The MTD mourns the loss of Byron Kelley, who served 15 years as secretary-treasurer of the
Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council, AFL-CIO, until his retirement in 2000.
Kelley began his career in the U.S.-flag merchant marine in 1957, after having served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1953-1957. He came ashore to work for the SIU in 1973 and held positions ranging before retiring in 2000 as the union’s vice president for its Great Lakes and Inland Waters District.
With the port council, Kelley provided a high profile presence on the grassroots level, forging close ties with many local and federal elected officials representing the Great Lakes region.
Reflecting on his career at his retirement, he noted, “It sounds cornball, but what I enjoyed the most was seeing the comfort of the working guy improve to the point where they make a damn good living. When I started sailing, if you got a 2-cents-an-hour raise, that was something. Today, it has evolved and become a job to be proud of. Here on the Lakes, the money and the benefits through the SIU are such that the members don’t want to give them up. So, my ability to help through the negotiating process is probably my greatest source of pride.”