Friday, December 21, 2007

Celebrating the Holidays With NoVa Organized Labor

I was at the Northern Virginia Central Labor Council’s annual Holiday Party last night. It was very well attended with about 150 to 200 revelers celebrating the season. A member of the striking Writers Guild attended, who fortunately managed to secure a day job earlier this year when he was sworn in as U.S. Senator. Yup, union card carrying, purple heart winner and tattoo sporting Senate Rookie of the Year Jim Webb showed up to mingle with his union brothers and sisters.

A bunch of other elected officials and candidates also attended the party. Leslie Byrne was there basking in support from the unions who have already come out early to endorse her candidacy for the 11th CD. She looked right at home among friends. Of course, Larry Byrne was there as well. As always, he and I chatted about the Yankees. What else is there to talk about at a labor event in Northern Virginia?

I also spoke for a long time with promising newcomer Doug Denneny. Although I am solidly with Leslie, I enjoyed meeting him and wished him well. I told him I want to see him around for a long time because, as I’ve said elsewhere, I expect great things from him.

Gerry Connolly showed up with his wife and of course continued to stoke my ire by being happy about the Red Sox. Ok, I’m a sore loser. This fight, though, has been going on since the game that the Red Sox won from the Yankees back in the summer of 2004 when Gerry had the nerve to cheer his team during the Democratic Convention in Boston. I warned him I would hold a grudge.

Seriously, he gets a lot of ire from the blogosphere but he has done good things in Fairfax including the Cool Counties initiative, supporting and passing big box legislation and the living wage bill. In addition, he refused to demagogue the illegal immigration issue in the last election when his counterparts in Prince William and Loudoun counties all tried it. I think he’s right to concentrate on enforcing zoning ordinances against crowding, noise restrictions and other laws that penalize the behaviors that distress so many residents in neighborhoods where immigrants, legal or not, have chosen to live. By focusing on illegal actions, he has refused to demonize the people. He’s right about that. And he’s been an excellent Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Other elected officials whom I saw include the two Davids: David Bulova and Dave Marsden. Vivian Watts, Patsy Ticer, Mark Sickles, Adam Ebbin, and Al Eisenberg were all there too. I chatted for a few minutes with George Barker who looked excited about heading for Richmond in January.

Judy Feder also looked happy and enthusiastic about her upcoming campaign. I met Mike Turner for the first time as well. Both will face each other in a primary in the 10th CD,

Writing up these “gossip column” type reports is often dicey and I’m always afraid there will be somebody that I leave out. If so, my profound apologies!

It was a great party that didn’t break up until after 10, a late night for most labor people who wake up early and face long commutes in our area just like everybody else.

Happy Holidays to All!


Catzmaw said...

Great post. I enjoy being reminded that Jim Webb is a union man and damn proud of it. A few days ago we celebrated my daughter's 22nd birthday. Her more or less permanent boyfriend, a ponytailed Pakistani Muslim who only a few weeks ago achieved his lifelong dream of American citizenship, showed up, shy and embarrassed, wearing his traditional chemise and shalwar in celebration of Eid. As we sat at dinner he told me with excitement of meeting Jim Webb not long ago and getting to shake his hand. He's a union activist for a foodworkers' union and has been participating in attempts to unionize WalMart employees. He was ecstatic that Jim Webb personally congratulated him on his efforts and told him to keep up the good work. I cannot express how important it is to this young new American to have someone of Webb's stature talk to him and give him support. He has converted his entire extended family into supporters of Senator Webb and of the Democratic party. He drives my not-very-political daughter crazy with his Democratic boosterism, but it is young, motivated people like him who will eventually reverse the anti-union tide of the last 25 years and achieve some equity for ordinary working people. When a man like Jim Webb looks this young immigrant in the eye and treats him like he matters, the ripple effects are incredible and very beneficial.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Catzmaw, thank you. I also am always delighted that Jim Webb is proud of his union affiliations.

I'm also delighted to know your daughter is dating an organizer for UFCW - the foodworker's union. I have lots of friends in that great union. And I wish them all the success with their efforts to organize Wal Mart, a store whose workers are in need of collective bargaining.

Have a very happy holiday!