You can view videos of the Labor and Scouting event by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel
CHICAGO — At the core of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is teaching its youth to become leaders, and to serve others — which is not unlike the brotherhood of organized labor.
Scouting and Labor came together Jan. 20 in a merging of ideology and goals, but more importantly, to honor one of Labor and Scoutings biggest supporters — United Association General President William Hite, who was awarded the first ever Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council AFL-CIO George Meany Award.
The event, held before 660 guests at Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel and Towers, honored Hite’s commitment to bring Scouting closer to the construction trades.
Chicago’s BSA Pathway to Adventure Council presented Hite with the award, which recognizes union members who have made a significant contribution to local youth through BSA programs. The event also raised more than $300,000, which will be used for the Boy Scout merit badge programs in plumbing, welding and American labor, and for the creation of a new BSA programs aimed at fostering genuine interest and skills in the trades among today’s youth.
Hite, a former Cub and Sea Scout, thanked the BSA and said he is anxious to open the next chapter of working together and to recruit scouts into the trades. “Scouting builds character and integrity, and that’s what we try to put into our union. That’s where the partnership with Scouting comes in, because they are taught early on, what it’s all about. Scouting and the building trades are about a brotherhood,” Hite explained.
Labor and Scouting Chairman Bob Melko added that through Scouting, the building trades will raise awareness of the excellent education it offers young people and show them the high quality of living that can be achieved and made from a career in the construction trades.
Prior to the Labor and Scouting event, union leaders and contractors participated in a workshop to educate themselves in implementing an Exploring Post in their union or business.
Boy Scouts of America National Exploring Director Marty Walsh said the Exploring program exposes young men and women, aged 14- to 20-years-old, to various skilled trades with hands-on learning.
“With the Exploring program and exposing youth to the construction trades industry, it’s a great opportunity for us to work together. Our local offices are ready to work and open doors so young people can experience careers in something they may never considered, or were just waiting for someone to ask,” Walsh explained.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave Hite and the building trades praise for their leadership and insight. “The plumbers and pipe fitters have grabbed thousands of hands of young men and women, given them the training and the skills so they could have a job and provide for their families — all under the leadership of Bill Hite.”
Meany was a second generation plumber, starting with Local 1 in New York. In 1952, he became the leader of the AFL and successfully negotiated the merger of the AFL and CIO. He stepped down as president in 1979.