Safety and service have been the watchwords of Ironworker President Walter Wise, and that same spirit of union values and professionalism marked his tenure on the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO. He retired at the end of June after 42 years as an Ironworker. He was president for four years.
Wise grew up in Virginia and California before returning to Virginia to study engineering at Virginia Tech. His career as an Ironworker began in 1973 when he served his apprenticeship in Local 697 in Roanoke. He became a journeyman four years later and worked on structures all over the region.
Wise served as business manager for his local for almost a decade before becoming general organizer for the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers in 1997. The next year he won election as president of the Mid-Atlantic States District Council and began his service as a general vice-president of his union. He later served as general treasurer and general secretary. He remained a member of Local 28 in Richmond.
Wise’s mission was always to represent Ironworkers in the workforce and to grow his union’s presence in the construction industry. The Ironworkers are recognized as one of the safest, most knowledgeable and hardest-working skilled labor forces in North America, and that’s a testament in part to Wise’s drive, passion and focus.
On the Executive Council, Wise served on the Energy, Immigration, Organizing, Member Education and Training, Safety and Occupational Health, Article XX Appeals, and State and Local Labor Council and Community Partnerships committees.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council thanks Walter Wise for his service and congratulates him on a well-earned retirement.