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The labor movement lost an outstanding leader over the Easter weekend when Mark H. Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, passed away suddenly at the age of 63.

President of the Department since 2007, Ayers had previously served as the director of the Construction and Maintenance Department of the Electrical Workers (IBEW).  A Peoria, IL native and a U.S. Navy veteran, Ayers chaired the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council.

Tributes for Ayers poured in from around the nation.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that he was “deeply saddened.”  MTD President Michael Sacco observed, “Mark made a real difference in the lives of the working men and women of this nation.”

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis noted, “As president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Mark Ayers was a quintessential ‘builder’ of coalitions, consensus and a great movement for workplace fairness.  He built on the dreams on his members—laborers, electricians, plumbers and other construction workers—to make the BCTD a strong and articulate voice for working families.”

In announcing his death, the BCTD said, “President Ayers was a labor leader of vision, innovation, passion and integrity, and it was through his leadership that North America’s Building Trades Unions were on the path to success and increased market share for the union construction industry.”