His father, Art Rooney Sr., was at the forefront of getting NFL players to form a union decades ago and then convincing the league to recognize it. Dan Rooney, his oldest son, carried on this family tradition as an integral figure in the negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that has allowed the NFL to enjoy an unprecedented period of labor peace, and the prosperity accompanying it.
And so it was that on April 14, Dan Rooney, now the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.
Rooney received the award at a dinner attended by more than 500 people that served two other purposes: it marked the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and it was something of a sendoff for union president Bill George, who is stepping down after 20 years on the job.
Attending the banquet to honor Rooney were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO and the second-highest ranking labor leader in the nation, and Edwin Hill, who is President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
"It isn't every day that union men and women get together to honor someone in the business world," said Liz Shuler in honoring Rooney. "This is someone who has always respected the men and women who work for him. The legal papers, they may say the team belongs to the Rooney family. The Rooneys dedicate their team to, and share it with, everyone who lives in Pittsburgh."
The banquet was the culmination of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO's 39th Constitutional Convention. Over 900 delegates, representing in excess of 900,000 union members from 43 International Unions affiliated with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO attended the convention.