Charles G. McCloskey, 90, union leader, mediator

Charles G. McCloskey
Charles G. McCloskey
Posted: February 22, 2014

Charles G. McCloskey, 90, of Bensalem, a former Philco radio assembler who rose to become a union president and, later, a gifted labor mediator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, died Friday, Feb. 7, of congestive heart failure at his daughter's home in Warminster.

Over a career spanning almost a half-century, Mr. McCloskey used his sharp bargaining skills and lively sense of humor to help craft innovative settlements when the area's colleges, transit agencies, and businesses were facing labor strife.

He liked to recall how in 1946, as a radio assembler at Philco Corp. in North Philadelphia, he was paid 96 cents an hour. When slipped into bargaining sessions, tales such as that helped break the tension and pave the way for an agreement, said his attorney, Roger J. Harrington.

Known to friends as "Trusty McCloskey," he was rarely seen without his signature flat cap and glasses, Harrington said.

He remained cheerful and upbeat despite losing his wife, the former Lucy  Bialon, to renal failure in 1996. Sons Steven and John also preceded him in death.

A graduate of Northeast High School, Mr. McCloskey earned a degree from Strayer School of Business, and a master's degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. McCloskey joined the International Union of Electrical Workers at Philco and climbed the ranks to become the local president.

In 1971, Mr. McCloskey began a 15-year career with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation. Working from offices in Bucks County or Center City, or wherever his cases took him, Mr. McCloskey presided over 600 labor-management disputes involving the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA, the Philadelphia Gas Works, Drexel and Temple Universities, Girard College, Community College of Philadelphia, and school districts in the suburbs.

In 1986, Mr. McCloskey was recruited by Temple. He accepted a job as director of labor relations, overseeing negotiations involving 8,000 employees and 14 collective-bargaining units. He retired in the early 2000s, Harrington said.

He received many awards for his work and dedication to community service.

"The most dear to him was an honorary lifetime membership in the union he first joined in 1946, Local 101 of International Union of Electrical Workers," Harrington said. "He wanted to stay close to his roots."

Mr. McCloskey was a founder of the Juniata Boys and Girls Club and coached boys and girls throughout his life, Harrington said.

Mr. McCloskey is survived by his daughter, Lisa Gentner, and nine grandchildren.

Funeral services were Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Donations may be made to the C. Robert Harrington Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1 Penn Center, Suite 1055, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103.


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