Eliot Engel named Legislator of the Year

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-17th NY)

Congressman is proven ally of Boilermakers and labor

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-17th NY) will receive the Boilermakers’ Legislator of the Year award at the 39th annual conference of the Legislative Education Action Program (LEAP) this March in Washington, D.C.

Government Affairs Director Bridget Martin said the award acknowledges Engel’s exemplary efforts to support American workers.

Now in his 10th term in the U.S. House, Engel has proven himself an ally of the Boilermakers and labor in general since he first took office in 1988. He has consistently voted for issues that are vital to working families, championing affordable housing, health care reform, and education for all Americans.

The son of an Ironworker, Engel was born in the Bronx in 1947. He worked as a teacher and counselor and earned a law degree from New York Law School. He served in the New York State Assembly for 11 years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2006 Engel became directly involved in a key Boilermaker issue by introducing a bill — along with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-2nd SC) — to allow more Canadian members to work in the U.S. temporarily. The bill, H.R. 3644, would exempt Boilermakers from annual caps on H-2B visas. The exemptions are important because over the last several years surges in demand for Boilermakers performing power plant work have occurred after the visa limit for the year has been reached. Without the ability to obtain a visa, Canadian Boilermakers cannot supplement the U.S. work force in times of need. This situation could force owners to delay plant upgrades and pollution control projects and cause construction Boilermakers to lose work.

Although H.R. 3644 did not come to a vote in the House last year, Rep. Engel has vowed to reintroduce the measure in the 110th Congress.

Rep. Engel has also helped lead the charge against an effort by the National Labor Relations Board to expand the definition of supervisors ― a move that would deny union membership to thousands of skilled workers because they sometimes instruct their co-workers. The NLRB stance on the issue, which is known as the “Kentucky River” cases, has prompted outrage by organized labor and its supporters. In a letter to the NLRB last year, signed by more than 100 congressmen, Engel insisted that the agency consider hearing oral arguments because of the gravity of the proposed policy change and to make sure the agency ensures “the greatest degree of procedural fairness and openness…possible.”

Intl. Pres. Newton B. Jones will present Engel with the Legislator of the Year Award. He noted that “when we approached Rep. Engel regarding the possible manpower shortages we face in the Construction Division, and our need to ensure access to our Canadian membership, he didn’t hesitate to take the lead in introducing legislation to assist us.” Jones added, “His record as a supporter of labor rights and the priorities of working families speaks for itself. He is a first-class congressman and a great friend of this union. We appreciate his leadership and support.”