dinner, said that he had worked with Johnson on several committees and issues.
“When Herb was involved, we always knew the job would get done. Herb doesn’t care who gets the credit. He never asks for anything in return. He is dedicated to the working people we all represent.”
Union leaders from as far away as North Dakota and Vermont attended the retirement dinner. Other states included Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Johnson closed the evening with a few remarks of his own.
He said he considered his life in the labor movement a privilege.
“I worked for the best people in the world doing what I love to do,” he said.