BETTENDORF, IOWA (October 14, 2022) — The 31st Annual East Central Iowa Northwestern Illinois AFL-CIO Hall of Fame Banquet, hosted by the Quad City Federation of Labor, will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2022, at the Isle Casino Hotel, 1888 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf IA. Cocktail hour with a cash bar will be 5:30–6:45PM and the Vietnam Veterans Honor Guard 669 Rock Island Chapter will begin the banquet promptly at 7PM.

Each year, the AFL-CIO Hall of Fame awards ceremony gives Labor Leaders an opportunity to recognize union brothers and sisters who have gone over and above in their work, civic, and/or community services. Any proceeds remaining from the event will be used for civic engagement, educational opportunities, community-outreach projects or programs, and member-to-member communication.

This year’s inductees into the Hall of Fame will include:

Brother Kurt Ketelsen — United Auto Workers Local 281

Sister Cecilia O’Brien — Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 25

Brother Pat O’Brien — Laborers Local Union 309

Keynote Speakers scheduled to be at the event will include, Brother Pete Hird, Secretary/Treasurer of the Iowa AFL-CIO and Brother Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Biographies: 2022 Afl-Cio Hall of Fame Inductees and Speakers

Brother Kurt Ketelsen UAW Local 281

Kurt Ketelsen UAW Local 281 — Married to Colleen Ketelsen for 38 years with five children.

His occupation was a Union Time Study Representative/Welder out at John Deere Davenport Works. He started his career at John Deere on September 5th, 1978, giving him 44 years of service and counting. During that time, he served nine years as Alternate Union Steward and 33 years as Union Time Study Representative and Union Time Study special representative to convert our new pay plan from Standard Hour to Continuous Improvement Pay Plans from 1994–1997.

He has also served on counsel to the International UAW on backlog of CIPP grievances and has also, over the past twenty years and counting, served seven terms as the UAW Local 281 Financial Secretary, Elected in 2002. He is also on his eighteen years of service on the Dewitt City Council, elected in 2004.

Sister Cecilia O’Brien — Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 25 (Posthumously)

Cecilia was happy to be a member of Local 25. She was at home with Labor; she knew that’s where her friends were. It was an appropriate place to end a very busy career and life. She worked at Partners in Job Training (JPTA) in the early 1980s during the great recession, helping people from the shops, of IH, John Deere, and CASE find new careers.

As a caseworker for Congressman Lane Evans on his district staff, she helped constituents that needed the type of help that only a letter from a congressman or a phone call can give. At Mediacom she took on the vast number of complaints that Mediacom generated, because she was so good at talking to people. She went to work as a Liaison for United Way and the Quad City Federation of Labor making communication between different groups of people easier, because of her ability to bring people together. During the Deere Strike, she worked hard, taking calls at all hours and making sure that strikers had essentials for walking a picket line.

While performing all these tasks, she took excellent care of raising her daughter Kelly and being a great partner to her husband, Pat. She was active in her Parish, Sacred Heart Catholic Church Moline. Probably the best Big, in Big Brothers and Big Sisters ever. Very committed to her little sister, Tahana, where she made a huge impact on her life. She was a member of the Moline School Board and Rock Island County Board, making tough decisions on both. Always keeping the students in mind at the school board and the working-class citizens of Rock Island County. She was also very active as a Rotarian, being the Chapters President. Also, her Rotary Club would always do a Santa Event at Hy-Vee to make sure that every kid got a present. She never said no when she was asked to help others while an active member of Viva Quad Cities. She was starting to get further involved with the NAMI Walk and had gotten certified to facilitate meetings on mental health. She was taken from us on May 12 of this year.

God Rest Her Soul!

Brother Pat O’Brien — Laborers Local Union 309

Pat O’Brien joined the laborers in August of 1978 after years of working non-union at the Illini Beef in Joslin, various jobs on a river barge, a security Guard, farm-hand, and non-union construction. He worked for several contractors over the years, until he became a union steward and elected officer in the 1990s for Stone Webster and an Auditor at Local 309. He was involved in many local campaigns, walked his fair share of picket lines. In 1997, he was elected to the Moline City Council, where he stood up for, not only his beloved building trades, but AFSCME, FOP, and Firefighters unions as well. He was instrumental in setting up a matching-grant program for people to, for the first time, purchase a home; for which he won a state award. In 2005, he lost his bid for Mayor amid a rampant anti-union Committee for better government, attacking his character because he had been so pro-labor. He went to work as Congressman Phil Hare’s District Director in 2006. Then, in 2011 he became Bureau Chief at IDOT in Springfield; working on traffic-safety and keeping our roadside paving and bridge workers safe. In 2017, he went to work for the Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs's office, promoting such programs as Bright Start College Savings, ABLE, and Secure Choice. He then served briefly on the county board in 2018. In 2019, he was elected to the Moline City Council.

Pat completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Western Illinois University. He also worked in a variety of positions in the government and the private sector. He was a liaison for FEMA after Hurricane Katrina in Houston, Texas, and is a trained Red Cross Volunteer. He served as the District Director for Illinois Congressman Phil Hare. His many State of Illinois experiences have included assignments as a Bureau Chief at Illinois Department of Transportation, an Administrator supervising Driver Analysis for the Illinois Secretary of State. In addition to government work, Pat served two terms as an elected Alderman for the City of Moline, and that experience brought knowledge of a variety of community programs and initiatives such as serving as President of Council on Community Services and President of the Moline Preservation Society.

Brother Pete Hird — Secretary/Treasurer Iowa AFL-CIO

Pete Hird is originally from the Dubuque area, where he worked as an Inside Wireman electrician with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 704. He served on the local apprenticeship committee, trustee for pension and health and welfare boards, on the executive board and as Vice President. From 2014 thru 2020 he was a union organizer for the local. In 2020 he was elected as Secretary-Treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and serves as the lobbyist for the federation at the state capitol during the legislative session.

Brother Tim Drea — President of the Illinois AFL-CIO

On December 5, 2019, the Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board elected Tim Drea as President of the 855,000 statewide member organization. In July 2020, he was elected to a four-year term as Illinois AFL-CIO President by the delegates attending the organization’s 44th Constitutional Convention.

The appointment and election came after he previously served twelve years as the organization’s Secretary Treasurer (appointed on April 12, 2007 and elected to the position in October 2008). He was re-elected to two additional four-year terms in 2012 and 2016. Before his election to the office of Secretary Treasurer he was the Legislative and Political Director for Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The son of a coal-miner in Central Illinois, Tim followed his father and worked as a coal-miner for eleven years. As a coal-miner, Tim was a member of UMWA Local 9819 and served as Recording Secretary and a member of the Coal Miners' Political Action Committee for UMWA District 12. After being laid off in 1990, he finished his education using worker-displacement funding obtained for coal-miners through political action. He finished his BA in Political Studies at Sangamon State University in Springfield and joined the Senate Democratic Staff where he served as the Executive Committee Staff person for Senator Emil Jones Jr. In 1996, he joined Local 881 as the Legislative and Political Director.

A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Tim resides in Springfield with his wife Elizabeth. He has four children, Andrew, Bridget, Lillian, and Jack.

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher