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Public Statements

In Recognition of the Retirement of Walter Johnson

Location: Washington, DC

IN RECOGNITION OF THE RETIREMENT OF WALTER JOHNSON -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 15, 2004)

Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor to pay tribute to a distinguished labor leader, a great San Franciscan, and a dear friend, Walter Johnson, upon his retirement. I join with my constituents to express our appreciation to Walter Johnson for 50 years of extraordinary service to the labor community and to the people of San Francisco. We are all fortunate that Walter chose to live in San Francisco and bestow upon us his immeasurable talents and contributions. He has devoted his life to fighting for equal rights in the workplace and social justice for all San Franciscans. He believes deeply in the dignity of all people and the freedoms of our democracy.

Born on April 22, 1924, in Amenia, North Dakota, Walter arrived in San Francisco following three years of service in the United States Army during World War 11. He joined the Department Store Employees Union Local 1100, was elected President in 1958, and in 1964 was elected to his local's top position of Executive Officer. Under Walter's leadership, the rights of women, people of color, and lesbians and gays working in retail were protected and preserved. His expert guidance resulted in his subsequent reelection over the next eleven years.

Walter was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the San Francisco Labor Council in 1985, and since that time has fought to secure and protect individual workers' rights. As a frontline leader, Walter Johnson has led the fight for workers' benefits, healthcare reform, workplace equality, and union rights. Walter educated, enlightened and mobilized union members to correct the unjust and unfair practices that existed in the workplace. Walter developed and maintained strong personal ties with his numerous co-workers and union members, and has remained their loyal friend.

Walter's friendships extend far beyond the labor community to the homeless man on the street, the man in the corner store, and innumerable others throughout the Bay Area and beyond. His friends have been blessed with his generous nature, his wry sense of humor, and his penchant for story telling. He is rarely without a personal anecdote or a footnote from history, which he often recalls in perfect iambic pentameter and rhyme. His boundless energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

Walter has given so much of himself to the labor movement and to the people of San Francisco, that we must thank his wife Jane and his children Eric, Lawrence and Mary, for sharing him with us. We honor him today for his courage, his leadership, and his wonderful friendship.

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