About Harry Kelber
HARRY KELBER has been a front-line observer and active participant in struggles over the past seven decades. In 1939, at age 25, he was editor of two weekly labor papers that reported the historic CIO organizing campaigns. As a union printer, he was involved in the 1962-63 strike that shut down New York City's major newspapers for 114 days, serving as editor of the daily strike bulletin.
In 1968, after earning a Doctorate in American Civilization from New York University, he created and directed Cornell University's Two-Year Labor Liberal Arts Program. Three years later, he played a principal roll in founding a four-year accredited Labor College as a division of Empire State College, where he was senior professor until his retirement in 1984. As a labor educator, Harry has helped develop generations of new labor organizers and leaders.
From 1985-90, he was education and cultural director of the 36,000-member Electrical Workers Union, Local 3, of the I.B.E.W. In that same period, he was the coordinator and principal instructor of the Trade Union Leadership Institute of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was invited to direct a week-long seminar for 145 top labor leaders of Russia and the Commonwealth States on the theme, "Democratic Unions in a Market Economy."
In 1995, at the age of 81 and as a rank-and-file member of the Communications Workers, he became the first and only independent candidate to run for AFL-CIO vice president in 30 years, forcing federation leaders to hold an election.
Kelber has written a dozen booklets dealing with union organizing, labor in politics, union democracy and leadership training. He has been writing a weekly column, "LaborTalk," on the Internet since 1994. Since 2005, he has also published a weekly column, "World of Labor." He is also the author of "Union Printers and Controlled Automation." (Macmillan Free Press, 1966) and a novel, "The Labor Leader" (Picket Press 1989).
At the AFL-CIO's 2005 convention, Kelber, at 91, was given the rare privilege of presenting his critical views of labor's top leaders to the delegates and received a standing ovation. Harry has long been considered a leading constructive critic of the AFL-CIO.
His autobiography, "My 70 Years in the Labor Movement," was published in 2006.
Kelber lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York City. He has three daughters and seven grandchildren.