An early supporter of renewed union organizing activity and of close cooperation with union employers, J.J. "Jack" Barry, former president of the International Brother Hood of Electrical Workers, died Aug. 28 at home in Chevy Chase, Md. He was 81 years old.
Barry died of complications from lung and heart disease. In a statement, the IBEW said he "suffered in recent years from a form of asbestosis following his early work in construction" on new and renovated buildings.
Barry served as president from 1986 to 2001. The union credits him with helping increase membership by about 750,000.
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Barry joined Local 43 in that city shortly before serving in the Navy during World War II. After the war he worked for contractors in New York and other states and in 1962 and was elected business manager of Local 42. In 1976 he was elected international vice president for the Third District covering Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania.
In 1986, the unions general president, Charles H. Pillard, stepped down from office for personal reasons. Barry took over the office and was elected to the post shortly afterward.
He was re-elected twice, facing a challenge in 1996 from his one-time aide and organizing guru, Michael Lucas. Barry easily defeated Lucas in an unusual vote on the first day of the unions convention in Philadelphia (ENR 9/23/96 p. 10). In 1997, Barry appointed Edwin D. Hill, the current president, to the job of secretary.