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Former Wis. AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt dies

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt speaks at a Milwaukee rally outside train maker Talgo Inc. on Monday. The rally called on Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker to drop his opposition to the state’s high-speed rail project. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)

Former Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt speaks at a rally in Milwaukee in November 2010. The rally was calling on then-Gov.-elect Scott Walker to drop his opposition to an eventually dropped high-speed rail project. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)

The prominent labor leader Phil Neuenfeldt, who recently retired as president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, died on Sunday in his home, the union announced the following day.

Nuenfeldt joined the AFL-CIO in 1986 and was president of the organization for eight years before stepping down in September. His time in the top position was blotted by a series of attacks on unions in the state, including the adoption of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law and Act 10, which curtailed the bargaining powers of public-sector unions.

“Phil Neuenfeldt embodied the vision and values of organized labor, and he will be tremendously missed,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, who was elected at the union’s biennial convention in September to succeed Nuenfeldt as president. “It was a tremendous honor for me to serve with and to call him a friend.”

Neuenfeldt was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1916, and began his career on the shop floor of a General Electric plant. He held various leadership positions at his local union, including chairman of the bargaining committee. He joined the AFL-CIO in 1986 and served as its legislative director, secretary-treasurer and president. He was also a Navy veteran, father and grandfather.

Details about his memorial services and a celebration of his life will be announced at a later date, according to a news release from the AFL-CIO.

“Phil was one of the great leaders of the labor movement, and I know he would want us to carry on the fight to which he dedicated his life,” Bloomingdale said in a statement Monday. “We will wipe away the tears and soldier on, and tomorrow elect leaders who we can partner with to deliver economic justice for Wisconsin’s working families.”

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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