Chris Butters’ remarks to the Better World Awards, 2016

Chris Butters’ remarks to the Better World Awards on December 11th, 2016

I’m proud to introduce the second awardee.

I can think of no better addition to the wonderful list of BWA awardees to be honored under the theme of “The Way Forward After the Elections” than George Albro.

As we oppose and expose Trump and the Trump administration at every turn, it’s also important we offer at the streets and the ballot box a positive working class program: jobs, education, healthcare, and working people. In this regard, I’m proud to honor George, who’s played a key leadership role – sometimes behind the scenes, and sometimes more in the limelight – in helping to build the kind of broad labor-community coalitions we need and advocating labor support candidates in elections which best represent labor’s interests.

George Albro is a founding member of the New York Progressive Action Network and leads the organization’s Brooklyn Chapter of which I am a proud member. I know George will speak about that in a minute.

George Albro was a legal aid society lawyer for 18 years in Brooklyn criminal court where I first met him as a court reporter, taking down his golden words on behalf of mostly poor and working-class clients. During this time, he became secretary treasurer of UAW Local 2325, the union representing the lawyers of the legal aid society of New York. He’s also currently the chair of the UAW’s New York Area Political Action Committee. In 1998, he successfully lobbied the UAW to found with the CWA and Acorn the Working Families Party, and he was instrumental in getting the necessary votes to achieve ballot status for the WFP.

Many of us here in this room have met George through the struggles and campaigns of the WFP, whether for paid sick leave, minimum wage, #Fightfor15, and campaign finance reform. He remains one of the New York State Working Families Party co-chairs, and in May of 2015, George organized New York Labor for Bernie which rallied many rank and file trade unionists nationally to support Bernie.

People should know he was the main organizer of Bernie’s 115-member New York delegation to the Democratic National Convention and served on the rules committee, which put in process the elimination of two-thirds of the DNC super-delegates.

Last but not least, since the primary, and continuing after the election, George has been the principal organizer of the new statewide, community based organization known as New York Progressive Action Network. If its recent convention is any indication, which I believe you’ll hear about in a minute, the movement inspired by Bernie will not fold up shop between elections but, while fighting the ultra-right, will continue to fight for people’s needs at the grassroots and at the ballot box with a strategy of mobilizing both inside and outside the Democratic Party.

Let’s give it up for George Albro. Whether you’re Jarvis Tyner, Nelini Stamp, or Rachel LaForest, a working class hero is something to be!