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Northern Virginia AFL-CIO Gives Labor Champion Award to Congressman Don Beyer, Citing His Efforts During Alexandria’s Bus Driver Strike

“The transit workers in Alexandria had a platform because of Don. They had the ability to change their entire lifestyle and give their families hope."

Virginia Diamond, Sara Nelson and her son, Jack, along with Don Beyer. (Photo: Mary K. Leonard)
Virginia Diamond, Sara Nelson and her son, Jack, along with Don Beyer. (Photo: Mary K. Leonard)

“When we have each other’s backs, we all have a better experience. It’s not a corporation that makes it possible for us to have a good life – it’s the people who work there and the idea that when we come together, we can make our lives better and Congressman Beyer understands that.” – Sara Nelson, President, Association of Flight Attendants

WASHINGTON, DC – On Saturday, September 18 in Washington D.C. at the AFL-CIO in front of Black Lives Matter Plaza, Congressman Don Beyer received Northern Virginia Labor Federation, AFL-CIO’s Labor Champion Award recognizing Congressman Beyer’s stalwart support for the right of workers to organize.

President of the NoVA Labor Federation, Virginia Diamond, worked with Shanara Gabriel, Cultural Producer of the musical Working in DC, to dedicate an evening in tribute to Congressman Beyer with a performance of the musical which followed the presentation of the prestigious award.

“It was the great opportunity we’ve been waiting for to present Congressman Beyer with our Labor Champion Award, because he has made enormous efforts to support the right of workers to organize unions. So above and beyond what he does in Congress, he knows it’s a fundamental freedom to have more unions to help to reduce poverty, racial inequity and rebuild the middle class. He sees unions as fundamental to democracy,” said Virginia Diamond.

Virginia Diamond standing left in blue dress, Sara Nelson (wheelchair front) in red shirt, Don & Megan Beyer standing right back. Others present are workers with disabilities who work for Didlake corporation who are trying to unionize for equal wages. (Photo: Mary K. Leonard)
Virginia Diamond standing left in blue dress, Sara Nelson (wheelchair front) in red shirt, Don & Megan Beyer standing right back. Others present are workers with disabilities who work for Didlake corporation who are trying to unionize for equal wages. (Photo: Mary K. Leonard)

Long-Standing Voting Record Favors Labor

Diamond continued to praise Congressman Beyer’s long-standing voting record in Congress and commitment to Alexandria’s workers citing the contribution he made in the DASH bus drivers unionization. “When the bus drivers in Alexandria – the DASH workers (who had been trying to unionize over decades, actually), Alexandria City hired a union buster and Congressman Beyer stepped in and was very forceful with his language in making the city aware that the DASH workers had a right to organize. He understands that economic and racial equity depends on workers being able to have power and a voice.”

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, shared similar sentiments about Congressman Beyer, “The transit workers in Alexandria had a platform because of Don. They had the ability to change their entire lifestyle and give their families hope. What is more important than that? That they can think about signing their children up for that soccer camp and can actually plan for that family vacation and have those moments and smile together and he (Congressman Beyer) is directly responsible for making that possible for people in the Northern Virginia area.”

Nelson who represents over 50,000 airline flight attendants serves as the leading voice for these workers in the airline industry and on Capitol Hill. “When we have each other’s backs, we all have a better experience. It’s not a corporation that makes it possible for us to have a good life – it’s the people who work there and the idea that when we come together, we can make our lives better and Congressman Beyer understands that.”

Virginia Diamond holding Award Prior to Ceremony
Virginia Diamond holding Award Prior to Ceremony

Origins of Beyer’s Commitment

Congressman Beyer’s dedication to and understanding of the labor movement started at a young age. His paternal grandparents were deeply involved in labor.  In fact, his grandmother ran the Children’s Bureau Department of Labor (she also recommended Frances Perkins to Franklin Roosevelt) and set up the Bureau of Labor Standards.

As a young Army Captain in World War One, his grandfather settled the Armory Strike and was instrumental in resolving the Canadian Railroad Strike. With both grandparents spending their whole lives working to bring labor and management together, Congressman Beyer was raised with an early desire to fight for fairness and justice for workers.

Congressman Beyer has also dedicated his time to make a difference for the rights of those with disabilities who have been denied the right to organize. “My sister had an intellectual disability and early on worked in a shelter workshop. I made sure she was always paid a living wage working with us and always had benefits and vacation. The thought of the idea you pay a disabled person less is just wrong,” said Beyer. “I don’t know that we have won every battle, but it’s always important to fight the war.”

RELATED: Beyer weighs In on the $50 Million Boeing Commitment to Virginia Tech Campus in Alexandria

 

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