Kenneth Riley, President of ILA Local 1422 in Charleston, South Carolina and an International ILA Vice President and Executive Council member, was named President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO on April 5, according to an announcement by Donna S. Dewitt, the current South Carolina State Federation President.
Brother Riley, currently a First Vice President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, will fill the unexpired term of President Dewitt, who is retiring on June 30, 2012. The term runs until September 2013.
In her letter to South Carolina AFL-CIO affiliates, President Dewitt praised Kenneth Riley saying he “will do an exceptional job representing the membership. I am confident that you will give him your full support.”
ILA President Harold J. Daggett said of Mr. Riley’s appointment: “We in the ILA are so proud and honored that one of our outstanding officer and member, Kenneth Riley, was selected as South Carolina AFL-CIO President. Ken is a tested labor warrior and I am confident he will represent working women and men of South Carolina with the same passion, dedication and success that he has achieved with the ILA.”
South Carolina President Dewitt and the ILA’s Kenneth Riley’s most formidable labor and successful challenge came more than a decade ago when together they spearheaded a global campaign to generate support the ILA’s Charleston Five and attack South Carolina for its anti-worker policies and practices. The Charleston Five were five members of the ILA from the Port of Charleston who were arrested as the result of a picket line brawl where scores of ILA members were severely beaten by law enforcement officials in an unprovoked attack.
Even Kenneth Riley was hit on the head with a police baton as he tried to move his members to safety during the protest. The ILA in Charleston had been rallying against Nordana Lines for moving its operations away from the ILA to a non-union company. Eventually the Nordana work was returned to the ILA and, after a year of house arrest, the Charleston Five were free. Donna Dewitt and Kenneth Riley exposed South Carolina’s opportunistic Attorney General Charlie Condon, who was trying to convict the Charleston Five. They also revealed South Carolina an extreme anti-worker state.
Brother Riley first joined the ILA in 1977 and soon became active in his home local ILA 1422 in Charleston. In 1997, he was elected President of ILA Local 1422 and has been reelected since. He also serves as a Vice President and Executive Board member of the ILA’s South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District. He also holds membership in the International Dockworkers Council; A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Ken Riley and his brother Leonard were founding members of the College of Charleston’s first African-American fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.
Kenneth Riley is also affiliated with the Bible Way Baptist Church, where he serves as treasurer; Lowcountry (SC) Citizens Committee on Judicial Qualifications and the Trident Workforce Development.