We mourn the passing of Marty Morgenstern and extend our deep condolences to his family, friends, and the entire labor community. Marty was an extraordinary and unparalleled champion of labor. His life is a testament to his belief in the value of public service, and his conviction that government can and should be a force for the common good. He spent his working life as an advocate for workers, from organizing labor unions to developing California’s labor and workplace policy.
Following his education in New York on the G.I. Bill, Marty worked in New York City’s welfare department, where he became active in his union and rose through the ranks to become president. He then moved to California and became state director of AFSCME and then operations manager of the California State Employees Association. In 1975, Marty joined Jerry Brown’s first administration as head of the new Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, a position he held until 1981 when he became director of the new Department of Personnel Administration. During this period, he helped shape the pioneering legislation that allowed collective bargaining for state employees. Marty continued to hold other high-level positions dedicated to labor issues, including as the secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Marty served as chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center from 1987 to 1994, and on the Center’s Advisory Board for many years. He worked with policy makers in Sacramento to secure the Labor Center’s future through a consistent funding stream. During his tenure, the Labor Center developed curricula for labor practitioners and published material for unions on bargaining, costing out contracts, and arbitration and mediation. Under Marty’s leadership, the Labor Center also began to study and support new strategies in the labor movement, such as promoting labor standards in publicly funded economic development projects.
We are deeply grateful to Marty for his integrity, honesty, fair mindedness, and heartfelt commitment to all workers, and for his deep contributions and leadership to the UC Berkeley Labor Center.