Boilermakers honor lawmakers for exemplary service
DURING CEREMONIES AT the union’s 50th LEAP Conference in Washington, DC, in April, two standout members of Congress received the Brotherhood’s highest recognition for their support of working people. International President Newton B. Jones presented Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Marcy Kaptur with the Abe Breehey Legislator of the Year Award, a unique quill pen sculpture and accompanying plaque custom designed and crafted by the Boilermaker History Preservation Department.
US Senator Heidi Heitkamp
U.S. SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (D-ND) is the first woman from North Dakota to be elected to the Senate (in 2013). She previously served as the state’s tax commissioner and later attorney general and has a reputation for being willing to work across the aisle. She also served as director of the Dakota Gasification Synfuels Plant.
Heitkamp has been a champion of legislation vital to the Boilermakers and other labor unions, notably the FUTURE Act, which improves upon tax incentives for carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technology. She is also a cosponsor of USE IT (The Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies) Act, a bill that would support federal, state, and non-governmental collaboration in the construction and development of CCUS facilities and CO2 pipelines.
Heitkamp spoke to LEAP delegates about how Washington often disregards the needs of working people. “There’s a real problem in this town. Everybody professes to be for the working people, but we never really see it,” she said. She condemned the Cadillac Tax as a “really horrible idea. People bargain and negotiate for better health insurance so they can better take care of their families, and guess what you get for it? You get an additional tax.”
She also spoke about the need to fix multiemployer pension plans, which were devastated by greedy Wall Street banks that collapsed the economy in 2008. “Think about that. You work hard in jobs that take a toll. You work hard for America. And now they’re (Congress is) walking away [from supporting multiemployer pension plans]. Not on my watch. We need to be very, very active on the pension issue.”
Marcy Kaptur, US House
U.S. REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH 9th) is the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Congress — 36 years — and has a career pro-labor voting record of 97 percent.
She spoke to LEAP delegates about her early life in a union household and her struggles as a woman at a time when there were many glass ceilings yet to be broken. Kaptur said she was denied admission into the Air Force Academy and Notre Dame University, and a career with the FBI “because I was a woman.”
But those disappointments didn’t hold her back. Kaptur earned a graduate degree in urban planning and later caught the attention of President Jimmy Carter’s administration, becoming a domestic policy advisor. She won her first seat in the U.S. House in 1984 and has never lost a bid for re-election.
Kaptur recalled that the first union to back her financially was Boilermakers Local 85 (Toledo, Ohio). She praised Boilermakers for their skills and hard work, telling delegates: “I have to say, so few people could do [what you do]. It is such hard work, and it demands not just physical strength, but mental strength. And just know that I completely admire you for the work you do in building our country. I am just so proud of you.”
Kaptur also had high praise for Bank of Labor. “I served on the banking committee for many years. I serve on Appropriations now. I really understand who controls the money in this country, and they don't support you, and they don't support labor. And one of the real answers out of this conundrum is to keep building institutions like Bank of Labor...”