Union president agrees to be honorary chairman
(Troy) Times Record, 8 August 1985

(By Ned Hoskin, Staff reporter)

TROY - Thomas W. "Teddy" Gleason, 84, president of the 116,000 member International Longshoremen's Association, has agreed to be honorary chairman of Troy's tribute to former Trojan and Irish patriot James Connolly.

According to James Devine, chairman of the Connolly Gommemorative Organizing Committee, Gleason's support was sought to help the committee in its efforts to communicate worldwide its purpose to honor Connolly's efforts as a labor leader and fighter for Ireland's independence.

Plans for tbe tribute call for erection of a monument in Troy, publication of a commemorative journal and a festival with ceremonies to include music and messages from prominent Irish and Irish-American figures. It is scheduled for Aug. 17, 1983, to coincide with the city's annual Irish Day in Riverfront Park.

Gleason's greatest honor relating to his association with Irish-American activities came last year when he served as grand marshal for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City and led more than 250,000 marchers up Fifth Avenue. The founder and co-chairman of the Irish-American Labor Coalition, he was also grand marshal of the 1983 Brooklyn Irish-American Parade.

Gleason was first elected president of the longshoremen's union in 1963 and has been re-elected at each of its conventions since. In 1969, he was elected vice president of the executive council of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and has been re-electad every two years since then. In 1983, AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland named Gleason chairman of the organization's International Affairs Committee.

Gleason's leadership was first given international recognition in 1965 with his election to office in the International Transport Workers' Federation of which he is now vice president. His role as the union's chief negotiator for the past 21 years has coincided with dramatic developments and innovations that have reshapad the longshore industry.

Gleason has also served as an international labor ambassador. Kirkland and his predecessor, the late George Meany, put the ILA president's expertise to work in troubled spots the world over. In 1983, Gleason was sent as the lone labor official to Paris and Cairo as part of a delegation to assist in the peace effort for Lebanon.

He serves on President Reagan's Maritime Advisory Committee, as he did during President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration. In 1965, Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked him to investigate the movement of cargo in Saigon, South Vietnam, and to recommend a solution to the congestion there.

In 1984, the Army, citing the union's commitment to continue the flow of cargo during military emergencies, presented Gleason with its Patriotic Civilian Service Award, the highest honor presented to non-military personnel.

He now sits on the board of directors of the African-American Labor Center and the American Institute for Free Labor Development. He also is on the executive councils for the Irish Institute and the American Irish Historical Society. In 1980 the latter bestowed upon him the medalist award, an honor shared by President Reagan, two New York governors and the late George Meany.

The commemorative committee is completing an information packet to send around the world. It will include a number of endorsements from political and labor leaders such as Gleason, Nobel Prize winner Sean McBride, and Tom Fitzpatrick, speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland.

"We are standing on the threshold of an assault on anybody in this world who might be interested," Devine said. "All we need is the envelopes and the postage stamps. I think we can put Troy firmly on the world map."

The committee has also received unanimous support from the state Ancient Order of Hibernians along with a promise to pursue the same support on the national level.

"That means that Irish organizations all over the country undoubtedly will feel good about pumping money into this," Devine said. "We look forward to their support."

The commmittee will also send Devine as its representative to England and Ireland soon to establish and follow up on contacts in the governments and labor communities of those countries.

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