Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the career and achievements of Mr. David Newby, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, as he retires from his esteemed position.
David served as president for sixteen years, but his roots in fighting for social equality run much deeper. He began his dedicated fight against injustice during his time as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. From 1965 to 1968, he faced off with racial discrimination in the South, organizing and participating in protests and sit-ins to counter the actions of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1968, David began work on a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He quickly became involved in the union movement. As Steward of the Teaching Assistants Association, David was able to gain recognition from the administration through union strikes and other actions.
In 1982, David first stepped into a labor leadership role when he was elected President of the Madison Labor Council. He possessed the ability to motivate local members to come together on issues and express their views as one voice to the national AFL-CIO. A supremely principled man, David had no qualms about speaking out against union-backed candidates or policies. In 1986, he won a tough election for Secretary-Treasurer. He continued to ruffle feathers as he expressed his distaste for America's military actions abroad, never backed down from striking against plant closings, and continually pushed to attract new and more committed union members. Finally, in 1994, David easily won the presidency of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.
Over the past sixteen years as president, David has only increased his effort to fight for what he believes is right. As the representative of the Midwest on the national AFL-CIO Executive Council, he helped lead the federation's opposition to the Iraq War. He continued to work tirelessly to build stronger connections between local labor leaders, community leaders, workers, and organizations to support students' rights, civil rights, women's rights, and countless other causes. In a time when so many are suffering because of the economy, David has fought to keep jobs from going abroad and to ensure competitive wages and benefits for union workers.
In a piece reflecting on the election of President Obama, David wrote, ``But no gains are freely given. We have to seize the moment, focus our energies, and assure that the victory will indeed be ours.'' These bold words embody the essence of the American spirit, and it is clear that over the past fifty years, David has come to epitomize this spirit. Although colleagues may disagree with his beliefs or fiery spirit, they always come away with nothing but the utmost respect for David.
May his stalwart dedication, vision, and lifelong commitment to the highest ethical standards continue to serve as an inspiration for us. I join the greater Madison community, the entire state of Wisconsin, and those who continue to fight for their beliefs throughout our great nation in honoring Mr. David Newby's achievements and thanking him for his lifetime of service.