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Former President Emeritus of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), served as union President from 1985-2005. Under President Bahr’s leadership, CWA evolved to become one of the most powerful labor unions in the United States and internationally. Today, CWA, with its roots in the communications industry, is a leading union for professional, technical, media and information-age workers. A native New Yorker, Bahr emerged from humble beginnings to lead a successful organizing drive for CWA among his coworkers at Mackay Radio in 1954. From that campaign, the concept and role of unions in reaching out to “new economy” workers would eventually expand. He promoted new bargaining and campaign strategies to deal with the fragmented and newly competitive telecom industry. Bahr also expanded CWA’s jurisdiction into new areas, such as health care, the public sector, and higher education.
1926-2014, was the son of Caribbean immigrant parents. Raised in Harlem, he attended Fordham University, where he earned a B.A. and a law degree. Becoming active in Democratic Party politics, Paterson famously forged ties with Charles Rangel, David Dinkins, and Percy Sutton. In 1965, he was elected to the State Senate, where he earned a reputation for championing progressive legislation and for strong support of organized labor. He later served as deputy mayor and New York’s first African-American Secretary of State. After serving in elected posts, Paterson became a prominent labor relations expert, representing the hospital workers union as well as the TWU and the teachers’ union. He lived to see his son, David Paterson, serve as Governor of New York State. The Basil Paterson Scholarship was established by 1199SEIU.
1947-2015, served as a Vice President and Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU for 26 years. Working out of the Maryland-D.C. area, Reid oversaw the union’s efforts to expand healthcare access for thousands of Maryland residents, raise wages and improve benefits for hardworking families, and bring good jobs to the Maryland-D.C. region. Among Reid’s many notable achievements was the implementation of a joint labor-management education fund for union members. He also led the fight for an historic union contract at Johns Hopkins Hospital, raising standards for healthcare workers in Baltimore and throughout the state. Born in Gastonia, N.C., he was drafted into the Army after high school and served as a marksman in the Vietnam War; he was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he received in combat. The John Reid Scholarship was established by SEIU International.
And all the staff of the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies who worked on this project.
Special thanks to Vanguard’s Danielle Rivard, John Mehl, Robbie Szelei and Brandon Smith for their expertise.