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Pat Vukich
1941-2008

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Honoring Pat Vukich

by David Olson
Harry Bridges Chair Emeritus

The year 2008 saw the passing of one of the earliest and most ardent supporters of the Harry Bridges Chair. Patrick (Pat) Vukich was there at the founding in 1992 when the Bridges Chair was created through contributions from a thousand individuals. Pat had visited Harry Bridges in 1990 in San Francisco shortly before Bridges passed away. 

A long time supporter of Bridges, Pat eagerly took up fund raising activities on behalf of creating the only endowed chair in the country named for a labor leader.

Elected Vice President of ILWU Local 19 in 1987, Pat Vukich became President from 1989 to 1991 and then again from 1992 to 1994. From these leadership positions in the Longshore Union Pat provided keen insights into the development of the Bridges Chair and crucial early support to guarantee its success. 

Over the subsequent decade and a half, Pat remained a key contributor to the Bridges Chair and the Bridges Center for Labor Studies. Pat's contributions made a critical difference in bringing labor studies to the UW and in preparing a seat for labor at the UW table of learning.

Born in Chisholm, Minnesota on May 18, 1941, Pat passed away on October 10, 2008 after a brief illness. Pat left Chisholm and the Iron Range shortly after high school to seek work, coming to Seattle in 1959. He began working at the "banana dock" in 1960 and from there worked on the waterfront until 1968 when he achieved Class A status within the ILWU. 

Pat engaged in numerous union activities, including election to the Executive Board of Local 19 in 1977, serving as a delegate to International Conventions and Caucuses and helping found the Waterfront Credit Union. When not involved in Union affairs, Pat worked as a certified crane operator for 20 years. Passionate about safety and fairness issues on the waterfront, Pat earned the respect of Longshoremen from Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and the West Coast.

Hundreds of Pat's friends and co-workers from up and down the Coast attended a memorial service at the Black Diamond Eagles Club where a “tarpaulin muster” raised financial contributions which were donated to the Bridges Chair in Pat Vukich's name.

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