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Remembering Our Brother, Dick Manley

Last month, IFT members lost a mighty and powerful advocate with the passing of Richard "Dick" Manley.

A former longtime AFT Local 604 president, IFT Vice President, and AFT Vice President, Dick was an architect of much of the growth in IFT membership and power beginning in the 1970s until his retirement several years ago. A physics teacher for 34 years at Lockport Township High School, Manley first served as the president of AFT Local 1291 before being elected president of AFT Local 604 at the local’s inception in 1976. He never looked back. He spent his life advancing the cause of public education, unions, and his members. Through his efforts over more than four decades, AFT Local 604 grew to be the second largest union in the IFT with more than 12,000 members in 75 councils in 10 Illinois counties.

“Dick was tireless and tenacious about improving the lives of students, workers, and their families, said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “During his career, he negotiated hundreds of collective bargaining agreements, defended member rights, influenced public policy through political action, built strong alliances with other unions and organizations, and supported effective professional development programs for Local 604 members." “Dick’s contributions were felt at the state and national levels too. He worked on behalf of all IFT members as an elected vice president on the IFT Executive Board and its Executive Committee for 48 years,” said AFT Local 604 President Bill Briggs. “For18 years, Dick also served as an AFT Vice President, chairing the AFT Defense Committee and ensuring that the voice of IFT members was heard at the highest levels of our union."

In 2010, Dick received the IFT Lifetime Achievement award at IFT's statewide convention and a Special Order of Business was passed in his honor. The IFT Executive Board room at the union's headquarters was also renamed the “Richard Manley Executive Conference Room” to recognize his longtime union leadership and countless achievements. "Dick was not only a devoted unionist, but he was a dear friend and mentor," added Briggs. "Beneath his tough exterior was a heart of gold." “I counted Dick as a friend and valuable mentor in leadership," said Montgomery. "It’s really hard to overestimate his impact on our union.”

It is no exaggeration to say Dick Manley was a legend. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed, nor can they quantify the debt of gratitude we all owe him.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Dick’s wife, Sue Massey, and his family at this difficult time, as well as to the members and staff of AFT Local 604. We thank you for sharing him with us all. He will never be forgotten. IFT members interested in information about Dick Manley's "Celebration of Life" on August 20 should contact AFT Local 604 at 815-725-0402.

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