Retiring Metro Washington Council president Jos Williams told a capacity crowd Saturday night that he plans to continue the fight for organized labor even as he steps away from the president's gavel. Nearly a thousand labor leaders and activists, power brokers and elected officials at the annual Evening With Labor celebration roared their approval at the Washington Hilton. Tom Sherwood, NBC 4 politics reporter emceed the event, which was part reunion, part awards dinner, and as guests mixed and mingled, part raucous caucus.
Mayor Muriel Bowser led the tributes, thanking District employees for their dedication and hard work coping with the January blizzard. Bowser said, "I heard a rumor that Jos Williams is retiring, but I can't believe it. I am so grateful to Jos for his leadership." Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General said, "Jos is the kind of person who brings people together and keeps them together."
Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO called Jos a labor giant. "Every worker in this region is better off because of his service." Shuler praised his social justice advocacy and said, "He's a creative organizer and tenacious as hell." AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre joined Shuler in the presentation.
Williams thanked the Council and drew laughs when he said, "This is the 39th year we have given this award. I've been knocking on the door for 35 years and finally was selected." Calling on previous award recipients to stand, he said, "These, ladies and gentlemen are the brightest and the best. And I'm honored to be in their company." CLICK BELOW TO READ MORE...
Local labor unions were recognized for their organizing and community service efforts. The Washington Teachers Union (WTU) Local 6 and AFSCME Local 658 received organizing awards for impressive gains in their membership ranks. And the National Nurses Union and UFCW Local 400 took home Golden Picket Sign Awards. Thomas M. Bradley Community Services Awards were conferred on the Sheet, Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Union, SMART Local 100, and Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 891.
The night ended as music by Moonshine featuring Ron Holloway enticed guests onto the dance floor.