Remembering Labor Leaders

Jim Robison (Anchorage Daily News)Labor leader Jim E. Robison’s “work during the formative years of collective bargaining in Alaska provided the foundation for many of the contracts that protect the rights and conditions of workers today,” according to the obit published in the Anchorage Daily News.

Robison joined the Laborers Union in Alaska in 1949. As his obituary points out, “In his early days Jim worked in the ditch laying the sewer and water lines throughout Anchorage. (If you use water in Anchorage – thank Jim!)”

Over the years, Robison served union members in Alaska as a commissioner of Labor for State of Alaska, a member of Alaska Workers Compensation Board, president of Alaska AFL-CIO and business manager for Laborers Local 341.

At the time of his death Aug. 4, 2011, he was serving his third five-year term on the Alaska Workers Compensation Appeals Commission.

“A highlight in his life was receiving the Robert A McFarland Award for a Lifetime of Service to the Labor Movement presented by both the Alaska and National AFL-CIO,” his obit said.

Among the many other labor leaders who have died in recent months:

Sarah Gordon Butler, who was once named Georgia Woman of the Year in the Labor Movement, was inducted into the Georgia Labor Hall of Fame in 1987. She served as office manager of the Georgia AFL-CIO from 1967-1985, was a member of Office and Professional Employees International Union and secretary of the Atlanta Labor Council.

Paul P. Cardullo was known as “Mr. Teamster,” according to his Aug. 16 obituary in the Courier Post of New Jersey. His credits listed in the obit include: “President & Business Agent, Teamsters Local 929, Trustee, Pennsylvania Conference of Teamster, Vice President, Teamsters Joint Council No. 53, Co-Chairman, Teamsters Health & Welfare & Pension Fund of Phila. & vicinity.”

Evelyn Ruth Green “was the first woman Teamster in Northern Ca. pioneering the road for women working in a man’s world driving big rigs in the early ’60s, operating heavy equipment and running construction sites all with hard earned respect,” according to the obituary in the Sacramento Bee.

Joseph Brock Sr. “was a former executive officer of teamsters local 830 , Philadelphia, Pa., and vice president of teamsters joint council 53,” according to the July 17 obit in The Press of Atlantic City.

Brock, who worked as a driver and shop steward for Coca-Cola for more than 17 years, “also was a labor arbitrator to the U.S. Postal Service and other panels,” the obit said.


This post was contributed by freelance obituary writer Alana Baranick. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.