Former International Longshoremen’s Association President Richard P. Hughes Jr. died today at the age of 79 in Baltimore, Md.
Hughes served as eighth president of the ILA, from July 2007 until July 2011, and was elected ILA president emeritus at the union’s 2011 convention.
“The International Longshoremen’s Association is deeply saddened by the passing of our President Richard P. Hughes, Jr., who served our ILA membership with distinction and honor for more than half a century,” current ILA President Harold J. Daggett said in a written statement. “Rich Hughes’ accomplishments throughout his long career with the ILA were vast and his memory will endure.”
Hughes was a third generation ILA member. His grandfather, Martin Patrick Hughes, joined the newly formed ILA in the late 1890s, working as a coal trimmer. His father and namesake was a grain trimmer, clerk and checker at the Port of Baltimore, and his uncle, Mickey Hughes, was president of Baltimore ILA Local 953 from 1920 through the 1940s.
Hughes went to work on the Baltimore docks in 1954, first joining ILA Local 1429. He joined ILA Local 953 in 1957 and thereafter served in a variety of union-elected offices. Prior to his election as ILA president, he served as executive vice president of the ILA, beginning in 2005, and as secretary-treasurer of the ILA’s Atlantic Coast District, starting in 2000.
While ILA president, Hughes also served as a vice president on the executive council of the AFL-CIO. He also served on the executive councils of the AFL-CIO’s Maritime Trades Department and Transportation Trades Department. Hughes was also an executive officer with the Dockers Section of the International Transport Workers Federation. In his home port of Baltimore, he served as chairman of the port’s Private Sector Committee.
“Since beginning his career working on the docks at the Port of Baltimore, Richie Hughes always cared deeply for the men and women of the ILA," said Jim White, executive diretcor of the Maryland Port Administration. "As his career advanced within the ILA, he always had the best interests of the rank and file longshore workers at heart. He had a tremendous amount of industry knowledge and always wanted to get the best deal for the longshore worker without hurting the business. Even during the tensest negotiations, his Irish wit would come through in a way that would make you smile and laugh. He will be greatly missed.”
Funeral details are available on the ILA Web site.