John McNay, the President of the Ohio Conference, Recently Gave the Keynote at the Montana AFL-CIO’s Annual Meeting

John’s keynote was covered in the following two articles by Renata Birkenbuel published in the Montana Standard, and they are reprinted here with the permission of that newspaper [].

This first article appeared ahead on the AFL-Cio meeting on June 13:


Anaconda Man Documents 2011 Unionbusting Attempt in Ohio

JMcNay -- Montana Standard

“It’s the people in the frontline who make a difference in mobilizing the labor movement.

“Take Ohio, for example.

“In 2011, its voters overturned union-busting legislation Senate Bill 5 by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent. It contained a right-to-work component, among other stipulations, that would have destroyed public unions.

“A successful grassroots effort fought the legislation, and serves as a template for other states struggling with right-to-work legislation.

“Anaconda native John McNay can attest, as the newspaper reporter turned labor leader and University of Cincinnati professor was in the thick of the fight.

“He helped lead the charge when 10,000 Ohioans turned out to collect signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. Without the slew of volunteers, a coalition of unions and college students doing the legwork, SB 5 would have given Ohio public employers the right to impose negotiating proposals on employees.

“’People outside the labor movement think the big shots make the decisions and then things happen,’ McNay told The Montana Standard. ‘But it’s not true. Individual people have to be involved-–stepping up and volunteering their time and energy really made a difference in Ohio.’

“McNay is featured at the 58TH annual Montana AFL-CIO convention at 2 p.m. Friday at Fairmont Hot Springs. His topic: ‘Collective Bargaining and The Battle of Ohio.’

“McNay wielded influence as past president of the UC American Association of University Professors chapter, a position he held when SB 5 was introduced. The danger of SB 5, he said, was multifaceted: ‘It was designed to make public employee collective bargaining completely ineffective . . .  by making many issues non-negotiable, including health care, safety equipment and staffing,’ he said.

“He warned that Montana voters should be on alert for similar right-to-work bills popping up in the next Legislature.

“’If it can happen in Ohio, it can happen here,’ he said of the multi-layered right-to-work movement that struck Michigan and Wisconsin, as well. ‘It’s a national movement by conservative forces to undermine the labor movement, so they can attack anywhere.’

“He is president of the Ohio Conference of the AAUP and serves on key committees for the Association of State Conferences and the Collective Bargaining Congress, an AAUP union arm, and several national AAUP committees. He is former chair of the campus union organizing committee.

“Hailing from robust union leadership stock, McNay is the third generation in his family to work union issues, as many worked on ‘The Hill’ at the Anaconda Co. smelter. Both his grandfathers retired from the smelter. Uncle Frank McEachern on his mother’s side retired as an arsenic plant foreman after 50 years. His father, John T. McNay, Sr., worked 42 years on the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway. “His great aunt, Kathleen McGuire, longtime Anaconda Junior High librarian, was a Montana Federation of Teachers founding member. His great uncle, Tommy McGuire, was a Mine, Mill and Smelterworkers Union organizer.

“While Friday will be McNay’s first time speaking at an AFL-CIO convention, his uncle Joe Crosswhite was AFL-CIO president in the 1970s.

“A former reporter at The Montana Standard, McNay also once worked as editor of the Anaconda Leader. He’s written three books; the latest is Collective Bargaining and the Battle of Ohio (2013), soon available as an electronic book at Amazon.

“McNay said he’s thrilled to talk with like-minded union activists in his beloved home territory.

“’I have really enjoyed visiting my family and friends back here in Montana,’ said McNay. ‘I get home every couple of years but it is not enough.’”


The second article appeared after McNya had delivered the keynote, in the June 18 issue of the Montana Standard:


Unionists Sound Off on Rallying Speech



“Many locals were thrilled to hear Anaconda native John McNay speak at the state AFL-CIO convention at Fairmont Hot Springs last weekend.

“McNay, newspaper reporter-editor turned labor leader, author and history professor at the University of Cincinnati, told the story of how every day Ohioans fought in 2011 to overturn Senate Bill 5, which would have stripped public employees of any collective bargaining rights.

“McNay, who hails from a staunch union family, recently published his third book, Collective Bargaining and the Battle of Ohio, from which he pulled his speech.

“Here are some observations from local AFL-CIO members after McNay’s rallying union-busting success story Friday in front of a packed house:

“John Forkan, head of the Plumbers and Pipers Union Local No. 41 in Butte for 26 years, district AFL-CIO board member and Anacondan: ‘I loved it when John showed people what they can do when they stand together. People need to get activated and motivated—especially in the labor movement we can learn from the trials and tribulations of other people.’

“Quint Nyman, AFL-CIO board member, Montana Public Employees Association rep and Anacondan: ‘In terms of drawing people in for a really important cause, his speech made me really proud to have a fellow Anacondan come up through the ranks and have him on the agenda. We can’t let people forget what’s taking place in other states.’

“Kim Rickard, business manager for Laborers International Union, Local No. 1686, AFL-CIO board member and Butte native: ‘I loved it. I think we all have a lot to be concerned about here in Montana concerning Right-to-Work [proposals]. I think we need to heed his warnings and take it to heart.’

“Rickard, like McNay, grew up in a fiercely union household. Her grandmother, Carrie Pierce, was a member of the local Women’s Protective Union founded in Butte in 1890 and several family members were unwavering union members. ‘My grandmother said to support all workers,’ she added.

“Eric Feaver, Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers president, on the rarity of having three statewide public officers with strong AFL-CIO ties since Secretary of State Linda McCullough and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau are AFL-CIO members and Gov. Steve Bullock is a former union lawyer:

‘That’s probably not to be replicated. It is something to be celebrated. It’s important to have union members in political office.’

Tim Fox, Montana attorney general who joked easily about being a Republican invited to speak in a room full of the opposition party, on overseeing 800 public employees at the Montana Department of Justice and dealing with contentious issues in general: ‘I have no patience for divisive rhetoric.’”


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