Peggy Browning Fund Mourns PA Labor Leader and Friend

Friday, January 4th, 2013

The Peggy Browning Fund is sad to report the passing of longtime friend and Pennsylvania Labor Leader Wendell W. Young III. Mr. Young, president emeritus of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, passed away on January 1 at the age of 74 from liver cancer. His achievements on behalf of working men and women across Pennsylvania were recognized at our 2004 Philadelphia Dinner Dance.

Excerpted from The Inquirer's January 4th Edition by Bonnie L. Cook

Mr. Young started at age 16 as a part-time clerk at the Acme Market at Adams Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard near his family's rowhouse in the Northeast.  After his father encouraged him to get involved in the union, Mr. Young's coworkers elected him shop steward.

By age 22, he rose to become business agent of Retail Clerks Local 1357 and one year later was elected the local's president, one of the youngest labor leaders in Pennsylvania.  At that time, there were 5,000 members.

Under Mr. Young's 43-year tenure, the bargaining unit grew from representing clerks in Philadelphia and the close-in suburbs to advocating for 24,000 workers in the region and across Pennsylvania.

As a result of expansion and company mergers, including an 1979 merger with a meat cutter's union, Local 1776 became more diverse.  It now includes retail employees, food-processing workers, health-care professionals, office and administrative workers and employees of state liquor stores.

In 1990, when Acme's parent company threatened to close its stores here, Mr. Young put together a strategy to have employees purchase the stores.  Due to that pressure, the stores were taken off the market, saving thousands of jobs.  His son, Wendell Young IV, followed in his father's footsteps as union president in 2004.

Mr. Young served in various positions within the AFL-CIO's Pennsylvania state chapter and from 1995 - 2005 hosted a weekly talk-radio show on WHAT 1340 focusing on the initiatives of the American labor movement.

Mr. Young was a supporter of the Peggy Browning Fund and is survived by his namesake, his wife Katherine and sons Brian, Scott, Eric, Brendan, Matthew and 13 grandchildren.

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