Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Working class hero

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady never struck me as a black tie kind of guy.

So I was not the least surprised Saturday night when Brady was at a banquet hall in South Philly at the same time most of the movers and shakers in Pennysylvania politics were gathered in the Big Apple.

Brady was on hand, ironically, to collect an award named for him, The Bob Brady Working Class Hero Award.

That’s as opposed to all those pols who trucked 100 miles up the turnpike for that annual celebration of power and money, the Pennsylvania Society.

Brady was in his element in South Philly. The occasion was the first annual United Steelworkers Local 10-1 Jim McHugh Memorial Awards Night and Celebration dinner.

I had the chance to chat with the congressman for a few minutes, and I joked with him about not being in New York. He made it pretty clear that wasn’t his thing.

On the other hand, sitting in a room full of steelworkers was clearly Brady’s element.

And for good reason. If you were going to point to one man who made the difference in the battle to save all those jobs when Sunoco decided it was getting out of the refinery business, you can probably start with Brady.

In fact, I’ll go you one better. Can you name a significant deal reached or labor impasse that’s been averted in the Philadelphia region that does not have Bob Brady’s fingerprints all over it?

It’s Brady who is widely credited with putting the refinery crisis in the ear of President Obama. It took 10 long months, and Brady had to keep the lid on a lot of simmering union feelings and bitterness being directed at Sunoco, at the same time Brady was trying to swing the deal that wound up with the refinery being saved with the creation of Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

As usual, Brady delivered.

Saturday night he collected the first annual Bob Brady Working Class Hero Award.

They just might have to retire it.

 

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