Retired SIU Official Babkowski Dies

April 2010

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Teddy BabkowskiTheodore “Teddy” Babkowski, a retired SIU official who took part in virtually all of the union’s earliest fights, passed away Feb. 21 at his home in Kendall Park, N.J. He was 91.

Babkowski joined the union in 1941 in Philadelphia and sailed in all combat zones during World War II. A member of the deck department, he helped organize the Isthmian fleet, was active in the 1946 general strike and participated in many of the other beefs which helped lay the SIU’s foundation.

He came ashore after the war to work for the union as a port representative in New York, where he spent much of his career. Before retiring in 1983, he also at various times served the union on the West Coast (including Seattle) and at other East Coast locations including Baltimore and Piney Point, Md.

“He was a good union man – a real fighter,” remembered SIU President Michael Sacco. “He was involved in a lot of battles in the early days of the union and was one of the builders. He helped organize a lot of companies.”

SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez recalled that Babkowski was the patrolman on Tellez’s first payoff as a mariner, which took place in Italy. “He later broke me in on the waterfront,” Tellez said. “Ted dedicated a lot of years to the SIU and had a unique way of resolving beefs. He was a good guy.”

SIU New York Port Agent Bob Selzer knew Babkowski for more than 50 years. “He was a good man and was well-liked by the membership,” Selzer stated. “He broke many guys in and was a good union official. He was just a wonderful guy.”

Retired SIU Piney Point Port Agent Edd Morris remembered Babkowski as quiet and serious during the union’s earlier years, “but then, those were some trying days as we were growing. While (then SIU President) Paul Hall had all those sleepless nights and constant campaigns, Teddy and all of us were handling the orchestration of Paul’s conductorship.

“We have many unsung heroes who enabled what we take for granted today. I am glad that Teddy is being recognized at his passing, as he played an important role.”

Babkowski was a native of Wilkes Barre, Pa., which also was the site of his funeral. Family members remembered him as a loving husband and father and a proud grandfather. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, three children and three grandchildren.

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