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Jerry Cremins; Labor Head, Democratic Party Activist

Obituary

January 10, 1998|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jerry F. Cremins, president for 11 years of the California Building and Construction Trades Council and an influential figure in the state's Democratic Party, is dead at age 63.

Cremins died in Sacramento on Monday after a long illness. At the peak of his power in the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the chief labor spokesman for 450,000 construction workers throughout the state.

As vice president of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, for 18 years, he was a confidant of such political leaders as Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr., Assembly Speaker Jesse M. Unruh and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

Cremins also played an important role in key initiative campaigns. In 1988, he led the successful battle for Proposition 97, which restored Cal/OSHA as a regulator over workplace safety.

Retired Los Angeles labor leader Bill Robertson paid special tribute to Cremins on Friday for his role in aiding minorities in getting work in the building trades during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

"This was one of the most outstanding contributions he made," Robertson said.

After Cremins retired as president of the trades council, he was named its president emeritus.

Cremins was born in Los Angeles and built his career in organized labor as a representative of the plumbers union before working as business representative for the Los Angeles Building Trades Council. He became executive secretary of the state group in 1976 and its president in 1983. He also served on the board of the nation's largest pension fund, the California Public Employee Retirement System, and on the advisory panel of the state's Little Hoover Commission.

Cremins is survived by his wife, Kathleen, of Sacramento, sons Denis of Simi Valley and Jerry and Tim, both of Sacramento, daughter Anne Weinstein of Los Angeles, two sisters and nine grandchildren.

Services will be held today at 10 a.m. at St. Brendan's Catholic Church, 310 S. Van Ness Ave., Los Angeles. Jerry Brown will deliver a eulogy. Burial will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.

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