Transport Workers Union, in Heights, honors Irish and labor heroes
Transport Workers Union Local 100 held its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration and tribute to the TWU’s Irish American founder Mike Quill and Irish labor leader and patriot James Connolly at TWU Union Hall, 195 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights, on Tuesday, March 15.
The TWU represents transportation workers in bus and subway lines as well as several airlines nationwide, but it started here in New York.
Speakers included Gov. Kathy Hochul, TWU International President John Samuelsen, State Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo, and chair of the NYS Senate Transportation Committee), Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bath Beach) and others. The honoree was Frank McCann Jr., director of organizing for Local 100.
Throughout the evening, speakers talked about Quill and others who helped organize the TWU as well as Connolly, a leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union who was killed by the British after taking part in the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin. They also discussed transit workers’ importance to New York during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You were the front-line workers for the [other] front-line workers because they weren’t getting to their jobs without all of you,” Hochul said. “So you truly are the heroes.”
Kennedy also praised the union’s members.
“We come together as one here today to celebrate the great history and great strength and diversity and the gall in the fight for organized labor led by TWU International and TWU Local 100,” he said. “As a Buffalo boy, I’m honored just to stand in your presence here tonight. I’m looking forward to a continued fight together to make sure you have what you need every single day you go out there and work for our community.”
Brannan said Quill and Connolly both devoted themselves to making life better for working people.
“For most of us, labor unions like TWU are an effective antidote to the greed of the ultra-wealthy and an indispensable pathway to the middle class,” Brannan said. “But for anyone trying to steal from and exploit hard-working families, labor unions are a real pain in the neck, and that’s how it should be.
“TWU founder Mike Quill and his Irish transit union forebear James Connolly both devoted themselves to making life better for working people. In this city, as we continue to fight for the rights of immigrants and working people, we stand on their shoulders,” said Brannan.
Brannan was also honored with a plaque for his support of TWU. “I was honored to be recognized by TWU because these women and men kept our city running during some of the darkest days our city has ever seen,” he said.
The evening also featured dinner and entertainment by Irish musician Peader Hickey and DJ Redline.
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