Phone: 860-951-6614
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
CSEA Mar 25, 2024
Labor Giant Ed Daly Passes On
by Drew Stoner

The following was read by Michael O'Brien, current President of CSEA's Council 400 Retiree Council, at Ed Daly's funeral as his Eulogy:

Good morning. My name is Michael O’Brien and I am the current president of our union’s Retiree Council 400. I succeeded Ed in that office when he decided to step down a few years back. I was Ed’s vice-president.

You all knew Ed. He was a presence in the room. He stood tall and he had that hearty laugh and that twinkle in his eye. Even if he was quiet, you knew the wheels were always turning. Ed is a tough act to follow and leaves big shoes to fill. I walk around in a pair of 9Ds and I know Ed had to be at least a size 12. But he was a good mentor.

Ed’s parents instilled in him from an early age the value of service. He was brought up in a politically active family where he learned that one must fight for effective representation to improve the lives of working families. He learned those lessons well. Ed served his country in the Army during the Korean Conflict in the 1950’s.

After graduating from UCONN, Ed was employed by the State in 1958. It didn’t take him long to get involved in the labor movement. He joined CSEA in 1959. At that time, there was no collective bargaining and if CSEA wanted to get its members a pay increase it had to talk to the governor in what was called collective begging. 

That changed in the mid-1970s with the re-election of Ella Grasso as governor and after CSEA endorsed her with the understanding that the employees would get collective bargaining. Political action at work. Ed was president of the engineer’s bargaining unit at the time. Collective bargaining was a two-edged sword for CSEA. We didn’t have the qualified staff that we have now and we were inexperienced in setting up bargaining units. We lost a majority of our members to the big international unions who raided us. It was recognized that our constitution was not workable under collective bargaining and Ed participated in their modification. There have been few changes to that document since then.

After Ed became union president in 1986, he worked to professionalize our staff and have them run the day-to-day operations of the union. They would report to the elected Executive Council delegates from each bargaining unit with the president acting as the chair.  Although Ed delegated the day-to-day operations of the union, he didn’t delegate the politics.  He loved politics and he loved meeting with politicians to lobby on behalf of the members.

Until that time CSEA had remained fiercely independent but Ed’s vision was for CSEA to become part of the larger labor movement. It started by acting in coalition with other state employee unions. And from there to join the larger labor movement with our subsequent affiliation with SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.

CSEA SEIU Local 2001 has become a leader in the Connecticut labor movement and a national leader with our powerful Retiree Council 400, which now serves as a model for other unions across the country.

Ed ate, drank, slept and breathed CSEA. His family knows how much our union meant to Ed. I would like to share with them some thoughts and comments we have received from members and staff in recent days about how much Ed meant to our union.

  • He was a mensch. Sweet, smart, sensible

  • He was the best! Rock solid!

  • His leadership will never be forgotten due to his knowledge and unbelievable energy.

  • He always had that twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step – and he was quick with a laugh. Even toward the end, when we saw him in the hospital, that twinkle never faded.  That special X factor that made him such a great leader was with him all of his days.

  • I never saw him panic or lose his cool or raise his voice to anyone. He was always firm yet gracious at the same time.

  • Even when we sometimes disagreed, it was always a pleasure and an honor to work with Ed.

Personally, I never heard Ed raise his voice either except maybe at a rally or at a Red Sox game. He was an avid Red Sox fan. I must admit that being a Yankee fan, that is one area where Ed and I didn’t see eye to eye.

I never heard him fish for a compliment or try to take personal credit for a union victory, even one he may have had a major hand in. It was always what we as a union accomplished.

I joked earlier about Ed’s size 12 shoes being hard to fill. But it wasn’t the size of his shoe, but how he walked in them.

Ed walked the walk and he talked the talk.

As long as you were doing the right thing with the right intentions, you had Ed’s support and everything would work out. You knew that Ed had your back.

He put people at ease and he connected with them. He saw the best in people and in his own quiet, reassuring way, knew how to instill confidence and bring that best out.

He was the heart and soul of our union and one of our key strategists and political influencers. His observations were always keen and astute, especially on political matters.

His advice was always right on the money and he shared it unselfishly, with only the success of the union and Council 400 as the driving force behind his words.

I am proud to have succeeded Ed in office.

I am proud to have stood beside him and others in fighting the good fight of the union and working people.

I am proud and privileged to be here today representing our union as we celebrate Ed’s life.

But most of all, I am proud to have counted him as a friend.

Ed, you are a member of our union’s chapter eternal now. Our members thank you for your years of volunteer service on behalf of all working people in Connecticut and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to your family and to your union family as well.

I would like to close with an Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of His hand

God bless you Ed. 

May you rest in peace – you’ve earned it my friend.


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