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MTD President Michael Sacco (left) chats with IUOE General President James Callahan before presenting him the NY/NJ Port Council’s Paul Hall Award of Merit.

All three honorees of the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York/New Jersey and Vicinity stood up for the contributions of working people in accepting awards during the council’s annual dinner-dance on October 13.

International Union of Operating Engineers General President (and MTD Board Member) James Callahan, Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) and David Foster, who as President and CEO of American Steamship Company accepted that firm’s award, noted the hard work of those who have come before as well as those who meet the daily struggles at their jobs.

Callahan served as president and business manager of IUOE Local 15 in New York City prior to being elected to lead his international. He saluted the solidarity found within the Labor Movement.

“No matter what has to be done, we stand together,” Callahan stated.

Upon receiving the council’s Paul Hall Award of Merit, the 32-year IUOE member noted it was “quite an honor.” He said he studied the life of the late MTD President and saw “he was looked down upon with bats. He worked and fought and took injuries for the working men of this country.”

In introducing Callahan, MTD President Michael Sacco said the IUOE president is “doing a great job not only with his union but also as a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, where we both serve. He has worked his way up through the ranks, so he understands the challenges faced by the rank-and-file. And he is a true champion of America’s working families.”

Sacco also pointed out a recent New York Times article that stated Wall Street employs about 160,000 related to its business while the port of New York has close to 280,000 workers. “Isn’t it interesting that those overpriced bankers and money-changers begrudge and belittle honest working men and women who show up no matter what the weather’s like and do their jobs for a family-sustaining wage,” the MTD president declared to applause from the nearly 600 in attendance.

PMC President Joseph Soresi presented Congressman Grimm with the Government Man of the Year Award. Congressman Grimm wished his father, who had been a member of Roofers and Waterproofers Local 8, could have witnessed the occasion.

The freshman legislator and Persian Gulf War veteran said it was his father who taught him “the respect and belief that we will do whatever it takes to give our children more than what we had.

“I know what built this country,” Grimm told the gathering. “It was the hard working men and women who built this country. I will be with you the whole way. You are the beacon of hope, the beacon of life for the whole world. I share in your pride.”

The council’s Herb Brand Memorial Award was presented to American Steamship Company, the largest U.S.-flag company on the Great Lakes.

President and CEO Foster acknowledged, “It is the employees who keep us working; it is the customers who keep us in business. A company is only as good as its people, and we have great people.”

Foster saluted the good working relationship the company has with its contracted unions – the Seafarers and the American Maritime Officers.

He ended his remarks with a statement that brought the crowd to its feet: “Long live the Jones Act!”

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