For me personally as a lifelong organizer, the ability to harness—through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance—the collective strength of 6 million union members who hunt, fish or shoot gives me great hope for the labor movement looking forward.
For the last 5 years, Eugene “Geno” Forkin has been an integral part of the annual USA Boilermaker Kansas City Sporting Clays event, heading up organizing, participation and fundraising efforts for the event. Recently retired from his role as Boilermakers Construction Sector Operations Assistant Director and Assistant to the International President, Forkin led record-breaking attendance and fundraising efforts one last time for the 2022 event.
He takes great pride in the Boilermakers consistently holding the record for the most contributions the Union Sportsman’s Alliance has raised in a shoot. And for good reason. It’s not just for the pride: Money raised from the event benefits many USA programs, including USA’s Work Boots on the Ground a program that brings together skilled union members for hands-on conservation projects and efforts to create union unity around outdoor conservation and preservation.
An avid fisherman, hunter and overall “sports man” Forkin has personally participated in this shoot to connect with his union family. This year specifically he gained an additional source of pride and memories by volunteering for a new component of the event: a youth program educating future generations of sportsmen, the USA Boilermakers Get Youth Outdoors Day.
“It was a blast watching the kids hit their first targets,” he says. “It reminded me of when I helped my children catch their first fish, a memory they—and—I will always have.”
It’s all in the name of brotherhood and union solidarity.
“For me personally as a lifelong organizer, the ability to harness—through the Union Sportmen’s Alliance—the collective strength of 6 million union members who hunt,fish or shoot gives me great hope for the labor movement looking forward,” Forkin says.
And as he reflects in his new retirement, what Forkin recalls most is the time spent with his union brothers and sisters.
“You get to see a whole group of union people with the right ideas and the rights minds.” And that, he says, began from the beginning of his career.
Starting out working a summer job at a shop in Riverdale, Illinois, in the 70s, Forkin knew the brotherhood was the path for him. He officially indentured into the apprenticeship out of Local 1 (Chicago) in 1980. From there, his dedication to the trade served him to use his passion around the Great Lakes area as a fight-back organizer, an executive director of the Quality Control Council, assistant director of CSO, and later assistant to the International President.
Whatever the task at hand, he says, “the best part about everything is being able to represent the brothers and sisters who work for the brotherhood. It’s really been a privilege.”