A statement from LIUNA Vice President and Midwest Region Manager David A. Frye
I, along with the entire Midwest Region, am saddened by news of the passing of former LIUNA Vice President and Midwest Region Manager Edward M. Smith.
From presiding over his Local Union in rural southern Illinois, to serving on the LIUNA General Executive Board, to finally heading ULLICO, Ed Smith was a born leader. Ed’s skill at bringing together diverse groups of people to accomplish one common good were unrivaled. Ed was as comfortable in a suit and tie as he was in work boots and a hardhat, and, most importantly, he understood and respected the people who wear both uniforms.
Ed Smith was a giant who, every single day, fought for peoples’ rights and dignity in the workplace. His influence was felt in Local halls across the Region as much as it was felt in the “halls of power.” He was a skilled and smart negotiator when pushing for pro-worker legislation, or discussing working conditions with contractors.
It was his passion, though, that drove him to organize workers as diverse as railroad constructors, school bus drivers, secretaries, nurses, road crews, and fire departments.
His influence came from his ability to lead, and his ability to lead was an extension of the depth of his character. Ed never wavered in his belief that all men and women deserve a living wage for a day’s work, and that the safety and security of every worker was paramount. He knew we are stronger collectively than individually, and that a dedicated and motivated group of people can have more power than all the money in the world.
While today we mourn the loss of a great friend, tomorrow, and far into the future, we will feel his influence. Ed Smith spent his life fighting for the security and prosperity of people he would never meet. Generations of people have been able to feed their family, build a house, buy a car, and send their children to college because of the battles Edward Smith fought.
Ed used to say: “What can I do for working people today?” Speaking as a colleague, a friend, a worker, and a Laborer – you did a lot. Thank you.