Association for Union Democracy

In Memoriam: Wayne Stanton

It is with sorrow that we report that Local 86 Ironworker and longtime AUD supporter Wayne Stanton passed away in his home in Penn Township, Pennsylvania, on March 30th, 2018. He was 74 years old.

A third generation logger from Oregon, Wayne joined the Marines in 1963. He became an ironworker in 1976, working in the trade until 2007.

Wayne first came into contact with AUD in 1998 when he and other Seattle Local 86 members joined with members from other locals to reject a sub-par contract bargained by the District Council. Members rallied, Local 86 was placed under trusteeship, and Stanton was brought up on charges of “action to incite dissatisfaction and dissension among the members” in blatant violation of the LMRDA’s Bill of Rights. With the support of attorneys Robert Gibbs and Paul Alan Levy, and the AUD, Stanton and his fellow members fought the charges, the contract, and an illegal dues increase. The charges were dismissed, the Local backed down on the dues increase, but the District Council imposed the unpopular contract.

The members outlasted the trusteeship. Wayne went on to be a trustee from 2000 to 2007, a member of the local examining committee, and a delegate to the 2001 and 2006 Ironworkers Conventions. In 2004, in a case involving Ironworkers in Atlanta Local 387, the international union was forced to remove anti-democratic language of the type used to retaliate against Stanton and other unionists over the years.

I met Wayne and his wife Virginia Boggs when I visited Seattle to do an AUD workshop on union democracy in the building trades. Like all such workshops, it was a joint effort: In addition to Wayne and Virginia, Pride at Work activist Sarah Luthens and Michael Woo, of LELO, an organization of workers of color in the building trades, brought together a diverse group of rank-and-file workers from various trades. Wayne was one of the first graduates of the Trades Mentor Network in Seattle, which encouraged and supported women and people of color in the building trades.

I will never forget the drive we took up into the mountains, to Snoqualmie Pass. As we wound our way up the valley, Wayne pointed out a soaring bridge over Denny Creek which he had helped build. I asked about safety equipment and he explained that it was a mixed blessing: if you were up high on a crane, for example, and it started to come apart, being tethered was not necessarily an advantage.

Wayne was always for the underdog and a stickler for fair work rules and contract enforcement. In the days after the 9/11 attack in New York City, Wayne called me to see if he should drive across the country to help with the rescue effort at Ground Zero.

Fellow ironworker and union democracy activist Lee Newgent wrote of his passing: “We stood up in local 86’s darkest day. Even won an important lawsuit against our international. Today we have our own wage scale as a result of those legal actions… Wayne, I salute you brother. Drop your belt your job is done.”

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