Silver Spring, MD, Aug. 2 – The National Labor College honored International President Matthew D. Loeb at a gala last night at the college’s Silver Spring campus, attended by 325 labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Also honored at the festivities, titled “A Time To Build,” were Mark H. Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO; AFTRA president Roberta Reardon; Ray Hair, president of the American Federation of Musicians; SAG president Ken Howard, and Nick Wyman, president of Actor’s Equity.
President Trumka lauded Ayers for his ongoing commitment to education as a key to building the labor movement, and entertainment union leaders for their strong support of building labor through public advocacy and action. The event raised $400,000 for the NLC, the only college in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to the education needs of unions members, leaders and their families. It offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in Labor Studies in six majors, and also has a School of Professional Studies, which offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.
“I’m honored and humbled to be here with these other labor leaders,” said President Loeb, who reflected on the fact that he had taken courses at the Labor College in the early 1990s. The experience proved so valuable that as International President, he now emphasizes education for the entire IA leadership. “All the members of the labor movement deserve no less than the best possible representation that we can give them.
What we’ve done in our organization from the top to the bottom is to make sure that we provide tools for people to be leaders. I feel obligated to give them those tools.” To that end, President Loeb brings all IA reps and officers to the Labor College for three days each year. In addition he stated, “I run seminars at each of the district meetings so that every local union officer in our Alliance is granted the opportunity to get some education on an annual basis. We work closely with the Labor College in respect to this.”
The IA has also implemented a program that subsidizes local union leaders who are interested in taking courses at the Labor College or another bona fide institution so they will have the tools to be as informed and valuable to their members as possible.