Nearly 100 trade unionists and their friends took advantage of beautiful early autumn weather to hit the links and honor three Labor members and supporters at the Fourth Annual Greater St. Louis and Vicinity Port Council Golf Outing and Awards Dinner on September 25.
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Second District Vice President Mark Woolbright received the Richard Mantia Labor Man of the Year Award. Robert Bray, President of union-contracted TSI Global Companies, picked up the Management Man of the Year Award. Retired Fire Fighter Kim Besserman was recognized with the Able Helmsman Award.
“Receiving the Richard Mantia Award, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Woolbright stated. (Mantia is the late president of the Port Council.)
Starting with his wife, Woolbright thanked many people who have stood with him and guided him through his career with the IAFF.
“I don’t think I have done any more than anyone else in this room,” he added.
Introducing Woolbright was Port Council Secretary-Treasurer Bryan Powell, who recited a long list of the community charity work Woolbright has performed over the years. Powell told the audience Woolbright was listed among the 100 most influential people affecting public policy in Missouri.
Bray announced he was proud that TSI Global is a “100 percent IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 1 company.”
He said his union routes go way back through his family as well as cutting the lawn as a youngster for Port Council
President Jack Martorelli. He recalled when he was 14 years old that Martorelli offered eight St. Louis Cardinals baseball tickets to mow his lawn. Bray, a Cardinals fan, eagerly accepted the job. When he was finished, Martorelli presented the tickets but added the parking pass would cost him $10. “Jack said, ‘They call that dues.’
“I learned that if you want it, you’ve got to pay for it. The IBEW has been outstanding for TSI. ”
Bray said he is proud of TSI Global’s union diversity program, noting that during the company’s 32 years, it has provided more than 4 million work hours for IBEW members.
In thanking his family, his associates, IBEW Local 1 and the Port Council, Bray declared, “You are only as successful as the people you surround yourself. We make sure we do the job right the first time.”
Presenting him to the Port Council was Martorelli. He informed the body of TSI Global’s growth from a local “mom-and-pop” firm to one that provides audio, visual, security, commercial and residential electrical services all over the country.
Although Besserman may be listed as a retired fire fighter, he remains very active on many fronts, including being the lead organizer for the Port Council outing. His resume lists his involvement in many local charity and political campaigns as well.
He called out his wife and family, thanking them for the decades of support: “I share these accomplishments with Saint Karen (his wife).”
He told at those at the dinner that they should always “remember those who helped build the Labor Movement.”
MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan presented Besserman with his ship’s wheel. He said Besserman was a charter member of IAFF Eastern Missouri Local 2665, which started with 55 in 1978 and now has more than 2200 in its ranks.