J. David Cox, the national secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Government Employees, on May 9 will receive the Yitzhak Rabin Public Service Award.
The American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center is giving Cox the award — which honors labor leaders and was named for the slain Israeli prime minister, labor minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner — to honor his years spent organizing federal employees at the Veterans Affairs Department and Transportation Security Administration. Cox said he helped organize at least 75,000 VA employees in some 100 elections nationwide over the last 16 years, as well as another 45,000 TSA employees last year.
“I am humbled, to say the least,” Cox told Federal Times. “Rabin is clearly a mountain, but to be chosen to be one of the faces on that mountain is a big thing.”
In April 2013, Cox will travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, where the Rabin Center will name an executive conference room for him. Past winners of the Rabin award have visited Israel in November, around the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, but Cox said his trip is being delayed so he can help with get-out-the-vote efforts for this year’s presidential election.
Cox hopes the award will provide him a broader platform to speak about how important it is to support public workers, and all the services they provide for Americans — especially at a time when politicians seemingly have their sights set on feds.
“Right now, somebody is processing Social Security checks, somebody’s helping the vets who have numerous health care issues in service to this country, somebody’s inspecting the food we eat so we don’t fall over dead, and someone’s protecting the air we breathe,” Cox said. “They are unsung heroes. Right now, we’ve been painted as villains throughout this country. I don’t believe we’re villains in any way, shape or form.”
Past winners of the Rabin award have included Teamsters president James Hoffa and Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America.