With great sadness we share news of former UWUA President Donald Wightman passing away on November 16. We offer our condolences to his family, friends and all who knew him.
A true fighter
Upon learning of his death, President Jim Slevin said, “Don Wightman truly understood the fights our members and their families faced. He came from a working-class family in South Boston and started out in the conduit and cable division in the underground utility sector. He worked his way up through the union, leading Local 369 and eventually joined the National Union as vice president and president.“Wightman lead the Utility Workers Union of America during a period of great upheaval across the industry, during deregulation. He was ahead of the curve anticipating the impacts of deregulation including how it would impact utilities, our members and how it would erode the value of union jobs. During this time and throughout his tenure as president he fought tenaciously for our members.
“Don Wightman will be remembered as a tough negotiator, a tireless advocate of working-class families and as someone who truly understood the fights our members faced,” said Slevin.Former President Wightman passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family.
He married Virginia, his wife of 65 years, on January 28, 1956 and settled in Hyde Park, MA. He began his career at Boston Edison in 1957 in the underground division. Wightman became a union steward in Local 369 and eventually was elected secretary treasurer where he served in that role for many years until he was elected Local 369 president in 1980.
A lifetime of service
Wightman went on to serve as the UWUA National Vice President from 1991 to 1995 and was elected national president in 1995, where he served until his retirement in 2006.
He served as principal negotiator in numerous collective bargaining agreements. He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Mediation Research & Education Project at Northwestern University Law School and a member of the Labor Relations and Research Advisory Board at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Wightman was a director and former chairman of the board of the Boston Edison Employees Credit Union and served as a labor representative to Jobs for Massachusetts, Inc. and served as a member of the Labor Advisory Board of American Income Life Insurance Company.
He was the recipient of the Chancellors Award from the University of Massachusetts, the Cushing-Gavin Award for excellence in Labor Relations and awarded the Gompers-Murray-Meany Award by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO in recognition of a lifetime of dedicated service in the labor movement.
Upon his retirement, Wightman volunteered on a full-time basis at the Shine Center in Walpole, where he helped countless seniors obtain benefits and medical assistance. He was a wonderful uncle and godfather to many nieces and nephews in the extended Wightman Family as well as friend to many more. His biggest loves were family and country.