I am deeply honored by Interfaith Worker Justice and this award and would like to thank them and the other honorees for the fantastic work they do. Historically, there has been a deep connection between interfaith and social justice organizations and IWJ is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when working together to achieve a common goal.
Ed Smith is the kind of business leader we need more of. Ed grew up in the labor movement, joining LIUNA Local 773 at age 13. He was elected as business agent by 21. He quickly moved into other international leadership roles and became an international vice president in 1996. He served as the Midwest Regional Manager from 1994 to 2008.
In 2011, Ed became the CEO of ULLICO, the only labor-owned insurance and investment company. The company was formed in 1927 at a time when life insurance was not available to union members. It now offers a variety of insurance products to unions, pension funds and union members.
While on the one hand, Ed’s background is not the typical background of most business leaders these days. Very few top business leaders developed their skills through the labor movement. And yet, Ed represents the kind of business leader we need more of. Ed brings his strategic analytical skills and strong team building skills to bear in moving forward an insurance business. He demonstrates that you can offer a good product, treat your employees well and build an economically healthy company.
Over the last few years, as Interfaith Worker Justice and its affiliates have advocated wage theft ordinances and minimum wage increases, we’ve learned the value of having ethical employers standing side by side in the campaigns. Over the next few years, we want to find more of these employers and build relationships with them.
But it will be hard to find one as good, honorable and committed to social justice as Edward Smith.
Ed, we are honored to give you the Award for Ethical Business Leadership.