The 31st-annual East Central Iowa Northwestern Illinois AFL-CIO Hall of Fame Banquet will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Isle Casino Hotel, 1888 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf.

The Quad City Federation of Labor is hosting the Saturday night banquet at Isle of Capri.

Hosted by the Quad City Federation of Labor, the event cocktail hour with a cash bar will be from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and the Vietnam Veterans Honor Guard 669 Rock Island Chapter will begin the banquet at 7 p.m.

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, according to a Friday release. 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 are:

  • Kurt Ketelsen – United Auto Workers Local 281
  • Cecilia O’Brien – Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 25 (posthumous)
  • Pat O’Brien – Laborers Local Union 309

Keynote speakers scheduled to be at the event will include Pete Hird, Secretary/Treasurer of the Iowa AFL-CIO and Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. Biographies of the new inductees are below:

Cecilia O’Brien

Cecilia was happy to be a member of Local 25, an appropriate place to end a very busy career and life, according to the Federation of Labor release.

Cecilia O’Brien

O’Brien, 61, Moline, died on May 12, 2022 after a short battle with cancer. She had been diagnosed just six weeks earlier.  She worked at Partners in Job Training 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, Cecilia helped constituents who 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, the release said.

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.

Cecilia and Pat O’Brien of Moline.

Cecilia 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 local chapter 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 been certified to facilitate meetings on mental health.

Pat O’Brien

Cecilia’s husband Pat joined the Laborers in 1978 after years of working non-union at a variety of jobs. 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.

Pat O’Brien

O’Brien was involved in many local campaigns, walked his fair share of picket lines and 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, the Federation of Labor release said.

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, O’Brien lost his bid for mayor amid a rampant anti-union committee for better government, the release said.

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, O’Brien went to work for the Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs’ 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, O’Brien again 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 and is a trained Red Cross Volunteer.

His many State of Ilinois 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, O’Brien 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.

Kurt Ketelsen

Ketelsen has been a Union Time Study Representative/Welder out at John Deere Davenport Works. He started his career at John Deere in 1978, giving him 44 years of service and counting.

Kurt Ketelsen

During that time, he served nine years as Alternate Union Steward, 33 years as Union Time Study Representative and Union Time Study special representative to convert a 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 grievances and has also, over the past 20 years, served seven terms as the UAW Local 281 Financial Secretary, Elected in 2002. He is also on his 18th year of service on the Dewitt City Council, elected in 2004.

For more information on the QC Federation of Labor, click HERE.