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January 2021

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William R. Mundt

The officers regret to report that William R. Mundt, a retired international representative for the Ninth District, died on Oct. 18. He was 92.

Mundt was born in 1928 in the northeastern Waterloo, Iowa, suburb of Oelwein, which is where he received his elementary and high school education and also served as a Boy Scout.

In 1946, he said goodbye to his parents and eight brothers and sisters and joined the U.S. Navy, attending communication schools in San Diego and in Las Cruces, N.M., repairing and maintaining telephones and field communications systems.

Upon completion of his tour of duty in 1948, Mundt returned to Iowa, where he was initiated into Davenport Local 1858 and worked jobs at Petersen Electric and John Deere. (Local 1858 was later amalgamated into Davenport Local 1379.) It was in Iowa where he married his wife, Shirley, in 1949.

Soon after, Mundt moved his family east to Rock Island, Ill., and worked for International Harvester for nearly 12 years. He also served a stint as a shop steward before becoming the local's financial secretary from 1956 to 1958. For two years after that, Mundt was the local's business manager.

"He was actually working two jobs to support his family," his daughter, Cherie Parrish, recalled, "and then International Harvester started laying people off." Mundt had relatives near Los Angeles, she said, so one summer while the family was out there visiting, he filled out some job applications.

The one job that panned out for him, Parrish said, was an IBEW contractor gig with Litton Industries, a major defense contractor that's now part of Northrup Grumman.

There, Mundt transferred his membership to Los Angeles Local 2295 and signed up to work on the local's committees for safety and negotiating. (Parrish said she also became a Local 2295 member, working for another defense contractor, Raytheon.)

"He was very union-minded, even before he joined the staff" in the Ninth District, Parrish said. "He did a lot of negotiations with different plants back in the '60s." He also kept up his labor education, taking classes from Los Angeles's Catholic Labor Institute.

In December of 1962, then-International President Gordon Freeman assigned Mundt to a temporary position as a special Manufacturing and Organizing Operations Department organizer.

"Tony Bellissimo and Duke Schultz really got him involved," Parrish said, "and recommended his appointment to the Ninth District office as an international representative." At the time, Bellissimo was assistant director of Manufacturing and Organizing Operations, while Schultz was a Ninth District international representative.

Six months into his temporary assignment, Mundt was appointed by Freeman to be an international representative assigned to the Ninth District. In that role, Mundt organized and serviced a wide variety of locals covering manufacturing, maintenance/operations, telephone, government, radio/television and construction.

"He even tried to win Litton Industries," Parrish said. "He made it a family thing. He would have us kids do handbills and stand outside holding signs. We'd go into the local office and fold letters and envelopes." Litton proved a tough nut to crack, though, and after several tries, Mundt was unsuccessful. Still, it demonstrated his dedication to the cause, she said.

Parrish said that as an international representative her father was always busy, but he still managed to make time with his wife, daughter and two sons a priority. "We always went with him on campaigns during the summer when school was out," she said. "During one summer vacation, he had to go to an organizing campaign in Idaho, and we went, too. It was interesting."

Mundt also was attracted to politics at all levels, she said, and he served as campaign manager for the successful third term run of Larry Townsend, a fellow international representative, who represented California's 67th District in the State Assembly. "He was really into politics after that," Parrish said.

Following 25 years of dedicated service in the district office, Mundt retired in 1988; a year later, he and his family had moved back to his beloved Iowa. There, Mundt built a home on a 16-acre tract of land, most of which was dedicated to the farming of oak and black walnut trees. "It was a bird sanctuary," Parrish said, "with deer, turkeys and other wildlife."

Mundt remained active in retirement, serving on the Oelwein Chamber of Commerce and Area Development. He joined American Legion Post No. 9 and was its commandant for 10 years, and he was, for a time, president of Oelwein's Hub City Heritage Corporation's Railway Museum. "Oelwein used to be a major rail hub," Parrish explained.

In his spare time, Mundt continued to enjoy his various hobbies, including leather crafts, photography, golfing, woodworking and camping in his spacious back yard. He also was a member of Zion Lutheran Church.

Please join the Brotherhood in sending our condolences to Brother Mundt's family.


William R. Mundt

George Santiago

Retired Third District International Representative George Santiago, who was a leader in New York Local 3 helping to improve the lives of thousands of Puerto Rican and other Latino members after World War II, died at his home in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 9. He was 91.

"He led a full life," said Michael Santiago, one of two surviving sons. "It definitely was a life of giving. He would do anything selflessly for anybody without expecting anything in return."

Born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, Brother Santiago moved to New York City in 1946. He became a Local 3 member when he was hired by a lamp and fixture shop where employees had IBEW representation.

His professional career was interrupted from 1950 to 1953, when he served in the U.S. Army in Germany as a medical technician and company clerk. He returned to his job in New York afterwards, where other Puerto Ricans working at the shop asked him to serve as a steward.

Brother Santiago accepted and quickly became a leader in Local 3. In 1958, he assisted legendary Business Manager Harry Van Arsdale and others in the formation of the Santiago Iglesias Educational Society, which was formed to allow Local 3 to better understand the growing Puerto Rican labor force in New York City — many of whom were already working in Local 3's manufacturing sector.

The society remains active today, fostering Latino leaders not just in Local 3, but in politics and community activism in and around New York City.

"In the beginning, you didn't know what you were dealing with," said former Local 3 business agent Edwin Lopez, whose father, Jose, also worked with Van Arsdale and Santiago to get the society off the ground. "You didn't know if you were going to face discrimination in hiring or discrimination on the job.

"George and his peers worked together to give a voice to the worker and a voice to those who weren't being heard," added Lopez, who now serves as the executive secretary of the New York chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

That work opened several doors for Brother Santiago within the greater New York City labor community.

In 1961, then-mayor Robert Wagner named him one of 17 members of his Committee Against the Exploitation of Workers. He later was one of the organizers of New York's Puerto Rican Day Parade, which began in 1958 and continues to this day. He also was active in the Police Athletic League and was an organizer of the Puerto Rican Community Development Project, which was formed to fight poverty within the Latino community.

"He wanted to prove being born in Puerto Rico wasn't a limitation," Michael Santiago said. "He was always pushing the boundaries."

In 1966, he moved to the Third District office, where he was an international representative serving the manufacturing branch, which had more than 300,000 members across North America at the time.

Michael Santiago said his father's fight for working people became nearly all-consuming at times.

"He was just such a giving man," his son said. "He did everything he could for anybody. I can't tell you how many times he would take me out to walk the picket lines for people, many of whom he didn't know.

"We would go to Kmart and pick up a charcoal grill and go right to the picket line. I would be handing out hot dogs to people. He was always there to help."

Santiago's original dream when he came to the United States was to become an architect, but he wasn't able to enter a college or architecture program because they didn't accept much of the education he received while growing up in Puerto Rico.

Education turned into a major force for the rest of his life. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in labor management from Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey; a master's degree in urban studies from Queens College in New York; and a doctorate in sociology from City College of New York. He retired as an international representative in 1992 and later moved to Florida.

"New York City is a rough town at times," Michael Santiago said. "I can't tell you the times he would see a homeless person and not just throw him a couple of bucks, but go and get a meal and give it to him and something to drink. He went out of his way to make sure that person was fed. I'd like to think that person was fed physically and spiritually."

Besides Michael, Brother Santiago is survived by another son, George; his wife, Miriam; and a stepson, Andis Tamayo. Daughters Jeanette Nelson and Katherine Goosch preceded him in death.

"What I would say about George is that he represented the heart and soul of what Local 3 is about," Lopez said. "It was about being committed to bettering the life of the worker. That was done through the efforts of people like George Santiago."

The officers and staff send their condolences to Brother Santiago's loved ones and many friends during this difficult time.


George Santiago