My friend Herman Benson died yesterday, just shy of his 105th birthday. He was an inspiration, a leader, and sometimes a critic for so many of us working to put the membership front-and-center in the Teamsters and in the whole labor movement.
Herman was the founder of the Association for Union Democracy (AUD) which continues his work today. He was a one-man army in the union democracy movement for over 50 years, always ready to support the work of Teamsters for a Democratic Union and anyone and everyone else working for union democracy.
Benson was still writing to analyze labor developments, both good and bad, at the age of 104.
I was honored to be one of the speakers at his 100th birthday celebration and conference, along with rank and file dissidents, legal experts, and International union presidents. As always, Herman shrugged off the accolades and spoke about the struggles ahead.
This 24-minute video interview gives a snapshot of Benson’s life-long work, featuring Herman along with some associates, including TDU attorney Barbara Harvey and labor attorney Chip Yablonski whose coal-miner father, mother and sister were murdered by the president of the United Mine Workers, a tragedy that sparked rebellion and reform in that union.
Herman, we will miss your brilliance, your determination and your wisecracks. But we have learned from you what we need to do. We will honor you by continuing your work.
- Ken Paff, TDU Organizer