Government, union and political officials reacted today to the death of legendary labor leader Jack Henning:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jack Henning was a premier labor leader who led a long and distinguished career in public service both at the state and national level. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of others, revolutionized the labor movement and had an enormous impact on California. Maria and I join all Californians in remembering Jack's service and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Today American workers lost a tireless advocate, and I lost a dear a friend. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of John F. 'Jack' Henning. For most of his life, Jack Henning was on the front lines of the labor movement, fighting for civil rights, equality and justice for working Americans. He was a man of modest means, with a thirst for knowledge and a tremendous sense of compassion for his fellow man. His life story is one that inspires me and many Americans. His career began in his home state of California, where he fought for the most vulnerable - the working poor and underclass - fighting to improve their standard of living. A master orator, Jack began a steady climb within the labor movement and later served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as the U.S. undersecretary of labor. As a testament to his work, President Johnson later named him ambassador to New Zealand. Jack Henning was a champion, visionary and unwavering voice on behalf of the working women and men of the United States and of the world. We are all indebted to his leadership, and he will be missed.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
All Californians lost a true friend today in Jack Henning. Jack Henning's commitment to working people and social justice serves as an inspiration to us in these recessionary times. Workers still benefit from his leadership on farmworker rights, workplace safety, worker's compensation and in many other areas. Jack Henning was a giant and he will be missed.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass
Jack Henning spent his life trying to make California a better place to live and work. He was a tireless fighter for the labor movement and for social and economic justice. Jack Henning served the public well as Ambassador to New Zealand and as a Regent of the University of California. With his passing we reflect on Jack's love for the working men and women of California and his great love for his family, including his adored late wife Betty and his son Pat, who became his own fixture in the Capitol community. My colleagues and I in the Assembly send our sincere condolences to Jack's children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters in labor and his countless friends. We will adjourn Assembly session in his honor next week.
California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton
Jack Henning dedicated himself to improving the lives of poor and middle-class workers in California - and across the nation. In 26 years at the helm of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Jack fought to protect farm workers, men and women who were injured on the job, low-wage workers, the unemployed, women and children. Under his leadership, the Labor Federation set the standard for unions across the country. A San Francisco native whose father was a charter member of the Plumbers union, Jack never forgot where he came from or who he was. Not only was Jack Henning a strong advocate for the working men and women of California, but also he was a personal friend of mine for decades. The California Democratic Party sends condolences to Jack's seven children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and to the labor community on this loss. Jack Henning was a great man who will be deeply missed.
United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez
Today the American labor movement and the state of California lost a genuine champion of working people, and especially farm workers. No one inside or outside the California labor movement more consistently or selflessly championed the farm workers' cause over as many decades than Jack Henning. No one loved and respected Cesar Chavez more. Jack never wavered, whether it was standing with the United Farm Workers on picketlines in the dusty fields and vineyards or in the halls of the state Capitol. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he rallied the entire labor movement to support the UFW during strikes, boycotts, legislative and political battles. Jack Henning played a critical role in realizing the era's most important advances for all working families. He understood the labor movement could never be true to itself if it ignored the poorest of the poor, the men, women and children who work in the fields.
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi
The working men and women of California made great strides in being treated justly and fairly on the job because of the hard work, commitment, and leadership of legendary labor leader Jack Henning. Organized labor is where it is today in California and throughout the nation because of Jack Henning, a man who I had the honor of calling my friend. He did everything possible to encourage the labor movement for everything including the minimum wage, organizing the rights for farm workers and workers compensation. Jack accomplished what he did with the unusual mix of grace and tenacity with workers in the fields or politicians in the halls of government. He is the definition of a true public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer
For most of my public life, Jack Henning was the voice and conscience of California workers. His passion for economic equality and social justice inspired a generation of post-war labor organizers. In his fight to bring decent treatment to workers and a better life to their families, Jack never wavered. And he will never be forgotten.