To a Brother, a Mentor and a Legend and by far the toughest Labor Leader I’ve ever met
—From President Jose Maldonado, Secretary Treasurer Sussie Lozada, and Former President Bill Granfield
Henry Tamarin died on August 26 after a long fight against cancer. He was 77.
Henry was a Union organizer, negotiator, strategist, teacher and officer for HERE and UNITE HERE since 1970, when he started as a volunteer in New Haven. He first joined the Union staff there in 1973. Henry lived in New York City and worked with Local 100 from 1992 through 2001. It is hard to describe all that Henry accomplished during those 10 years with Local 100, but here are some examples. On arriving, he succeeded Vincent Sirabella as Trustee of the Local, and first concentrated on negotiating dozens of expired contracts, rebuilding the shop steward structure and developing a full time staff.
In 1993 Henry turned his attention to the health insurance plan and was able to add dependent coverage, speed up payment of claims, increase the number of doctors and hospitals in the network, improve the benefits and help build the New York Fund office staff to assist members. These changes required much higher health insurance contributions from the companies, and Henry built working relationships with numerous employers that put the Fund on a solid foundation. But some strikes were required, and Henry didn’t hesitate to lead members to the street and to fight long and hard to protect and improve their Union contracts. His toughest strike was at the Box Tree, which lasted 4 years, one month and 17 days before resulting in a good Union contract with family medical coverage in January 1998.
In 1994 Henry worked with the Federal monitor and the International Union’s Public Review Board to guide Local 100 out of Trusteeship and through an election of officers, where he was voted President. He then focused on long term projects such as improving the Pension plan, negotiating a Restaurant Council agreement, preparing to organize new members and starting to engage the Local in political action. But his priority always was building the Union staff for the future. He was a trainer, a driver, a mentor, a good friend, a severe critic, a comic and a person who bought a round for the team after a solid week of work.
As the staff team came together, the Local stabilized and began to organize new members and grow, and Henry was asked to serve as Trustee in Local 69, representing members in the Meadowlands and North Jersey hotels, who eventually voted to merge with Local 100. After being re-elected President in 1997 and 2000, Henry transitioned to Local 1 in Chicago, and moved there full time in 2002.
He continued to support the members of Local 100 as a Trustee in both the Health and Pension Funds until his retirement, when he moved back to New York. The last few years he has been a volunteer again, serving as counselor to the new generation of leaders in Local 100, as well as an activist, joining on bus trips to rallies and being arrested in civil disobedience actions at JFK Terminal 8 in November 2019 and February 2020.
Local 100 members who worked with Henry remember his fighting spirit, his personal warmth and his humor. Members who didn’t meet him should know Henry Tamarin built the foundation and trained the staff of the Union you belong to today.