Former Electrical Workers (IBEW) President Ed Hill Dies at 81

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Beaver, PA (PAI) — Retired Electrical Workers President Ed Hill, who pioneered getting his union in on the ground floor of key projects – thus ensuring IBEW members got jobs even in deep recessions – died in his hometown, Beaver, Pa., on Dec. 1. He was 81. Cause of death was not reported. After visitation, a funeral mass was held for Hill on Dec. 7.

Hill led IBEW from 2001-2015. A dedicated, innovative leader of the IBEW, he had his fun side, too, said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, his longtime top aide. Motorcycle riding and joyful pranks on colleagues came to her mind.

READY TO DO WHAT IT TOOK

“Whether it was rethinking the relationship between employers and unions that led to the creation of the IBEW’s Code of Excellence and business development initiatives or his willingness to take on powerful voices within his own union with the market recovery measures that led to the successful alternative classification system, Hill was always ready to do what it took to put IBEW members to work,” the union said in its statement announcing his death.

Hill, who started as a journeyman electrician with IBEW Local 712 in Beaver in 1980, was elected to his first union office the following year and ascended the ranks. It was when he was a regional vice president that he conceived the plans that put IBEW unions – and their highly trained and highly skilled members – on the ground floor of planning and executing electrical projects, even before contracts were signed.

‘A TRADE UNIONIST TO THE CORE’

Shuler, a member of IBEW Local 125 in Portland, Ore., called Hill “my union father in so many ways.”

“Ed was a trade unionist to the core, always doing what was best for his members and all working people, across backgrounds and borders. He never spoke up just to hear his own voice. Ed didn’t strut. But when he talked, people listened,” she added.

“He used his voice to make significant and lasting progress, whether implementing bold initiatives in the IBEW, strengthening the AFL-CIO or helping change the culture of the broader Labor Movement. Ed was a statesman. He chose solutions over sound bites, common ground over conflict.”

“Ed didn’t just pioneer IBEW’s code of excellence. He defined it. And as he makes the final journey home, on what I can only imagine is his motorcycle, I am filled with sadness and gratitude. We were all better for knowing Ed Hill,” she concluded.

“While this is a moment of great sadness, we draw inspiration and joy from President Hill’s nearly six decades of service to working families and the union that was the cause of his life,” said his successor, current President Lonnie Stephenson.

“When disagreements threatened to divide us” in Organized Labor, “he was a voice of solidarity. Ed brought people together,” added AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

‘ANY POWER WE WIELD COMES FROM OUR STRENGTH IN NUMBERS AND OUR SOLIDARITY’

“Some leaders in Washington revel in hobnobbing with the powerful. I recognize the importance of a strong presence in the halls of power, but I know that any power we wield comes from our strength in numbers and our solidarity as working people,” Hill wrote on taking over the IBEW presidency in 2001.

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