FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Labor Leader, Tefere Gebre, Awarded Peace Prize

Tefere Gebre with Fr. Sean McManus. Photo: Bill Hughes

On Tuesday afternoon, December 5, 2017, Tefere Gebre, a stalwart of the cause of organized labor, was given a “Roving Ambassador for Peace” award in a ceremony, near Capitol Hill.

Mr. Gebre, a native of Ethiopia, is an Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. According to the program notes, he became in 2013, the “first immigrant, political refugee, black man and local labor council leader elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO.”

In 1975, at age thirteen, Gebre was forced to leave his native homeland. Ethiopia was being ripped apart by warring factions. He walked hundreds of miles across the desert to reach a safe haven in the Sudan. From there, Mr. Gebre was blessed by gaining “refugee status” and soon emigrated to America, and then to Los Angeles, California.

The award ceremony was held in the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, on the eighth floor, at 815 16th Street, NW, with a splendid view of the White House and Washington Monument. There was close to a capacity audience in attendance.

There are currently 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO. The national union is governed by its Executive Council with its long term President, Richard Trumka at the helm; along with his second in command, Liz Shuter. She holds the office of Secretary-Treasurer and is also a leader of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Mr. Gebre is now the third-ranking leader of the AFL-CIO.

Friends and family members of the honoree, Mr. Gebre, were in attendance. They were joined by officials of the AFL-CIO, staff members and office workers. Last year peace prize winner, Elizabeth “Liz” Powell, Secretary-Treasure of the American Postal Workers Union was there, as was Fred Mason, the President of the Maryland State and D.C., AFL-CIO. He is also a well-known social justice activist in Maryland, particularly, in Baltimore, Annapolis, and in the District of Columbia as well.

James Boland, a native of Ireland and the President of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union also spoke at the event.

Gebre came to public attention as “a reformer of the Orange County Labor Federation from 2006 to 2008.” He also served in a variety of other statewide posts in California. Among other positions, Gebre was the Executive Director of “Frontlash.”

The award was presented by Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President of the Irish National Caucus, a national organization; and the Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize. Ms. Barbara Flaherty served as the Chairperson for the program. She is the Executive V.P. of the Irish National Caucus and Corporate Manager of the World Peace Prize.

Fr. McManus said: “Gebre was selected for this Award for the year 2017, because of his dedication to social justice and fair employment. The latter are the very foundation of peace, because peace is the fruit of justice. Those who work for justice are therefore, the real peace workers.”

He continued, “It’s easy to talk about ‘peace’ if one leaves out justice…Working for justice is not a part-time endeavor. Rather it is, instead, the work of a life time. So, we felt that Peace Prize also ‘belong to people’ who spend their lives, day in and day out, working for justice…The way for the ordinary person to get a chance at basic justice is to get a decent job, with a just wage, without any discrimination for any reason.

“Fair employment is… the nexus between justice and peace… Those who spend their lives working for decent jobs with just wages, are indeed the true and steadfast ‘peace builders.’ And if any American group personifies this, it is surely ‘the Labor Movement and the AFL-CIO…’ And that is why…the 2017 recipient of the Roving Ambassador for Peace Prize is Tefere Gebre.”

Background on the World Peace Award – The World Peace Prize, according to the program from the event, “was founded in 1989, by the Rev. Dr. Han Min Su. He is from Seoul, Korea and is a Presbyterian Minister…The World Peace Prize is not only International, but also Inter-faith. The Board of Judges symbolically represent the nine major religions of the word.” To learn more about Rev. Dr. Su and this matter, go to: http://www.wppac.net

In his comments, Gebre recalled how he had experienced at an early age, “war, conflict and injustice” in his native land. Back then in the middle of all that horror, he said, I began “dreaming about peace.”

“Peace Prize”

Gebre will be attending the “National Immigration Day of Action” rally in Washington, D.C. at Upper Senate Park, on Dec. 6th. He ended his remarks by repeating that popular refrain heard at social justice rallies across this country in recent years: “No Justice! No Peace!”

The program ended on a surprising, but also a delightful note. The Irish singer Derek Warfield of “Young Wolfe Tones” fame, sang the iconic labor ballad, “Joe Hill.” Hill, a labor organizer and activist, was a member of the legendary IWW (Wobblies).

More of my photos can be found on my Facebook page.

More articles by:

Bill Hughes is the author of Baltimore Iconoclast

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail