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The late ILA President Richard Hughes (right) introduces his granddaughter to Vice President Joe Biden in March 2009.

The late ILA President Richard Hughes (right) introduces his granddaughter to Vice President Joe Biden in March 2009.

Richard P. Hughes Jr., who headed the International Longshoremen’s Association from July 2007 until his retirement in July 2011, passed away September 11 at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in in Baltimore, Md.  He was 79 years old.

A third generation ILA member, Hughes had served on the MTD Executive Board.

Hughes’ father was a grain trimmer, clerk and checker in the Port of Baltimore, while his uncle Mickey was president of Baltimore Local 953. Richard Hughes Jr. joined ILA Local 1429 in 1954. Three years later, he joined Local 953. He served the local in a variety of positions starting as Delegate and working his way eventually to President.

He was elected Vice President of the Atlantic Coast Executive Board in 1985, representing the Port of Baltimore. Four years later, he was elevated to General Vice President of the Atlantic Coast District. In 2000, he was elected the district’s Secretary-Treasurer. During October 2005, the Navy veteran was named ILA Executive Vice President.

Hughes saw remarkable changes during his nearly 60-year career in the longshore industry. As a writer from the Baltimore Sun observed, he “worked in the Baltimore docks before the advent of metal shipping containers and forklifts.” However, that didn’t stop him from helping to improve the lives of his members. As another writer from the Baltimore Sun put it, he was known “as a fierce negotiator.”

The ILA President also served as a Vice President on the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO and an Executive Officer with the Dockers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

Hughes maintained his connection to the Port of Baltimore throughout his career. As former Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley (R-MD), who also chaired the Federal Maritime Commission, said in a press release shortly after his death, “Richie Hughes had four loves — his family, the union, its membership and the Port of Baltimore.”

“Richie Hughes was an outstanding labor leader and a remarkable human being,” said MTD President Michael Sacco. “He will be sorely missed.”