Labor Unions, Progressives Mourn Former Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick

Union members across Texas mourned former Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick, who died last night at the age of 70 after a long illness.

"This is a sad day for the labor movement in Texas. Long before he became Secretary-Treasurer and then President of the Texas AFL-CIO, John Patrick earned a national reputation as a leader with the United Steelworkers, where he fought, often against almost insurmountable odds, to win fair contracts for working people and hold employers accountable to the agreements they made," Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said.

"John was a powerful leader because he knew power grows when you share it with others. Countless union leaders and activists across Texas and beyond know they wouldn't be where they are today without the mentoring and friendship of John Patrick."

In addition to an extraordinary labor résumé, Patrick played a prominent role in Texas politics, serving with distinction for many years on the Democratic National Committee, building relationships, and making sure the voices of workers were present in all deliberations.

"With unimpeachable integrity, an optimistic spirit and unfailing good cheer, John Patrick's booming voice helped to build labor's voice in Texas," Levy said. "He was as kind, modest, loyal, generous, fierce, dedicated, and courageous as any leader I have known. We are all better because our paths crossed with John, and we will miss him greatly. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Linda Patrick and the entire Patrick family."

Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay said of Patrick, "I will forever be grateful for his mentorship, love and support. John took me under his wing, he gave me confidence and made me feel like I belong. His vision to be open to new ideas and leadership styles was unique and has made a world of difference in the labor movement in Texas."

Arrangements are pending.

John Patrick's Texas Labor Hall of Fame plaque reads as follows:

In a long career with the United Steelworkers Union and as President of the Texas AFL-CIO, John Patrick built a stellar record of integrity, solidarity and generosity of spirit while helping build a stronger labor movement.

Patrick began his union career as a member of the International Association of Machinists at Cameron Iron Works in Houston before moving to the Steelworkers to work at Reynolds Aluminum. In a succession of USW jobs, he excelled at difficult negotiations, exercising patience and tenacity in ways that won advances. Later, he brought those skills into the realm of arbitration, achieving positive results for working families. Patrick led the talks in the legendary "walking of the contract" at Lone Star Steel, ultimately arriving at a contract that the union approved after 23 months.

A U.S. Army veteran who parachuted out of airplanes and a 1994 graduate of Antioch University, where he obtained a B.A. in Labor Studies via the George Meany Center, Patrick served on the Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board before his election to the position of Secretary-Treasurer under President Becky Moeller. Upon Moeller's retirement, Patrick was elected President. He placed broad emphasis on representing every last working person in Texas, speaking out on civil rights, low-wage jobs and the aspirations of non-union members on many occasions. He further built the state federation's capacity to engage effectively in politics and legislative advocacy.

Under Patrick's leadership, the Texas AFL-CIO completed a renovation of Texas AFL-CIO headquarters. Following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Patrick declared the building "the headquarters for the resistance." His advocacy and leadership lived up to that moniker. Patrick retired as Texas AFL-CIO President having laid a path to broader worker power that would continue well beyond his term.

Patrick is married to Linda Patrick. They have two sons, Brent and Cooper.