Former UE District One President Bob Brown has passed away.
Brown was featured in the first edition of The Troublemaker's Handbook, in a section on sit-down strikes. In January of 1990 he helped lead a group of UE Local 174 members in occupying the SMS Automotive Products plant in greater Philadelphia. SMS had abruptly closed the previous October and owed some 75 workers accrued vacation pay and insurance premiums. After six days of negotiations, the workers won a $40,000 settlement that met all of their demands.
Brown was also a leader in trade union support for homeless persons’ organizations. Between the loss of jobs to plant closings and Reagan’s cuts to federal housing programs, homelessness became an increasing problem for working people during Brown’s tenure as a UE leader. “From a negligible problem at the beginning of the 1980s, homelessness has now grown into an epidemic,” he told the UE NEWS in 1990.
District One, now part of UE's Eastern Region, included locals from the eastern part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and the southern part of New York. Brown served as president of the district from 1984 through 1997. Prior to that he had served as a UE field organizer.