Washington There are few grace notes in the current divisions within the forces of institutional labor, but I happened to experience a small one at Georgetown University in a special ceremony held to honor John Sweeney, retiring President of the AFL-CIO, with an honorary degree. I had been invited by Joe McCartin, an organizer with Houston ACORN decades ago as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member, and Jennifer Luff, who worked as a researcher for me in the HOTROC campaign in New Orleans. Joe is now a professor at Georgetown specializing in labor history and Jennifer just signed on with him to help put the Kalmanovitz Institute for Labor and the Working Poor together, where he is also acting as director. The Georgetown Labor Center, as another organizer called it, as we drove to Georgetown was exciting enough to drawn me down to talk about what people had in mind and how I could help.
I stumbled into the fine hall after the ceremony had already begun, taking a seat just behind Jon Hiatt, Sweeney’s long time general counsel at SEIU and now the AFL, who reached out his hand, and Bill Lurye, from New Orleans sitting down the row past Ray Abernathy and Denise Mitchell, the communications wizards I had known so long.