John “Tim” Phelan was a man so great his counsel was sought by those
in the highest places of power. But his true greatness came from his willingness
to reach out to those who were powerless.
He was a man who could have been anything he put his mind to, yet he devoted
his own life to bettering the lives of others. He had a vision for a new labor
movement, a vision that transformed his own small Local Union into a united
force that protected its members and came to command respect throughout the
entire labor community in the United States.
Today is more than just a sad day for labor in Chicago and the United States;
it is a sad day for all Americans who belive in the inherent goodness of man,
who believe that all working men and women have a right to share in the bounty
of their toil, and who believe that truth and wisdom are traits not endowed
upon the powerful, but inherent within the collective voices of common men and
“Tim, we thank you for showing us what we can be, we thank you for showing
us what the world can be.”
Go in peace.