“Nobody does it like Ohio.” That statement was made several times on Friday, March 13, 2015 as the Ohio AFL-CIO hosted it’s 3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Dinner at the UA Local 189 Hall in Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 500 union leaders, rank-and-file members and supporters of labor came together for the biggest USA dinner in the country with the proceeds going to conservation efforts in Ohio.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (right) and Bricklayer's Ted Linscott

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (right) and Bricklayer’s Ted Linscott

“This is a great night where union members can come together under the umbrella of their home union and have fellowship around activities they are passionate about while at the same time raising much-needed funds for local conservation efforts”, said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “Three years ago we hosted our first dinner and they keep getting bigger and bigger.”

The 2013 dinner’s proceeds went to help fund the Blackfork Wetlands project in conjunction with Ashland University, and in 2014 the money raised was used to helps support a special-need s children’s youth hunt in Southern Ohio.

“I am very proud to put on these USA dinners, not just because we get to bring 500 members together in fellowship, but because we have helped preserve lands for future generations and given joy to children who are able to enjoy an activity with their parents, that is what really gets me excited about these dinners”, Jeanette Mauk, Field Director for the Ohio AFL-CIO said.

In attendance, while even under the weather, was USA Executive Director/CEO Fred Myers. “I may not be feeling the best, but there was no way I was going to miss this dinner in Ohio. It’s the biggest dinner in the country and the support we get in Ohio from the union leaders, to the rank-and-file members to the sponsors in incredible. It reminds me that what we are doing at the USA is vital. That is why we will be the largest and most effective conservation organization and that says something about what being union means in America.”

USA Executive Director?CEO Fred Myers

USA Executive Director/CEO Fred Myers

With 50 tables packed with union members, it wasn’t hard to find someone from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades as they purchased three tables. “This is an event our members truly love to attend,” said Joe Crytser, Director of Organizing at IUPAT District Council 6. “We have been coming since the first year and each year we see more and more members wanting to attend. It really gives us a chance to connect with our members in a way we may not otherwise be able.”

The 2015 dinner was sponsored by Skylight Financial Group. “I was so proud to have Skylight Financial Group be a part of this event. I was a union business rep for years before I decided to take a job where I can help members plan to retire with dignity, and this event was a great opportunity for us to give back to those that help keep us safe, repair our roads, teach our kids and take care of us when we are sick,” said Rick Rudnicki, Financial Planner with Skylight Financial Group.