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    Posted October 22, 2009

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AFL-CIO Convention Honors Theodore Bikel

Among the many resolutions introduced at the AFL-CIO Convention held from September 13-17, 2009 in Pittsburgh, was one submitted by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; referred to the Legislation and Policy Committee; and reported out of committee by Thomas Lee, International President of the American Federation of Musicians. It was Resolution 26 recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments and years of labor service of Theodore Bikel, Equity's former President and now President Emeritus, as well as President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (4As). Mr. Bikel, an actor, musician, labor leader, and political activist, is a member of five unions: Equity, the AFM, AFTRA, SAG and AGVA.

Resolution 26 calls Mr. Bikel a "Renaissance Man," a "multihyphenate performer" who "leads a life committed to social justice."

Speaking on behalf of Equity, Third Vice President Ira Mont, a delegate at the Convention said, "For those of us in Actors' Equity Association, Theo is more than an actor. He is a leader, an activist and someone so committed to social justice that every one of us has benefited from his work on our behalf… Theo has a deep and abiding respect for our profession and for our members. He has been a passionate spokesman and advocate for Equity. When he spoke, wherever he spoke and on whatever issue at hand, the voice was his but the cause was ours. And we are the better for having him do so."

A member of Equity since 1954 and President from 1973-1982, Mr. Bikel also was appointed to the National Council on the Arts, advising the National Endowment for the Arts, from 1977 until 1982 and was a Vice President of the International Federation of Actors (FIA) for ten years, beginning in 1981.

"Theo has never backed down from his conviction that 'working people as individuals are helpless and powerless unless they band together to make common cause,'" continues the AFL-CIO resolution, which also quotes from The Boston Globe, which said, "Bikel has been an articulate spokesman against oppression, dictatorship, inhumanity, [and] war."

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