Monday, November 5, 2018

Wisconsin Loses Labor Giant

I am sad to report the passing of Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Emeritus Phil Neuenfeldt, who succumbed to cancer after a long battle.  He was 67 years old.

From Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO:
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO announced today that former President Phil Neuenfeldt, a stalwart of Wisconsin’s labor movement, died yesterday in his home. He retired as president in September at the organization’s biennial convention.

“Phil Neuenfeldt embodied the vision and values of organized labor, and he will be tremendously missed,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “It was a tremendous honor for me to serve with and to call him a friend."

“Phil was one of the great leaders of the labor movement, and I know he would want us to carry on the fight to which he dedicated his life,” said Bloomingdale. “We will wipe away the tears and soldier on, and tomorrow elect leaders who we can partner with to deliver economic justice for Wisconsin’s working families.”

“Phil would no doubt agree with Mother Jones, who advised, 'Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” said Bloomingdale.

Details about memorial services and a celebration of Neuenfeldt’s life will be announced at a later date.

Phil Neuenfeldt was a member of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 1916. He began his career on the shop floor in the manufacturing sector at GE and held various positions of leadership in his local union, including chair of the bargaining committee. He started at the Wisconsin AFL-CIO in 1986 and served as Legislative Director, Secretary-Treasurer, and President. He is a Navy veteran and proud Father and Grandfather.
Phil was well-known and widely-admired by friends of Labor for his unwavering support for working families and his tireless fight against the likes of Scott Walker and the other special interest meat puppets.

Phil's death has hit me hard on a personal level as well.  Not only did I respect and admire Phil for his unflagging leadership, but he was a good friend - perhaps a better one than I had realized.

Whenever I saw Phil at some event or heard him speak, he always talked me and this blog up.  He would joke around that if he saw me in the crowd, he'd have to check his social media that night to see what I had to say.  He always kept encouraging me to keep up the fight in the way that I do best and to never let the bastards get me down.

I could never express how much his votes of confidence for a minor loud-mouthed union thug meant to me.

Phil was a giant in Labor, just as he was a giant in life, towering over everyone.  But he was a gentle giant to his friends.

Just last week, while my wife and I were vacationing up north and were off the grid, Phil sent me a direct message on Facebook, trying to pick up my spirits during these ending days of the election cycle:

Think about it.  Just days before his death, he sent me one more message to help keep me carry on the fight. That is the kind of man Phil was.

So, I ask not for your condolences or sympathies.  I ask you to help me and my brothers and sisters carry Phil's torch forward.  Please vote on Tuesday.  Not only vote, but make Phil's goal come true and vote out Walker and the other Republicans that have waged an eight year long war on working families.

On behalf of Phil and myself, thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment