November 3, 2010
President, Greater Hartford Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO - 1983-1995
Dedicted to building the Labor Movement
Following are Greater Hartford Central Labor Council Vice President Marsha McCurdy’s remarks honoring Kip Lockhart:
Not everyone knows the future of their involvement of the union on their first day on the job. And so is the story of Kip Lockhart – who would become a 12-year president of the GHLC from 1983-1995. In fact, his first taste of union action came because he spoke up on a Friday morning. As an apprentice, Kip Lockhart decided to speak up about a fellow carpenter’s rumor of a layoff scheduled for Monday. He spoke to other brother carpenters who could do a little investigating and with some due diligence; a brother’s job was saved. For the good of the union and the detriment of management, it was the beginning of Kip’s involvement with the labor movement. That was back in 1968.
With the encouragement of his peers, he climbed the ranks becoming shop steward, a member of the negotiating committee and lasted through all the mergers of his local to become a full time business agent in 1979. The following year he became a delegate to the GHLC. After serving 2 years as the assistant recording secretary, he was encouraged by our brothers and sisters in the movement to run for president. Humbly he pursued the position and was seated in 1983.
Don’t think it went easy. That same year, the UAW went on strike at Colt for 5 years. But during that time, he started the Community Labor Alliance for Strike Support because he knew the impact of unity. He knew the importance of everyone rallying together. The relationship he built with the United Way generated a one time donation of $10, 000 that went to that alliance. We all know it was very much needed.
I spoke to him about a few of the things that he was proud of during his term and you should have seen the smile on his face when he spoke of the Labor Day picnic. You can tell that he still has a twinkle in his eye for bringing people together – the community group, religious groups and different locals together to honor our progress and remember the work yet to be done.
There may have been a little hesitance in first signing his union card in the 60’s before he really understood what it meant to be a part of the union, but today, the decision to choose the union is an easy one to make for him. In fact in 2001, well after he left the carpenter’s union and was then working in a privatized company, he jumped at the chance to become a staff rep at AFSCME Council 4. Today, in his 60’s, he’s still fighting the good fight and setting a wonderful example of unionism and helping us all realize that there s power in collective action and that a union isn’t just about a contract.
Kip, you deserve this recognition for all you’ve done for not only the Greater Hartford Labor Council, but for the Labor Movement. Thank you.
Organizing the Unorganized
President , United Food and Commercial Workers Local371
General Vice President, Connecticut AFL-CIO
Brian A. Petronella, age 54, of Norwalk, beloved husband of Elaine Coker Petronella, died suddenly on August 6, 2010 in his home with his family by his side. Born in Norwalk on March 28, 1956 to Rosemarie Jaykus Petronella and the late Robert A. Petronella, he was predeceased by his brother Robert Burke Petronella. Brian A. Petronella was the President of Local 371 UFCW, International Vice President and Executive Vice President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. He was an active board member on several pro-labor organizations, including the United Way of Eastern Fairfield County. Most recently Brian was honored at the McGivney Center in Bridgeport as "Man of the Year" and awarded the Corporate Achiever Award at the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Through his union and personal donations, his charitable contributions were enormous. Each Christmas and Easter, Brian organized thousands of holiday baskets to be distributed through the Women's Network, sponsored by the UFCW. In addition, each spring for the past 9 years, Brian chaired a Local 371 Golf Tournament raising over $225,000 for the Leukemia Society. Brian also generously donated snacks to local after school programs.
As a labor leader, Brian was one of the best. He began his career in 1972 as a member of Local 371, Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workers of North America. He was employed by Grand Union Supermarkets. Brian was appointed Union Organizer in 1977 and graduated from the Harvard University Trade Union Program in 1978. Brian was responsible for many successful organizing campaigns and due to those efforts members enjoy the benefits of decent wages, generous benefits, secure pensions, and the dignity and respect that his members rightly deserved. In 1982, the Local 371 Executive Board elected him to the office of Executive Vice President. During his time in office Brian chaired major negotiations in retail, wholesale, processing, healthcare and manufacturing. Following this position, Brian was promoted to the position of Secretary-Treasurer and proudly up to the position of Local 371 President, serving over 9,000 members throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. In addition, Brian was the Chairman of the Local 371 Amalgamated Welfare Trust Fund and a Trustee of the National UFCW Pension Fund. The Fairfield County Labor Council and the New England UFCW Food Council were also fortunate to have Brian serve as a President.
Brian was also involved in politics, where he was well known and respected as a champion for working men and women. Brian Petronella's fiery enthusiasm, loyalty, generosity and genuine character will always be an inspiration to all who knew and loved him. Brian will always be remembered by his family as a devoted husband, father, son, brother, uncle and faithful friend. His laughter, smile, strength and giving nature will be dearly missed.