On Saturday, March 17th, the San Diego Labor Council honored Jim Miller as one of eight Union Heroes the Council honored at their annual Awards Dinner.
Jim is not only a regular columnist for the OB Rag – writing his weekly “Under the Perfect Sun“-, he is a celebrated progressive author, primarily a professor at City College, and an activist in his local union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1931. Jim is also a family man and father – his son, Walt, is constantly at his side.
Lorena Gonzales – leader of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council – said this about Jim when she introduced him at the dinner:
“Jim Miller – AFT Guild 1931 – He brings dignity to labor activism. Jim campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness about an education system under siege in California – all the way from San Diego to Sacramento, no matter the roadblock.”
Lorena’s reference was to Jim’s across-the-state walk promoting education in 2010 when he traveled from San Diego to Sacramento.
When Jim was nominated by his Local for the award, Jim Mahler, AFT Guild 1931 President, had this to say in an email to the Labor Council:
Jim Miller sets the example for everyone we represent. He brings a kind of dignity to labor activism that can’t be found within unions that focus on bread and butter issues alone.
As our political action guru, Jim marched from San Diego to Sacramento to bring awareness to an education system under siege; he campaigns tirelessly to forward the cause of tax reform in California, and has joined forces with other San Diego progressives to support the OSD movement.
He is willing to challenge the AFT national and the Labor Council, when issues of principle are at stake, even as he works hard to support our union, the Labor Council, organized labor in general, and progressive movements that are committed to a progressive vision of the future.
I believe his integrity and selfless actions warrant recognition among others who have devoted themselves to the strengthening of human dignity through solidarity.
We here at the OB Rag are mightily proud of Jim. I constantly refer to his historic and ground-breaking book on the underbelly of San Diego, “Under the Perfect Sun – the San Diego Tourists Never See” that he wrote with his wife, Kelly Mayhew, and with Mike Davis, the noted socio-politico-anthropologist.
In addition, the Labor Council on March 17th, also honored the following individuals:
Dennis Csillag – NABET-CWA Local 54 – For five years, NABET-CWA Local 54 operated without a contract at a local San Diego television station’s ownership group hell bent of Union Busting. Dennis skillfully steered the ship at 10 News through rough waters that has his union on the brink of a strong contract with new station owners.
Sandy Oleson – UNAC – Sandy is one of local organized labor’s most vocal defenders. In fact, she helps others see the big picture of how it truly is everyone’s right to earn a livable wage, enjoy quality health care, and even prepare well enough during one’s working years to enjoy a decent retirement.
Ignacio “Iggy” Ponce de Leon – UFCW Local 135 – During UFCW Local 135’s nine month grocery store contract negotiations, Iggy was the most active and dedicated shop steward in the local. He portrayed courage and leadership amongst his peers.
Jim Walzenbach – NALC Branch 70 – Jim’s commitment to the NALC isn’t limited to San Diego – it expands all across the Golden State. In addition to his local duties, he also serves as treasurer for the California State Association of Letter Carriers.
Ken Bailey – Sheet Metal Workers Local 206 – Ken has been a sheet metal worker for over 30 years. Recently named Local 206’s Volunteer of the Year, he was overwhelmingly nominated by his peers for this honor.
Daniel Machain – IBEW Local 569 – Organizing is not just a job or title to Daniel – it’s his passion. He inspires his fellow Local 569 brothers and sisters through his passion, dedication and willingness to lead by example.
Bill Stuckey – Ironworkers Local 229 – Known for his unselfish dedication to labor and organizing, Bill has taken the lead role for Local 229 on events such as the Letter Carriers Food Drive, cooking meals for countless volunteers and the Cesar Chavez March. He even received the very first Black Eagle award for his involvement with the March.