Honoring Labor Heroes: 2012 Tribute to Change

Not only can you rely on Bread & Roses to fund the best and most effective community organizations in our region, but you can also count on us to throw a great party.Bread & Roses’ annual gala, the Tribute to Change, is a progressive’s version of the Oscars—the place where those of us who believe in and fight for social change get together to honor our own.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the workers’ strike that Bread & Roses is named after, this year’s Tribute to Change, will spotlight local labor and worker’s rights heroes. In 1912, roughly 25,000 textile workers led a strike through the streets of Lawrence, Mass., with a simple demand: bread and roses. They wanted not just better wages and treatment on the job, but also art, love, and beauty in their lives.

This year’s Tribute to Change, will honor these Philadelphia labor organizers, activists, and community leaders: Kathy Black, Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to social change recently or throughout his or her lifetime.

Raised in a North Philadelphia union family, Kathy Black has spent her entire career fighting for workers’ rights and building connections between organized labor and the larger progressive movement. She’s brought feminist values to the labor movement, and made worker’s rights a part of the women’s rights movement.

Kathy is the occupational health and safety director at AFSCME District Council 47 and president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, which she represents as a delegate at the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. She is the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health board chair, Philadelphia National Organization for Women’s vice president for finance, secretary of the Philadelphia branch of the ACLU, and a leader in the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces. In 2007 she was elected as a national co-convener of U.S. Labor Against the War.

Janet Ryder, Trailblazer Award. This award is given to an outstanding leader in community organizing who has helped to pave the way for others.

Janet Ryder has served as a mentor and muse for countless women and people of color looking to become leaders in the fight for worker’s rights.

Before retiring last September, Janet was vice president of labor participation for the United Way of Southeastern PA and the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO and a board member for the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board and the Philadelphia Parking Authority. She also served as president of Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the PA Coalition of Union Women. She began her career as an educator and then worked for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as the union political director and legal services fund administrator.

Now living in Florida, she remains deeply committed to achieving social justice in Philadelphia and the world.

Germán L. Parodi, Emerging Leader Award.

This award is given to an individual who is beginning to make their mark as a community organizer.

Germán L. Parodi has achieved an impressive number of victories in his short career as an organizer and has proven that the fight for workers’ rights won’t be won with workers alone.

Germán is a college student and the vice chair of Racial and Economic Justice Fund grantee Disabled in Action of PA. He serves as the chair of the Pennsylvania Consumer Workforce Council and played a key role in its creation. He served as lead negotiator during contract talks with the United Homecare Workers of PA, a joint effort by AFSCME and SEIU, which ratified a contract in April. He has also been a leader with Philly ADAPT.

Philadelphia Unemployment Project, Community Empowerment Award.

This award is given to a community organization,union, or campaign that has accomplished a great deal for change, not charity.

Since 1975, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP) has organized poor and unemployed people to fight for economic justice, bringing diverse groups together to effect major change in millions of lives.

PUP’s most recent victories include leading a coalition to successfully raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage and the launch of a national campaign to use federal funds to help homeowners facing foreclosure, which saved the homes of over 3,000 Pennsylvania families.

PUP has been led from the start by executive director and lead organizer John Dodds, who was inspired by the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s.

Workers at the Southwest Philadelphia, Marcus Hook, and Trainer oil refineries, Community Empowerment Award.

When Sunoco and Conoco Phillips announced plans to sell three area oil refin eries and lay off thousands of workers last fall, members of United Steel Workers’ Locals 10-1, 10-234, and 10-901, as well as Steamfitters Local 420, Boilermakers Local 13, and others united to fight the plant closures and highlight corporate greed.

This coalition of workers—which is still active—has organized hometown rallies, enlisted the help of local municipal leaders, and organized a lobby day in Washington and a 600-person march to Sen. Bob Casey’s office to try to keep the refineries open.

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP, Robin Hood was Right Award.

This award is for an individual or organization making an out standing contribution to social change philanthropy in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg is being recognized for their generous financial support for Bread & Roses as well as the thousands of hours of pro bono legal representation they have provided to the grassroots organizations Bread & Roses helps to fund.

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg is a private law firm at the forefront of the field in the litigation of cases vindicating civil rights and liberties including police misconduct, the rights of prisoners, free speech, and unlawful discrimination.

In addition to these amazing honorees, this year’s Tribute to Change will be chaired by two long-time labor organizers: Kati Sipp, executive vice president at SEIU Healthcare PA and Barbra Rahke, director of PhilaPOSH.

You can find more detailed descriptions of this year’s honorees, the planning and host committees on our website, www.breadrosesfund.org.

Even if you can’t make it to the Tribute to Change, please consider buying tickets to donate to those who can’t afford them and check out sponsorship opportunities on our website.

All proceeds raised from the Tribute to Change fund grants to support grassroots organizing campaigns.

Kathy Black. Photo by: Paul Gotlieb

Kathy Black. Photo by: Paul Gotlieb

Janet Ryder

Janet Ryder


Germán L. Parodi. Photo By: Harvey Finkle

Workers at the Southwest Philadelphia, Marcus Hook, and Trainer oil refineries. Photo by: Barbra Rahke

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP

Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP

Philadelphia Unemployment Project

Philadelphia Unemployment Project