Robert Georgine, president of the Building Trades Department, AFL-CIO since 1974, announced his resignation on Jan. 19.
Georgine, 67, said he has accomplished the goals he had set at the Building and Construction Trades Department's last convention, and wants to give his successor time to prepare for the next BCTD's convention this summer.
The General Board of Presidents elected Edward C. Sullivan, president of the International Union of Elevator Constructors, to fill out Georgine's unexpired term, effective April 15. Joseph Maloney, director of Canadian affairs for the building trades, was elected to serve in the No. 2 post, secretary-treasurer. He has been a Boilermakers since 1974.
Ironically, the surprise announcement came only a day after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Georgine had helped accomplish a major goal: a turnaround in declining membership. From 1998-99, membership in building trades unions increased by 131,000, the largest jump in decades.
The pickup in the numbers is widely credited to Georgine's leadership in urging building trades unions to devote more resources to organizing new members.
"Bob Georgine is the best our movement has to offer," said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO. "He has been a strong and effective leader and his support for the programs of the AFL-CIO has been a critical factor in our rebound in organizing and political power. I respect and support his decision and look forward to working with Brother Sullivan in his new capacity."
A Chicago native, Georgine began his career in construction as an iron worker helper. After serving in the Army, he began an apprenticeship as a lather and worked his way up to being president of the Lathers union prior to his election to president of the Building Trades Department.
A Massachusetts native, Sullivan worked as a mechanic and an adjuster in maintenance for 17 years. He was elected business manager of Boston's Local 4 in 1981 and served in that capacity until he was elected assistant to the general president of the International Union in 1996. He was elected general president in 1998.