Texas Union Member Wins Prestigious National Award

Jean Hervey of Dallas, a Vice President of Workers United SEIU, has won a prestigious national award recognizing her years of work raising funds to combat sickle-cell anemia.

Sister Hervey received the Addie Wyatt Award, named for the late union and civil rights leader whose long run of pioneering organizing in the Chicago meat-packing industry went hand in hand with her historic leadership in civil rights actions alongside the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The ceremony took place during the 20th Anniversary Ball of the United Food and Commercial Workers Minority Coalition on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C. The gala event was preceded a day earlier by the organization’s Educational Conference.

For upwards of 15 years, Hervey has organized a walk, bike-athon and trike-athon in her birthplace of Plumerville, Arkansas to help fund research into sickle-cell anemia. The hereditary condition, which affects mainly families of African origin, results in a dearth of red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen through one’s body. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 90,000 to 100,000 Americans are affected by the disease.

Hervey said she was surprised and delighted to receive the recognition.

“I tell you, I was just taken aback,” Hervey said. “I never would have believed this would happen to me. It was such a thrilling event. Addie was a mentor of mine…She really took me under her wing and helped me grow as a woman in the labor movement.”

Hervey said Wyatt would tell her that when receiving an honor, it is important to acknowledge those who helped along the way. Along those lines, she cited the doctors and nurses who attended the awards ceremony and who continue to work on treatments for a disease that, to date, has no cure.

Hervey also called out as an inspiration Don Cash of UFCW, who serves as President of Faces of Our Children, an organization that raises awareness, funding and support for the fight against sickle cell disease worldwide.

Hervey is a familiar face at the state labor federation and an activist on many Texas issues. In addition to her Workers United portfolio, she sits on the national board of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and is a Regional Representative in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. 

Hat tip to Jerrell Miller, President of the Fort Worth Mid Cities Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, for alerting us to this wonderful news. The Texas AFL-CIO officers and staff send our warmest congratulations to Jean Hervey.