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In Memoriam: John E. Lawe

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses Topics:  John E. Lawe

In Memoriam: John E. Lawe

Congressman Thomas J. Manton
Congressional Record: 101st Congress
Extension of Remarks
January 24, 1989


Mr. MANTON. Mr. Speaker, it is with a deep sense of sadness that I rise to mark the death of John E. Lawe, president of the Transport Workers Union of America, who passed away on January 5, 1989, after a long battle with cancer. John Lawe was one of the most respected and effective labor leaders in the Nation. John was also an influential leader in the Irish community. He was someone I was indeed proud to call a friend.

Mr. Speaker, John Lawe emigrated from Ireland in 1949 at the age of 30. He went to work for the Fifth Avenue Coach Co., and for 17 years he serviced and drove buses in Manhattan. During this time, he was active in Transport Workers Union [TWU] Local 100. He began his successful union career in 1953 when he became shop steward at the company's 132d Street garage. He also served as a division recording secretary and chairman, and vice president of local 100. In 1977, he became president of local 100. He led the union during a very difficult time of labor-management strife, and intraunion struggles. However, John was successful in strengthening the union. He was known as a tough, but fair and affable negotiator who always won as many union demands as possible.

In 1985, he was elected international president of the TWU of America. In addition to his TWU duties, John served as second vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council and vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO.

Mr. Speaker, John Lawe was born in 1919, in Kilglass, Strokestown, County Roscommon. As the son of an Irish immigrant, I deeply respected and admired John Lawe. My father was also born in County Roscommon, and like John, immigrated to America. John took every advantage of the opportunities available to him in the United States, and he rose to become a leader in the labor movement. But John never forgot Ireland, and he was always an active and prominent figure in the Irish-American community. In 1986, he was named `Irishman of the Year' by the Grand Council of United Emerald Societies for his outstanding work on behalf of the victims of repression in Northern Ireland. In 1987, he served as grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. John was also a key figure in the Irish-American labor coalition.

Mr. Speaker, those of us concerned about the repression of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland lost a strong and powerful voice with the death of John E. Lawe. However, I am certain the work John Lawe did for the victims in Northern Ireland will continue to be felt in the years ahead. John will be missed, but his legacy will endure forever.

Mr. Speaker, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to John's wife, family, and friends.



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