IAM Mourns Labor Legend Harry Kelber

Harry Kelber (1914-2013)
Harry Kelber (1914 – 2013)

After over seven decades in the labor movement as a union leader, critic, educator and academic, Harry Kelber passed away Sunday in New York City. He was 98 years old.

A self-described “front-line observer” of labor, Kelber was a catalyst in the 1962-1963 New York City newspaper strike that lasted 114 days. He was also instrumental in establishing labor colleges at Cornell University and Empire State College. His autobiography, “My 70 Years in the Labor Movement,” was published in 2006.

Kelber announced on his 98th birthday that he was running for president of the country’s largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO.
“I am with you 100 percent. I have been committed to this labor movement for over 72 years and I intend to stay that way,” Kelber told union members at the 2005 AFL-CIO convention. “We are going to fight together. I am not going to yield…As long as I live I will do my best to work with you.”  
In 2012, Kelber received the prestigious George J. Kourpias Award for Excellence in Labor Journalism at the IAM’s 38th Grand Lodge Convention for his work as editor of The Labor Educator. Kelber also helped an IAM local start its first newspaper in 1938.

He is survived by his three daughters: Karli, Kathryn and Laura Kelber.