"We're calling the whole thing a 'handshake' across the ocean," explains James Devine, president, CWA Local 1116, Troy, N.Y. "This should be an occasion thal will bring all of us together and establish stronger, lasting ties between the communities."
Devine is speaking of the "Troy Tribute to James Connolly," Ihe Irish Patriot and leader of the "Rising" of 1916 and outspoken head of Ireland's Transport and General Workers Union in that era.
The city of Troy, which has a long and distingulshed labor heritage, was home to Connolly and his family between 1903 and 1905 before a depression forced the family to return to Ireland.
Connolly had a life-long devotion to the labor movement. Much of his time in Ihe United States was spent teaching working class people methods of organizing themselves to bargain collectively wilh thelr employers for better working conditions, hours and wages.
In 1910 Connolly returned to Ireland where he assumed the leadership of the Irlsh Transport and General Workers Unlon. During the next few years he devoted his energies to organizing the Irish Chizen Army and creating a plan to free Ireland of the colonial exploitation and oppression it had been suffering under British rule. This work culminated in the "Rising" which took place on Easter Monday, 1916. Connolly and other leaders were executed soon after by a British firing squad without a trial.
Devine is chairman of the Connolly Commemorative Organizing Committee which is overseeing arrangements for the event scheduled for August 17, 1986. Connolly will be enshrined as "Son of Troy" wilh a parade and festival and the dedication of a monument to his memory.
A number of prominenl labor leaders will take part in the activities, including CWA President Morton Bahr, President of the International Longshoreman's Association Teddy Gleason, Nobel Peace Prize winner Sean McBride, and leaders of the Irish Labour Party (of which Connolly was a founder).
President Morton Bahr says the tribute "will give recognition to the impact and contribution the Labor Movement has made in the struggle of people for independence and for a decent standard of living."
"This 'handshake across the ocean' makes a contribution to international understanding and provides an opportunity to develop more knowledge of labor history in our own counlry."
CWA members interested in participating in the activities can contact Devine at 39 1121h St., Troy, NY 12182, telephone (518) 237-1116.
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