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January 19, 2018

Paul Booth: In Memoriam

Paul Booth (far right) in Chicago with Rose Daylie and Steve Culen.

The labor movement lost one of its most dedicated and diligent advocates with the passing of Paul Booth on January 17. More than forty years ago, Paul helped to lay the foundation for the strong and vibrant union that AFSCME Council 31 has become today.

As an Assistant Director of Council 31 in the 1970’s, Paul was instrumental in negotiating and administering the first contracts for state of Illinois employees, which became a model for other union contracts throughout the country.

As the International Union’s Area Director in Illinois in the 1980’s, Paul was one of the architects of the law that won collective bargaining rights for public employees in our state. Before the passage of that law—the Illinois Public Employee Labor Relations Act—in 1983, there was no legal guarantee of the right to union representation for public sector workers.

After the law passed, Paul was the chief strategist for organizing drives across the state that helped tens of thousands of public employees in cities, counties, school districts and state universities gain union representation.

Paul left Illinois to continue that work on a broader scale as the national Organizing Director for AFSCME in Washington, DC. In that role, he brought the same passionate commitment and strategic smarts to efforts to win collective bargaining rights and union contracts for workers all across the country.

Paul Booth spent every day fighting for the right of public service workers to have dignity, security and a better life. He leaves a legacy that will continue to inform and inspire the work of AFSCME staff, leaders and activists.

Paul is survived by his wife, Heather Booth, a dynamic organizer in her own right, his two sons, Gene and Dan, and five grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are with them now.