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Yoko Ono to receive Edward MacDowell Medal for lifetime achievement

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Yoko Ono to receive Edward MacDowell Medal for lifetime achievement
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Yoko Ono to receive Edward MacDowell Medal for lifetime achievement

2024-04-22 10:16 Last Updated At:10:50

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the country's leading artist residency programs, MacDowell, has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to Yoko Ono. The groundbreaking artist, filmmaker and musician is this year's recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, an honor previously given to Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison among others.

“There has never been anyone like her; there has never been work like hers,” MacDowell board chair Nell Painter said in a statement Sunday. "Over some seven decades, she has rewarded eyes, provoked thought, inspired feminists, and defended migrants through works of a wide-ranging imagination. Enduringly fresh and pertinent, her uniquely powerful oeuvre speaks to our own times, so sorely needful of her leitmotif: Peace.”

Ono's son, Sean Ono Lennon, said in a statement that the medal was “an incredible honor.”

“The history and list of past recipients is truly remarkable. It makes me very proud to see her art appreciated and celebrated in this way," he said.

Ono, 91, has made few public appearances in recent years and is not expected to attend the July awards ceremony, at the MacDowell campus in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Ono's music manager, David Newgarden, will accept the award on her behalf.

Ono first became known as part of the avant-garde Fluxus movement of the 1960s, then reached international fame after meeting John Lennon, to whom she was married from 1969 until his death, in 1980. Their many collaborations included the songs “Give Peace a Chance,” “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," the basis for “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko,” this year's winner of the Oscar for best animated short film.

Over the past 40 years, Ono has had a busy career as a visual and recording artist, her albums including “Season of Glass,” “Starpeace” and “Take Me to the Land of Hell.” She was recently the subject of a career retrospective at London's Tate Modern.

FILE - Yoko Ono appears before the dedication ceremony for her permanent art installation, a sculpture called SKYLANDING, at Jackson Park, Oct. 17, 2016, in Chicago. One of the country’s leading artist residency programs, MacDowell, has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to Ono. The groundbreaking artist, filmmaker and musician is the 2024 recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, an honor previously given to Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison among others. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

FILE - Yoko Ono appears before the dedication ceremony for her permanent art installation, a sculpture called SKYLANDING, at Jackson Park, Oct. 17, 2016, in Chicago. One of the country’s leading artist residency programs, MacDowell, has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to Ono. The groundbreaking artist, filmmaker and musician is the 2024 recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, an honor previously given to Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison among others. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

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Workers at Georgia school bus maker Blue Bird approve their first union contract

2024-05-25 00:36 Last Updated At:00:40

FORT VALLEY, Ga. (AP) — A year after they voted to unionize, workers at a Georgia school bus manufacturer have approved their first contract.

The United Steelworkers union and Blue Bird Corp. said union members at Blue Bird's assembly plants and warehouse in Fort Valley have voted to approve a three-year contract between the company and the union.

The union said the contract will provide all 1,500 covered workers with at least a 12% raise, with some of the lowest-paid workers getting raises of more than 40%. The union says the company will contribute to a retirement plan for workers, share profits, and improve health and safety.

The negotiations had been closely watched by President Joe Biden's administration, in part because Blue Bird has gotten $40 million in federal aid to build electric school buses.

Biden released a statement Thursday saying acting Labor Secretary Julie Su had helped bring the negotiations to a successful agreement. Contract talks after a first union vote are often difficult.

“Congratulations to members of the United Steelworkers and to Blue Bird for proving once again that meeting our clean energy goals is an opportunity to create good-paying union jobs for American workers,” Biden said.

Blue Bird is one of three major school bus manufacturers in the United States, along with Thomas Built Buses, a subsidiary of Daimler Truck AG, and IC Bus, a unit of Navistar International.

Blue Bird had urged employees to reject unionization last year, but CEO Phil Horlock said in a statement Friday that contract talks had been “very collaborative” and that the company is “looking forward to a strong partnership with our USW team members.” The company said higher pay, benefits and opportunities for career development will help Blue Bird attract workers.

“We reached an agreement which provides positive outcomes for all parties involved and will continue to drive our One Team, high-performance culture,” Horlock said. “We are confident that the agreement will further bolster Blue Bird’s position as an employer of choice in the region."

Blue Bird is a publicly held company based in Macon. With about 2,000 employees overall, it has long been the largest private employer in Peach County.

The vote for the USW was a notable win for organized labor in the traditionally unfriendly Deep South.

“Federal investments like these must come with a seat at the table for workers,” United Steelworkers District 9 Director Dan Flippo said in a statement. “Our union has a long history in the South fighting for better wages and working conditions in a variety of industries, but for too long, corporations and their political cronies have tried to characterize the South as a place where they could run away from unions, cut corners and pay workers less."

The share of workers who are unionized nationwide has been falling for decades, dipping to 10% last year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. And private sector workers are much less likely to be union members, with only 6% paying dues.

Organized labor is an even smaller sliver of Georgia workers, with only 4.4% of workers being union members. The state's business leaders have long been hostile to unions, with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp this year pushing through a law that would bar companies taking state incentives from recognizing unions without a formal secret-ballot election.

FILE -- An all-electric school bus sits on display in front of the Blue Bird Corp. factory in Fort Valley, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2023. The company and the United Steelworkers union said on Thursday, May, 23, 2024 that workers had approved an initial three-year contract after voting to unionize in May 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, file)

FILE -- An all-electric school bus sits on display in front of the Blue Bird Corp. factory in Fort Valley, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2023. The company and the United Steelworkers union said on Thursday, May, 23, 2024 that workers had approved an initial three-year contract after voting to unionize in May 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, file)

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