Family Labor Traditions by Kevin Lynch

01 Sep 2009 9:30 PM | Posted by GNHLHA

From Newsletter Volume 5, Number 2

By Kevin Lynch

Editor’s note: We hope that this article by Kevin Lynch about his parents and his son will inaugurate a series of articles about “family labor traditions.” Please either send your stories in by mail or email, or contact us and we’ll talk with you and write them from the information that you provide.

In May 1998, Austin B. Lynch graduated from Yale University and continued a long family tradition of union involvement.

Austin’s grandparents, Charles and Catherine Lynch, were Irish immigrants. Charles, even in the face of thundering pulpit admonishments not to, became a founding member of “Red Mike” Quill’s Transport Workers Union. In September, 1949, while inspecting elevated track, Charles fell, breaking his back and all four limbs; he remained in hospitals and rest homes for over six years. To support herself and her three children, Catherine went to work as a seamstress and joined the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), where she stayed until 1964. So thirty-four years later, given this family tradition, Austin surprised no one when upon his Yale graduation he became an organizer for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE). But in the interim, the ILGWU had transformed and renamed itself as UNITE, and then combined with HERE to form UNITE-HERE. At that point, Austin, after two generations and one Yale education, was back in the same union of which his grandmother had been a member.

Austin’s older brother, Brendan P. Lynch, went to Harvard Law, graduating the same year as Austin (1998), and has for the past six years been the treasurer of his amalgamated union local of public interest lawyers in Philadelphia.

Their father, Kevin Lynch, learning union activism from his sons, was the founding President of the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans (Ct. ARA), a chapter of the AFL-CIO sponsored ARA. During his working life he, like his wife Denise Lynch, was an active member of the faculty union of the Ct. State University System, AAUP.

Greater New Haven Labor History Association  •  267 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06513 •  info@laborhistory.org •

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