The AFL-CIO Executive Council mourns the passing of our brother, friend and longtime Communications Workers of America (CWA) president, Morty Bahr.
A native of Brooklyn, he began his education at Brooklyn College before enlisting as a merchant seaman and serving in World War II. When he returned home, he became a telegraph operator at the Mackay Radio and Telegraph Company (later known as American Cable & Radio).
Bahr would go on to organize his fellow workers into an independent union that later affiliated with CWA. He worked his way up to a leadership position, becoming district director and then vice president of the union’s largest district, where he led CWA's first organizing campaign in the public sector.
Bahr’s tireless efforts on behalf of working people led to his election as president of CWA in 1985, becoming only the third president in the union’s history. He would win re-election to the position and remained president for 20 years. During this time, he also became an AFL-CIO vice president and Executive Council member.
Bahr became an expert on the nexus of technology and the workforce, and he championed groundbreaking education and training programs that would help transform the labor movement. His dedication to worker education will endure, as a scholarship in his name continues to help working people enhance career opportunities through distance learning.
Even in retirement, he continued serving as a volunteer organizer next to his CWA brothers, sisters and friends.
Morty Bahr made life better for so many across our country, and the AFL-CIO Executive Council sends our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all the members, leaders and staff of CWA.