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First McEntee Scholarship Winner Announced

Helping workers win collective bargaining rights “not only built our great union but must be used going forward to make the union stronger,” Illinois AFSCME member Matthew Whalen wrote in an essay that recently won him this year’s first Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship, honoring AFSCME’s former national president.
By Clyde Weiss ·
First McEntee Scholarship Winner Announced
Helping workers win collective bargaining rights “not only built our great union but must be used going forward to make the union stronger,” IL AFSCME member Matthew Whalen wrote in an essay that recently won him this year’s Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship.

17 Others Win AFSCME Union Plus Scholarships

Helping workers win collective bargaining rights “not only built our great union but must be used going forward to make the union stronger,” Illinois AFSCME member Matthew Whalen wrote in an essay that recently won him this year’s first Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship, honoring AFSCME’s former national president.

This year’s winner of a $5,000 scholarship is a paramedic and full-time student from Carbondale, Illinois. Whalen serves as an Executive Board member of AFSCME Local 2464 (Council 31). He is also chief steward and vice president of his local.

The scholarship is awarded annually to the AFSCME member who best exemplifies former AFSCME President McEntee’s commitment to strengthening our union through organizing, building political power for working families, defending workers’ rights and supporting public services.

McEntee served as AFSCME’s national president for 31 years, during which time it grew to 1.6 million active and retiree members. Learn more about McEntee and AFSCME’s history here.

Whalen attends Southern Illinois University. His goal is to attend law school to become an attorney practicing labor law.

In an essay required of scholarship applicants, Whalen explained that his efforts to grow his local union’s strength is similar to “what Mr. McEntee did” to build AFSCME’s power at the national level. 

“I have created alliances on both sides of the aisle on our local County Board, to help secure positive outcomes on grievances and hopes for a new contract for our ambulance service,” he wrote. “The organizing of new members, the protection of all workers, especially AFSCME retirees and their benefits, and the changing of labor laws are all fights that I value and will be challenges that I hope to face in my professional career.”

Congratulations, Matthew Whalen, for winning this year’s Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship! Learn more about the Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship, administered through the Union Plus Scholarship program, and apply online for next year’s scholarship, by clicking here.

Union Plus also announced that 17 other AFSCME members and family members won scholarships, including Emily Cieslak of Wenatchee, Washington, who won a $4,000 scholarship. See the full list of scholarship winners here.  

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