A champion of Irish America in Chicago has been honored for his commitment to the cause of labor.
And James F. Coyne, who received his Irish labor accolade in New York, said he was humbled to be recognized in the same city where 1916 leader James Connolly had once organized workers.
As General Chairman of the St Patrick's Day Parade in the Windy City, Jim Coyne is deeply rooted in the city's storied Irish community while as Business Manager of the Plumbers Local Union 130 U.A. he is among the most influential labor leaders in Illinois.
Accepting his Ambassador of Labor plaque at the sold-out Irish Labor Awards hosted by the Irish Echo, Coyne called for a progressive agenda for labor across the US.
"These are trying times for labor as we face opposition on many fronts," he said. "As we continue to face political, social and economic challenges, we must set a progressive agenda that keeps us moving forward. We need to think outside the box, adapt to the challenges that come our way and constantly reinforce the value of our craft."
A proud descendant of a grandfather from Co Galway and a grandmother from Co Mayo, Coyne says he's delighted that the sixty-two-hundred-member-strong Plumbers Union in Chicago is a generous sponsor of the "best St Patrick's Parade in the country."
Read more: Callahan saluted as 2018 Irish labor leader
"My parents James — a life-long member of the U.A. — and Geraldine instilled in me a very deep commitment to Irish Americans that I carry with me in every aspect of my life," he added.
"When I received word that I was going to receive this award, my thoughts ran back to Dublin and the statue of James Connolly that I visited in Ireland a couple of years back. Of course, Connolly fought for organized labor right here on the streets of New York. I am deeply humbled by being recognized here in the very shadow of James Connolly's historic work."
Crowned Irish Labor leader of the Year at the Times Square celebration was Tom Callahan, a 21-year member of the IUOE. LIUNA leader Terry O'Sullivan praised Callahan as "the real deal; a tough, tenacious, working-class warrior who never backs up, never backs down, who never retreats and who never surrenders when it comes to the cause, the purpose and the mission of the labor movement."
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