It is with much sadness that Teamsters 856 announces the passing of retired Principal Officer and Secretary-Treasurer Michael J. McLaughlin, Sr. Mike died last Friday, August 12, after a short illness.
For 32 years, Mike dedicated his life to Local 856 and its members, starting first as a staff attorney/business agent and later as the Local’s principal officer/secretary-treasurer.
Mike began his career at Local 856 in 1974 and immediately set to work organizing new members. Through newly enacted legislation that allowed public sector employees the right to collectively bargain in California, Mike was able to help give Teamster representation to workers in the City and County of San Francisco and on the Peninsula, including San Bruno Police Officers, the first law enforcement members of Local 856. Over the next 20 years he continued his work as a staff attorney/business agent and played a key role in expanding the Local’s public sector membership to Marin, Alameda, and Solano Counties.
In 1994, Mike was elected Secretary-Treasurer of Local 856, a position he held for 12 years until his retirement in 2006. It was under his leadership as principal officer that Local 856 established a political action committee to ensure the union had a direct vehicle to support labor-friendly lawmakers; expanded its affiliations with labor councils throughout Northern and Central California; and continued to aggressively organize new members, effectively growing Local 856’s power and influence.
In addition to his position as principal officer, Mike served as chairman of the Teamsters Local 856 Health and Welfare Trust Fund and was appointed by International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa to Director of the Western Region’s Public Services Division. In 2006, the Instituto Laboral De La Raza honored Mike with the La Raza Bay Area Leadership Award.
But to members and staff, Mike was much more than titles and awards. An exacting leader, he held high standards, but also had a softer side. Known for his trademark dry wit, a gentle ribbing from him was a good indicator that he had taken a fondness to you.
Although Mike had been retired for ten years and relocated to Cambria — more than 200 miles from the union’s main office — his presence could still be felt, whether it was through members whose lives he had touched, or his periodic phone calls, just to “check in”.
Mike was also a great historian of all things Teamsters 856, even penning a chronicle of the Local on the occasion of its 60th anniversary in 2009. Most of all though, Mike cared deeply about the membership, had a keen understanding of the intricacies of negotiations and tough representation, and knew the importance of organizing new members for the good of all members.
“…a true Unionist realizes there is an obligation to organize the unorganized so that their lives can be improved…it is all about the strong helping the voiceless,” he wrote in his account of Local 856’s history in 2009.
Teamsters 856 extends its deepest sympathies to his wife of 50 years, Nancy, their four children, six grandchildren, and the entire McLaughlin family.
Services will be held Tuesday, August 23, at 1 p.m. at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, 1174 Main St., Cambria, Ca. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to Cambria Anonymous Neighbors, P.O. Box 1797, Cambria, CA 93428.
A memorial will also be held Friday, September 30, 12 p.m., at the Local’s Union Hall, 453 San Mateo Ave., San Bruno.