December 16, 2011
First labor leader to receive North Carolina’s highest honor
In September, Governor Bev Perdue inducted Mike Okun, our General Counsel, into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Created in the 1960s, the Order is the highest honor the state of North Carolina can bestow on one of her citizens. To our knowledge, Mike is the first labor leader to receive this prestigious recognition.
James Andrews, president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, presented Mike with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at our Executive Board meeting on December 9, 2011. The award comes as a certificate and grants recipients, as official ambassadors of North Carolina, the privilege of proposing, at any time, the North Carolina toast:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “down home,” the Old North State!
A partner in the law firm of Patterson Harkavy LLP, Mike Okun has served as our General Counsel for more than two decades. Mike helps us cover the action at the North Carolina General Assembly, monitoring and tracking legislation that will impact the lives of all workers in North Carolina.
Many among our membership know Mike from the course in labor law he teaches at our annual Carolina Labor School. Mike has also taught labor law at UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University.
After the presentation, Mike had this to say:
“I know the difference – because I’m out there so much – that a union makes, both for the people you represent and for the workers in the state, in general. Without us there really is no voice for workers in this state. I’m proud of the award, but more than that, I’m proud of the trust y’all have in me, the opportunity you’ve given me to do this work.”